Monday, September 21, 2015

Why does Amazon not accept PayPal?

By C. Moffat

Amazon is one of the world's largest online marketplaces for ordering pretty much anything you want.

PayPal is basically the world's largest online bank, the preferred way to pay for things online because it is safe, secure and fast. In 2014, PayPal moved $228 billion in 26 currencies across more than 190 nations.

So you would think it would make sense that Amazon would accept payments via PayPal...? Wouldn't you?

It would, except that PayPal used to be owned by eBay - an online rival marketplace, but one that focuses on auctioning off used items to the highest bidder.

Now you would think Amazon, which sells new items, and that eBay, which sells mostly used items, would not be rivals, but for whatever reason they are.

In order to better facilitate eBay's users they started the company PayPal to make it easier for people to pay for things online - and PayPal spread across the internet, becoming one of the best ways to safely and quickly transfer money to pay for things, send money to family/friends, etc.

Below is a Live Chat conversation I had with a "Help Representative" from Amazon. He deliberately avoided the real answer as to WHY Amazon doesn't accept PayPal.



The funny thing is that eBay doesn't even own PayPal any more. They are now separate companies, and have been completely separate since July 18th, 2015.

So admittedly the split was very recent. But still this would be an opportunity for Amazon to finally step up their game by accepting PayPal - and what is more they had roughly a year to prepare for the July 18th split, as eBay announced plans to split PayPal off from the parent company back in 2014.

So will greed finally win out and consumers will finally have another option instead of credit cards (which are notoriously problematic to use online)...?

Only time will tell.

What I will tell you is that I have 6 items in my eBay Shopping Cart waiting to be paid for - and I am not going to bother buying them until eBay gets their act together.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Creed



On November 25th a new film is coming out featuring 'Rocky Balboa', except the film isn't about Rocky for once. It is about Apollo Creed's son.

If you are familiar with the Rocky film series you should know who Apollo Creed is - he was in 4 of the films after all and was killed during the 4th film by Soviet Union boxer Ivan Drago. What they don't talk about in that film and the films that follow is what happens to Apollo Creed's wife and son - and thus we come to the new film "Creed", due out in November.

Oddly enough the new Creed film sets the franchise up for more possible films in the future, with Rocky potentially coaching other boxers to success. One I would like to see: Rocky coaching a female Olympic boxer for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Timing wise the boxer in question could actually be his granddaughter.

Trailer Below



For fun here is a YouTube clip of the fight between Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed.


Forbidden Empire


"Forbidden Empire" is a horror / action film produced in Russia / Ukraine and it was released in the USA in May 2015.

However it never got a theatrical release in Canada, for some unknown reason.

That doesn't mean that this movie isn't very good however. It just means it didn't get a lot of press or media coverage in Canada. In the USA the film received mixed reviews, with some people really liking and others less so. In Russia the film set a new box office record, which gives a good indication that the film is actually good - despite it being an English film made in Czech Republic that was then dubbed into Russian. (Yes, I agree, that is weird.)

Truth be told, it is difficult for movies made in Russia, Asia, Europe, Africa or South America to do well in the USA - mostly due to poor distribution, and having almost nothing to do with the quality of the plot, the actors, the computer graphics, etc. It has a lot to do with the fact many of the film companies in Hollywood are part of conglomerates which also own television stations, traditional print media such as newspapers and magazines, and have access to a vast network of resources to advertise, promote and get their films into the theatres.

Also name wise the name "Forbidden Empire" sounds too much like the Chinese film "Forbidden Kingdom", and the two films are really nothing alike. But it does seem to cause confusion when trying to Google the name.

Below is the trailer for the film. My goal here however is not to review the film. It is to tempt the curious to watch the trailer, go "Whoa! This looks really good!" and then make an effort to see the film. If you end up liking or disliking the film please post your reviews in the comment section further below.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Blood Song, a Book Review

Review by C. Moffat.
  • ISBN-10: 0425268284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425268285
I purchased a copy of "Blood Song" over a month ago at an Indigo. At the time I knew nothing about the fantasy author, Anthony Ryan, what I did know is that it was part of a three book trilogy called "Raven's Shadow" and the 2nd book "Tower Lord" had a recurve bow on the cover. That was basically it. I bought the first book of the trilogy just because of the cover of the 2nd book.
So reading the book I didn't really have high expectations. I knew zero about the author, and I had basically bought the book on a whim.

What I got however was a five star book that within the first several chapters made me wish someone would make a film based on the book. Half way through the book however I determined that "Blood Song" was too complex a book to be made into a film. Let me elaborate and hopefully I won't give away too many spoilers. 

"Blood Song" is about a young warrior monk named Vaelin Al Sorna who as a boy is left at the door of the Sixth Order - an elite order of warrior monks. The first several chapters feel a bit like reading Harry Potter books as the boy grows and is trained as a warrior, learning skills like swordsmanship,  archery, hand to hand fighting, wilderness survival/tracking/hunting, stealth, etc. By the time he is done his training Vaelin is basically part ranger, part warrior-monk. However this only provides you with a better understanding of Vaelin's childhood and training - and introduces you to several key plot points that come back later in the book.

The world of the "Raven's Shadow" trilogy is low magic, but what little magic does exist is called "the Dark" and is innate abilities that only a few possess. Combined with this is "the Faith", which is the dominant religion of the United Realm. The Faith is the belief not in a god, but in the Departed (dead souls) that speak to mankind from the Beyond. The Faith operates six orders dedicated to different topics, the sixth of which is the elite warrior-monks mentioned above.

Within the United Realm all is not well however, as they were united against their will and many parts of the realm are restless, which in turn causes skirmishes and wars. Outside of the realm is also the Alpiran Empire to the south, a wealthy region of city-states separated by vast deserts - and another source of potential war thanks to scheming and greedy leaders.

I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone reading this, so instead I am trying to give more background on the setting rather than spoil anything for would be readers. What I will say is that I was very happy with the storytelling and the ending. I can't wait to read the next two books.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

UPS Vs USPS / Canada Post

I went to UPS earlier this evening at approx. 7 PM to pick up a package (a notice was left on my mailbox when I got home). Behold, the UPS location near Bayview and Eglinton was closed. They closed at 6 PM.

These are their hours.

Monday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday - 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday - Closed

I also went to Canada Post on Bayview around the same time to pick up a separate package. Behold they were open!

These are their hours:

Monday - 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM
Tuesday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Wednesday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Thursday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Friday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Saturday - 08:00 AM - Midnight
Sunday - 08:00 AM - Midnight

Now think about this a bit.

Most people work 9 to 5 jobs. That means that if UPS closes at 6 PM and they want to pick up a package they need to rush to the UPS location after work, DURING RUSH HOUR, and try to get the store location before 6 PM so they can pick up their package.

When you order something online from the United States and have it sent via USPS (United States Postal Service) it gets transferred to the care of Canada Post when it arrives in Canada. And vice for Americans ordering things online from Canada, having it sent via Canada Post and then ultimately delivered by USPS.

I have NEVER had any problems with the quality of service or speed of Canada Post / USPS. In fact I have learned to trust them more than conventional courier companies. eg. I HATE DHL Express Courier.

I also really dislike how couriers charge extra for shipping across the Canada/USA border, even though the distance they are shipping might be less than shipping from say Florida to Texas. See my old post Courier Shipping Prices: Canada Vs USA

But what REALLY annoys me, on the topic of UPS versus USPS/Canada Post is that UPS is slow, has annoying hours when their location is actually open, and has the gall to charge people extra for what they claim is faster service...

However as shown by my recent purchase of three items of identical size and shape from two locations in the USA and from one location in Canada, all paid for around the same time, and shipped around the same time, the first item to arrive was USPS Priority Courier from the USA.

In contrast the UPS item showed up a day later but I decided to try and pick them both up the same day - earlier today.

The third item, shipped from Quebec, was the last of the three to be paid for and shipped and will likely arrive tomorrow. Oddly enough I will probably receive it before the UPS package simply because Canada Post has much better service/hours than UPS.

UPS might have a nice slogan and those brown uniforms their employees wear, but their service is horrible in my opinion.

Note - For reference the three items I purchased were three vintage bows on eBay.

A 1975 Browning Wasp Recurve Bow from Pointe-Claire, Quebec. [Canada Post]

A circa 1972 Black Hawk Avenger Recurve Bow from Vintondale, Pennsylvania. [USPS]

A circa 1966-67 Ben Pearson Cougar Recurve Bow from Cameron, Wisconsin. [UPS]

Three packages identical in size, all paid for within a 24 hour period and shipped within 24 hours after being paid for. The Black Hawk from Pennsylvania arrived first via USPS/Canada Post, the Ben Pearson from Wisconsin is currently being held in storage somewhere by UPS with its horrible hours, and the Browning from Quebec will likely arrive tomorrow via Canada Post because it was the last to be paid for and shipped.

The Browning and the Black Hawk were both paid for at the exact same time and shipped less than 24 hours later. Yet it was the USPS/Canada Post package that arrived first.

Also on the note left on my mailbox by UPS earlier today it says they are expecting C.O.D. (Cash On Delivery) of $37.68. Which is odd because I already paid for the shipping ahead of time when I purchased the item. I know this because I have the online receipt for it when I paid for it.

Therefore I am left with an odd conclusion. Either the person shipping it didn't pay for the shipping and sent it C.O.D. (even though I paid for the shipping ahead of time and he knows I paid for it because I have the online receipt). Or UPS has made an error and is claiming it was sent C.O.D. when it was not, either because they are greedy jerks who like to overcharge people or because their company is so shoddily run that they don't keep track of such things.

So is it:

Greedy / incompetent sender from Wisconsin.
Greedy courier company.
Incompetent courier company.

I am curious to know which. I shall try to find out on Friday when I attempt to pick up my package during the middle of the day. To be continued...

UPDATE!

UPS did eventually deliver the package and they left it in the mailroom of my apartment building leaning against the wall. A notice was left with it asking for a COD, but after a chat with the seller on eBay they ended up contacting UPS and getting rid of the COD and vowing never to use UPS ever again. On this we are both agreed upon.

Regarding the bows in question, as a separate review I must remark that the Browning Wasp is the one I enjoy the shooting the most. The Black Hawk Avenger is a bit small for me, but still enjoyable. And the Ben Pearson Cougar is likewise an enjoyable bow to shoot. Overall I am very happy with all three.

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