Tag Archives: eBay

How I Got Scammed Buying a Miata on eBay

It’s not the first time I got scammed on eBay. Some five years ago I won a bid on a gorgeous Miata in torch red from a Miami seller only to find out it had three major/moderate damage accidents on it’s CARFAX report. Obviously I didn’t pay for/buy that car.

But more recently I did shell out $12 bux on a 1:18 torch red NC2 PRHT model that turned out to be a scam. Maybe the selling price should have been considered, other die-cast models from China sell for $95. But I figured the Bburago NC1 I wanted to buy forever was typically $9.99 before people figured they could get at least $40 for them on eBay. So yea, that red flag was missed. Didn’t see any negative reviews either. Until everyone started crying wolf and I realized I’ve been scammed too.

Anyway… here’s some pic of the car I thought I was buying, but now have to wait another month before I could file a money back guarantee claim;

Sure is pretty ain’t it?

Screw you to the Chinaman that scammed me… karma is a bitch.

PSA: More Gift Card Purchases Appearing as Cash Advances, No Deal!

Bad news… for the second time in a few months I’ve been hit with a cash advance charge on my credit card for purchases of discounted gas cards on eBay. That’s not good!

I love sharing tricks and advice on this site to help visitors save money on their travel, Motorsport volunteering, automotive needs, etc. I’ve spent years trying out different techniques out there and they’ve helped me tremendously to save money and travel on a shoestring budget in all the time I’ve been unemployed (or underemployed for that matter). But it absolutely sucks when I get burned and wanted to share this post with others to prevent them from experiencing similar setbacks.

It seems that recently another seller on eBay has changed the way they are seen by credit card companies and as a result purchases made from those sellers are no longer considered as purchases. Which typically helps you earn frequent flyer miles, if you’re like me using an airline branded credit card. But instead count as a cash advances which actually results in a steep fee for the privilege of doing the transaction ($10 in my case) plus a steep double-digit percentage % for each day that the cash advance sits on your account until it is paid in full… I think last time this happened, my card billed me something like 20% or so. Which absolutely sucks! So that $7 dollars I saved on a $100 gift card purchase, now actually costs me more than I saved, a lot more. That defeats the whole purpose of buying discounted gift cards. SVM claims it was a glitch by someone else, not them, but they haven’t done anything to fix the mistake, and I’m out of money. It is a dirty business practice for them to make more money than they already are making from this transaction. I didn’t expect this from SVM because they are the ones that actually handle all gift card production for big brands like BP, ExxonMobil and Sunoco… cards that I buy often!

So that’s the end of the road for me with SVM. I’d rather pay at the pump than be screwed online again. You should be careful too!

I’ve posted about purchasing discounted gift cards for a few years now because it was indeed an awesome deal. I remember shopping on eBay buying $100 BP cards for $90 bux. That was great. Often eBay had a promotion, like $15 off $75 which brought the price of a $100 gift card down to $75. Then eBay had their eBay Rewards program which typically gave you cash back of 2% on the purchase, which was another $1 or two. But often eBay rewards multiplied the reward back 2x or 4x or even 8x… so sometimes I got as much as $8 back in a form of eBay refund some months later. Meaning the $100 gift card cost less than $68 bux. There were times when you could buy other discounted gift cards that were redeemable for gas cards. For example, often I’ve bought $100 Target gift cards at 10% discount. Which I then used on Target to buy eBay gift cards at 10% discounts, and then I used those eBay gift cards to buy various gas cards at 10% discount. Those were the good old days… 20% off, 30% even 40% which was amazing… What did that translate to at the pump? Well, considering 20% average discount on a $100 gas card, that means 20 cents off for every dollar at the pump, which meant that each gallon at $2/gal rate actually cost $1.60/gal which is significant savings. On a tank of gas for the Ford Explorer that waas $8 bux of savings. For the Miata it was $4, which was awesome. And furthermore it was possible to use the gift cards at gas stations on other purchases besides fuel, in their convenience stores.

I’m going to miss these savings but fighting the credit card company over cash advance fees, which they refuse to budge on because that’s how they make their profits, is not my idea of fun. So… voila! It was fun while it lasted, I’ll continue shopping for gas the old fashion way, by using my Gas Buddy app to find the best deal out there, and just pay with whatever payment method that gives me the most discount.

Be careful out there folks!

PS. I’m sure someone is going to claim that by my shopping around big businesses were losing money. That I would strongly disagree with. By buying discounted gift cards from SVM on eBay, both SVM and eBay made money. SVM sold me a product (at a discount) which they made just a little less profit on than selling that item at full face value, and eBay got their cut for facilitating the exchange. PayPal made their cut by my paying using their service, and my credit card company made their cut by making sure I gave my money to eBay through my visa card. Even the gas station made money because I purchased $100 gift card from their brand which meant I could no longer spend that money on other competing brands… BP gas cards couldn’t be used at Sunoco or Exxon or Mobil, and vice versa. So everyone involved made some money, and I saved. Win win! But now the GREED of some companies will mean they lost the business I gave them in the past, way to go!

Mazda MX-5: New Tires for the 17’s Ten Spoke – BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Comp 2 – 215/45ZR17

2015 was a great year to get all the tires sorted for my Miata. I bought the car with new looking tires on the stock 17 inch rims. The brand I have never heard of before: Accelera Alpha which is apparently a Korean tire. I thought that maybe they were crap until I saw a newish looking Bentley Continental GT at a shop wearing the same brand tire… so either the rich man driving the Bentley is really cheap and they are a good tire, or the rich man is cheap and dumb. Either way I decided to replace them first chance I get. Since buying the car and first contemplating changing the tires I was reading on the Miata.net forums how people have two sets of wheels, especially those that live in colder climates and alternate between summer and winter compounds. So I decided to do the same. I stumbled across a great deal on eBay for some OEM 16 inch rims. They came with fairly bald tires, so I replaced them with BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S all season tires in 205/50ZR16 size, which have been great so far. And just this week I purchased a replacement for my Alpha’s from Sears: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Comp 2 summer tires in 215/45ZR17 size.

Who says Motorsport advertising doesn’t work? It certainly seems to work on me. BFGoodrich is a long-time sponsor of the Mazda MX-5 racing series both on a pro level as well as in club racing. But to me it’s a cheaper alternative to Michelin tires which I really love.

The last time my family bought tires at Sears were Michelin’s for a Ford Explorer. Of course at that time my father paid something like $700 or $800 dollars. The time before that we bought Michelin’s for a Lincoln Town Car and they weren’t much cheaper either. But this time I got a steal.

Sears was advertising a Christmas promo of 10% off tires plus 100,000 points for their frequent shopper promotion where 1,000 points = $1, so $100 back to spend on purchases with Sears or K-mart. The tires themselves were on sale for $107 apiece, or $428 total which was cheaper by a smidge than what DiscountTireDirect has listed on eBay (which is the last shop I bought my 16’s from and thought I had gotten a great deal). In addition to those Christmas discounts, Sears had a coupon for $50 off any set of 4 BFGoodrich purchase and a general $35 off $300 purchase which I used. In addition to those discounts I also purchased some Sears and K-mart gift cards on eBay using discounted eBay gift cards, which I’ve been buying for a while just for a sale like this. I missed out on other eBay Sears gift card promos which were giving 15% off on a purchase of a $100 gift card (or $85 for $100 card), but what are you gonna do… I got what I could. In the end I paid something like $250 total including NJ sales tax of 7% as well as mounting and balancing, environmental fees, etc. Which is really cheap!

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires a1

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires a2

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires a3

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires a4

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires a5

Mounting the tires proved a bit troublesome. I’ll explain why… Since these were my summer wheels, they were already off the car. I called Sears to see if I could bring them loose especially since I was keeping the take-offs (the Accelera Alphas were still in excellent shape as I suspect there’s less than 5,000 miles on them). Sears said no problem, but by giving me the $8 back for the tire disposal fee that I had paid in advance, they ended up cancelling my order and re-processing it again. By doing so they voided almost all of the discounts I had gotten thru Sears and it really made me worry that I’d lose the 100,000 in points I got back. In addition since I used an airline portal to earn some frequent flyer miles (there was a 6x promo on miles from American Airlines earning me over 2,000 miles which is more than what I earned flying to Miami and back on AA this year), I ended up losing the miles… Damn shame if you ask me, especially since I repeatedly asked my Sears rep like 100 times not to touch the original reservation and make any adjustments so I could pay in the store out of pocket. They didn’t listen!

But I am very happy with the way the tires look. These are about 1 centimeter wider than the tires I took off, 215 width vs. 205 width and I can’t wait for better weather to put them on the car. Of course better weather is a few months away, and unlike using my winter tires during the summer to break them in (on the 16’s), I think I’ll keep the 17’s until it’s proper summer time, I know how these summer tires turn rock hard when it’s cold outside so I won’t risk it.

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires 6

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires 5

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires 4

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires 3

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires 2

mazda mx-5 miata bfgoodrich g-force sport comp 2 215 45 zr17 tires 1

Ironic how it’s always wet when I’m buying tires. The white stuff you see on the back of the car in this picture is snow and sleet. Our first winter storm of this season…  Looking forward to summer!

Mazda MX-5: A118C B40 Pro Dash Cam Installed

Good news! I’ve finally installed my dash cam.

I ordered a $66 Chinese made A118C or B40 Pro sold by a slew of sellers on eBay which arrived within a week from an LA shipping address instead of waiting 30 days for one to arrive from China. It came in a genetic looking box, with genetic looking parts, along with genetic looking hard-wiring cable.

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 1

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 2

The install process was pretty straight forward even though I’ve never done anything like this before. I unscrewed a few hex bolts holding the header in place and got access to where I wanted the wire to sit, sticking out directly above the dash cam on the windshield:

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 7

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 4

I routed it along the A-pillar down to the dash, and threaded it further down to the kick panel by the driver’s door where the fuse box is located. I used an add-a-circuit I also bought on eBay to complete my install. Crimped the wires in place, plugged in 15A+3A fuses for the camera, and was pretty much done.

a118c-b40-pro-dash-cam-miata-14

a118c-b40-pro-dash-cam-miata-15

a118c-b40-pro-dash-cam-miata-16

Was pretty impressed how quick and easy the install was. And most importantly everything seems to work as expected, and there’s no loose wiring hanging off anywhere, which is great. A professional finish.

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 5

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 6

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 3

Since the install I’ve driven around for a few days now and am pretty impressed with the video quality. I wanted to move the dash cam up and place it higher so it’s less visible from the outside.

a118c-b40-pro-dash-cam-miata-12

a118c-b40-pro-dash-cam-miata-13

I’ve shared some videos from the dash cam on facebook, so check them out there. No point in uploading them to YouTube as the video quality gets absolutely destroyed. Hopefully I never have to use any of the footage off the camera for anything insurance related. But I’m looking forward to getting some nice cruising footage from the next Miata get together, which is coming up this week.

PS. I took the opportunity to do a side by side comparison between the A118C B40 Pro and my GoPro Hero 3+ they’re pretty similar in size:

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 9

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 11

a118c b40 pro dash cam miata 10

Cheap Gas: Optimizing my Fuel Purchases

I like sharing good deals when I find them, and I’ve stumbled on to a great cheap gas deal that I wanted to share with the readers. I’m sure many have seen me talk about getting good gas mileage and gas prices have dropped to record lows in recent times, but to me it’s more about the challenge of finding a good deal than actually about the money. Although saving money obviously doesn’t hurt.

This information would only be useful to people living in the United States, and even then limited to those that can participate in the Rewards program of a gas station that isn’t available “everywhere”. But if you are like me, you’d feel pretty lucky taking advantage of the available offers.

So here it is… earlier this year I started buying discounted Gas Cards on eBay. I’ve purchased some from ExxonMobil, 76 and most frequently BP gas cards because they are often offered with a hefty discount, typically $95 for $100 card, or even $90 for $100 card. That’s 10% savings for buying something that you already use, I know I certainly do.

What I’ve discovered in addition to saving 10% for buying the gas card upfront, it also yields an $0.08 discount at the pump of my closest BP station. Now there are about six of them in the five mile radius of me, and only one offers this discount. And the discount is only offered on “Regular” or “87 octane” fuel, but still, it’s something that I use in the trucks in our household. (Miata uses 91 or 93 octane premium/super or BP terms: Ultimate fuel).

Recently, I discovered that BP has started offering a BP Rewards program, where for each dollar spent at the pump you earn a rebate which is used in lump sum at a fill up of your choice. The payment method doesn’t matter, you swipe your rewards card before fueling up, and you are free to use a credit card, a gift card like I do or just pay in cash. The transaction is recorded electronically and you are offered a discount at the next fill up. The current promotion running to the end of August is $0.25 per gallon for every $100 spent in purchases at BP. You have to decline the smaller discounts after each fill up until you accumulate the 25 cents, which could be a challenge because in New Jersey we do not pump our own gas and the gas station attendants either don’t understand or don’t listen to your requests, so I’ve started getting out of the car and doing my own selection before they pump my gas. It’s nice to get a discount. The $0.25 could be redeemed on a single fill up, so for me it wouldn’t make sense to use it for a Miata because of it’s 10 gallon tank when the trucks each could easily fit 18 gallons. The 25 cent discount could be compounded or stacked for each $100 spent, so the discount could be quite hefty. And considering I’ve spent over $900 this year already on buying gift cars (well with a 10% discount) that would have been a great tool to use had I realized it earlier. I’m already up to $0.17 closing in on my first $100 total.

The beauty of using a BP branded gas card at the gas stations in NJ is that you get the “cash” price for your fuel purchase vs. the “credit” price. These credit prices are often 5 to 10 cents higher than the cash price, so that’s a nice perk to have considering I buy my gas cards using a credit card and for each purchase I get frequent flyer miles which are very valuable to me to redeem for air travel. Since I make my gas card purchases on eBay I also participate in their eBay bucks / rewards program. Where I earn a small percentage back on qualifying purchases. BP gas cards qualify. And for each $90 I earn $1.80 back. So far I’ve redeemed $11+ back already towards the purchase of another BP gift card. Often I buy eBay electronic gift cards at $95 for $100 card, and use them towards the purchase of a BP gas card, which makes my $100 card only cost $85.

With all these savings I’m paying well under $2 a gallon for fuel!

How?

Well assuming fuel this week is $2.37 credit price:

$2.37 x 18 gallons = $42.66 for a full tank in the Explorer.

Now if I use the discounts, using gas card for cash price:

$2.29 cash price, $2.21 with 8 cent gas card discount, $1.96 with 25 cent BP rewards discount for the first $100 spent in purchases:

$1.96 x 18 = $35.28 for the same full tank in the Explorer.

Add this $7.38 in savings to the $16.80 I saved by buying $100 BP gas card through eBay (using $95 for $100 eBay gift card to purchase $90 for $100 BP card with $1.80 eBay rebate), that’s $24.18 in savings…  and at $2.61 for Ultimate fuel, I can fill up a tank in the Miata for that price, which would last me for two weeks use.

bp cheap gas

So the savings are pretty nice, and most importantly I love the challenge of getting the best deal available. Some may complain that this takes way more time than the money saved, but I disagree… Now if only I could find a similar scheme to get a better deal on some flights, I’ve yet to book my trips to Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, and if I could figure out a way of buying those tickets cheaper, I’d love it!