Tag Archives: IPhone

hotels charging for items

bed for saleI don’t like to pay full price for hotels, and gladly share my tricks for saving. However, is the hotel business that bad that they need to sell everything in the room from the shower head to the alarm clock?

Many high end stores are even expanding beyond the items you’ll find in a hotel room. They want your hotel to seem as comfortable as your room at home. I might look at the style at a hotel chain like W Hotels or Westin, because they are high-end or luxurious brands. They sell their amenities in online stores, and offer much more than what you’ll find in the hotel room. W Hotels sells jewelry, and the West Hotel Collection is having a summer sale on its products.

This trend of selling products seen in a hotel room is not reserved for luxurious hotel chains. I recently saw a budget hotel making a pitch. I don’t feel luxurious at a budget hotel. I feel like I’m getting a good deal, but that’s about it.

alarm clock for saleAt a low end hotel that I stopped in on my way to Florida, the hotel was selling everything from the alarm clock to the ironing board. Is that really necessary? It wasn’t a fancy alarm clock. It was a clock radio just like the one I’ve had at home for years. Only, the one at home was nicer and cheaper. The hotel wanted $25 for an alarm clock. Really? You can find similar ones for $10 at retailers.

coffeemaker for saleIt gets worse. The hotel wanted $50 for the coffee maker. This wasn’t a Keurig. Just a basic coffeemaker. A similar pot is sold at retailers for less than $20. More than 50% markup is a pretty good profit margin for a hotel.

The hotel chain sold items from $25 to $80. While many were ripoffs, the $80 comforter actually isn’t a bad deal. Those can cost $100, but rest assured the store bought $100 comforters are thicker.

hotel items for saleIs anyone really buying, though? The sign says that due to the increasing popularity of the guest room amenities, the housekeeping staff now offers them for sale. Maybe it’s to prevent theft. The fine print at the bottom of the sign reads, “Each guest room attendant is responsible for maintaining the guest room items. Should you decide to take these items from your room instead of obtaining them from the Executive Housekeeper, we will assume you approve a corresponding charges to your account.” Sounds to me like you’ve been warned. Don’t steal the towels, coffee pot, or ironing board!

What’s next?! Pretty soon they’ll be charging me for the soaps and shampoos that they put out for guests to use. Of course, I always take the supplied ones for my travel stash. At this rate, that amenity will soon cost me $10.

I like my hotel to be cozy and as homey as possible, but I’m never going to fall in love with the products in a room that will make me want to buy them. What about you? Join the conversation.

Related links you may like:
A new hotel amenity?
Airport parking that won’t break your travel budget
Picture perfect honeymoon – best research sites
Tipping habits – have yours changed with the economy

“There’s an app for that” wedding

Our wedding. Destin, FL.

Our wedding. Destin, FL.

Last year at this time I was frantically finalizing all the details of our wedding. Flash forward a year and I’m being asked my opinion about certain wedding planning websites. Planning a wedding takes organization and patience. I carried around a journal type notebook as I went vendor to vendor to get price quotes. Apparently, I am far from a 2013 bride because “there’s an app for that.”

The wedding industry has gone mobile. It makes sense because every other industry is dealing with the rise in popularity of smartphones. A quick search on my iPhone brings up 1,999 apps so you can organize your wedding at your fingertips.

The survey was for a wedding website, and there were many questions about my use of mobile apps. Obviously, this is the next frontier of wedding planning.

Using an app never really crossed my mind. I was so overwhelmed by all the details and spreadsheets I had for addresses, RSVPs, gifts, and costs that I never thought about an app. I was in information overload and struggled to keep track of everything on a big computer screen. Perhaps if I had a tablet it would make more sense.

wedding websiteIn fact, I didn’t even use the website tools that many sites provide to organize items like your budget and checklist reminders. I simply used the websites to search for reviews of vendors and to create a website for our guests. I kept my checklists on Word documents and my figures on Excel documents. Nice and simple. Just like the wedding.

Plus, while I was meeting with vendors I often looked on my phone for other suggestions or answered phone calls. Since I had a destination wedding, I was juggling many appointments that were crammed into my three day visit to the town before the wedding. I needed my phone for other things. I couldn’t use it to take notes on an app. My handy paper journal worked just great.

While an app wasn’t a part of my wedding plan, it’s something to consider especially as these apps advance and become more sophisticated and user friendly. It might make your life easier. Most brides are looking to cut down on the stress.  That help may be within reach. After all, there’s an app for that. 

A new hotel amenity?

iPhone 4Every time I go out of town, I inevitably forget something. Usually it’s something small like a toothbrush. Sometimes I improvise or I ask the front desk for one of their small, complimentary brushes. This last out of town trip, I forgot my phone chargers. Without them, there’s not much you can do. My forgetfulness made me thing of a money-making tool for hotels.

My photographer and I joked with the front desk staff about our forgetfulness. Neither one of us had a phone charger and we had three phones to charge.

The hotel said they used to have a box of random chargers, but they found they were getting old. I guess as we advance in the digital age, people are getting wiser and forgetting their cords in the hotel room less.

The hotel scrambled in the back and found an iPhone charger. Only it was for the older model phones and didn’t fit my iPhone 5 plug. Luckily, the one  employee had an Android version in her car that fit our phones. She went out to her car and let us borrow it until her shift was over.

I thought my iPhone was simply toast until a staff member stopped me the next morning as I grabbed my takeout breakfast. She called me by name and asked if I was still looking for an iPhone charger. I was stunned that this woman not only remembered my plight, but found me a new iPhone 5 charger.

This experience got me thinking. Hotels should buy the basic chargers for phones, and charge guests $3-5 to use the charger for a night. I bet that would be quite the business with so many forgetful travelers. I would definitely pay to use a phone charger. Luckily, I stayed at a hotel with staff willing to lend me their own personal charges. I doubt every hotel would do that. Your choice at that point – a dead phone or go pay full price for a new charger.

hotel selling itemsSome hotels are making it a business to sell you products. Some hotels want you to buy their hair dryer, pillows, shower head and so on. I was stunned when I stayed at a hotel in Boston, and saw little stickers on all the products in the room including the hair dryer. Do people really fall that in love with the hair dryer at a hotel that they want to buy it?

There was an entire catalog full of hotel products you could purchase for your home including an alarm clock and lamp. I wonder how many of these products the hotels sell.

hotel selling stuffInstead, I wish they’d sell me a phone charger for a few hours. That’s all I need and want when I go to a hotel.

Get paid to workout and pay money if you skip the gym

It’s a new year, and a fresh look for the site. Let me know what you think of the updated banner. Perhaps you’re changing the way you look to by getting more physically fit. For me, it’s all about motivation. It’s so easy to talk myself out of a workout. I had a tough day. The roads are bad. It’s too cold. I feel drained. The excuses are endless. Money is a great motivator, because there is a financial prize and price to working out or skipping the gym.

A friend joined forces with several others for a $500 fitness challenge that lasts through August. With such a big prize, there’s reason to stay motivated until August. You can also set your financial goals smaller with an app called GymPact. You’re rewarded financially for going to the gym and you pay if you don’t go.

Last year, the app was only valid on the iPhone. This year, there is a beta form of of the app for Android users.  You set the number of days you want to go to the gym, with the minimum being 1 day a week. You also set the penalty.

There is some flexibility since it’s likely you can’t keep the same workout schedule every week. You have until Sunday at midnight the week before to adjust your schedule if you know you won’t be able to meet your pact because of work or social obligations.  There is a vacation freeze as well but says you have to get a medical note if you get sick or injured.

There are 40,000 gyms in the database, but if yours is not listed you can add it as long as it’s not a home or office gym.

When you miss a day, your credit card is charged. You have to stay for 30 minutes to qualify for a workout. While there is an obvious penalty, there is a benefit too. You get the money paid by those who slack. The slackers fees are divided up by those who met their goal. Typically rewards are 50-75 cents a workout. It’s not big bucks, but it’s another way to stay motivated. You are accountable to your bank account.

If you’re looking for motivation, this may be it. Just don’t over commit. There are some reviews in the Android app store, Google Play, that there are problems getting the app to find your gym. Some people who experienced log in problems say they were fixed after reporting the issue. The average score in the Android marketplace is 3.4.

The reviews are better for the iPhone version of the app. It gets 4 out of 5 stars and there are far more positive than negative reviews.


Waterproof electronics?

Water and electronics just don’t mix. Rice and heat may help save your device but it doesn’t always work. New devices are pouring into the market that may wash away your worries. Should you consider one this holiday?

Companies are offering after-market solutions that waterproof your electronics. It’s still a new venture, so the companies offering this service are limited as are the products that you can waterproof. Right now, Liquipel, limits the products to high end gadgets like the iPhone or a simple iPod Shuffle.

The Liquipel service costs about $60 and right now the company is waterproofing the following products: iPod Shuffle, iPhone 4, Galaxy S2 from T-Mobile and AT&T, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, Evo 4G, Evo Shift 4G, HTC My Touch 4G, Samsung Charge, and Motorola Droid X and X2.

AT&T is selling a Pantech tablet that’s waterproof. We’re not talking about little spills. This product claims to last 30 minutes underwater. So, I put it to the test for a NewsChannel 5 story.

The tablet costs just under $300 with a two year contract.

Do you think the cost is worth it? Click comment below.

Consumer Reports finds problems with 4G LTE on some iPhone 5 phones

Courtesy Apple

Consumer Reports is finishing up its testing of the iPhone 5, and engineers said they found problems with the phone on the Verizon and Sprint network. The testing organization said the Verizon and Sprint phone can’t support a phone call and an Internet based connection over the network.

Consumer Reports said the iPhone 5 appears to be the only Verizon or Sprint phone running on the newer 4G LTE network with limitations.  The agency said the other phones it tested from the carriers on the 4G LTE network allow you to talk and surf at the same time.

Not sure what 4G LTE is? It’s the new system marketed as a way to boost data speeds. See the difference for yourself. I put it to the test for NewsChannel 5.

You need a Wi-Fi connection to make it possible to talk and surf at the same time on the Sprint and Verizon iPhone 5. Consumer Reports said otherwise you receive a message that reads “Cellular data connections are not available during this call” when you try to get on the Internet.

It works the other way as well. If you get an incoming call, your browsing will be stopped. This includes navigation. Just hope nobody calls you while you’re driving. Testers found the navigation gets stuck recalculating the route even after you hang up.

You can still call and text, but Consumer Reports feels this limitation on the Sprint and Verizon network should make you reconsider your thoughts about getting this phone on either network. This comes after first weekend sales topped 5 million.

iPhone 5 testers wanted?

For weeks I’ve been getting Facebook messages inviting me to an iPhone 5 testing event. In the message, you’re made host of the event. However, there’s only been speculation and no official announcement from Apple about the iPhone 5. Facebook is deleting the post from your page which is a sure sign it’s spam.

Plus, Apple doesn’t typically ask for testers of products. It’s announcement of the product is a big event and always produces speculation of what’s to come so having testers is simply not how the company works.

You know the saying — if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Naked Security says there’s also a text alert going around that reads “Apple needs iPhone5 testers! The first 1000 users who visit [LINK] and enter code 4444 will get to test & keep the new iPhone5.”

Also, a scam. Naked Security says it’s likely a way to get your personal information.

App pays you to workout and charges you if you don’t hit the gym

January is the month for gym memberships, but what’s going to really keep you going? How about some cash? The app, GymPact, holds you financially accountable for not going and rewards you for going to the gym. The only drawback – it’s only for iPhone users right now. An Android app is in the works, though.

You set the number of days you want to go to the gym, with the minimum being 1 day a week. You also set the penalty.

There is some flexibility since it’s likely you can’t keep the same workout schedule every week. You have until Sunday at midnight the week before to adjust your schedule if you know you won’t be able to meet your pact because of work or social obligations.  There is a vacation freeze as well but says you have to get a medical note if you get sick or injured.

There are 40,000 gyms in the database, but if yours is not listed you can add it as long as it’s not a home or office gym.

When you miss a day, your credit card is charged. You have to stay for 30 minutes to qualify for a workout. While there is an obvious penalty, there is a benefit too. You get the money paid by those who slack. The slackers fees are divided up by those who met their goal.

It’s an interesting concept if you really get paid as advertised. It’s unclear how many users there are so it’s not clear if you earn a few pennies a day or a few dollars a week if you fulfill your pact.The more days you commit, the higher the payout.

I’d give it a try for you but I’m recovering from hip surgery so walking on my crutches is my daily exercise for now. If you’re a devoted exercise enthusiast why not give it a try? There’s little risk if you make it to the gym regularly.


Future of smartphones

Consumer Reports just celebrated its 75th anniversary, and during a visit to the company’s headquarters last week I learned that keeping product tests up to date is one of the greatest challenges for the company. That’s made even more difficult with a new smartphone and tablet appearing almost every week. The price of these phones is on it’s way down as manufacturers get creative with pricing.

No contract service plans are gaining in popularity.

“The prepaid smartphone universe has exploded over the last six months,” Tech guru Mike Ward said for a NewsChannel 5 story.

WalMart and T-Mobile recently announced a data plan for $30 a month without a contract. AT&T and Verizon also have pay as you go data plans.

“Prepaid is not the answer for everybody, contract’s not the answer for everybody, but these are options we didn’t have. Especially in the smartphone world a few months ago,” Ward said.

If you don’t have a smartphone yet, you’ll probably get one soon as the non-smartphones will be harder and harder to get. This doesn’t mean you’ll spend a ton of money to buy the smartphone, the prices are dropping. Apple is offering some older iPhones at a discount or even free depending on the carrier.

Better Business Bureau launches app in Apple store

Want to file a complaint against a business on the go, or want to find out what others think about a business at the last minute? The Better Business Bureau launched an Apple Store app that allows you to access their database of more than 4 million businesses on the go.

You’ll be able to search for local businesses by name, phone, URL, or category, your current zip code, state, city, or location. The search results can be displayed in list or map views. The app works on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.