Archive for October, 2010

Texas Energy Provider Rate Comparison

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

It’s that time once again to compare energy companies here in Texas. I have had service from Reliant, Gexa, and TXU Energy. Recently I received a $250 welcome bonus from Reliant and a $150 welcome bonus from TXU Energy but both come with contacts and cancelation fees.

Reliant Energy tells me that they have the cheapest plan that I can still use my welcome bonus of $250 at an average of 10.6 cents p/kw. There will also be a 12 mo commitment and a $3.08 separate Oncor Delivery charge. Most of the Reliant plans contained an Oncor Delivery charge of $3.08.

Reliant’s Cap and Save plan is the newest of their plans where they put y ou in a 12 month contract and then cap out the rate at 8.2 cents based on natural gas prices. If natural gas goes up it will not go above the 8.2 cents but if it goes down it will decrease and save you money. You still have the extra $3.08 charge on this account.

Another 12 month plan which was cheaper but where I would not get my welcome bonus of $250 was the 9.3 cents plan. This would include a surcharge as well. My favorite plan with Reliant was the 7.3 cents per kwh which sounds cheaper than other electric companies in the Dallas area but its only for 6 months and it has a base charge of $5.00 plus a $3.08 Oncor charge. The rep insured me that it will not go over 8 cents per kwh. This could be the cheapest plan available but there will be no welcome bonus payout and there will be no AAdvantage miles with this plan.

TXU Energy gives you a $150 welcome bonus on their 10.8 cents kwh for 2,000 kw used but it will be 11.3 cents based on 1,000 kw. The former monopoly is charging 9.6 cents per kwh on a 6 month plan with no base charge. Furthermore, Their super secure plan is for 12 months at 10.3 cents per kwh. I am not to impressed with the $150 welcome bonus because it is a gift card and who really needs more of those prepaid plastics.

What about early termination fees? With TXU the fee is $200 and with Reliant the early termination fee is an astounding $250 setback. That kind of makes your welcome bonus walk right out the door.

Care One Credit Counseling A Scam?

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

During today’s economic crisis, many people are looking for some type of debt solution with many turning to credit counseling. As consumers search for the best credit counseling company, many ask “Is Care One Credit Counseling a Scam?”. This question can only be answered by each individual or client of Care One and what he or she believes in.

Care One Credit is considered by many people to be a reputable service. Some clients state they have had positive experiences and continue to make new payment plans with them. There are some people who are not as happy with the company and complaints can be seen of rip-off reports today. The website of Care One Credit looks professional and includes a community forum with a good amount of activity within it.

Care One Credit Counseling claims to have helped more than 4.5 million people become free of their debt and successfully doing this without lending money for any debt consolidation loan. Debt management solutions are provided and not loans. Care One also claims to have established 249,000 relationships with creditors.

Each of Care One Credit’s member companies meets professional standards and has around-the-clock access to account data. Excellent customer service along with making monthly statements available to clients are just two of the many things the member companies within Care Once Credit abide by.

Care One Credit was created in 2002 and is a group of five credit counseling companies that provides credit counseling. Three of these groups include American Financial Solutions, Clarion Credit Management and Debt Management Group. Just as other debt negotiation agencies, Care One does not operate in every state. For clients who are living in a state where Care One does not operate, the company will offer their referral service to another law firm.

Care One Credit became a BBB Accredited business in June 2004. Their BBB rating is A+ on a scale running from A+ to F. The Better Business Bureau has processed 88 complaints with Care One Credit in the last three years and 32 of those complaints were closed within the last year. This means that Care One Credit supports the services of the BBB that are given to the public and also meets the BBB Accreditation standards.

Care One complaints filed with the BBB concern:
1. 24 collection or billing issues
2. Contract issues
3. Customer service issues
4. Delivery issues
5. Warranty issues
6. Exchange or refund issues
7. Sales practice issues
8. Service issues

Of the complaints that were filed against Care One Credit and closed, 71 were resolved regarding collection or billing issues. The company either resolved the complaint and the consumer accepted or the company addressed the issue and the consumer did not acknowledge the acceptance.

Care One Credit offers consumers two basic services: CCCS (credit card counseling services) and debt negotiation. Care One’s CCCS is referred to as a Debt Management Plan (DMP) where a consumer makes one payment to the agency each month. The agency takes out its fees from this payment and then distributes payments to creditors. A DMP typically aims at repaying an entire debt plus accrued interest within a total of five years.

Debt negotiation is called a ‘Settlement Plan’ by Care One Credit. It is usually seen as an aggressive choice made by consumers. It can be a more risky option, but the possible savings are greater. The agency works with creditors to lower a client’s principal balance and because the principal debt is negotiated and not the interest rate, consumers have debts solved within three years time.

Starwood’s SPG.com lets you make changes for free online

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Today some members of the Starwood Preferred Guest program received emails stating that the SPG.com pilot program has came out of beta and now everyone can make modifications online. These changes could result in fees being avoided for leaving your reservation the same. If you have changes to make you better log-in and make them before the first day of your reservation at most hotels.

Thank you for participating in the recent pilot of our newest SPG.com feature: the ability to modify any aspects of your reservations online — including dates, rates, room types, Free Night Awards and more.* Your feedback was invaluable as we prepared to make this feature available to all SPG® members.

I’m happy to announce that the pilot program was a success, and we’ve now permanently added the modify reservations feature to SPG.com. This is the first of several enhancements aimed to make your travel planning faster and easier. We’re also launching Facebook “like” buttons on hundreds of our hotel property pages so you can “like” your favorite hotels and receive news, events and exclusive offers. Check out the W New York – Times Square, or search for your favorite hotels to start connecting.

And with our new SPG app for iPhone or BlackBerry, you can access your SPG account anytime, anywhere.

Mint.com Security Breach or Email Error?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

We have been receiving for the last few days blank emails from Mint.com, which is strange because we only signed up for one of their notifications when we get bank fees. We wondered why some spammer was sending us Mint.com blank emails with no links. Was it Mint.com sending these by mistake, had they been breached, or has a virus somehow effected the site? After this happened more than once we really started wondering and then finally tonight we received an email from Mint.com responding to the strange blank emails.

Mint.com, a company recently bought by Quicken responded with the following statement:

A flood of emails were recently sent from
stage-mini@mint.com to some Mint users.
It was a misconfiguration with our email provider causing blank emails to go out.

This was not a security breach and no data was
compromised. We are putting measures in place to ensure this never happens again.

We apologize for the inconvenience it may have caused you.

Sincerely,
The Mint Team

Everything seems to be fine in our Mint.com account and hopefully nothing is really tampered with by some bad employees. It just goes to show the scare that goes on when we give out data to a website and using apps on an iPhone or a Blackberry and then turn around and either worry or feel safe that they will take care of our information. The bottom line is to be cautious of any data you give sites and the passwords.