Category Archives: Commerce

AirPaper Cancels Comcast Bills for $5.00



AirPaper logoThere are a lot of reasons to cancel service with an ISP or cable TV provider. Perhaps the quality of service has gone done hill. Or maybe a competitor has offered a better deal. It could also be something as simple as moving out of that particular company’s service area. Whatever the reason, these companies have become notoriously difficult about letting customers cancel their service.

That’s where a clever new service called AirPaper comes in. For a small fee of $5.00, AirPaper removes the hassle of calling Comcast yourself when it’s time to cancel service. AirPaper will cancel the service using a quasi-loophole in Comcast’s terms of service.

Apparently, Comcast offers its customers two ways to cut the cord. The first one (and the one everyone would prefer to avoid) is by phone. The other is thru the mail. AirPaper gathers a customer’s details, determines which Comcast office is closest to them, and then composes a goodbye later and mails it directly to Comcast.

And AirPaper isn’t stopping with Comcast. The company is currently planning on developing systems to help with obtaining a San Francisco parking permit, registering a San Francisco business, and getting a Visa to travel to China.

Is there a bureaucratic process you think AirPaper should tackle? The company has an open form on its website where it’s accepting suggestions.


BeZilch Marketplace for Unwanted Tech



beZilch LogoFreshly-launched beZilch is a marketplace for the trade of unwanted tech in the space between the auction houses and the fixed price trade-in centres. Jared Hansen, Founder and CEO, sells it to Todd and Todd.

If you want the most money for unwanted gadgetry, generally an online auction is the way to go, but the auction takes time to run and the fees can be expensive. At the other end of the spectrum, fixed price trade-in centres give you the cash quickly but the price can often be quite low. beZilch proposes a middle ground where both buyers and sellers can post ads.

Say you want a phone for your careless kids; first you can check to see if anyone is selling a phone in the price range you are thinking about. If not, post that you want a Samsung S3 and you’ll pay $100 for it.

Sellers can then check out the ads and consider if they’re willing to sell at that price for a quick sale. If they’re not happy with the prices on offer, they can post an ad with the price they’re looking for. Both sides can see what’s on offer and beZilch lets people choose between convenience and money.

Transactions are secured by PayPal so both sides are covered and for sellers the auctions fees are a flat 4% – there’s no complicated fee structure.

It’s a neat idea and offers an alternative channel to the big sites that we’re all familiar with. Let’s hope it gets some traction.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Todd Aune of The Elder Divide for the TechPodcast Network.

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AirBaltic is the First Airline to Accept Bitcoin



airBaltic logoAirBaltic has become the world’s first airline to accept Bitcoin as payment for some of its tickets. The company is Latvia’s national airline. It is now possible for people to use Bitcoin to buy an airline ticket to 60 destinations in Europe, Middle East, Russia, and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).

Those who want to use Bitcoin to pay for their airline tickets must make their purchase through the airBaltic website. The prices on their website are listed in Euros. When a customer uses Bitcoin as payment, the Bitcoins are automatically converted into Euros at whatever the current exchange rate happens to be.

There are some limitations. The Bitcoin payment option is only available when a person purchases the cheapest tickets. Those tickets are called airBaltic Basic Class.

The airBaltic fleet of planes consists of 25 aircraft. It includes 5 Boeing 737-500, 8 Boeing 737-300, and 12 Bombardier Q400Next planes. The Latvian state is the primary shareholder in airBaltic, with 99.8% of stock. I’ve never heard of this airline before. It appears that, if nothing else, being the first airline to accept Bitcoin as payment is resulting in quite a bit of publicity for airBaltic!


Payleven Mobile Payments at The Gadget Show



Payleven Chip and PINOne of the common problems facing start-ups and small businesses are the costs associated with taking credit card payments. The transaction costs can be high for small turnovers and point-of-sale machines are expensive with a monthly rental fee. To counter this problem, Payleven offers a low-cost mobile payment solution for European businesses using a Chip’n’PIN card reader that uses Bluetooth to communicate with both Apple, Android and Amazon smartphones and tablets. The Chip’n’PIN unit costs only GB£60 (ex-VAT) with a transaction charge of 2.75%. Payleven have partnered with GoTab to offer a complete solution for around £250 including a tablet and the card reader.

The approach is similar to US-based Square, but as Chip’n’PIN is only beginning to be required across the pond, Square’s reader unit is a simpler card-swipe device that plugs straight into the smartphone. Having a full Chip’n’PIN card reader in Europe is a necessity but the independent unit makes the transaction look much more professional anyway.

Simon from Payleven tells me about their solution and takes me through some of the features.


Posting a Negative Review Could Harm You



b1keyboard02What happens when you receive bad customer service? For many people, the answer to that question is that they go online and post a negative review of the company that treated them badly. It turns out that, in at least some cases, doing so can result in harm to the person who posted the negative review.

KUTV.com and CNN both have written about a situation where a woman was fined by a company that she wrote a negative review about. One might consider it a cautionary tale about what can happen if you don’t read the fine print (or if you end up dealing with a less than honest company).

John Palmer bought his wife a Christmas gift from a particular website. The gift never arrived. The company sent the money back to John Palmer’s Paypal account. His wife, Jen Palmer, wrote a negative review of the company on Ripoffreport.com.

Three years later, the company sent an email to the couple that stated that they would be fined $3,500 if their negative review was not taken down within 72 hours. Long story short, the Palmers could not simply take down the review themselves (because it wasn’t posted on a website that they owned or had control of).

The couple refused to pay the fine. The company sent it to collections agents. The Palmer’s have now had their credit score damaged as a result of the situation. There may or may not be legal battles regarding what happened, but I will not speculate about that.

This holiday season, make sure you take a close look at the fine print before you make an online purchase. Some companies are including a “non-disparagement clause” in customer agreements. It is this clause that is being used by some companies to silence negative reviews.

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Ring for Service with Wirelesswaiting



WirelessWaiting LogoIn my experience of eating out, it’s all too frequent for the waiting staff to disappear once the main course has been cleared away. By the time a waiter or waitress does eventually re-appear, any desire for dessert or coffee has gone and all I want is the bill. Not only has my evening been spoilt, the restaurant has lost money that I might otherwise have spent with them.

Wireless Call ButtonRecently, I was dining at Olio in Belfast and this restaurant seems to have found a solution to the problem with Wirelesswaiting. On each table, there was a small call button to alert staff that attention was required and I found the system worked well. Perhaps the best example was when ordering. Rather than the staff checking to see if we were ready to order and having to go away when we weren’t, once everyone was ready, we pressed the button and a waiter appeared within seconds. Also, when we needed some more drinks, again a quick press of the button and the waiter was back.

I contacted Wirelesswaiting for more information on the product and I was surprised at how inexpensive it really was. A 32-button receiver is £500 ($775) and each wireless button itself is £40 ($60). Obviously installation is straightforward, with only a power socket required for the receiver, as the wireless call buttons are battery powered. From their experience, customer spend typically increases by around 10% and Wirelesswaiting points out that this additional spend is usually on high margin items such as drinks, teas-and-coffees and desserts.

Obviously, this isn’t a perfect panacea as inattentive staff will always be inattentive staff and I suspect that I would be an even more annoyed customer if when I pressed the bell, no-one appeared. Overall though, it seemed to be a good idea that improved the dining experience. Apparently these systems are commonplace in Asia but this was the first time I’d seen the system in the UK so it will be interesting to see if it appears in more restaurants and diners. I can also imagine applications in other service areas, such spas, clubhouses, nursing homes and hospitals.


Video’s Streaming Future



Many people are likely familiar with the radio/television on-air personality Glenn Beck. His television career included both CNN and the Fox News Channel. On Fox News, Glenn Beck had the most-watched nightly show of any of the cable TV news networks.

Recently, Glenn Beck left Fox News to form his own online streaming television network, GBTV, available at http://www.gbtv.com.

About a month ago, after viewing a few of the free Glenn Beck highlight clips from his two-hour nightly streaming television show, I took the plunge and subscribed.

I am very impressed with the production quality. GBTV, LLC currently has 120 employees. This is a genuine, highly-professional high definition television network that has a spectacular set and world-class production facilities that is just as good if not better than anything that Fox, CNN, etc. are capable of doing. Like any genuine television network, live streaming shows start and end right on time and incorporate a number of regular breaks. GBTV is creating genuine television programming that is broadcast directly to the Internet as opposed to satellite or cable distribution. As such, it removes the filter between the content creators and the end viewers, yet high broadcast standard production values are maintained throughout which lends what GBTV is doing an aura of genuine excitement. Real multi-camera live HD broadcasts can be sent directly to subscribers, thus eliminating the cable/satellite middleman.

There are a variety of subscription plans, including monthly and yearly plans. One can subscribe for $4.95 per month, or $49.95 per year. I subscribed to “GBTV Plus” for $99.95 per year, which includes the 6 camera HD shoot of the daily Glenn Beck Radio Show along with other streaming television programs that are coming onto the streaming service. GBTV is in the process of becoming a full-fledged streaming television network that has ultra high production values along with impressive content. Subscription plans include a 14-day free trial.

GBTV currently can of course be viewed on a computer. Other devices include the Roku, as well as iPad and iPod/iPhone apps. All programs remain available for streaming any time for a period of 30 days before dropping off.

I cut the satellite cord more than a year ago, because I felt I wasn’t getting $100 dollars per month worth of value out of my satellite programming. I am more than willing to pay for good content, but I want it on my terms, on a variety of devices, and on my schedule. GBTV offers a tantalizing glimpse at the future of high production value TV content.