GOOD DEAL

David Maymudes: ‘I just happened to notice that the limit for online purchase of the inflation-adjusted Treasury bonds you’ve recommended in the past has been raised to $1000, so it’s now possible to buy the Albert Einstein bond!’

☞ And remember, you can pay with a credit card and get the frequent flier miles, or with Discover and get a little cash back. Is this a great country or what? Click here.

BAD DEAL

Frank McClendon: ‘Last spring, I opened an X.com account under the allure of no fees. The ‘allure’ in reality was a marketing gimmick with fine print. As of November 1st, X.com (associated with Great Western Financial and PayPal) reversed the ‘allure’ and started charging account holders with smaller balances a NON-REFUNDABLE (for any reason) $12 per month. After deducting the non-refundable (for any reason) $12 service charge from my account in November, X.com then announced it was shutting down its banking business as of December 1st. Whoa!

‘Today, I spent 40 minutes on the phone with two representatives who said I was unreasonable and irresponsible for wanting my $12 back, that I definitely would not get my $12 back, and who finally hung up on me (twice) after refusing to transfer me to anyone in management.

‘I did learn from the representatives of X.com (in the call center in Omaha) that there were thousands of customers in my predicament and that NONE of them under any circumstances would be getting a refund of the fees deducted from their account. I was told that this was the final decision of the company. Customer Service would not tell me who made this decision, nor would they give me any way to contact senior management at the company.’

JUNK

Richard McIntyre: ‘Re: yesterday’s column on Yield — what is your opinion on junk bond funds? Prices are way down, yields are very good, risk is high (?). Being a fund, prices should eventually recover (as with most funds and indexes) — or could they fail to recover to mid-90s levels? Your general thoughts on junk funds please?’

☞ I think considerable risk remains in junk bonds, as a class. With a fund, you get diversification and professional management; but your return gets weighed down by fees, and the managers may not care as much about your money as you do (and they may be tempted to make the fund attractive by loading it up with high-yielding bad risks).

SPUNK

Carol: ‘The funniest flight I ever had with Southwest is when the plane was taxi-ing to the terminal. You know the speech they give when they ask you to stay in your seat until the plane comes to a full and complete halt? The attendant asks everyone to stay in their seats, as usual. And he adds over the P.A. system that if we don’t, then he will be forced to subject us to his serenade of lounge lizard music. A few people half rose from their seats a few minutes early. He at first said something like ‘Ah, Ah, Ah,’ kind of in an admonishing tone. They sat back down. Then when somebody really did stand up all the way before we were attached to the exit ramp, he started singing the first few bars of ‘Feelings’–at least I think that’s the name of it. Everybody starting yelling ‘Sit Down, Sit Down.’ to the offender. You never saw anybody sit back down in their seat more quickly!’

FUNK

Craig: ‘Now you’re telling us that a Bush family member called the election? George W. actually got on the phone and told his cousin to call the election and everyone would believe it? PLEASE!!! You have to be one of the biggest Gore whores this side of Gloria Allred.’

☞ Do you really think it’s irrelevant that the closest election in the nation’s history — an election that may be decided by a few thousandths of one percent — was called just a few hours after the polls closed by a close Bush family member who’d been on the phone with both Jeb and W? Do you think he would have been just as likely to have called it for Gore?

Paul B: ‘I’m afraid I have lost the respect that I had for you due to your totally hypocritical stand on the election. Just state the obvious truth, you and most other Democrats just want Al Gore to win by any means necessary. This hypocrisy of only being interested in an ‘accurate count’ is really grating. If you wanted an ‘accurate count’ you would not have requested recounts ONLY in the four most heavily Democratic districts with Democrats controlling the election boards.

☞ I’m sure you are aware that Gore went on national TV offering to abide by a manual count of ALL the counties. And I’m sure you also know that the manufacturers of the machines, and all other experts on this stuff, are unanimous that a visual inspection is more accurate than trusting the machines, which simply can’t read thousands of the ballots. Normally, that doesn’t matter. Unless the election is very close, the machines are good enough. But when the election is just thousands of one percent apart, what good is a machine accurate only to, say, a tenth of a percent? You may as well just flip a coin (which, as you know, I have also suggested). I retain all the respect I had for you, Paul.

Jonathan Levy: ‘Doesn’t it seem fair that the Republicans should stop contesting the 1992 election before asking the Democrats to stop contesting the 2000 election?’

 

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