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All 71 customer reviews

All 71 customer reviews

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Never before have I been apprised of a carrier-esque pigeon and his commercial percentage-"journey" from an HK seller until NewFrog imparted such notices. (More accurately, it was them through one of their ebay entities.)

I was confused, to say the least... because "Mr. Pigeon" was spot off; the day he reached his 50% mark was the day I received my order.


Mr. Pigeon SUCKS as alternative tracking. I mean, why NOT share the number that was clearly printed on the plastic envelope? Just a modicum of consideration, right? No... they think themselves cute.

So they gave me the bird. Twice. Thanks, NewFrog.

Swift my pigeon was not, soporose he was; the unofficial "send off" took place after a near-week of sedentary slothfulness... or whatever. NOTE: it should already be drilled into your head that the HK Post is not-so-hot when you make enough overseas/Chinese purchases; if it's "cheap", it's okay to assume that adjective is apropos across-the-board. (Japanese sellers tend to be much better and practical about distribution.) Anyway, when an order is marked "shipped", it's ostensibly packed and then sits waiting in a facility--perhaps in some longass investigative queue, woefully neglected/molested for approximately six days--PRIOR to being put en route to the final destination.

NewFrog thought it best to bestow upon me with the paltry progress of a poky proxy to *spare* me... what? The agony of knowing truth? Or tedium? So... updates are slow, updates are sometimes inaccurate, and updates trigger gag reflexes that some WTF cover story about a class aves half-wit couldn't possibly induce?

It offends.

Well the order was correct and undamaged in its thin, plastic baggy--exceedingly sparse packaging for electronics!--which sported the color of most dew-covered, windshield droppings one would find framed in a ray of soft morning light. It should be noted the purchase was a semi-urgent necessity, so the wait in the dark, plus the uncharacteristically large S&H fee--why?, and the pretense of customer care was more upsetting than satisfactory.

Their official site is like most others, although a tad better arranged than Uxcell--its primary class of competition. And by "competition" I mean it's not *even* that if everyone has the same low standards. Unavoidable Comparison and Plug: DealExtreme is in a whole other league.

Oh, and a plus? (Is it a plus?) NewFrog doesn't hand out those e-pseudo-discount cards to make customers suffer through any or all of the above, again.

Bottom line: NewFrog is a tolerable seller if you don't care about specifics, pricing, or that thing called time.



Like most HK sellers of cheap electronics and discounted knickknacks, Uxcell(.com) doesn't hawk their wares via their site alone. They have aliases on eBay--two from which I've made purchases; auction layouts are identical or variants of one another, and you often won't know which seller has established multiple accts until payment is cleared post-auction/buy.

In a quasi-free-for-all vendor marketplace, the over-saturation of aliases can be assy--and I'd wholly agree if a seller is into fraud, but discovering better pricing is a nice benefit of sales inconsistency.

By "nice", I mean "meh".

An order made through their eponymous ebay listing resulted in halfway decent comms, lethargic "free" shipping (translation: a smidgeon over two weeks), the *correct* shipment, and a surprise bonus e-discount card, i.e., $5 off any purchase on their site. A later order took place on their hard-to-navigate, official site with the assistance of said e-discount card and resulted in a surprise $5 minimum S&H fee.


Nearly a MONTH later, it arrived... with yet another bonus card.

For real? YES.

[Insert tedious search for the cheapest possible item that's actually IN STOCK and wouldn't be a total waste of time/money... 'cause you know... $5.00 S&H. And does anyone know how good an item is? Maybe, if you've shopped elsewhere, but you're not going to know much while scouring their categories. Uxcell's customer reviews are too sparse; OH so sparse to the point where one can't help but note how they have too many feckless, variegated items ON WHICH TO COMMENT. It's almost as if nobody cares enough to write a thoughtful blurb because, hey, most "reviews"--if any--tend to look like this simplistic, spotty dross: "iths good, werx grat soenuff. :)" or "crap! ntbrokn 4me............................" Is it any surprise? No. But why the hell don't have they have uniform pictorial "OUT OF STOCK" notifications everywhere that *matters*?!]

Nevertheless... while waiting for that order, unrelated research done on their site warranted further parallel scouting on eBay. eBay yielded much cheaper, seemingly faster processing with an unexpected, photograph-based déjà vu... eh... angles are different, couldn't be the same, no. There are so many damned variations any--

Gee. Okay. Thanks for the notice Paypal! has many faces; yes, message received.

Their being slow about sending out items doesn't help speed up... well, *anything*, but this post will receive an update when the latter two orders are fulfilled.

Fulfilled to whatever extent.

When buying from them, make sure you're:

1) never buying anything that you'll want or need (badly) within half a month, and...

2) picking something small enough in size and price to minimize pain in the case of breakage or loss...

...and all will be sunshine and flowers. Or not; I might just wind up with two more e-discount cards that I can't successfully pass off to anyone fo' shame!

In-a-nutshell: EXTREME tedium is probably Uxcell's worst offense. That is, in my own experiences--which are already one too many--and will probably be limited to ebay purchases since feedback counts for more... until they create another account.

Speaking of extreme, it should be noted that DealExtreme is the ideal, nonpareil seller for similar stuff. Now if only they weren't so friggin' popular and had all of the best, interesting items going out-of-stock--ALL the time, in record time...

May 2011 Addendum:

Two Words: More. Cards.

Unless you don't mind the extended wait, spending more than necessary, or are just so keen on obtaining something inherently insubstantial that you'll accept any minor and major hardship(s) to get what you want... avoid using those idiotic timesink/e-discount lures.

If you can't--simply CAN'T or won't--pass up spending a dollar or three, combat time-wasting searches by planning way in advance: amass an obscenely large pile of cheap-yet-vaguely-useful crap listed on their site, prioritize and save it, and then whip it out when you're gifted with the first of many turds...

It stops only when you stop.

Oh yeah, their ebay entities seem to ship orders a tad faster than the official site.

Go figure. (USA)


In the aftermath of another successful transaction, here's added praise for Newegg: they haven't yet let me down (in an overall sense) since the early 21st century.

Sure, there are the occasionally defective pieces of merchandise, but all is well as long as there's an honest and *fair* RMA policy available to put things right. No hidden clauses or obfuscating jargon to cover commercial ass; just a fast and easy process.

Newegg has that, and more.

They may not always have the lowest prices, the most accurate spec-lists, or the best shipping packages, but apart from those minor glitches--and perhaps the rare big one, i.e., 2010's perplexing chip-based "oops", there's no denying that they're an ostensible paragon of customer service. Just look at their site; it's designed to help streamline product research necessary for most tech consumers, and they have--and archive!--some of the best and most informed customer feedback you could ever want.

Newegg is to practical, borderline pedantic, niche reviews as Amazon is to varied customer explication of wide-ranging products; cross-referencing, fact-finding, and alt. selections are a breeze when you combine them both. (Of course, this is assuming that one already has a basic idea of item reqs prior to intensive research.)

Despite the good, one thing that bugs me is their slew of changes in item status; when a product is placed on Auto-Notify, and then goes "Out of Stock" and "Deactivated" (simultaneously), it IS possible that the labels are inaccurate. e.g., I was recently hellbent on obtaining an expensive item. At Newegg, it was there for a long while (sans adequate discounts), then gone, suddenly available again for less than half a week (discovered via the auto-notify), and then labeled the below:

Deactivated. This item is currently out of stock and it may or may not be restocked."

Note the initial tone of finality and subsequent vague phrasing. The auto-notify option wasn't available either. What does one think?

A single person in the customer feedback section commented a year ago how it was often out of stock, so there was *some* hope that it wasn't truly gone. But it was confusing since even uberpopular items that I've tracked--repeatedly, during their typical sales lifespan--never had "Deactivated" listed (while not stocked) AND conjoined with a missing notification option. (That's during *prolonged*, obsessive check phases, so this is a guess at best.) Will I be auto-notified again once it's available for sale? The phone-based customer support uttered a tepid "yeah..." when I wondered aloud if my only recourse was to engage in *excessive* page checks.

Ugh... it's just not conducive to productivity, and a tad insane.

Nonetheless, Newegg's message was even *more* dismaying when I discovered that most every major vendor (and random hole-in-the-wall shop) out there has it marked "Discontinued". Price inflation can be a total bitch in this so-called "dead and gone" sitch. Note: Refurbished items that have cogent corresponding consumer bitchery (a week before a surprise restock) don't count as worthy purchases.

Only ONE vendor had it listed as "Coming Soon"; in jest, or an error? When I asked them to clarify, they gave me an unanticipated *month-estimate* for a pending shipment. "REALLY? Are you sure?!" "Well, it's just an *estimate*... so..."

Right, yeah, okay. No one expounds on the unknown. SO...

A call was put to the product manufacturer; the company's support rep couldn't validate any such projections or provide numbers, but he *could* confirm that the item is NOT "discontinued". Meaning--after anal retentive, multifaceted requests for elaboration--that the item WILL continue to be produced, and there's no foreseeable termination date or updated model to replace it. You know, all the affirmative things one would expect a rep to spout...

What are the lessons?

If you're desperate enough, know that you can't currently trust Newegg's item status feature at face value; this was an unexpected disappointment given that they do so much already (and more) to set the curve for competitors. But as experience teaches you, the bulk of the research--as always--is the responsibility of the customer, so be prepared to indulge in a modicum of insanity to get what you want, or move on to auxiliary candidates.

In-a-nutshell: Newegg is highly recommended as an invaluable tool-sometimes-source for tech necessities.

This post will get an update if I find that the item-in-question is back on the shelves.



What is Unwant'd--besides a site laden with scammers and frauds? It's an alternative auction venue for those that despise eBay, or those desirous of scant security in their transactions with total strangers.

Is it safer than Craig's list? Maybe, but only by an infinitesimal amount; there's a certain amount of lawlessness that's still allowed to take place under the guise of a "legitimate" win. One would think there are binding rules and some semblance of protection for buyers since it's an *auction* site, right?


I don't know of anyone that's successfully obtained items, or a *single* item of worth, via the site, but my sole experience with it-them-whatever entity allowed me to successfully dodge a bullet. At the last minute.

Not a particularly useful lesson (on the whole)... just a lot of needless drama. Then again, it's the *memory* of the drama that inculcates a multitude of obscure mini-lessons.

In a nutshell: mid-2007, enticing images (possibly faked/borrowed/stolen) of used electronics resulted in a fortuitous "win" (not a steal, but discounted just enough for satisfaction), transactional comms (circa early-21st century Amazon and eBay sales!), wired money, ping-pong comms in the aftermath where the seller stated an inability to collect funds with Western Union (plus unclear, so-called "arguments" with the WU rep), the seller's sudden insistence for a Moneygram payment (a method with "who cares about fraud? oh yeah... *we* don't" security measures), and subsequent seller disappearance after the request to use Paypal. (In retrospect, it's clear that the asshat-seller-whatever was obviously running a scam based on the first couple of messages, but when you're new, and find yourself a winner-though-soon-to-be-loser in a dated, transactional scenario, it can be difficult to tell.)

And... apparently, Unwant'd's customer support is nonexistent. Or was...? Don't know or care if they are fully functioning now, but the site is still around, and people are ostensibly buying and selling on it. Except when it's offline. Sometimes the server doesn't let you connect for reasons unknown--their domain expires in 2012, so if there's a renewal, it's still alive. How is it that no one has yet given them a substantial review?!

Anywhoo, my messages to them--reporting the above incident--were received, sure. But their responses were automated and chock-full of boilerplate blah and empty promises: "[pseudo-congenial filler + too-late statements of the obvious]...please let us know and we shall investigate. / We will reply to you shortly. Kind regards, The Unwant'd Team"

In reality, it's more like, "Hey stupid, you helped to make this mess. Learn to wipe your own ass or leave. Kind regards, The Unwant'd Team"

A little reminiscent of those self-righteous blowhards volunteering "advice" on Craig's List, but much less kind since these laissez-faire tards don't offer jack s*** for reparations, or basic assistance. Even if there are honest auctions about, there's no reason why anyone would continue to use their free listing services--much less *bid* on Unwant'd dross--after such an ordeal. That is, unless you're adventurous with money, have enough to burn, roll in, etc.

Deep-seated compulsions to con people out of their money aside... I'd recommend avoiding Unwant'd at all costs.



Skooba Design was a stumbled-upon site that later popped up in variety of notable seller locales. This small, growing, New York-based company has been awesome thus far...

What do they sell?

High-grade, affordable gear--essentially tech-friendly bags and various related accessories; a solid line of uberpractical items for those looking to bolster mobile comfort, with a certain, subdued élan. Think Case Logic with way fewer sub-genres and styles, but a much more consistent design ethos that stresses streamlined (albeit niche) functionality over aesthetics alone; this, in itself, is spectacular if you can find multiple, non-standard uses for their goods. Just a glance at their inventory can tell you that Skooba Design seems laser-focused in their select product types, and isn't looking to dominate the markets à la Timbuk2 et al. (Note: Timbuk2 has a ton of great wares, but they have a troublesome habit of overreaching--just read the deluge of customer complaints and note the overlaps.)

Nevertheless, Skooba's gear-line runs the gamut of designs from quasi-traditional to unique, though less of the latter these days. (A good chunk of their more interesting items went extinct in an on-going clearance sale.) But one can find the majority of their wares listed on their official site,, or eBay. eBags is more helpful than all three in doing product research given the sheer number of satisfied owners--although it's annoying when discontinued items are excised alongside their reviews, and eBay has somewhat of a more diverse listing.

It's all ephemeral--in a great way--no matter where you look.

Personally, not much can be stated about the use or ownership of their bags, even though they were considered, but based on the quality workmanship and "abuse" of the non-bag items, it's clear that they consistently employ high-end materials and are meticulous about construction. (It could very well be these reasons why some product extinctions occurred.) That said, their prices are justified, but so much better when you can get things discounted... and there are *plenty* of discounts to be found.

The first order ever was placed on their site, and due to mild confusion about account registration, I didn't get the order confirmation. A call to customer service put me in touch with a very affable, knowledgeable, and accommodating rep (Bryan); not only did he sort the account details on the server end, he also answered a bunch of product questions and forwarded the requested order info.

In short, superb service. (I noted some time later that they have a "Core Values" page on their site listing a bunch of points and was intrigued by the fact that they all rang true.)

The only downside about ordering from their site is the fifty bucks for free shipping deal; it's difficult to justify casual, single-item purchases unless the article of interest is around or over the said amount. They use UPS and offer free tracking, so given the size of most items, it's no wonder shipping isn't cheap. My more recent purchase of their wares was initially going to take place on their site, but even if the unattractive shipping rate encouraged use of an alternate venue, I was still pleasantly surprised to see that they got around to incorporating Paypal as an option.

Not having done extremely thorough research on their publicity practices--'cause who has the time?, I still haven't encountered a single Skooba-endorsed/shill blog that encourages people to voice a bunch of superfluous, too-public opinions. Their contact info is clearly listed on their site, so it's easy to get in touch with them, or to relay your thoughts, criticisms, and/or praise; they also don't hound you for feedback, spam you with endless crap, or cut any obvious corners.

Subsequently, it's refreshing as hell that they don't bother making customer reviews--and every paltry scrap of public praise--the cornerstone of their PR. (You can tell a mile away how desperate some companies are when they are so vehement, or Charlie Sheen-styled "passionate", about flaunting their feedback.) It could be said that Skooba's products and support speak for themselves, and thus, any/everything else is just icing on the cake.

This post will be updated when there's an actual bag-item order.

Highly recommended!



Successful transactions in-store v. an overly "pretty" site backed by benumbing, ineffectual, feckless customer service... brass tacks, yadda yadda: Teavana is a great alt. to Adagio Teas--in regards to product quality, but really only if you can access their brick and mortar locales.

Just one "first online order" FAIL with them makes Adagio's online processing infinitely better by comparison.


A superb discount on an item is announced via the ML, I stumble upon it (others flock to it), check for it in person, at a store--negative, and check again online; it's listed as "in stock". Sweet. Mind you not just a generic "in stock", but "in stock" for the *specific* quantity I desire. They go to greater lengths than others to split hairs; but, s'okay. The appropriate amounts are selected--a Stupendous deal, all is tolerable with S&H, and then oh... no Paypal, but orders can be placed sans acct registration.

Fine, do it, charge the card. But, a PASS on the reg: zero incentives is enticing how...? Also becoming an "affiliate" isn't a customer benefit, but a job for shills, thank you.

Anyway, done; hooray for a successful transaction... or so I think. How could I not? The server sends me an email confirmation with clear details. The domain for orders is apparently different from those (subdomains) used for list emails, but both types are received without issue, so all should be fine.

Or so I think.

Lot of nothing for those tallied business days; "nothing" being nothing BUT more useless specials, updates, publicity dross and nothing regarding my order, shipping, et cetera. I just want. My. Order. BEFORE investigating--much less acknowledging--anything they deign to label "therapeutic" or "mysterious" or "dream"-worthy... christ.

A full week passes, more blah, another week. A thought: they could be back-ordered, so what gives? Then, busy for awhile, forget for half a week. And then a wake-up call arrives in the form of a stupidly titled ad in the inbox--in a new month.

The inquiry to Teavana's customer service results in this:

"Uh... [tap tap tap] uh... well, it was canceled."

"Oh? Why?"

"We're out of it, uh... it's discontinued."

"But it was listed as 'in stock' when I ordered."



"Well... uh, there's no more now."

".........*so*, why wasn't I notified?"

"Uh... [tap tap] um... yes. You were: we sent a confirmation, a shipping notification, back-order notification, and then a cancellation notice."


"Uh... [dates]... [pregnant pause] [date]... yeah, so you should've known already."

"...But I only received the confirmation email. Are the other three from different servers? And why would there be a *shipping notice* if the item is later back-ordered?"

"Well, uh.... [tap tap] did you check your um, spam folder?"

"Yes, I have my email filtered appropriately; it targets the address used to order from your site. My question is about the servers, do you know if they're from different servers?"

"Um... [tap tap] well... hrm... okay, see, we have mail from a different place for newsletter emails. And... for our orders and stuff, it has to say... ""."

"Yes. I know that already. But I'm asking about the shipping, back-order, and cancellation emails. How can I get the confirmation email and then NOT receive any other important, order-related emails?"

"Uh... well sometimes, people don't filter their email right, and the order information gets sent to spam, or the trash, you know."

"Can you see the address that I used?"

"Uh... [crickets segueing into silence]"

"Are you still there?"

"I uh... [tap tap] ...have to pull up the order, again."


"[long pause] What's your order number, again?"

"[order #(@%$*&?!)]"

"Okay... um... let's see... okay here it is. It says [email addy]."

"Yes. Do you see now *unique* it is? How it's *tailored* to your specific site?"

"Hrm... yeah?"

"I filter for that."

"Okay... well, like I said, the order emails all have in them..."

"That's not my point--"

" they come from there."


To avoid additional grief in reliving this inanity, here are several established points:

1) Customer service cannot change the email that you have for an order or the mailing list. You need to register first and then do it yourself. (Fair enough.)

2) No interest in paypal; no reason given. But if you want to say something about it, feel free to post a comment in their blog, or whatever. (Warms the cockles watching them give a damn.)

3) "In stock" doesn't mean an item is actually in stock. (So... hey, surprise! Lies! Unapologetically MORONIC.)

4) Even if you get an "order shipped" email, they might renege it by saying that an item/order is back-ordered later. (But of course, I only have the word of that rep to rely on since I couldn't actually *read* any of those three missing emails.)

In toto, you can suggest changes all you want to a rep--THIS rep, and there will be statements of the obvious and a dire lack of apologies for the BS, e.g., time-wasting-teeth-pulling session, lip service, false advertising, retarded behavior, technical errors et al. Apparently, they don't feel the need to improve customer relations to bolster sales... which goes to show you how much better Adagio Teas is--on so MANY fronts--even if their steepables aren't always on par with Teavana.

They are overpriced, and are thus worthwhile--if you're even borderline thrifty--ONLY when they have extra special deals; the kind that incites hordes of rabid enthusiasts to snatch up every last oz of fragrant ____ in the name of... decadence? At this point, I can't tell you if the quality truly warrants that degree of crazy, but know that anything online (that's available in-store) SANS a discount is overpriced in a spectacularly stupid way. Affiliate my ass.

If a discounted order is ever RECEIVED, this post will get an update. For now, the walk-in locations seem best.



Fandango and their cornucopia of stereotyped, paper bag puppets... gimmicky, yet memorable; and they used to be one of the most useful sources for buying tickets until things exploded in the mobile scene.

In this day and age, most can check times and locations on their phones, so there's increasingly less demand for such sites unless you're obsessive about advanced ticket sales (with a comforting amount of security). Sure, some movies warrant the opening day insanity, but with the constant stream of mainstream dross, you're better off paying as little as possible--especially if you intend to splurge at the concession stand.

Here are 2.5 things that suck about Fandango:

1) the service fee per purchase, and...

2) CC-only payment (no paypal).

The .5 issue is regarding their phone app: it's horrible (and not relevant to the post).

If you're after the cheapest possible movie ticket price online, the chances of that are next to nil; you'd have to be one of the lucky few (or however many) that can score the limited ~$1 deals from out of the blue. Don't know if they still offer that ephemeral blah, but I haven't heard of anyone being so lucky. Nonetheless, caring about ticket prices isn't a matter of anal retentive rationalizing (and rationing) when you factor in the drive to the theater, time spent getting there, the armload of popcorn, snacks, and drinks, and then the abject "quality" of the picture...

It all kinda adds up in a bad way--even for bare minimum sitches.

Also consider location: if you live in or near a metropolis, then the $10+ for ticket and fee, combined with transportation/gas to the theater... and (again) factoring in the aftermath of an infuriating time-sink... hurts. Matinee prices are fickle everywhere. (Note: I've never seen dollar theaters with online ticketing, so I can't speak for Fandango's (in)convenience when it comes to highly discounted purchases.)

Yet, there are a few pros to having Fandango around:

1) they're a reliable source for nearby showtimes and theater locations--though redundant when it's accessible via most phones,

2) they are affiliated with AMC, and

3) you get peace of mind during and after transactions; secure encryption and temporary calm of owning that sheet of paper (unless you're lacking a printer, or toner, or... yeah).

The most basic convenience is nothing special.

If you have mobile access, and are able to walk up to the box office, then you can save yourself the time, money, and headache(s) without ever having anything to *do* with Fandango.

Recommended--provided that this recent if-then statement doesn't apply.


For those that haven't a clue about Etsy, it's a venue much like ebay, but one primarily for vintage and "handmade" goods (most of the time).

In two words: total niche.

They're skewed towards arts and crafts, so there will be gobs of stuff one might encounter at flea markets, home and garden shows, garage sales, or randomass bazaars. At worst, you'll be wading through a lot of gross-looking curios or the most commonplace items made from Michael's top-of-the-line, DIY fodder, and at best, there will be interesting artwork (useable or not) and the odd, non-handmade line that would be near impossible to unearth most elsewhere. The variety of subcategories can be enormous. Sometimes you can find extremely high quality practical goods, but why someone would choose to remain with Etsy alone (at that point) is beyond me since they'd easily fetch greater prices on auction-based sites.

Nevertheless, Etsy showed up on my radar several years ago when some disgruntled artists moved from larger, more impersonal channels in hopes to increasing sales, visibility, et cetera. In a sense, they are the nice hippie alternative for casual sellers.

Although it's clear that pricing is fairly inconsistent, the sales/seller setup is unknown to me as I only browse and buy. There have been no returns or problems on my end thus far, but I appreciate the Paypal option--and recommend it for any and all transactions. (The user interface may be innocuous, transparent... but you may think differently once there's closer inspection of objects on display.)

The only real use I have for them is as an alternative search "database"; one never knows what serendipitous results will crop up with the most random entries, so it's a viable source that shouldn't be overlooked. And in the case where a line of goods appeals to you, bookmark the seller ASAP because you may never find it again through their indiscriminate site search.

This post will be updated if there's a substantial purchase in the future.

Recommended (for the aforesaid reasons).


Having placed several orders over the years--the last one being the absolute best, I still wouldn't consider myself a loyal customer of ThinkGeek even though I do return on occasion. And browse more often than buy. But as much as I appreciate their variety, it's the inconsistent quality of the items that bugs me.

Where to begin...

The way they present themselves and their hordes of fans, ThinkGeek *ostensibly* owns the US-based niche for distributing these unique wares. But they aren't the only sellers on the market... just the most visible. Great marketing, sure, but at what cost?

Their inventory is filled with the nerd-equivalent items found in the SkyMall (et al) zines--with some noticeable overlap in both items and price; meaning: you're paying for luxury and/or a modicum of convenience, not so much necessity. Needless to say, if you're creative with implementation, you'll always find abundant, non-standard uses for such devices, and if you're creative without ever laying eyes on such wares, you'll always find a cheaper way of getting what you want with even less. ThinkGeek aims to make their luxury wares "necessities" the way they're marketed, and at times, it works.

Maybe this is how they reel in the newcomers...?

Anywhoo, it's not the conceit or pseudo-humble tone of the descriptions that bolster sales of the products--although it'll get some people sucked into the niche culture, but no-nonsense specs combined with occasional suggested uses and the odd "customer action shot". (NOTE: While the action shots may sometimes serve as deal-breakers/fantasy-crushers, the inclusion of honest, customer-reviews-per-item-page would be much more informative. And apart from visual explanations of the more complicated toys, the product vids tend to snuff out residual interest; it reinforces the notion that "you'll be paying for something akin to this experience".) ThinkGeek tries very hard, with the assistance of Mascot Timmy and co-workers, to imbue the concept of "super fun" (real or imagined) into every product, even if they know it's... oh, whimsical and "cute". Translation: utterly useless.

You may discover just *how* useless or crappy something is after you buy into everything... the first couples of times. (More anon.)

"Luxury" equates with fluff items, which are mostly overpriced bits of fandom--think lesser range, Japanese-style otaku paraphernalia for less discerning Westerners (insulting)--while the best "higher quality" goods are a mix of fandom and uberpracticality. Par for the course is finding a practical thing made of inferior materials, or poorly constructed, that's exorbitant by default unless you get it for "free" with acute amounts of GeekPoints. Of course, the shipping and handling fee could negate the so-called discount, but it's never *too* bad if you can make extensive use of your purchase(s). Normal price items are NOT cheap to obtain, so when there's an immediate decision to get said item-type, it often falls into the gift category: to yourself or others.

It can be an ordeal if saving money is priority.

Unless you've done the research, impulsive buys can be a bad idea when it comes to ThinkGeek. It's difficult to discern what constitutes an "average sales price" for anything that's too distinctive, because once you do the research, you'll realize that conversion rates are a bitch.

So you reconsider ThinkGeek as a more viable seller (by comparison)...

I've avoided the larger, more expensive electronics since you can find them elsewhere for less, but can also discover more about how they fare, or other necessary specs, since customer reviews will exist (somewhere) if the items are popular enough. My earlier, whim-based splurges resulted in near-instant buyer's remorse with the various aforementioned problems; reoccurring thoughts are usually along the lines of "WTF were you thinking? You happy now? Oh, what's that? Not really? Well it's yours now. ****. And... it's not worth a return. Double ****. So go make the most of it..."

Sours the moment, and every time I glance at or interact with the item(s). Hooray. Even the accumulation of GeekPoints does little to assuage such pains. One shouldn't take risks or give second chances without more knowledge... more forethought... more scrutiny.

Hey, lessons learned.

I've never returned an item, so the only customer service I've ever dealt with was in regards to the quality and use of an electronic. An expensive one. Back then, the description and pictures were insufficient, and there was no model number or proper labeling of the item; all of which prompted further inquiry. The two folks I spoke with were uninformed and ate up minutes testing the item in ways that didn't reflect my queries. Fortunately, I looked elsewhere and got it cheaper and sooner than I would have with ThinkGeek; after skimming the ResellerRatings' reviews around that time, I think it's plausible that I could have been burdened with an inoperable device, and thus, plagued with RMA issues.

But even to this day, I'd eschew contemplation and purchase of any such electronic gear that has its virtues touted by ThinkGeek... unless you see the same statements everywhere/anywhere else proffering valid, discerning opinions.

I guess consistency in quality can be almost guaranteed in the following: t-shirt material, and any item that you've handled or seen in person. Or if you trust your imagination enough, anything that's been thoroughly reviewed; not widespread--'cause then, it wouldn't be *at* ThinkGeek, right?

Bottom line: in spite of all that's been said, I should point to the start of this post where I mentioned returning on occasion... I will continue to do so given the surprise satisfaction brought by the last order: it was sooo worth the *discounted* price.


What Price Glory (WPG)... a fine purveyor of vintage militaria, apt in name and serious about their wares.

I stumbled upon them a little over several years ago, and have been a satisfied, intermittent customer since. It's quality World War II stuff--with a sizable chunk of WWI articles and what have you--guaranteed to fulfill a myriad needs in this realm. (It seems as though if re-enactors are the majority market.) Authenticity and a retro look aren't all you can get out of a purchase; there's also the added benefit of functionality--being military gear in design, granting the degree of ruggedness varies with age and individual use. However, most items are in excellent condition. WPG does stock up on items made in this century, too, but it's usually fashioned in the style of another era. They might branch out into many other things with time.

Given that so much of what they offer *isn't* found in random, "anything goes" surplus dumping grounds, prices are a tossup if they aren't already in the Very-High-Yet-Affordable-If-You-NEED-It range. (One could possibly use the individual item's list of customer reviews to gauge popularity, alongside the number of times the stock number reaches "0".) If there's a sale, it might be negated by the shipping rate, but sometimes you do manage to get a great deal; just always be on the lookout and subscribe to the item-stock mailing list. It's better than a ludicrous bidding war on ebay.

Although my dealings with customer service are ancient (it was the frazzled owner by his lonesome), Jerry Lee's employed many folks since then, and is ensconced in matters regarding (apparent) massive business expansion and logistics centralization. My last order required international shipping since it came from Dubai... I'm guessing that's why the S&H fee was so friggin' high--the packaging sure didn't warrant that kind of money.

Nonetheless... if you're looking for high quality, vintage military wares or have money to blow, just ask yourself, "What Price Glory?"

Highly recommended.


On the Job Gear (OtJGear) was a stumbled-upon store offering a ton of items that might be difficult to obtain or way overpriced at most shadyass security sites.

Ultimately, I chose them due to price alone; the larger portion of my order was on sale, making it a superb deal. In 2009, there were no entries at ResellerRatings or reviews of them anywhere else--as is common of such distributors, unless they make a large part of their profits selling stuff on ebay, so it was a risk that paid off.

"Risk" because the site wasn't particularly clean in design even if it was functional. They didn't accept paypal then. These days, the site is more "together" and Paypal is acceptable... go figure. Item descriptions are still uneven; some have copious details while others are just bare-bones.

In regards to shipping, I attributed their (then) massive delay due to background checks or really poor processing; it took almost a full week before any change showed up for the order. And to top it off, they didn't even provide tracking. Whether or not they do this now is TBD, but it was quite irritating.

Emailed updates weren't their thing since I only received an order confirmation. And sales seem to be a rarity; I've checked this site on and off over the years and haven't yet found a discount as sweet as the one from 2009, or one that's comparable (for my items).

If the glaring problems are already resolved in 2011, the only thing I have to suggest is a section for customer reviews since OtJGear knows their intended market...

Although I was satisfied with the purchase for the most part, another order probably won't happen unless it's a matter of extreme savings.

Flying Clipper


If you know what they sell at Flying Clipper, you know it's not uncommon that their goods are easily misplaced or marred.

Fortunately, they have a huge selection and very nice discounts on a variety of items. You won't find any 62+ paneled goods in their "kick" inventory--which isn't a bad thing at all. They simply don't hawk the wares of other manufacturers, and can thus describe items with a degree of historical design context. (Most places or resellers slap on generic descriptors or labels and expect the pictures to sell.) Their "juggle" selection is focused only on similarly shaped items for obvious reasons.

If you're unsure whether or not an item works as you might imagine, the sometimes available "Customer Reviews" section (per item) is quite helpful in delineating styles and/or certain techniques. If you don't know what you want, or need a knowledge-base, they have an informative FAQs page and a somewhat simple-to-navigate site sporting worthwhile commentary in logical places. (Note: They aren't redundant about displaying information so don't expect everything to be all in one place.) If all that isn't enough, they even sell tutorial vids and other such paraphernalia.

Flying Clipper accepts paypal, but makes you pay an extra dollar for tracking if you really want it. Ordering is painless and shipping is fast. They don't spam you with needless information, and seem to be open to answering any and all relevant questions.

If there's ever a larger order, this post will be updated.

Highly recommended.



During a mad search for the pending winter season, i.e., August 2010, Patriot Surplus was just one of a slew of military surplus shops an engine spat out. What made them stand out from the rest was product availability, price, and paypal.

Having been screwed over by a handful of fraudulent surplus sellers, I was hoping Patriot Surplus was different: trustworthy. (At the time, there was nothing on ResellerRatings, and the brick and mortar store founder wrote a semi-compelling chunk in the "About Us" section.) Although they've expanded to an online presence, I haven't seen anything of them on ebay, and that's maybe for the better...

I registered and put the item into the cart, was all set to pay for it until... the site rejected my paypal payment three times. I tried another browser, nada. A computer in another state, still nothing. I gave up; annoyed because the total price was so much cheaper than everywhere else for the exact color and size. Hours later, I received an order confirmation from Patriot Surplus telling me that I had ordered when I wasn't allowed to pay for the item. It was ignored and nothing else arrived afterwards.

Jump to mid-December; I was freezing my ass off and wanted the item badly.

The months before only gave me a better idea of the average sales price, so I hoped that Patriot Surplus had the item, fixed their server scripts, and would let me pick up the item for the awesome price.

Two of out of three--or so I thought.

The moment I got my shipping estimate, I was dismayed: back in August, it was $2.75!!! In December of 2010, my completed order revealed that Patriot Surplus turned to Yahoo (small?) business for their transactions, so the shipping was jacked up to $6.95. Didn't care at that point and they accepted my payment. I thought all was well until about four days later; with no additional emails, I wondered what was up and checked the site.

Like the previous poster, my item was still not listed as shipped. Bemusing, yes, especially for a single, small item that had *appeared* to be in stock. I called during business hours and reached no one, listened to the message (explanation anon), and left my contact/order info. There wasn't a callback the next day, and I was swamped, so it was the day *after* that I called them again. This time someone picked up... it was the guy on the message. Inquiry led to the explanation that the item wasn't in stock and wouldn't be until mid-January. I was given two options: wait for it, or cancel. I would wait (because there was no other place with relative pricing for the exact color and size).

Luck would have it that I found what I wanted for way cheaper than everywhere else from a seemingly shady seller. But it was awesome, and that's another story.

Nevertheless, two days after my chat with the customer service, I called back to cancel. The person that answered the phone was the same guy; if the company started basement-small, it could still very well be one person manning... everything? If so, it was probably the founder/owner. He was cordial without effort and patient, even when he assisted in canceling my order--which was confirmed in my inbox during the call.

Due to ResellerRating's changes, there was no notice about Patriot Surplus's entry addition via email. My post now is to partially disagree with the first poster, and to state that Patriot Surplus deserves another chance if things don't work out the first round. It may very well be that they need to:

a) improve their site to include the status of items...

b) hire more people to handle orders/packing, and...

c) establish some sort of cancellation policy/fail-safe...


Advice to all buyers ATM: if you order during business hours, call ahead to see if your item(s) are in stock. Or maybe email if you're not in a rush. Maybe the flood of calls and/or emails will prompt the founder/owner to change things. It's the nature of business growing pains...

My own interactions with the company have so far resulted in a neutral stance, so if I ever actually *receive* an order, this post will be updated.

posted Jul-03-2014

A rep from PatriotSurplus, PatriotSurplusAdmin,has responded

“We sincerely apologize for the difficulties you had with your order. Patriot Surplus is now under New Management. Our parent company is now US Patriot. Patriot Surplus is now backed up by the largest military retailer in the United States. We have a warehouse located in South Carolina with over $2M in inventory that we continually update. Along with that, we have 15 Brick and Mortar locations located in 9 states - South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. We have worked tirelessly over the past few months to integrate the Patriot Surplus systems and customers into our systems. I'm happy to announce that we recently launched a newly designed website that's faster, more user friendly, mobile accessible with many more brands and products before. We are an organization whose staff are former service members - 73% - so we do our utmost to serve those customers who serve for us. Please give us another chance.

Paul Yoo
Patriot Surplus & US Patriot Tactical”



This stumbled-upon, online, custom-swag-shop was the only place with a seller distributing a coveted shirt design that I had thought long gone... well, a *slight* variation of a design.

First and foremost, Printfection is tool aimed at people that want to churn out customized swag without a lot of headache. (I have yet to sample their professed streamline approach, but may try it in the near future.) Secondly, they are an online venue for mostly brand enthusiasts, so it's a little bit of Etsy merged with Cafe Press, but nowhere close to either.

They state that they have "20,000 Satisfied Customers" and list major companies, but those company items aren't available for sale through their shop. (How happy are CEOs? They'll post quotes, but really, who's to know for sure until you try?) A cursory search for seven very different, mainstream subjects yielded many small clumps of lackluster/WTFGross designs; this would be the fault of the current casual(?) users they attract. Subsequently, shopping there as a frequent thing would be folly, and the question of "possible infringement" is probably low--unlike Cafe Press and Zazzle.

Also unlike Zazzle, they don't offer a buttload of cool shirt (with fit) options, just... many colors, but the screen print is rather decent. (I'll be able to verify quality when it goes through the wash several times.) Whereas Zazzle gives you the multiplicity of choices + overall quality + special deals, so their (sometimes) higher prices are worth it. With Printfection, "cheap" isn't an applicable term since so many things are priced similarly to Cafe Press; you'd truly *need* something there to want to make whim-based purchases.

Having purchased from a number of printers and (re)sellers of shirts, I found the overall transaction was a little awkward... Here are some notable annoyances:

1) No Paypal option, but it seems that they don't keep your CC on record unless you add it yourself.

2) A huge cardboard box for a single shirt. Why? They don't want customers to receive wrinkled items? Whatever the reason, the container doesn't add much more to the S&H fee, but it does take up a lot of space is much more conspicuous.

3) The printed item reeks of ink or glue/something chemical.

4) The over-the-top tone of the assigned Account Manager greeting/shilling (which is really bordering on obnoxious à la uberaggressive folks at Sweetwater or other similar places) and inculcation of semi-redundant information. I get how some people might love that there's a "real, warm-blooded human" available for customer service--unlike those reticent prats at Loiter( and their feckless subsidiaries--but, hey, message received in the initial "Welcome" email.

5) The lack of a tracking number for the *customer* when the said Account Manager is so eager to spam you with superfluous info. I discovered that my spam-deterrent address had bounced two of the four emails (because they utilize different servers or ML services), and thus, missed out on a purchase confirmation and shipped/delivery update. I wouldn't know if they provided the tracking number in that email, but when I checked online, I couldn't find that information anywhere. Most every online company that allows access to an order history page usually includes tracking *somewhere*. As a sub-item gripe, they have this in my order info page: "Shipping Speed: USPS Smartmail". My printed order sheet, which came with the item, states "DHL Smartmail"; the order info page doesn't reflect this difference.

Despite all of the above, I don't harbor any ill-feelings towards this company with "20,000 satisfied customers" because the item received is still decent... atm. A small plus is that they print and ship faster than Zazzle.

If there's a second order or use of them as a commercial branding tool, this post will receive an update.


During extended research for a hard-to-find product, it came down to two sellers: Optics Planet, Inc. and Cheaper Than Dirt.

I had already been burned by a reseller known as Ultimate Arms Gear (UAG, or "ultimatearms" on eBay) for what was ostensibly the same item advertised on both (aforementioned) sites. And with one too many fraudulent sellers out there doing bait-and-switches for cheap knockoffs, I had little to go on for the reliability of resellers that carried this specific item. (For instance, UAG showed me that being a "top-rated seller" meant little when so much of the feedback is ignorant, or lacking adequate description of product quality. Long story short, eBay's handling of the situation didn't inspire confidence in their excising or curtailing of such asinine seller practices.)

So for a while, I contemplated Cheaper Than Dirt (CTD). Their myriad customer reviews for this one product, with variations, were what swayed me from the start. I could find no other seller that made purchasing the item seem so worthwhile--based solely on customer feedback. By comparison, Optics Planet, Inc. (OPI) was pretty sad in this department even with their collection of reviews, but their price was slightly better.

In the end, I checked Reseller Ratings for OPI-vouching, saw the semi-high score... and gave them a go.

There were three snags in the whole of my dealings with OPI:

1) difficulty finding the right items to get the free S&H deal ($29.95+ for free ground shipping)/site nav,

2) their inaccurate listing of "in-stock" items, and

3) their confusing order status page.

The first was the biggest pain since finding decent, not-too-cheaply-made goods in the less than ten dollar range was more problematic than expected. The distinct lack of helpful product info and faster item access, alongside lackluster buyer feedback, made research a massive, time-consuming process. (If I had no items in mind, casually browsing the site would be a pain with the multitude of configs and sub-category listings. Do they really need that many? In that *exact* layout?)

Anyway, I eventually found and chose an innocuous, practical little item that was listed as "in stock". A "quality goods" item it was not; nor did it look like something that would be in high demand, so I thought it a safe selection.

With free shipping secured, and the option to use paypal, the end run was smooth. OPI promises fast shipping, i.e., 1-2 days for in-stock stuff, so it wasn't surprising to see that my order was listed as shipped that very day... well, only one of the items. The other was listed as "back-ordered".

So much for accuracy.

As it turned out, they didn't actually ship the in-stock item even though it was listed as such. I was luckier than some others at Reseller Ratings--who were screwed with complicated back-ordering issues--when OPI managed to obtain the second item the next day. And then ship it at the end of the same work day.

It wasn't until late in the evening when I discovered that I was only getting a single package--not two--when they posted the tracking information, and the individual item listings (in the order status page) never reflected this change at all.

Had I been in an more time-sensitive sitch, this lack of clarity--i.e., not knowing exactly what's going on--would have been annoying, but I was banking on the scores of positive feedback here to keep any irritability in check.

The wait was about a week with UPS ground, and the items were both as described, although one was much cheaper in quality than the other; as anticipated. I got what I paid for in this first purchase, and had zero dealings with customer service.

One could state that with so many customers, there's only so much that can be done about the "little things", but the little things do add up.

Bottom line: shaky, not solid; they're hard to recommend unless you know exactly what you're looking for... and aren't too picky about price.

This post will be updated if there's another order.

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