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James"Oaktown Jim" B.

4 Level 4 Contributor
  • 30 Reviews
  • 107 Helpful Votes
  • 0 Thank Yous

Experience: Home & Garden, Finance, Entertainment

Member since March 2010

  • Reviews

    30

  • First Reviews

    18

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About Me

A "Tweener" (born between WWI and WWII), I'm turning into one of those crusty old fogies I used to laugh at. 30 years work in IT, so I know what makes a good website.

How I Can Help

Aside from obsolescent skills in IT (I'm now retired), I have no special expertise, except that which comes from life experiences.

Interests

Marine biology, Ancient History, science fiction.

30 Reviews by James

4/26/11

Wilmington Trust (see the Wikipedia entry for the background on this company) has a number of websites (under different names) on the Internet:
www.wtris.com
www.wilmingtontrust.com
As well as under the DBA name "The Advisory Trust Company of Delaware." For a review of the trust functions of Wilmington Trust, see under
www.advisorytrustco.com

4/26/11

Wilmington Trust (see the Wikipedia entry for the background on this company) has a number of websites (under different names) on the Internet:
www.wtris.com
www.wilmingtontrust.com
As well as under the DBA name "The Advisory Trust Company of Delaware." For a review of the trust functions of Wilmington Trust, see under
www.advisorytrustco.com

4/25/11

"The Advisory Trust Company of Delaware" (TATCO, in this review) is a DBA for the Wilmington Trust Retirement and Institutional Services Company, which provides a wide range of financial services in addition to the administration of personal trusts. TATCO has offices in Wilmington, Delaware, and Phoenix, Arizona. Unfortunately, they seem to have grown so large that they can afford to demonstrate a blatantly contemptuous indifference toward their clients.

All of my dealings were with the Phoenix office, but I believe that the problems I will describe in this review were the result of a "corporate culture," not just shortcomings on the part of the Phoenix staff.

My grandfather had set up a trust for my mother, with myself and my sister Chris as "contingent beneficiaries." The trust was administered by TATCO. According to the terms of the trust, upon my mother's death the trust (stocks and bonds) would be cashed out and the proceeds ("distributions") divided 50-50 between myself and Chris. When my mother passed away in March of 2010, the trust was worth about $180,000, so we could each expect to receive some $90,000.

For me, this would just be a nice bit of additional income. For Chris, however, this 90K was "survival money:" she was caring for a husband with a chronic, degenerative illness (he requires supplemental oxygen 24/7), dealing (as executor) with the expenses of liquidating my late mother's estate (including selling a house in Phoenix in the depressed market of 2010), paying the mortgage on her own house, and coping with other heavy financial burdens.

We submitted our proof of ID and the distribution instructions in July/August of 2010, and settled back to wait for our money. As a general rule, stocks and bonds can be sold in a day or two, and the funds sent via EFT (electronic fund transfer), as we had requested. But, in our case, all we received was silence. By December, Chris began to send emails and make telephone calls to TATCO; these were sometimes answered with "we'll let you know" and sometimes with more silence.

By January, I was concerned enough to request a specific target date from TATCO on which the distributions could be reasonably expected. The Trust Administrator gave me a date of "January 14."

The target date came and went, without an update or apology. Further calls and emails elicited the information that the trust was "in the closing unit," but finding its status apparently involved some sort of "trace" activity, absurd as that may sound in the Age of Computers. In any event, the status was invariably reported as "almost ready."

In February, Chris called the Phoenix office yet again and got an administrative assistant. When asked, "Can you tell me what the status of this trust is?," the AA replied "I don't know," and then called across to her companion at the next desk: "Do you know what the status of the N--- Trust is?" "No," came the answer. Then they both laughed.

At this point, I think, TATCO--represented by their local office--crossed the line from indifference to outright contempt.

I sent an email to the "Contact Us" address on the TATCO website, requesting advice on filing a complaint; this inquiry went unanswered for weeks (a followup complaint, accompanied by the threat of a bad review on SiteJabber, did get a response: an emailed "Call me!" from the Managing Director; but by this time I had lost interest in pursuing my case through company management). An attempt by my own trust attorney to find out what was going on was also ignored.

More than THREE MONTHS after the target date elapsed, Chris did get her half of the distributions. I still have not. Today, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and composed this review.

If you have any valuable property--house, land, stocks and bonds, etc.--and loved ones to whom you wish to leave your property, when you pass away, you should definitely set up a living trust, to save your heirs the delay and expense of going through probate. However, you should obviously find a Trust Administrator somewhere other than TATCO.

4/21/11

A "step stool" is a short flight of steps, like a miniature staircase (but portable), used by persons of short stature (e.g., kids) to reach a book or toy on a high shelf, or to climb into the upper bunk of a bunk bed. A step stool would also be useful to an adult in failing health: as America's population ages, and old folks find it more and more difficult to reach the anise on the top row of the spice rack, or to climb into bed at night, step stools will probably become a common sight in homes and apartments.

Step Stool Universe specializes in step stools, including wooden and metal ones in a wide variety of types and designs. They also carry step ladders, some of "industrial" size.

I ordered an "Adult Two Step Baltic Birch White Step Stool" in February of 2011, noting the warning that these are made to order, so I might have to wait a bit for delivery. In fact, I received my order within 11 working days. The step stool was solid, well-made, and proved to be quite useful.

If you're looking for a sturdy set of portable steps, and can't find just what you need locally, try Step Stool Universe: if you can't find what you need on their website, you'll probably need to have the item custom-made.

4/18/11

AspenHome provides furniture for the home and office, with special focus on bedroom furniture (beds, dressers, etc.). I visited the AspenHome website after hearing a recommendation from a local furniture retailer, who said that their products (among similar types of furniture imported from outside the USA) were the only ones he would recommend, due to superior quality and design.

In the end, I did order an AspenHome bed through the retailer, and found it to be of excellent quality. However, this is a review of the AspenHome WEBSITE, so--

The AspenHome website currently has a fatal flaw: the first page displays perfectly, but my attempt to access a second or later page invariably fails, displaying (briefly) the legend "Loading" before popping up a blank page. I get the same results when I try the "Browse" (by Category, etc.) feature.

I reported this problem to AspenHome via the "Contact Us" option several weeks ago, and never received a reply. Since then, I've checked a couple of times to see if the problem has been fixed, and it hasn't.

My Browser is Safari, and my computer is running Mac OS 10. 6. 7. I haven't run into this problem with any other website I've visited on the Internet, so I doubt that my software is at fault. I find it astonishing that a company that offers high-end furniture, and presumably cares about its commercial reputation, would pay so little attention to its website: does this mean that they also don't care about customer service?--Caution is advised!

NOTE ADDED 6/12/2016: I checked the website again today, and it seems to be working OK now. I may change my Overall Rating later, if the website proves to be useful. For now, the old rating stands.

4/18/11

Lighting New York is an online "supermarket" for lighting fixtures (ceiling, wall, desk, etc.) made by a wide variety of companies (see "Shop by Brand" for a list). They also offer some other household fixtures, such as fans, mirrors, desks, and other furniture. In addition, they apparently have human consultants available by "chat" seven days a week, to assist the shopper in finding a particular type of light fixture, etc. (I haven't used this service).

Before visiting Lighting New York's website in February of 2011, I had searched for several weeks to find a pendant (hanging) light for a stairwell that would be easy to pull down (to change the bulb) and then pull back up into position. I finally found one made by Kichler that I liked, and placed my order via Lighting New York (the Kichler website automatically linked to Lighting New York).

Pros: Lots of different lighting fixtures available for review. The account information page is well organized, and the "Order History" section provides a link to a detailed history of each item, from order through shipping. The fixture I ordered arrived in perfect shape, and worked perfectly when installed.

Cons: my particular order "hung" in "Processed" status for 14 working days, after which I sent an email via the "Contact Lighting New York" option, asking "what's the delay?" Two days later, I got an automated "Your order has shipped" message. This is good. Better would have been no delay at all: maybe Lighting New York could automate a "What's the hangup?" inquiry to the shipper, if an item isn't shipped within, say, 10 working days.

Aside from this minor shortcoming, I found Lighting New York to be a useful website.

12/28/10

I had been thinking of signing up at Ancestry.com to develop a better-organized database for information on my extended family, but was discouraged by the high price (as of Dec. 2010, almost $156.00/year for a US subscription; even more for access to international records). Then I saw a number of customer complaints about Ancestry.com on the Internet: the most common complaint is that the company fails to stop your subscription when requested, and continues to apply charges against your credit card, even after telephone calls to the service dept. A second complaint is that they provide no way to correct bad data (when the customer has discovered, through personal research, that it's incorrect). So, be sure to read the fine print (a 14-day free trial subscription will slide into an annual subscription, unless you opt out) and to check your credit-card charges after canceling a subscription. Cancel your credit card, if you can't get out of the loop!

12/17/10

This website is actually a for-profit website, designed to get you to subscribe to their monthly credit report. (See review in Dec 2010 issue of MacLife magazine, which describes it as a "freebie scam.") You have to remember to CANCEL your subscription within the 7-day trial period to avoid the monthly fee, forever after. You can get a free (REALLY free!) credit report from annualcreditreport.com, which is supported by the three credit-rating companies. A big "F" to freecreditreport.com, for deceptive advertising and tricky website design!

World-widesoft.com
4/19/10

Questionable: my attempt to set up a new account at FilesTreasury.com (based in Russia--see warnings under that website name) for a $1.95 "membership fee" somehow generated a bogus $100.00+ charge, supposedly from World-Widesoft.com (also based in Russia), against the same credit card. Collusion between the two companies?--Seems likely! Especially when World-Widesoft refunded the charge immediately, when questioned by the bank that issued my credit card. Therefore, approach with caution!

3/31/10

Pro: ordered a height-adjustable table for a friend; it arrived with one corner slightly damaged (probably dropped HARD on that corner, during shipping). Sent e-mail to Hayneedle describing problem and suggesting more padding on corners; got a reply that a credit of 10% of price plus all shipping costs would be applied to my credit card. Con: can't get off e-mail sales list, despite repeated "unsubscribe" attempts. So, mixed experience, but mostly positive.

James Has Earned 107 Votes

James B.'s review of Aspen Home earned 6 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Wilmington Trust earned 6 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Xoom Corporation earned 2 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of UPCLICK earned 5 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Angie's List earned 6 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of AT&T earned 4 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Hayneedle earned 4 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of DonnaPlay earned 23 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Caller Center earned 4 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Nueske's earned a Very Helpful vote

James B.'s review of FreeCreditReport earned 3 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of TzarMedia earned 4 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Lighting New York earned 3 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Scribd earned 5 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of Ancestry earned 10 Very Helpful votes

James B.'s review of BidlessNow earned a Very Helpful vote

James B.'s review of Ancestry earned 2 Well Said votes

James B.'s review of Cinamuse earned a Very Helpful vote

James B.'s review of MoviMX earned a Very Helpful vote

James B.'s review of AT&T earned a Well Said vote

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