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Joe C.

2 Level 2 Contributor
  • 7 Reviews
  • 50 Helpful Votes
  • 0 Thank Yous

Experience: Computers & Technology, Shopping, Home & Garden

Member since May 2015

  • Reviews

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  • First Review

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About Me

Technologist, engineer and upper level management experience. Have managed from frontline retail to corporate middle and upper levels. Known for online research capabilities (although by no means the very best or most experienced)

How I Can Help

Network Systems Engineering, DIY mobility technology, IT Management, PC builds

Interests

My Beautiful Wife, historical places, technology (obviously), fine wines and good cuisine,

7 Reviews by Joe

8/13/16
Walmart is Walmart, an American icon.

They aren't Macy's, they aren't even Old Navy or Target but they never meant to be.

They are the low-priced place to get socks, undies and inexpensive products or reasonable quality.

America shops here because we know one thing about Walmart. They place customers first. Well, first after shareholders return because, after all, Walmart is an American corporation.

That aside, I know what I am getting when I make a purchase at Walmart whether it's online or on-site. And their online inventory system, considering the number of items, is one of the better systems available. I can check if an item is in stock locally and minutes later pick it up.

They offer in-store services including Western Union, pre-paid card loading and bill payments as reasonable fee rates. If a super store they have a decent grocery store stock of good to very good quality. And they give my grandson a sticker everytime we visit along with a pleasant smile and a cheerful hello.

Walmart will typically refund or replace anything you've purchased within 30 days (and sometimes longer). They usually do this without subjecting you to any grief whatsoever.

Some products aren't of the best quality but I don't shop there for quality, I shop at Walmart because of price. I'm not seeking $50-$75 jeans because their $10-$20 jeans are of decent quality and offer me an excellent value.

Although textiles quality, unfortunately, has declined over the past decade, I won't overpay at Walmart for brand name socks or underwear knowing that the quality is not what you could get ten years ago.

That's commodity price thinking nowadays with common everyday items. If you want superior quality, you have to usually pay 3x or more and that's just not possible for we working Jills and Joes.

They make the best in-store baked French and Italian bread and charge a buck for it (not the $2-$3 my local grocers charge). They carry 2,3 or more brand named foodstuffs whereas the local chains in my area no longer do so.

The super stores are usually 24/7 (some localities excluded due to local regulations) and some locations have nearby Sam's Club for quantity shipping.

The only downside is that due to the intense pressure of online shopping, the shelves, at times, are not as fully stocked as in previous years. It's a sign of the times, so to speak. They've also weaned some offerings meaning what they once stocked can now only be purchased online. But they will ship it to your local store for free.

The only caveat one must beware is the local store's automotive department. Walmart is not a full service mechanics shop and you have to be watchful and careful with buying tires to be mounted. I've always had very good experiences buying tires at Walmart or getting the occasional oil change. Unfortunately, from reviews, others have had problems. Because this isn't a full service auto garage the "mechanics" at Walmart aren't necessarily going to be the best in class. As with any auto service you need to research your local Walmart for reputation.

You also need to understand that tire warranties and such at Walmart are not as customer focused as a local repair shop or big name tire company. You need to weigh the money saved with the lesser extent of warranty service.

I've always been "taken care of", been mostly satisfied and will continue to make my basic purchases at my local stores (one super store, one not so).

I rarely ever give out 5 stars. Walmart gets 4.5
8/13/16
Monoprice

The only place to purchase mobility cables and other electronic cabling needs.

While offering many other products, including some nice quality monitors, Monoprice is the one place to purchase your cabling needs.

With lifetime warranties on many mobility type cables, as well as lowest cost, the various types and qualities offered make for smart buying decisions.

Some cables may not last as long as one might hope but the quality is typically good to very good to even excellent. Combined with low cost these USB cables for mobile device usage are the place I almost always go when needed.

I've also purchased ear buds, headphones and other type cables and overall have been satisfied every time. RMA's, when needed are handled fairly quickly via the website. Turnaround time is often hours. They have also, in the past, asked for photos of damaged/broken cables to give their tech department updated info. They also have never asked for broken cables to be returned.

From friends and colleagues I've heard good reviews for their higher priced items like monitors. The headphones and ear buds purchased were decent quality especially for the price.

Only thing to watch is shipping costs. Sometimes a single item ordered for less than $2 can cost $3 to ship. Although recently they've had reduced cost shipping choices and occasionally have free shipping days for certain items.

I can't attend to every item offered but with their very good customer service I would chance the purchase provided the reviews were adequate. Obviously you need to research any moderately priced items for quality, durability and performance.

A good 4 star tech supply website
8/13/16
AliExpress overview
With thousands upon thousands of items and sellers, Aliexpress is, unfortunately, a "crap shoot" at best. This is no Amazon nor even at the level of eBay when it comes to genuine business ethics.

I have used AliExpress many times, but in doing so I fully expect each and every time, to possibly lose my money should a dispute occur. The reason for this is that Alibaba (the parent company) and Aliexpress do not focus upon full customer satisfaction and protection.

The escrow feature where, as a customer, payment to the seller is withheld until delivery and product inspection has near zero credibility. In searching for positive reviews of this buyer protection, I was unable to find any instance where Alibaba/Aliexpress sided with the buyer. In other words, this "buyer protection" is basically worthless; a complete sham.

Site the fact that Alibaba has refused to use PayPal as a purchase payment method likely because they (Alibaba) realizes they'd lose most disputes if PayPal began really protecting buyers. This leaves the buyer with having to file a consumer claim with their credit card issuer. This leaves debit card users, unless your debit card issuer offers protection, with no real recourse to recover their money.

So why do I use Aliexpress to make purchases?

I do so but only for small price items. Basically, for me, that's up to $50. The amount I am willing to lose outright from Alibaba/Aliexpress' useless customer protection via the escrow/dispute system.

Is it all bad?

No. In fact, not unlike many many small business owners and single proprietorships on eBay, Amazon and many other sites, the sellers and small manufacturers who use Aliexpress (and Alibaba) are decent, forthright business people. They're trying to make an honest living and their reputations are very important to themselves. I have a few great examples of this.

I ordered a $2 USD set of earplugs for my lady who is currently living overseas. I was ordering a dress for her and while doing so, saw the ear buds and told myself that for $2 the loss would be immaterial.

16 days later the ear buds arrived but, unfortunately, on of the earpieces wasn't working. Instead of posting a poor review and instead of using the worthless dispute system, I simply sent a message to the seller letting them know that the ear buds arrived in a non-working state.

The seller apologized, told me to discard the broken item and they shipped out a replacement via EMS so she'd get them as quickly as possible. The replacement ear buds arrived in 10 days and worked just fine. Even though I wasn't concerned about the $2 item, the seller didn't want a poor review and made sure their customer (me) was satisfied.

Prior to any aliexpress purchase, I attempt to perform my due diligence by reviewing the sellers offering the products I seek. I also look for buyer reviews as well although, unfortunately, on Aliexpress, the reviews hold less credibility than reviews on places like Amazon or Walmart.

It's unfortunate that Alibaba/Aliexpress has failed to institute strict moderated review policies backed by actual logistics proving reliability. Then again, any customer review database has to be taken with a certain amount of skepticism. Caveat Emptor works in all directions. There are too many instances of false or faked positive feedback reviews without the website or facilitating company (Amazon, eBay, etc) strictly moderating such reviews.

One has to realize that a $5 dress or $0.50 thong is not going to be of premium quality. You can find decent quality items on Aliexpress for much less cost than elsewhere. Especially if the shipping is free and you don't end up having to pay tariff, customs or Vat on the items (the plus side of having few tariffs in the USA).

The difficulty is with purchasing electronics via Aliexpress because if you receive a defective item the burden of return shipping is going to be on the buyer and add to that the time delay. Making electronics purchases from Aliexpress, without credible protection from Alibaba/Aliexpress, is a total crap shoot at best. You're better off using eBay since almost 100% of China based sellers use, and even require, PayPal.

The other caveat being warranties in that, very often, international products don't carry manufacturer warranties. Meaning you have to ship any defective items back to China for repair or replacement. There are exceptions but then again customer service within the USA for many electronic items is poor as well.

Overall, I have had "OK" experience with textile purchases via Aliexpress. I have purchased higher quality (more expensive) clothing and had good luck with my purchases.

When I buy inexpensive clothing items I keep my expectations very low and usually end up nicely surprised. Or I get what I paid for, cheap clothing items. Then again, cheap clothing at Walmart isn't of much better quality either. The only plus being I can count on Walmart to make and keep me satisfied by refunding or replacing items that fail my expectations.

As for Alibaba itself, I can only imagine the experiences small business owners in the USA (or anywhere) must endure in finding reputable manufacturers and wholesalers.
When not a Walmart or Apple, Inc you haven't the ability to ensure what you want is what you get. It's unfortunate Alibaba and Aliexpress aren't more ethical as compared to the small business owners I have gladly done business with located in China.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being perfect), Aliexpress gets a solid 2 from me. I can't give them anymore until the buyer protection becomes "real" and not merely a marketing gimmick. I shall continue to do small expense item purchases at Aliexpress but that's all.
12/27/15
Although built with quality components like any mobility device some will fail while under warranty. Yet unlike the major known OEMs such as LG, Samsung, HTC and even Motorola (Lenovo) be very guarded in purchasing Xiaomi devices. The reason being their so-called "authorized repair shops have the tendency to exclaim the device is un-repairable yet fail to support the Xiaomi" warranty". These repair shops tend to lack the technical and engineering expertise to repair a Xiaomi device (likely for the lack of parts and capability) or they're simply to stupid to ascertain whether the device is under warranty.

Yes, yes the end-user ought to declare that the device is under warranty, yet since Xiaomi had only been selling the device in the Philippines since May 2015, EVERY "white market" Redmi 2 is still under warranty.

So despite my initial thoughts on quality and good customer service, if your device hardware fails you're stuck with a piece of junk.

Xiaomi, who had a fervent fan of their products. An experienced technologist who was initially impressed by this OEM will now pass on the word to avoid purchase of any "warrantied" product for if it fails you will be out your investment.

Thank God this happened a week before I was about to purchase 3 tablets and a few sets of earphones. No thank you.

UPDATE

Xiaomi eventually "reached out to me" to correct the situation but after the fact wasn't helpful enough. If you are going to use local business as authorized representatives and repair facilities then they must be prepared to properly service and repair.

We got the device "fixed" but at the cost of two long distance trips (over 1.5 hours travel). What should have occurred was Xiaomi sending a free shipping label and expedited repair/replacement.

Xiaomi lost some future business as I purchased other brand devices because of the poor initial service. I still like their products expect for their version of Android (MIUI).

I've given them 3 stars up from 1
12/27/15
Sprint
What can you say about Sprint? Some say it's the "company I love to hate" while others have said, "if only they'd..." (followed by any number of things).

When Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Softbank acquired the majority share of Sprint, many of us "loyal" unlimited data customers were hopeful it would mean deep new capital for the number 3 Mobile Service Provider. And we anxiously awaited the major overhaul and upgrade to Sprint's LTE (4g) network. Unfortunately it wasn't adequate.

Unfortunately, two and one half years later, with the upgrades mostly complete, it's data network and it's voice network remains only "OK". I never got full LTE connections within the house. In fact most of the time it was 3G connections at best. And voice remained just adequate with times having to move around the house or having to actually go outside.

So despite the vast spectrum Sprint holds in most areas, despite new LTE equipment placed in most areas, it remains barely OK. Of course, when outside traveling in or around an urban area, network connections are good to very good. Unfortunately, that doesn't make up for the lack of enough towers and equipment to send out strong enough signals to ensure LTE-A quality most anywhere.

As for customer service, I always had good to great experiences dealing with Level 1 customer service reps. And that includes the overseas CSR's I dealt with. They were usually decently trained and eager to help. Unfortunately any call going beyond Level 1 support never amounted to much satisfaction. Granted my calls beyond Level 1 were always about network signals and without sufficient towers and equipment, without utilizing all available spectrum, there was nothing going to happen.

Price wise they're certainly not the most expensive but they're also not the least expensive provider. Granted unlimited data helps as their single strongest marketing advantage. But if you can only get a 500kb connection, all the free data in the world in worthless.

While with Sprint I had 3 devices that required service due to hardware issues. With their insurance, I was always able to get a new or reconditioned device within 1-2 days time frame.

The biggest downside to Sprint and Verizon were their CDMA technology networks that meant your device was typically unusable worldwide. Yes, a few newer devices had some GSM capabilities.

I finally left Sprint after 6 years because compared to AT&T the price was similar (except for the dang data limits) and AT&T certainly had far better and faster network signals. Overall paying a bit more for enough data each month was worth it carriers when I could often get 30-35mbps download speeds with AT&T.

If Sprint ever gets their 2500mhz spectrum operating with sufficient numbers of towers and LTE-A or 5G technology then they again may be worth looking at for service.

Of course, network signals and speeds are very dependent upon the market in which you live. And the spectrum they hold in that market.

3 stars for unlimited data and effort.
7/28/15
I've used goods.ph several times to primarily order foodstuffs. They have a decent selection of many items and prices are, for the most part, good.

The only downside is the order to delivery time frames. They are woefully slow. From placement, to payment to final delivery can take well over 10 days and often 2 weeks. My guess being they aren't warehousing stock, or keep them very small. They don't sell perishable items so keeping a robust inventory would not jeopardize foodstuffs.

They are a very proactive business in that they have corrected issues quickly, contacted us when an item isn't available to offer replacement items. And once when there was a moderately serious situation with delivery they not only corrected the situation within minutes, a member of management contacted me to apologize for the problem.

Overall goods.ph is a viable, on-going concern who I use to order various types of foodstuffs for the family. I just take into account that any orders will take at least 10 days to arrive. (as an FYI, delivery is just outside Metro Manila area). Customer service is very good to excellent with management that seems genuinely concerned with customers. They just need to reduce the order to delivery process down to 2-3 days not 1-2 weeks.

3 stars for being an "OK" online business.

UPDATE

Goods.ph seems to have removed foodstuffs from their website offerings. As this is what brought me to their website it's a disappointment they've stopped offering foodstuffs. Was always hopeful they'd resolve their logistics and delivery issues and become the "go to" website in the Philippines for online grocery products.

And their electronics offerings seem to be more discontinued items rather than newer inexpensive mobility devices. There are better offering elsewhere.

I haven't made any recent purchases since they stopped offering foodstuffs. Their other products have not interested me lately and that means I'm viewing this website less and less. Without the grocery items it's not really worth my time anymore to shop Goods.ph

Lose a star down to 2 stars now as of August 2016
goodsp
Goods P. – Goods.ph Rep
Hi Joe, thank you for the review. While we have a good selection of items that are ready to ship, it is also true that we have items on pre-order which take a bit longer delivery lead time. Our business is growing and we would like to improve on the areas that you pointed out further, so we can serve loyal customers like you better. Thank you for understanding!
5/9/15
I've updated some info at the end of this review. And added 1 Star more. I still cannot recommend Lazada but I do still, on occasion, order from them.

Lazada mimics the Amazon type of online e-commerce. Unfortunately they are still in a cumbersome stage. Their order-to-delivery process has some serious shortcomings.
When you purchase an item on an Amazon type website it shows the buyer whether an item in available and who will be fulfilling the purchase.

At issue here is that the Lazada inventory system is not reliable. Items are often listed as "in-stock" that end up as back ordered items.

Payment using most any credit or debit card takes milliseconds not days. If I'm in a restaurant anywhere in the world and use my credit or debit card I am not required to wait or to await some arbitrary "verification" process. In milliseconds the restaurant knows if my payment has been authorized.

So why is Lazada telling it's customers their purchase is in some verification process? If they order an item COD does Lazada then verify the Buyer has a job and a bank account or has the cash in their pocket? No, obviously not.

Electronic transfer takes milliseconds. If I purchase on Amazon itself my purchase is confirmed in seconds not days. The same is true for some other online payment methods such as PayPal accounts using a credit/debit card as payment method. Not to say some payment methods don't take time as they do.

I've used Western Union to transfer directly into other's bank accounts and that takes approximately 24-36 hours because banking institutions use archaic methods to transfer funds. But if I use my credit or debit card online at Western Union I can send money to anyone almost anywhere in momemts. Western Union doesn't "verify" my purchase of their service for days unless, again, I use a bank account transfer.

Lazada is using this "verification" process as a means of hiding the deficiency in their order to delivery system. They simply don't really know if they have the merchandise in stock or, worse yet, not telling you they are drop-shipping as means of inventory.

As for warehouse packaging and shipment Lazada lacks quality control in that if the merchandise is not in Stock they often ship something anyhow. I've had this happen and have read reviews of the same thing.

They package what items are actually in-stock then throw in a few other items in hopes that will placate the Buyer. And if the Buyer doesn't contact Lazada then it's likely the buyer will never get what they ordered and paid to have delivered.

One bright spot is their Customer Service with pleasant courteous representatives. Unfortunately, again, the Lazada IT systems lack the ability for these CSRs to supply any real-time information. It's front line level one service. They can only give out what's provided which is meager at best.

As for third-party vendors I'd avoid them religiously through Lazada until, if ever, they create a customer based oriented system where you literally have a no questions asked policy of replacement, refund or return. In other words, the "Walmart" approach. You can almost literally return a used item to Walmart a year later and they'll basically take it and issue a store credit.

It's better described as the L. L. Bean chamois shirt mentality. LL Bean is so confident about this product that if in 30 years you feel the shirt hasn't lived up to its reputation LL Bean will give you a brand new shirt to replace it.

What I'm describing here, obviously, is when a top-notch company decides it's reputation is worth more than just revenue streams. That's unique in the corporate world but shows a true leadership value that goes well beyond the current C-level management.

As an example, we once received a defective computer motherboard from Amazon. And once reported Amazon sent a replacement via overnight delivery and then gave us the prepaid return shipping label asking us to return the defective board. They realize that satisfied customers are the backbone to their business. And the initial purchase of this in stock item? Was verified in moments, shipped the next day and followed up with a request for us to review. Needless to say, they received 5 of 5 stars on everything despite the defective merchandise. Even $400 motherboards, unfortunately, sometimes are defective.

To go even further, some months later we received an ordered electronic device that failed after 20 days. Guess what? Amazon overnight shipped a brand new replacement without question; and again sending us a prepaid return shipping label asking us to return the defective item. They even sent an email with apologies even though defects occur in electronic devices.

One final example of amazing customer service. I ordered a $0.35 USD cheap plastic outdoor thermometer from a seller in China on eBay. I sent it to a friend more as a joke because he had never actually had a means of knowing the ambient air temperature. Well the thermometer was defective. And since it cost so little I wasn't concerned about recouping my money. Anyhow, I got a message in eBay requesting my rating and review of the seller and product. So, instead I replied to the seller's message telling him that, unfortunately, the thermometer was defective but that for $0.35 USD I wasn't concerned. That seller shipped a replacement the very next day and once it arrived I gave this seller a shining review and all 5 stars. His reputation was so important to him that he had to send the replacement.

When Lazada reaches this level of system maturity (that of a single proprietor so intensely concern about his business reputation) I will recommend them as an e-commerce vendor. Until then Lazada gets 1 Star for presentation, that's it. (they have a decent Android APK and professionally designed website). The remainder of their operations remains suspect for now. You cannot reply upon them to do what's right.

UPDATE (17 May 2015)

I still use Lazada on occasion as they offer items not otherwise found on PH e-commerce sites.

They (Lazada) have usually completed every order I've placed with them. That's not my chief complaint but rather it's their overall system of operations. And that ordering from a third party seller (through Lazada) isn't any guarantee of success with the 3rd party seller. Quite frankly there are a few 3rd party sellers on Lazada that I would avoid like the plague.

As for Lazada stocked items, just realize even if it shows as In-stock it may not be in their warehouse ready for shipment. Their online inventory system needs improvement.

The other issue is their verification process with is meaningless as I iterated in my original post.

If you order an item fulfilled by Lazada it's very likely it will eventually be shipped just don't expect every order to arrive in a timely fashion. Some orders ship quickly whiles others take days (and to be fair they clearly post items may take 10-12 days). The thing is, nowadays any actually stocked warehoused item should ship within 24-48 hours of payment. Lazada isn't some business run out of a garage, it's a multi-hundred millions (internationally billions) international corporation.

I will still, occasionally, order from Lazada. I just don't have high confidence with them yet.

Joe C.

Tip for consumers: 1. Don't necessarily expect speedy process from order to delivery. Unfortunately it could take 2 weeks before you get your delivery. OTOH, sometimes it's takes only a day or two. And be very careful about ordering from the 3rd party sellers. Research them before ordering.

Joe Has Earned 50 Votes

Joe C.'s review of Monoprice earned 13 Very Helpful votes

Joe C.'s review of Xiaomi earned 18 Very Helpful votes

Joe C.'s review of Goods.ph earned 5 Very Helpful votes

Joe C.'s review of AliExpress earned 5 Very Helpful votes

Joe C.'s review of Lazada earned 9 Very Helpful votes

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