Word of Advice: Stay away from TradeKing

Dear Internet,notradeking

I recently had the displeasure of dealing with TradeKing’s customer support, and decided I no longer want to do business with a company with their policies. Sadly, I had to learn the hard way and I am hoping I can save a reader or two from this ordeal.

At the end of last month, I deposited some money to buy some stocks. Since it is an ACH transaction, it takes a couples of days. So, I forgot and didn’t log back in until this month. To my surprise, there is an outrageous $50 charge in my account for an “inactivity fee”. This is a fee they added late last year and they claim they emailed me about it during that time. I can not find an email to this effect and even then, why not notify me before charging me this time around? Would it hurt them to drop a line with all the technology available nowadays? A text, IM, tweet, or something like hey we are about to charge you this fee if you do not make a transaction soon. Instead, the first month there is enough money in the account for them to charge me a fee, they just charge away.

In the following chat, I tried to talk them out of charging me this fee but they will mostly just argue the validity of their fee that is hidden in a 100 question long FAQ that I only found after googling for it. I honestly recognize it was my mistake not to research the company further. But, since I though I was somehow grandfathered in from Zecco, Inc. which they merged with, I did not do my due diligence. I admit I snoozed. However, I don’t want to and advise you not to do business with a company where if you snooze, you lose.

 

Welcome to TradeKing’s Live Help service. Your chat is currently being routed to one of our representatives, you will be connected shortly.
Thank you for contacting us, I am ‘Donnie’ how may I assist you today?
Donnie: Good afternoon. Thank you for contacting TradeKing.
Christian Rios: Hi Donnie, I was about to place a trade and I realized my account have a $50 charge!
Christian Rios: After reasearching it, I am very upset. I did not have to worry about this with Zecco
Donnie: Let me check your account
Donnie: Please provide your full name and the last 4 digits of your SS number for account verification.
Christian Rios: Christian Rios, 1337
Donnie: Yes I do see your account was charged with an inactivity fee, and we apologize if this caught you off guard.
Donnie: All Zecco clients were notified via email regarding the introduction of the Inactivity Charge to their accounts, so they could take the course of action they felt best fit their needs to avoid the charge. Unfortunately it does cost TradeKing to maintain dormant and inactive accounts. In efforts to continue to offer our deeply discounted commission structure to all our clients, and to avoid having to change our commission structure to offset the increasing maintenance costs associated with these inactive accounts, the Inactivity Charge was introduced.
Christian Rios: I would appreciate it if you guys remove that charge.
Donnie: Unfortunately, this charge is a valid part of our fee structure. However, if you would like I can extend an offer to have this charge reimbursed if you can make a deposit to raise your account balance to the minimum of $2500 in order to avoid this fee.
Donnie: I see your account value is roughly $800 short of the minimum balance required in order to be exempt from the fee.
Christian Rios: I thought all you needed to do was to make a trade once a year?
Donnie: That is correct as well.
Donnie: You will have until August of 2014 to place one trade in order to be exempt from the fee for next year
Christian Rios: Well, can you remove it and I can place a trade before the end of the month?
Donnie: Unfortunately not, this fee was validly charged to the account.
Christian Rios: Look, I am trying to be reasonable here. But, if you are not going to play ball, I promise you, I will take my business elsewhere.
Donnie: We do regret to hear that, and we would not want to lose your business. However, this charge is a part of our structure here at TradeKing, and we do apologize if this is not in line with your intended trading volume in the account.
Christian Rios: Yet, you agreed to remove the fee if I deposit 800 dollars to comply, but not if I place a trade. Fine, I am done doing business with you. Btw, I have a blog and would to share how you treat your customers.
Donnie: We do apologize for your lack of satisfaction here, but if placing one trade per year is not something that can easily be met then it may be best to find a broker that does not have minimum trading requirements.
Christian Rios: Yes, one without ridiculous and outrageous fees and one willing to work things out with their customers.
Donnie: If you should decide to leave then we do wish you the best of luck with future investments.
Christian Rios: well, I already decided to leave, can we get started with that process?
Donnie: Sure, if you intend to transfer your account to another broker then this process will be initiated on the receiving brokers end, as they will have special transfer instructions for you.
Donnie: Once this process is initiated on their end, no further action will be needed from you on our end here.
Donnie: Do you have any other questions that I can assist with at this time?
Christian Rios: No, I am just amazed a what a terrible company you are
Donnie: We do regret to hear you feel that way, and if there are no further questions then I wish that you have a great rest of your day.
Donnie: I am happy to be of service, have a great day.
Thank you for contacting TradeKing today. I hope I was able to answer your questions or address your concerns. If you believe that this issue is still unresolved or you have additional feedback, please email a copy of this conversation to service@tradeking.com.

Only FEDEX can destroy a TV this good!

With my dad recently passing, I finally decided to leave the country for greener pastures down south and to take care of family. So, my wife and I started selling all our belongings, furniture, electronics, and most stuff that won’t fit in 32″ duffel bags. More than 10 years living in America, you can rack up a lot of stuff. This included a Sony BRAVIA XBR Series KDL-46XBR9 46-Inch 1080p 240Hz LCD HDTV.

Right now, there is one same model TV on Amazon selling for $900 used. I had it listed on Amazon for less than that. I ended up just selling it to a childhood buddy of mine but before I could remove it from Amazon someone else purchased it through the Amazon website. I had to cancel that Amazon order and ended up selling it to my friend for $660. I figured it would cost me around 100 bucks to ship it to my friend, so I could get around $560 for the TV then. I started looking for quotes, and found out that USPS will not even ship it because it was so big. UPS would charge me $130 and FEDEX quoted me at $105. So, I opened up an account with FEDEX, gave them my credit card, printed a label, taped it to the side of box, and scheduled a pick up. However, when I entered all the shipping information, I left the declared value empty. I thought they didn’t need to know that. But, apparently they need to know that so that they know how much to take CARE of it.

I had kept up all the original TV packaging and boxes as I was planning on selling it in the future. So, it was as well packed as SONY would pack it. However, when the box got to my friend, it looked like FEDEX tried to destroy the TV as much as possible. Then things started to get weird, instead of FEDEX charging me the $105 they had quoted me, they charged me $50.17. Their customer support was just horrible, Continue reading “Only FEDEX can destroy a TV this good!”

They’ve made it too hard to watch stuff

Viacom and DirectTV are currently fighting over money while DirectTV customers are left without a bunch of channels. Today, on Hulu while watching Jon Stewart, a commercial came out asking folks to drop DirectTV. They even have a website now. In my opinion, this is rather childish at best. What is even more puzzling is that these companies don’t realize they are shooting themselves in the foot. Television viewers are already migrating from overpriced cable channel bundles to popular online options like Hulu and NetFlix and even piracy. Cable companies are very comfortable charging up the wazoo for a hundred channels where there might only be a few that you enjoy. They have failed to provide a la carte options for people to save money and give customers more power as to what they like to watch. On-Demand attempts have left much to be desired and it is not a solution. If I want to watch HBO, I should not have to get 80 other channels I will watch once a year.

However, the solution to piracy and the fleeing customer base to online only is quite simple. Convenience! They simply made it too hard to watch stuff. Contrary to popular belief, piracy is more of a service issue than a price issue. Take a look at Steam, the online game store, for example. It provides everything a customer can hope for. It is open 24×7, great prices, fast downloads, automatic game patches, cloud saves, huge selection of games, and a community. All a user has to do is to login with his or her Steam Account on any PC or MAC and with a couple of click is able to buy, download, and play games. Simple and Convenient.

In the other hand, Continue reading “They’ve made it too hard to watch stuff”

jQuery Star Rating Plugin Web Method Call with ASP.Net

I started playing with the jQuery Star Rating Plugin v3.14. But, I could not really find a good way to make web method calls or a decent write up of how to use it with ASP.Net.

So, I added auto-submit-star to the markup for it to make the callback, added runat=”server”, and a hidden field with the record id.

<input name="star1" type="radio" class="auto-submit-star" runat="server"/>
<input name="star1" type="radio" class="auto-submit-star" runat="server"/>
<input name="star1" type="radio" class="auto-submit-star" runat="server"/>
<input name="star1" type="radio" class="auto-submit-star" runat="server"/>
<input name="star1" type="radio" class="auto-submit-star" runat="server"/>
<asp:HiddenValue id="hfRatingID" runat="server"> 

After that, added the following script that performs the jQuery Web Method call

$(".auto-submit-star").rating({ callback: function (a, b) { 
PageMethods.RateIt( $(this).siblings('input[id*="hfRatingID"]').val(), a) 
}})

Then makes web method call to a static class in code behind

[System.Web.Services.WebMethod()]
[System.Web.Script.Services.ScriptMethod()]
public static void RateIt(int id, string value) // Method have to be static { 
// Make call to update DB rating value 
}

Now you should be able to make an asynchronous call for users to rate an item. Hope this helps.

WP7 Windows Phone 7 Wish List

Nokia has recently released the Lumia 900 which is the WP7 flagship model at a great price. I had some time to play with it and overall the hardware looks and feels solid. However, I have a few complaints such as no memory card slot, no battery replacement, or the ability to change the Sim card without some sort of tool. On the software front, the OS has not changed much since I sold my Samsung Focus last year.

Windows Phone 7 has been in the market more than a year and has failed to steal the spotlight from Android and iPhone. To most power users, it still does not feel like a smart phone but more like an improvement from a feature phone. I am going to list several things I wish WP7 had but will probably not materialize until WP8 during the 2012 holiday season and very likely will never be on a Lumia 900.

  1. Microsoft is pushing the cloud everywhere and WP7 is not the exception. You got 20GB available in your SkyDrive. Therefore, they decided to drop support for memory card slots. If it is up to Microsoft you are pretty much stuck with whatever memory came with your phone. The Samsung Focus came with an option to install one but it required formatting the phone and you would never be able to take it out without having to reformat.  With Micro SD card prices constantly going down and increasing in size, it makes me sad that WP7 does not have this option.
  2. This one is probably more for Audiophiles but it is not possible to store music in Lossless formats on a WP7 phone. On my Zune HD, I was able to store WMA Lossless songs. However, WP7 devices will downconvert your music files to a WMA Lossy codec when trying to copy Lossless files to it. Again, this is probably a space concern. Maybe they don’t want you downloading big files from the cloud. iPhones let you use ALAC and Androids and Blackberries will even let you play FLAC files. Continue reading “WP7 Windows Phone 7 Wish List”

If Cell Phone and ISP Companies ran the other utilities companies

Gone are the days when you could go into a store and get an unlimited data plan. Even though it is advertised as unlimited, that is seldom the case anymore. You got cable companies such as AT&T and Comcast that have caps of 150GB and 250GB a month respectively among others. Some companies will charge you a fee but others will deny service after a repeat offense. These caps are probably in place to prevent streaming subscribers to services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime to hog all the bandwidth.
A few years ago it was mostly believed that if a consumer used a lot of bandwidth, he or she was using bittorrent and downloading illegal music and movies. This is not the case anymore, Netflix alone accounts for more traffic than bittorrent. Even Comcast was caught sniffing your data to find out if you were using bittorrent to then throttle and slow down you data.
Some years have passed, and now with smart phones being nearly ubiquitous users hogging the data is still a problem. Verizon will offer you 4GB of unlimited data, AT&T has similar caps and they will charge you extra if you go over. T-Mobile will not charge you extra but they will slow down your data after your allowance. Hours of using Music and Movie apps such as Pandora and YouTube will quickly deplete your data allowances. C-Spire, previously known as Cellular South, Continue reading “If Cell Phone and ISP Companies ran the other utilities companies”

Strickland’s Letter

About two years ago when the Football World Cup was going on in South Africa, I decided I had earned a nice over the top all leather La-Z-Boy. To my surprise, the only place in town that carries them is a furniture store called Strickland’s. I had to give them my address for them to deliver it to my place.
Now after two years, I still get letters in the mail from Strickland’s every now and then. The last letter I got reads:

“Bring this letter with you during the week of 4/16/12 and take 50% off of 50% of your full purchase. That’s half off regular price of half of your purchase. Buy one piece, a room full or a house full and take 50% off of 50% of your total purchase.”

I didn’t make this up, you can click on the image to maximize it. I think this is a coupon for 25% off but they said 50% so many times and half that I am not sure if it is a coupon for 12.5% or 6.25%. I have a feeling that if I go there they will ask me to pay double for the first half and twice the second half. I also find it funny how they start the letter with “Dear Valued Customer”. Not only they think their customers are so valuable they won’t even address the letter to their names, they also insult the poor senior citizens walking in with what they think is a 50% off coupon. Letter attached after the break. Feel free to print it if you want to get this deal, LOL…

Continue reading “Strickland’s Letter”

ALTERRA Coffee does not even call to say thanks…

One morning craving caffeine, I decided to try the coffee machine at the office because I was too lazy to brew some real coffee. This machine comes with little packages that you can just insert into the machine to brew the coffee of your choice. So, I figured I will try the Colombian, how bad could it be? It was not horrible but the geography on the cover shows all hope is lost for the education system in America.

The one on the left is correct but the one on the right has the North Pacific Ocean north of Panama and the Caribbean Sea in the middle of the Atlantic. I wrote a letter to point this out to ALTERRAcoffee.com and to tell them to put the Caribbean Sea where they had the North Pacific Ocean. I never heard back from them, but to my surprise a couple of months after my letter they actually fixed their packaging. I thought it was hilarious that they actually corrected it and I was kinda disappointed that they did not even sent me a thank you note or you know… a cup of coffee? :p

Continue reading “ALTERRA Coffee does not even call to say thanks…”