The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Bed, Bath and Beyond Bankruptcy?

For some reason, a lot of people seem to think that Bed, Bath & Beyond is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection from creditors, but that’s not the case at all. From what I’ve been able to gather, it’s actually competitor Linens ‘N’ Things that was facing the prospect of bankruptcy, stemming from their inability to pay $16.1 million in interest fees for the first quarter of 2008.

But after doing some more research, I learned that Linens ‘N’ Things ended up deferring the payment and staving off bankruptcy — at least for the time being.

This is good news for consumers, who were perhaps looking at a repeat of what happened when Sharper Image filed for bankruptcy and stopped accepting their own gift cards.

For now, it appears that you won’t have to worry about that. Linens ‘N’ Things has not filed for bankruptcy yet, and the Bed, Bath & Beyond bankruptcy rumor was just that — a rumor.

Still, it might be a good idea to start using up those gift cards if you have them!

Land’s End Extreme Squall Jacket

I complained all winter long about needing a new jacket to replace the one I’d been using for eight years already. But as usual, I didn’t act in a timely manner and went through yet another winter with the same ugly thing I’d been wearing for ages.

So last week, I finally decided to solve the problem once and for all. I threw out my old jacket, and went shopping for a new one. Yes, I realize that it’s spring and most places have put their winter jackets away for good. I also realize that by buying early like this, I’d be missing out on new designs and styles.

But I didn’t care about that. I just wanted to get this chore out of the way.

I ended up shopping at LandsEnd.com, and found a nice-looking jacket called the Extreme Squall®. It’s temperature rated for -10 degrees F when layered with a sweater or something similar, and 10 degrees F on its own. Yes, it gets significantly colder than that in Chicago over the winter, but I usually don’t venture out that much, so I thought this rating would be sufficient.

I ordered the jacket, and was pleased with the prompt delivery — just three business days later, even though I chose Standard shipping. I also loved the way the jacket looked: it was every bit as cool as the picture on the Land’s End website led me to believe. I was a bit worried about ordering a white jacket, but I think I made the right decision here!

Some features of the Extreme Squall® jacket include:

  • An iPod pocket with headphone cord keeper
  • PolarThin synthetic down insulation
  • Stowaway hood
  • Adjustable cuffs and hem
  • Waterproof zippers, pockets, and sealed seams
  • Waterproof/Windproof AquaCheck laminate
  • Three-ply Supplex® nylon shell

The jacket fits perfectly (thanks to the accurate sizing and measurement charts on the Land’s End site), so I can’t wait to try it next winter. Of course, it’s a shame to have to put it in my closet for the next six months, but that’s what I get for buying out of season.

At any rate, the Women’s Regular Extreme Squall® jacket from Land’s End appears to be worth the $89.50 I paid for it. The real test will come when I can wear it in cold weather, but for now, I’m happy with my purchase!

The O.C. — The Complete First Season

I never watched a single episode of The O.C. while the show was actually airing on FOX, but I ended up watching the entire series on DVDs borrowed from friends. At first, I didn’t think the show was anything special, and in fact couldn’t stand Benjamin McKenzie’s take on Ryan Atwood or the love story involving Ryan and Marissa, so I took my time going through the DVDs.

But once I got past the first half of Season 1, I was fully invested in the show and its characters, and couldn’t get enough. That’s why I recently decided to buy all four seasons on DVD for my own collection so I can watch my favorite eps again and again.

The Complete First Season box set contains all 27 episodes that aired from August 2003 to May 2004. There are seven discs in the collection, with four episodes appearing on each disc. The exception is Disc 7, which has three episodes plus several cool bonus features, including:

  • “The O.C. Unseen” (deleted scenes)
  • “Casting The O.C.” (how and why the actors were selected)
  • “Inside the Real O.C.” (McG talks to real O.C. teens to get their take on the authenticity of the show)
  • “The Music of The O.C.” (how the music supervisor chooses the tunes)
  • “Season 2 Sneak Peek”

I thought all of the features were pretty cool, but especially liked the insights into casting choices. For instance, I had no idea that Peter Gallagher was cast first and that Mischa Barton was second. Both of those were deliberate choices on the part of the producers because they felt those characters would anchor the show. In addition, I didn’t know that Adam Brody was an afterthought or that Rachel Bilson was originally only supposed to be a minor character. It’s amazing how drastically the direction of a show can change based on the actors involved.

The set also includes a guide to the DVDs so you can quickly find out which disc an episode appears on, get a short episode summary, and get chapter titles. This is very handy — and necessary, since no title information appears on the discs themselves.

Overall, I am very pleased with my purchase of The O.C. — The Complete First Season. I paid just $16.99 for it at Amazon.com, so I definitely got a steal. This set is highly recommended, even at twice that price!

Everglide S-500

My husband is a pretty serious gamer, so one product that he’s wanted for a long time is a pair of Everglide S-500 gaming headphones. These are supposed to be the best headphones on the market, mostly because of their ability to filter/block external noises without any loss of sound quality.

I’ve been doing some research, and apparently good headphones like these can make a huge difference in a gamer’s success. For instance, if you’re playing a war game like Call of Duty 4, then these Everglide S-500 headphones can help you hear enemies sneaking up on you, thereby giving you a chance to react before getting shot.

At any rate, Everglide S-500 headphones retail for about $80, which is kind of expensive for headphones. But if they work, then I know my husband will think they’re worth it!

Eco-Friendly Shoes

A couple days ago (on Earth Day), I posted something about joining Freecycle groups in order to save money and help reduce waste in landfills at the same time. Well, I kept on reading about other ways to help the environment, and came across some fantastic eco-friendly products. The coolest item that I saw were these vegan shoes that use recycled materials in lieu of animal products (such as leather).

These particular eco-friendly shoes are from Simple Shoes, and are made with vulcanized rubber from recycled tires, PET pedbeds and PET-wrapped natural latex gore, and organic cotton and hemp uppers and linings.

They look pretty cool too, so I can still look good while helping the environment. Can’t beat that!!

The Body Shop Aloe Gentle Exfoliator

Recently, I’ve been making a concerted effort to take better care of my skin by using a wide range of products to help achieve the desired results.

For instance, I’ve been forcing myself to cleanse twice a day (it’s sooo easy to skip the morning wash when I’m running late and have to take my son to school), and have been using toner and moisturizer regularly. In addition, I’ve also started to use an exfoliator once a week. I know this might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a drastic change from the simple wash ‘n’ go attitude I’ve had towards facial care for the past 20 years!

Anyway, after spending a lot of time comparing products and shopping around, I decided to try an Aloe Gentle Exfoliator from The Body Shop. I usually have good luck with stuff from The Body Shop, and fortunately, that streak continues with this exfoliator.

This particular product is marketed towards people with sensitive skin, and promises not to cause any extra irritation. I have very sensitive skin and was worried about it becoming red and dry from using an exfoliator, so I was extremely cautious about trying this out. But I figured if I limited myself to one scrub per week, I should be ok.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 3 months, and I’m absolutely astounded by how much of a difference this product has made! The Aloe Gentle Exfoliator starts to work immediately. My skin feels infinitely softer and smoother as soon as I wash this product off; I just wish I could use it every day! There’s no harsh fragrance, so I don’t smell medicine-y or anything like that after I use it, and best of all, it doesn’t irritate my skin in the least.

Overall, I think this Aloe Gentle Exfoliator from The Body Shop is a terrific product, so I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants smoother, softer skin. It costs just $12.50 for a 2.5oz tube that lasts a good, long time, which is an excellent deal. Check it out!

Worried About AmericaRX.com

I’ve been shopping online for many, many years now and have only had a handful of problems with the hundreds of orders I’ve placed. The only truly terrible experience I had with an online store was when I ordered a watch from JomaShop.com, but even that was eventually straightened out. There have been several other times when I’ve had to monitor transactions closely and follow up with emails and phone calls to make sure I received my stuff, but I guess that’s to be expected sometimes.

Well, now I’m bracing myself for another bad experience similar to what happened with JomaShop. I recently placed a $100 order at a site called AmericaRX.com, which is a place I’d never used before. Like a total idiot, I didn’t follow my own rules about investigating a website before ordering to see what other customers have to say about the place. If I had, I would have seen a TON of negative ratings about AmericaRX.com, ranging from extremely slow shipping to missing items in the order to packages never being delivered at all.

Anyway, I placed my order this past Sunday (April 20). I received an email first thing Monday morning saying that my order was “ready to ship” and that I’d get another email with a tracking number after it actually did ship.

I waited until 5pm ET today, and still didn’t get a shipping notice — an occurrence eerily similar to what happened with JomaShop.com. I had a bad feeling about things because there’s no way it takes 2 business days to go from Ready to Ship to Shipped, so that’s when I started to check out reviews of AmericaRX.com. Sure enough, their Yahoo! merchant rating is just 2 stars out of 5, and featured many horror stories from harried, dissatisfied customers.

So I immediately called the AmericaRX.com customer service line, waited on hold for five minutes before getting transferred to a CSR named “Maggie” (but who was clearly not a native English speaker), and then told her that I wanted to cancel my order because it hasn’t been shipped yet. She went through the motions of punching in my order number, etc. and then said, “I can’t cancel the order because it shipped out today.”

Excuse me? Then why didn’t I get a confirmation email with a tracking number? Mumbled response about how those all go out at the same time at the end of the day. I then said that I’d like my shipping confirmation email ASAP, and she agreed to find out the tracking number and send me an email right away.

Well, it’s been 15 minutes since I hung up the phone, and I still haven’t received the requested email yet.

Is my panic premature? Sure, I guess so. I haven’t really given AmericaRX.com a chance to perform. But reading through their feedback really spooked me, you know? I hope things work out right, that I get the items I ordered and not a bottle of Orovo or something totally random like that, but I have my doubts. This could end up being a disaster!

At least I feel a little better after posting this and getting it all out there. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up to let you know how everything plays out!

Get Free Stuff

In celebration of Earth Day, I thought I’d write a post about how you can do your part to help save the environment while getting free stuff at the same time. Everybody loves free stuff, right? So listen up.

The best way to go about getting free items of all kinds is to join a so-called “freecycle” group and find people who are trying to unload what you need.

I know, I know: getting a 5-year-old pool table for free isn’t quite the same thing as getting a brand-new model, but the bottom line is that you’re not spending a dime on the product. In times like this when money is tight to begin with, who’s going to quibble about a product’s age? As long as it’s in decent shape and works properly, I wouldn’t care that it’s used.

I’ve checked out Freecycle.org, and while I haven’t actually gotten anything from there, I could see myself using it again in the future. A lot of the items are in perfectly good condition and are just being replaced because kids have outgrown it, people are moving into smaller accommodations, etc. There really are some great finds waiting to be discovered over there.

If you like free stuff, check out Freecycle.org today. Then you can put the money you save on all your free goods towards bills that can’t be paid for by barter, such as your rent or car insurance.

Oh, and be sure to do your part by offering your unwanted items up for grabs at freecycle sites as well. Obviously, these types of operations need takers and givers in order to succeed!