Thursday, January 31, 2008

So how good is Trade King?

Not so good thus far... I'm hoping for better but it's not looking so good. I just recently got started trading in the stock market and have for the last couple weeks been using a reputable online broker, but the commissions make it almost impossible to make a profit. One reason is that I started out with a lowly 50 bucks. I've recently added 30 bucks in cash to that fund so now it's basically 80 bucks minus commissions. So at 12.95 per transaction that puts me in a nearly impossible position. By the way, on my first trade, I've almost recovered the commission and pretty soon will make a profit, at least until I sell, then I'll take another huge hit and that's in an almost nightmarish market. 12.95 isn't bad if you're investing thousands of dollars, but hey I've only got 80.

I figured I would try another brokerage that was cheaper so that my profits would be easier to come by and it came down to and TradeKing. Zecco lost out because of the trade schedule, basically twice a day. I would like to get a chance to ride the waves of volatility, especially in this market, so twice a day won't work for my plan. So I chose TradeKing.

The first problem I have is that I only have about $30 in cash and the other 40 something is in the two shares I own. So I needed to get the cash to TK, but without expensive fees. I didn't want to wait forever, but wiring is too expensive, so I chose to go the slow electronic transfer route. There is a 5 business day waiting period, which sucks, but that's life. At first I created an ACH profile (electronic transfer with no fees), but had the wrong info.

So I cost myself 3 trading days. I was sent an email and promptly re-created this profile with correct info. The website nicely informed me that I would be able to trade on February 1st. Earlier today I took a look to see if trading time perhaps came early, but to my chagrin my profile was gone. It was just gone, no notice, no anything at all. So will I trade via TradeKing tomorrow or not?

At first I tried the online chat feature on TradeKing's site. The guy was nice enough, but basically told me that there was no way it could be deleted without a notice being sent to me, but also in the same breath told me that if my bank rejected it then it might disappear. This didn't make sense to me, but I played along. He was going to check a few things, but I didn't have all my bank info handy at the moment so I let him off the hook.

Finding the info he requested, I went for the online chat feature again, getting a different person of course. This young woman(I'm assuming on age by communication style) didn't know what was going on. She did not communicate clearly and basically wasted a bunch of my time. I was pretty irritated at this point.

I called my main brokerage and explained the situation and they verified that they do indeed accept transactions and withdrawals and even checked to see if TradeKing had attempted any communication with them. There had been none, but I was instructed how I might do things from their end which unfortunately involves me sending a form and documentation from TradeKing. But wait, I've had this account for almost two weeks and I don't have any documentation from them yet, so again I'm screwed.

As a last resort I call the TradeKing support number. The nice gentleman on the other end tells me my profile shouldn't have been deleted, but hold on and let me check. I explained the situation twice and he told me there was something in the system showing two profiles having been setup, the first being deleted, just as I had said, but the person who can help me had left for the day. He asked me if I could call back tomorrow, February 1st, the day I should have been able to transfer money in. So it's not looking good. Instead of deleting a part of my account, I almost wish my whole account had been deleted, then it would be perfectly clear I should just give up. Unfortunately, me being who I am, I will call in the morning, hoping they can redeem themselves. We'll see..... I'll let you all know.

EDIT --added further links to rest of story
part 2
final part

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Auto Review, Alaska

Well I've been meaning to do this review for a couple days now so I'd better before it slips my mind.

Recently I had an automotive issue that had been unresolved since October. At first I went to Johnson's Tire Center in Anchorage to get it fixed. I returned the same day with an even bigger issue caused by a faulty repair and they promptly "fixed" it. Fast forward to December where the same problem re-occurs only worse than before. I took it to a place in Fairbanks and was told someone screwed it up pretty badly. I didn't have the money to fix it yet so I just let it go, while keeping an eye on it.

Well last week the problem became much worse to the point where it had to be fixed immediately. So I bit the bullet and took it somewhere else in Fairbanks only to hear the exact same diagnosis. Someone screwed it up royally and perhaps even did something unethical to cover up their mistake.

Needless to say I was pissed. After leaving it at the shop, I immediately called the Johnson's location in Anchorage (I won't say which of the two I went to though). I was calm at first, until the manager began to get defensive and back-pedal. Needless to say I didn't like the denial. It was pretty tense for a bit, but I don't remember cussing at the guy which was a good thing.

Long story short, after a bit of denial and some forcefulness on my part, the manager did the right thing. I was actually surprised, but he called the shop in Fairbanks and discussed the problem with the staff. After that he agreed to pay the bill. The problem wasn't apparently as bad as first thought, but nonetheless it was a result of a faulty repair job.

This brings me to two conclusions, one philosophical and one is just an opinion. Firstly, more people need to stand up on principles. I knew that the shop in Anchorage was responsible and knew the problem was solely their fault. The problem was mis-diagnosed and kind of made me look a bit foolish because what I was saying wasn't fully correct, but nonetheless it was their fault. I refused to back down, despite the insanity of the accusations and the vehement denial of the manager. Had he denied it and I accepted that, then I would have been basically getting screwed over. I'm glad I wouldn't take no for an answer, as I was able to get the problem fixed for free(as it should have been) and I was able to give my next statement.

Johnson's Tire Service in Anchorage is actually a decent place. Even though they screwed up, they made it right. They stood behind their work and when it wasn't right(after I convinced them of it), they made amends for it. That is a quality all too many businesses are lacking these days. Gone are the days when the customer is always right. Gone are the days when the businesses actually act like they need you, instead of you needing them. So for the repairs, well I can't say I'm pleased with the overall situation. But for old-fashioned customer service, I'll give them some credit where credit it due. Overall my recommendation to anyone looking to go to Johnson's is to go ahead and go. As with any auto repairs, do your due diligence to make sure things are right, but I wouldn't recommend against them. I personally wouldn't because of past experience, but only because of that. As I said before they're a decent place to go.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ho hum...

I hate winter! It's not so cold now, but Fairbanks Alaska is dark in the winters. I'm tired, sort of grumpy, and totally unmotivated(not even sure that's a word). There's a lot on my list of things to do, but honestly if I had one choice of something to do it would be sleeping. I would sleep twelve hours a day, wake up and eat and then take a 3 or 4 hour nap a couple hours later. Well, this is an attempt to make sure I post more regularly. Lately, I've been stressed by finances and now I'm just plain tired... So many things to do, just need to get motivated to do them. Anyways, for those in arctic climates, or just really far north, hold on just a few more months with me, spring is only a little bit away.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My life sucks

I was trying to think of a better title for this post, but couldn't come up with anything better suited for today. Basically I've been concentrating on trying to make more money in the short term to stem this crisis my family continues to live through and have had a little success, but not nearly enough. It's been pretty irritating to say the least. I've been eating a lot of ramen noodles lately, riding the bus in the cold, and trying to keep my head up. Well it shouldn't be more than a month until the worst is over though. We never did sell our house, but someone is going to rent it out in February. That helps a lot, but it's just a bit too late as the financial damage has already been done. The last couple months literally might take years to undo.... Oy Vey! Anyways, I still hope to swing this site in a more professional direction soon, but simply don't have enough time to spend on something that doesn't make a profit yet, so basically not much fun in the short term, but soon I will get back to it again.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Well the last couple weeks have sucked a lot. We moved into a place, which was great, but a lot of work to get that done. Now that we are moved in, we're broke. I'm riding the bus, which I've never really done before. The ride isn't bad, but standing in below zero weather and waiting for the bus is horrible. In the next couple days it's supposed to be -40, and I don't know how I'll hold out doing that.

Money is the biggest problem right now though. We're waiting on someone to rent our home down south, meanwhile paying all those bills as well as the bills at our new location. We're eating off credit and if no one rents the home and takes care of our other things down south we're majorly screwed.

On top of it all, nearly everything else that might make money is so slow it's unbelievable. This blog has almost been dropped because I don't have time and not many folks come by anyways, even when I did put time into it. So it's not for lack of effort, but then I do realize content isn't usually very compelling. When things get straightened out I'll fix that, probably move to my own domain too.

And then there's the stock market, jeesh. I mean I don't have much in it, but if it could make some profit that would be real helpful right now. Okay, seriously I got like $50 bucks on a couple stocks, outside of retirement which I won't touch(and that's not going great either). Still those two stocks aren't moving more than a couple pennies at best. Well it's been an interesting experiment nonetheless. I don't have much time for experiments though, I'm nearing desperation. We only need to make it through January and February then we'll be fine.

Until then pray for me and my family or donate at the button to the right(yeah right, no one's done that either, thanks anyways though).

Till next time,

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'm back

Hurray for me! After a short 'vacation' I'm finally able to resume posts. I was moving into my new place. It was cold(about 0 to -10 F), but not as cold as it could have been. I got to a point where I could barely talk or move my face after a couple hours. The best thing is that we are finally in our own place again though. Well I don't have much time at the moment, but when I do I'll be bringing some new content and other changes this way. I've still got some decisions to make about what I'll do with this blog, but there are definitely some improvements to quality coming as I've sort of been winging it the last couple months, me being sort of a refugee and all.

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