Thank God it’s Friday. If all goes well, I am in a “foreign land” as you read this, and was out of touch yesterday, in case Amazon acquired Sears (damn — and Quickbrowse was so close to getting it!) or Canada invaded Maine (I repeat: it is the unexpected that moves markets, and would we really go to war over Maine? Sure, Portland or Ogonquit or Bangor or any part of Southern Maine or even Bahaba – but that stuff way up at the top?).

So if something big happened, I don’t know about it. I am using this occasion to catch up on some odds and ends:


Lucy Tompkin: “Thanks for recommending the Paul Frederick site, and mentioning the Free Shirt promotion. I ordered one for my husband, (“Black Glen Plaid with Varsity Spread Collar and Button Cuffs in Egyptian Cotton Broadcloth – #960blk”), and it arrived just a few days later. The shirt is quite nice, comparable to those we buy at Nordstrom, and entirely satisfactory, especially for only $7.50 for shipping! What a deal! I will probably order from them again, based on the high quality of their merchandise.”

The limit is one free shirt per customer, first-time customers only, but the promotion seems still to be going.


Last month WebMD was giving away free sneakers. Feeling tip-top, I popped over to the site just long enough to enter my address and click – no credit card info required, no charge for shipping – and sure enough, last week a brand-new pair of seemingly $59-ish sneakers arrived. I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but I know it will ultimately be very profitable for someone to have sponsored this promotion.


Steven Coultas: “If you open an account with, a new online bank, they put $20 free into your bank account. No costs, no minimums. I’ve just been trying this out, and it works quickly and easily. You can also transfer your $20 instantly into money market funds or mutual funds, all of which seem to be excellent deals. The bank is FDIC-insured. A review of the service is available from”

Well, I couldn’t resist, so I signed up. I think I may be $20 richer, and that by clicking Steven’s link, I may have made him $10 richer as well. I cannot vouch for this outfit in any way, although – not being a complete fool – I have imbedded my referral code in this link so that if you sign up for your free $20 I may be $10 richer as a result.

You can see how this could quickly get out of hand, which may be why, when I went to transfer $1 to a friend, as a test, told me I had $20 in its bank (the twenty it had given me) plus a $200 credit line – yet not enough money to cover the $1 transfer. And it also may be why, when I clicked to summon live on-line customer service, I didn’t get any. My guess is that they are just swamped with all this . . . and that people everywhere are sending $1 to friends, in order to get $10 referral fees back. (If your friend is not already an account holder, he has to become one to collect the money you tried to transfer. If he doesn’t sign up, the money never leaves your account.)

Time will tell, but if accounts can be opened automatically for $30 each – the $20 free to the account-opener and the $10 referral – that’s a lot less than miost banks pay to win new customers.

It may be a while before I’d do any serious banking or investing on But hey: $20 is $20.

(And, what – you never heard of Bahaba, Maine? Maybe you just don’t recognize the spelling. It’s pronounced: Bar Harbor.)


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