American Express won one for us

American Express has had some up and down news lately. First, they got in trouble because they were lowering people’s credit limits without warning, which wound up lowering people’s credit ratings. A little while later, they were offering to buy out their lesser customers and get them to leave. This week, we learned that the CEO was paid upwards of $27 million last year.

All I know is that I’m pretty happy with them so far: we’re earning a respectable cash back reward, and they are honoring our dispute with a retailer who went bankrupt before delivering furniture that we had ordered with a deposit charged on our Amex card. We were concerned that we were going to be unable to recover our deposit, so here’s to one less thing to worry about!

Now, if only we could convince Kinder Care and our mortgage lender to take American Express, we could earn some serious rewards!

Lessons from tire shopping


In other car-repair news, I learned a couple things about tire shopping recently. Two weeks ago, I ordered a set of new tires for the Volkswagen. I did my research and placed an order online at Sam’s Club for a set of Michelin MXV4 S8 tires at $112 each. Curiously, the same tire model — dimensions, ratings, and all — was available under two different SKU numbers. One SKU was $112 and the other one was $143 — 28% higher! Naturally, I ordered the less expensive ones.

When the tires arrived and I had them installed five days later, they charged the $143 price. Checking online, the exact tires, down to the SKU number, that I had ordered were indeed now available only at the higher price. I provided proof of my original order, and they adjusted the price without a fight.

Lesson 1: There are a zillion combinations of tire models and ratings, and it’s probably a nightmare for retailers to keep their databases current. If you are ordering tires, check thoroughly for similar models, because you may find an unexpectedly good deal.

Lesson 2: Tire prices apparently can fluctuate wildly in a short amount of time. So, if you know you’re going to need new tires soon, select a tire model, and then monitor the price for a little while. If you see the price go down, jump on it!

Car maintenance is back

kdk_0263AutoZone’s net income is up 8.6%, pleasantly surprising investors. It’s no surprise that people are trying to make their cars last longer in favor of buying new cars. But it turns out that last year, even the stingiest among us were postponing major repairs because gas prices were so high. Now that the prices of gas is coming back down, shade-tree mechanics now have a little extra cash to fix their clunkers.

Via the WSJ

In its annual April auto issue, Consumer Reports estimates the expenses of owning a car over its first five years: