Thursday, February 28, 2013

Never answer the door for FedEx

As I say again and again, both in How to be Invisible and Dirty Tricks for Savvy Chicks, never receive mail, pizza, courier services, or anything else at your home address.  The penalty of doing so is illustrated in an article in today's Consumerist.

If the woman involved had not been receiving anything at home, she would then have known that the FedEx package (containing large vacuum-packed bags of marijuana)  could not possibly be for her.  Thus, she would never have signed for it.

To read the article, click here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fake TV -- great burglar protection!

A year or so ago I ran across a Fake TV unit on Amazon.  Unfortunately, I was influenced by some negative reviews, and did not order it at that time.

However, a month ago I decided to order one anyway, and check it out.  What a surprise! This is a great little gadget which perfectly duplicates the flickering light of a computer screen.  I set it up within three feet of an upstairs window that was covered with a thin curtain. It turns itself on at dark and can be set to run for either four or seven hours each night.

When it was dark, I checked the window from the street.  Super-realistic but perhaps too bright.  I went back and moved the unit to seven feet back from the window. Perfect!

I brought a friend around who always says he doesn't worry about burglars.  Nevertheless, when he saw the effect, he ordered one right away.

From time to time I plan to buy a new product and test it out. If I don't like it I'll return it, but if I do like it I will recommend it and explain why.  To cover my costs and time, I will include a link to an Amazon affiliates account.  Your cost will be the same as if you order directly, but Amazon will give me a tiny commission.  Okay with you?  If so, click here to order the Fake TV:

 If you order it, please let me know if it meets your expectations.

What other products might you wish to see reviewed here?  Please leave a comment or email me at Jack [at]

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Here's the best used car for the money!

As all readers of  How to be Invisible know,  I advise never financing the purchase of a car because (among other things) it makes anonymous ownership impossible. The most frequent complaint I get is, "But I must finance the car because I don't have the cash!"  That's often because they want to buy some low-maintenance car such as a Honda or a Toyota.  Hondas and Toyotas are great cars--in fact, we currently have threeToyotas--but they aren't cheap.

Two months go, some Mexican friends asked me to help them look for a Toyota with less than 80,000 miles on it.  They had $8000 in cash. I suggested they forget the Toyota and buy a Mercury Grand Marquis. "Consumers Report rates them highly, they usually have leather seats, seat six, and get 22 mph on the highway."

The next day I located a one-owner 2001 Grand Marquis on Craigslist with 73,000 miles. It had a few dings and there was a tear in the leather upholstery but it was mechanically sound.  They bought it for $2970 and are happy campers.

Last week one of my readers asked me how to get $5000 together as that's what he needed to buy a decent vehicle. I told him to check Craigslist for a Grand Marquis.  Within two days he located a one-owner 2000 model with 83,000 miles. "Asking price is $2500," he said. "Its in good shape mechanically, but needs headliner repair, new tires and has a few dings in the rear bumper. It drives/handles nicely. Does $2500 sound like a fair price to you?"

I suggested a lower offer due to the worn tires and the headliner repair, and received this message from him yesterday:  "I called and spoke with her. I followed your idea and told her since it needed new tires and headliner repair, that I thought the asking price was a bit high. I explained about the expense of parts, etc. She asked me to give her a few minutes to think on it, and she'd call me back. Within 12 minutes flat, she called me back and asked if $1800 would sound fair. SOLD!"

Since Mercury Grand Marquis are excellent cars and almost trouble-free, what makes them so cheap?

Answer:  Younger car-buyers consider these to be an “old-folks” car so they don’t even look for them.  But the very fact that older people were buying them a dozen years ago usually means that (1) the cars are never abused, (2) maintenance was by the dealer, and (3) the cars are sold because the driver has either gotten too old to drive, or has died.

Last fall our son in Montana said he needed a good car for about $5000 so I said I would find him a cream-puff one-owner low-mileage six-passenger Grand Marquis with not a mark on it. Two weeks later we picked up the 2001 model you see below. The man sold it only because it had been his wife’s car and the wife had died.

Does what I say make sense, folks?