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SanDisk VISA rebate card rips you off

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SanDisk sent me $20 and $60 rebate VISA cards for buying SanDisk compact flash cards. I hate rebates in general, but I hate VISA prepaid card rebates even more.

I’m told that banks are required to cash these cards in, but Bank of America had no idea what to do with them. So I tried using a $20 card at a restaurant (i.e. “put $20 on the card, and we’ll pay the rest in cash”), and the transaction failed. It is very hard to use rebate VISA cards.

A friend suggested that I use the cards to purchase gift cards, which is a great idea. I bought a $20 card from Amazon with no problem, but a $60 order failed. I logged in, and it turns out that the account only has $59 on it, even though it plainly says “60 DOLLARS” right on the front of the card.

How is this not ripping me off? It isn’t worth $1 to call a customer service number. Instead, I bought a $59 gift card from Amazon and am posting about the issue here on my website for SanDisk customers to find. I’m sure it will cost one of the companies involved (SanDisk, VISA) more than $1.


OK, I tried to purchase a $59 gift certificate on Amazon, and it failed. I checked the balance again, and now it says that it is $58. I tried buying again, and now it says $57. My balance is shrinking with each attempt, and I am not even successfully using the card!


I believe the reason my balance kept going down is that Amazon does a pre-authorization for $1 before charging the entire amount of the gift certificate. But because the VISA rebate card treats pre-authorizations as charges (before refunding the amount “up to 15 days” later), there is no longer enough on the card for the full charge to go through. The solution is to purchase a gift card for $1 less than the value of the rebate card, or to buy a gift card from somewhere that doesn’t pre-authorize.

Note that my $20 gift card didn’t have this problem, so it seems that Amazon only pre-authorizes for gift cards of a certain value or higher.


I just got a Verizon $50 VISA rebate card. Verizon has a menu item called “Access $” on their rebate card management website, and from there, you are able to withdraw funds directly to your bank account. Way to go, Verizon!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 18 comments » | Oct 28, 2009 18:33:14

Multitasking sucks

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And that’s just on one virtual desktop. Overwhelmed.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 1, 2009 18:40:08

Medical system fail

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I went in to see a doctor two weeks ago for a weird growth under the skin near my elbow. The general practitioner said, “It seems like you might have hit your elbow on something and chipped off a small bone fragment. Your body is building something around it. I could probably remove it, but I’d feel better if you had a dermatologist take care of it.” He walked me down the hall to a dermatologist’s office, all the while asking me about behind-the-scenes stuff in Whale Wars (he was a fan, and saw a Sea Shepherd patch on the vest I was wearing). After an hour of waiting around, a dermatologist finally saw me, examined my elbow, and said, “Yeah… that’s near a joint. I’m going to refer you to an orthopedic surgeon.” 3 minutes of face time. Done.

I just got a bill for $225 from the dermatologist’s office. Haven’t received a bill yet from the GP, but I expect to get one any day. Why didn’t the GP refer me directly to an orthopedic surgeon? I think I just got scammed.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 7 comments » | Aug 27, 2009 15:49:11

Quiz apps – the scourge of Facebook

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I’m currently blocking 87 applications (and 5 individuals) on Facebook for what I call “Facebook application spam.” I don’t care what kind of vegetable you are most like, and I don’t care to have a [random object here] thrown at me.

Facebook will probably add privacy features to account for this problem eventually, but in the meantime, we have to block every annoying application we see to prevent repeated spam from annoying applications / individuals.

Want to see my current block list? (

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 11 comments » | Jun 11, 2009 14:59:47

Lovely Delta flight to Atlanta

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I am on a flight from SFO to Atlanta, and it’s ridiculous. I’m in seat 44D, which turns out to be the worst seat on this Boeing 757-200 plane — the last aisle seat. I dread sitting in this seat. There is currently a line of eight people standing next to me doing all sorts of ridiculous things while waiting to use the bathroom. One elderly woman decided to rest her arm on top of my chair and rock back and forth. I asked her to stop. A guy in tight jeans decided to have a oh-so-invigorating stretch while standing next to me: he turned away and bent forward, sticking his butt into my face. I’ve been jostled by people and food carts probably thirty times since sitting down, and everyone seems to want to rest their arms, shoulders and other body parts on the back of my chair. Combine all of this with a crying, regurgitating baby, super-loud flight attendants sharing their lives with each other, and bad turbulence, and it’s one of the worst flights I’ve been on recently!

Atlanta, GA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | May 26, 2009 17:17:44

My image of Daryl Hannah in Sky, Delta Airlines

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Delta Airlines has published an image I took of Daryl Hannah and Captain Paul Watson in Australia during the first few days of Operation Musashi, Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaign in Antarctica. Thanks to Adam Lau for spotting it and sending me the photos! (read more »)

Stanford, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Apr 19, 2009 19:09:19

Fraud calls from 207-674-2609

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I just received an automated message in a call from 207-674-2609. It looks like a lot of other people are receiving calls from this number (although the CallerID is probably spoofed). In my case, the recording was a man saying something about a free digital satellite system. Other have reported that calls from the number also advertise factory warranty renewals.

This seems similar to the Great Atlantic Warranty calls that I used to get. As before, my solution will be to report abuse to the FTC.

Honolulu Airport | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Sep 1, 2008 15:52:48

DHL cutting San Francisco staff

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Today is Eric complain day.

I went to the San Francisco DHL office to pick up a package, and the driver for my neighborhood told me that DHL has cut a lot of the drivers and office staff, and that it ultimately “affects the customers more than it does [the staff].”

“I called you on Tuesday to attempt delivery,” she said.

What I’m wondering is why that was the first and last attempt.

My package had a delivery attempt on July 28, and no reattempts thereafter. The phone at DHL’s SF office (which is housed in a trailer right now) rings off the hook, and has been doing so for more than 2 days. Even DHL headquarters can’t reach them; I spoke with several service agents by phone (all excellent, by the way) who said that SF was unreachable by both phone and internal messaging system.

3:22pm “A supervisor will call you within 30 minutes.”

5:15pm “A supervisor never called you?”


I suggest avoiding DHL if you live in San Francisco. I had to physically go to their trailer/office in order to find out what was going on with my package, which arrived barely in one piece, with a big hole in the side.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Aug 2, 2008 00:23:23

I give up

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Working right now = impossible.

Bonaire | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Jun 12, 2008 20:23:55

Calls from 562-228-7160 about vehicle warranty

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I keep getting calls from 562-228-7160 to my mobile phone telling my my vehicle warranty has expired. I stayed on the line to talk to an operator, and he hung up on me when I told him I wanted to be taken off their list. If you call back, the number goes nowhere. A Google search for the number shows that others have had the same issue from the same number. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 20 comments » | Mar 4, 2008 18:54:27

The kind of emails I get

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Here’s an email I got today:

What filter do you use on that 20d conversion, and which service to you pick, did you get the Deep BW IR Filter Image? Thanks alot for the advice.

I get stuff like this all the time. Now, why would I reply? The guy has not introduced himself nor given me any reason to spend my time answering his question. Furthermore, a Google search for “Eric Cheng 20d infrared conversion” provides the answers as the first link.

I often get emails like this, asking about the variety of topics found on my website. It is easy enough to delete them, but I often wish the internets offered a “bitch-slap” feature as well.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 11 comments » | Mar 2, 2008 00:45:17

United Airlines is going down the tubes

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Normally, I am insulated from the incredible incompetence of some airlines because I book online using websites like Orbitz. Just now, I was forced to actually call United Airlines in order to book a ticket using credit from a previously canceled fare. A strong Indian accent picked up, and they guy was stuttering and was unable to form thoughts (stumbling over himself). I knew I was fucked.

At first, he told me he would have to charge a $100 fee for using the credit (fine, since my previous ticket was non-refundable), plus a $100 fee to change the routing. I balked at that, and he put me on hold. Then, he came back and told me that he would not charge me for the re-routing fee (that is what I final figured out after about 3 minutes).

It took a total of more than 20 minutes on the phone to book the ticket. I had to coax him during each step of the process because I knew that if I just answered his questions normally, he wouldn’t understand. I had to repeat just about everything I said.

United also recently announced that it will charge non-Premier members $25 to check a second bag.

I am so glad that I switched away from them a few years ago. I only had the credit because I had a cancel a trip to Denver a few months ago (United is direct and inexpensive to Denver). Next time, I’m going to book with another airline.

Waialua, Oahu | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Feb 16, 2008 18:56:26

AAdvantage Citi credit card hassle

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Last month, I had an unauthorized $2,000 charge by Ron’s Honda Center in Soldotna, Alaska. I called them up and spoke with a nice guy named Terry, who told me that their computer systems showed no transactions of $2,000 during the month of December.

I called Citi to report the fraudulent charge, and spoke with a rather annoying service representative. 7-10 day replacement? And I have to get an affidavit notarized?

This was a fraudulent charge, and I need my card to be replaced now! I managed to get 24-hour expedited card replacement, but Citi should really be trying to replace my card as easily and quickly as possible without me having to make it an issue. This is why I like my American Express. They make things easy.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Jan 22, 2008 16:06:10

Welcome home

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thanks, neighbor!

One of the worst things to find upon returning home from a long trip is a sink full of greasy food-water and a slippery floor.

My upstairs neighbor has clogged my sink four times since I moved in. The last time, I asked him to be sure to run the water for a long time any time they put food down the disposal. I spoke with The Wife today (who was very nice, actually), and she said that she “remembered him saying something about that.”

The plumber who just showed up quoted $334 to fix the problem. Yippee.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Dec 28, 2007 14:25:31

Unauthorized charges / fraud by Callwave

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Does anyone out there know of a company called Callwave? They’re some sort of service that takes over your mobile phone voicemail to provide additional services.

I am not a customer of Callwave, nor have I ever been. But for the last year and a half, I’ve been billed 3 times a month by Callwave; each month, I am billed twice for $3.95 and once for $7.95. (read more »)

Oakland | link | trackb | 14 comments » | Nov 10, 2007 00:41:41

Contesting a $2,724.14 data charge from AT&T / Cingular

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I have a Blackberry Pearl, and am under a plan which Cingular used to call “Blackberry International Unlimited”, which advertised unlimited data usage internationally for $69.99/month. A bundled voice plan gave me a $5 discount on the plan, making it $64.99/month for data. There was no fine print stating anything about the type of data used, but I assumed that if I ever saw a roaming indicator, I would probably get charged for the data usage. — warning, this is long! — (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 7 comments » | Sep 2, 2007 18:16:03

“You’re a hard guy to get ahold of”

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Yeah, it’s true. So you e-mailed me once a few months ago, and I never wrote back. But was it important? Are you sure I received your e-mail? Did you emphasize in the text that it was time-sensitive? Did you write again to follow up? Did you try using THE PHONE? Do I even know you?

Here’s how it usually happens:

  1. someone writes me an e-mail
  2. 2 months pass. there are no more attempts to contact me.
  3. i write back, as i try to clear out my inbox
  4. they write back: “you’re hard to get ahold of”

Clearly, I am hard to get ahold of.

I also like to bitch about stuff. :)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Mar 27, 2007 17:11:54

Amazon.com is selling shark fin soup

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It seems that Amazon.com is carrying shark fin soup and other products through three third-party vendors Roland, Pacific Rim Gourmet, and VitaminLife. With all the controversy surrounding shark fins and the horrible practices used to harvest fins, Amazon should be ashamed to be carrying shark fin soup and should rectify the problem immediately by pulling all shark fin products from their catalog.

What you can do:

  1. Leave feedback at Amazon’s product page for Roland Shark Fin Soup, Dragonfly Shark Fin Soup, and VitaminLife.
  2. Participate in the discussion over at Amazon about the product and why it’s bad for them to carry it
  3. Send e-mail to Roland Food at Phyllis.Goldberg@rolandfood.com, Pacific Rim Gourmet at customerservice@pacificrim-gourmet.com, VitaminLife at customerservice@vitaminlife.com, and write letters of protest to:

    Pacific Rim Gourmet
    75-5660 Kopiko Street, Suite C7-210
    Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

    15940 Redmond Way
    Redmond, WA 98052

  4. Write to Amazon.com at Advantage Customer Service (advantage@amazon.com) and Investor Relations (ir@amazon.com)
  5. Spread the word through your webpage, blog, etc. (code available here)
  6. Boycott Amazon.com until they comply
  7. Join the discussion in the Wetpixel forums

Alibaba is even worse, and is something that also needs to be tackled by the media. Sea Shepherd has called for a ban of Alibaba’s listings, as have some other organizations.

UPDATE Amazon pulled shark fin from their inventory!

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Jan 2, 2007 22:44:23

The Bay Bridge is driving me crazy

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I’ve only been back for a few days and I gotta say: the Bay Bridge is a f’in nightmare. I arrived home (to SFO) late Sunday evening, and by the time Geoff and I made an attempt by car to get me and my 200 lbs of luggage back to Oakland, the now-standard midnight traffic on the Bay Bridge was already terrible. We aborted, and I spent the night at their place in the city.

CalTrans currently reports:


… but because the detour used to start at 1AM, I have been operating under that assumption and heading home each night at around 12:15am. By then, traffic is already really bad, and tonight was no exception. I left San Francisco at 12:05am and wasn’t able to get onto the bridge for over half and hour. It gets worse. There was a surprise onramp switch (chaos!!), and the four-way intersection just before the onramp was completely jammed with cars and honking taxis trying to squeeze into the lane that would eventually lead to the bridge. People were pissed.

… but I suppose tonight was better than the first time I discovered the existence of the detour, which resulted in a 3.5-hour trip across the bay (home at around 4:30am!). THAT truly sucked.

Whoever is organizing the bridge construction is completely incompetent. Don’t even get me started on the weird-ass 5th-Street-offramp / bizarre-right-jog on westbound 80 just past the bridge. That thing causes traffic at nearly all hours of the day.

I’m tempted to move away — or back to San Francisco — until the bridge construction is done.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 6 comments » | May 24, 2006 01:29:44

Aw, shit.

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I have to go back through Manila again tomorrow.

Yap, FSM | link | trackb | no comments » | Apr 18, 2006 06:24:21
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