Archive for August, 2009

Save on Your Electric Bill
August 31, 2009

Your Electric BillTonight at 10, we’re showing you some of the improvements made to the Jones family’s home in Sugar Land. They won Gary Parr’s  Home Energy Savings Makeover Project.  Their home is 2 stories and 2800 square feet.  Their highest electric bill last year was $943!

Parr gathered businesses and contractors to donate their services and materials to the project. The goal is to cut the Jones electric bill by 50%.

If you’re deciding what project to do first, remember you can get a tax credit for certain energy efficiency home improvements.

What Qualifies

Through 2010, you can claim a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost up to $1500 for new qualified windows, doors, insulation, heating and cooling systems, and other energy-efficient home products.

Some specialty systems involving geothermal heating, solar energy, eind energy, and fuel cells qualify for credits with more generous allowances. There’s no $1500 cap, effective through 2016.  Tax credits cover installation costs for some but not all improvements.

But if you don’t have the money to buy a new AC, hot water heater or new windows… there are some other things you can do.

Close your Curtains

Block out the sun’s heat by drawing your window treatments on the south side of your house during the day.

Turn Up Your Thermostat

The recommended temperature setting for comfort and energy savings in an air-conditioned room is 78 degrees. Resist the urge to drop the temperature for a quick cool, which taxes your unit.

Schedule Heat-Producing Periods

Plan your use of the dishwasher, oven and dryer for early morning or evening rather than afternoon. To save energy and keep your kitchen cool at dinnertime, use your grill and microwave instead of the cooktop and oven as much as possible.

Clear Out Yard Waste

Prune shrubs and remove grass and leaves that block airflow around your central air-conditioner or heat pump unit.

Special thanks to “Better Homes & Gardens.” The above information was taken from the July 2009 publication.

Of course Gary Parr is an excellent source of information on all things “energy.” Tune into his show on KSEV 700AM every Saturday from 2 to 4pm. You can also check out the “Gary on the Air” website for more energy saving tips and the Makeover Project.

The following organizations also have good tips:

U.S. Department of Energy

Federal Trade Commission

Google Power Meter

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Trade in your old Baby Stuff
August 26, 2009

toysrusFor a limited time only, Toys R Us is taking back your old cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards and high chairs. In exchange, they’ll give you a 20% discount on the same type of new products.

It helps save some money… but Toys R Us says safety is the main goal.

Read this CNN Money article for more details.

Third Party Vendor Cancels Service with iJango
August 26, 2009

I told you all I would share any new information I received about iJango after last night’s story.

Late yesterday, I received an email from LinkShare.  LinkShare is the company that iJango used to find e-retailers who agreed to share revenues when iJango customers buy their products through the iJango portal.

iJango’s attorney sent me a list of about 200 retailers that have agreed to share revenues through LinkShare. When I contacted LinkShare to confirm the information, a spokesperson sent me this statement:

“At LinkShare, we take these kinds of issues very seriously. Once we became aware of the activities taking place, we terminated all accounts associated with iJango. iJango’s use of LinkShare’s technology in no way implies our endorsement of their activities or business model. Our internal quality team continuously monitors our vast network closely in order to respond to members that are not in compliance with the agreement they signed with us. LinkShare is committed to providing quality services to all members within our network, and works to ensure that level is maintained at all times.”   

The same LinkShare representative told me that they can’t go into detail about how iJango was “not in compliance” or explain exactly why their account was terminated.

iJango’s attorney Ed Burbach believes it was because of the BBB’s Reliability Report that iJango says is “erroneous.” Burbach told me that Macy’s also dropped it’s revenue sharing agreement with iJango because of the BBB report.  He also said that the latest development with LinkShare will not effect business at iJango. He said the company will work instead with another business called “Computer Junction.”

If you “Jango,” please let me know if you receive any money based in revenue sharing or ad clicks through iJango. You can email me at adavis@kprc.com or post a comment here.

iJango: What’s it all About?
August 25, 2009

When I got the call last month that executives for a new multi-level marketing internet company were making a stop in Houston, I decided to attend the recruiting event at the Omni Hotel that same night.  IMG_1144

There were white collar and blue collar folks, men and women of all races who came out to learn about the new company.

Before I drove over, I did some research online. Most of what was posted was about Cameron Sharpe- the guy who says he came up with the idea for iJango.  Sharpe apparently has some skeletons in his closet… part ownership in an old Dallas-based dating service that got less than stellar reviews with the BBB.  

When Sharpe filed for bankruptcy in 2005, almost all of his debts were erased. A woman named Susan Baker sued Sharpe, claiming he owed her $150,000 and that the loan shouldn’t be discharged by the court. In this filing, we learn a lot more about Sharpe, including how he did business, how he spent money he didn’t have, and most importantly, the extent of his relationship with iJango Chairman Steve Smith.

iJango Chairman Steve Smith

iJango Chairman Steve Smith

 

On page 17 of the bankruptcy court filing, Sharpe says in court that the only pay he received was in the form of loans from Steve smith, about $20,000 a month.  In the documents, Smith is listed as a partner in the dating business with Sharpe that went belly-up.  In the end, the court ruled that Sharpe didn’t have to repay Susan Baker the $150,000 she loaned him. That was 2006.Fast forward to 2009. Sharpe says the idea of iJango came to him in the shower. “What if we could multi-level the internet?” he told the crowd in Houston.Sharpe and Smith say they first met working together at Excel Comunications, a huge multi-level marketing long-distance phone company. Smith told the crowd that it was “embarrassing” how much money he made at Excel… but that iJango “is the finest opportunity he’s (I’ve) ever seen in his (my) life.”

The web portal iJango offers is not new.  The way iJango purports to make money is not new. But combining the iJango portal with revenue sharing may be unique.

Ed Burbach, iJango’s attorney sent me a list of close to 200 retailers he says iJango has revenue sharing agreements with through a third party company called LinkShare.

Crocs.com is one of the companies I have confirmed is affiliated with iJango. Crocs will give an 8% commission to iJango on all goods purchased by buyers who use the iJango portal to get to Crocs.com.  Let’s say the average pair of Crocs is $40.  8% of that is just $3.20. If you’re counting on that commission, you will have to split it with iJango Network and anyone else who “sponsored” you or turned you onto iJango.

Sounds like it would be  difficult to get rich that way… but we won’t know until iJango starts sending out the commission checks. iJango customers say they’ve been told they’re coming at the end of September.

iJango's Cameron Sharpe

iJango's Cameron Sharpe

By the way… Cameron Sharpe… the brain child behind iJango apparently no longer has any ownership in the company at all. An iJango customer sent me an email he received from iJango Network last week. You can read the part about Sharpe below:  iJango’s Cameron Sharpe

“We wish Mr. Sharpe continued success in turning his life around. Nevertheless, his past personal issues have become the major distraction for this company. Therefore, this will confirm that Mr. Sharpe has agreed to not have any ownership interest in the company.”

I guess it’s a good thing I snapped this picture with him when he was here in Houston.

Internet Scams & Schemes
August 24, 2009

In tonight’s “Ask Amy” segment we told you about a scam where criminals hijack your email account and email all of your contacts, feigning an emergency and asking for money. Of course the idea is that yout friends think it’s you.

This is just one of the latest scams agents with the FBI’s Cyber Crime Task Force are seeing. Check out some of the others so that you might recognize the ploy should it happen to you:

Debt Elimination

Reshipping

Phishing/ Spoofing 

Counterfeit Cashiers Check 

You should report any of the above scams (or any others) to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

When we drove to the FBI Houston field office to interview the Special Agent for this story, we got to see the brand IMG_1365new building. They said we were the first station to do a media interview since they had just moved in days earlier.

I thought I’d post pictures of their new digs at 290 near 43rd in Northwest Houston. The building is… interesting. Even the agents who work there say they can;t quite figure out what the architect had in mind when they created this:

IMG_1366IMG_1369

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.