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Preview: Of Cars and Customers By Andy Cook

Of Cars and Customers By Andy Cook



Get advice about car buying from this self-professed car nut.



Last Build Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2009 3:50:02 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2016
 



Do you have a clunker to turn in for some CASH? $$$

Thu, 23 Jul 2009 03:39:24 UTC

2009-07-23T03:50:02Z

You may have read that there is legislation entitled "Cash for Clunkers" in the news these days. This effort is to get older, inefficient cars off the road, to be replaced by newer, safer, more economical (and therefore less costly to run) automobiles out there. Buyers - please be careful about what you are doing! I don't mean to scare...

You may have read that there is legislation entitled "Cash for Clunkers" in the news these days. This effort is to get older, inefficient cars off the road, to be replaced by newer, safer, more economical (and therefore less costly to run) automobiles out there.

Buyers - please be careful about what you are doing! I don't mean to scare anyone out there, but not everyone will qualify for the full $4500.00 vouchers. The basis for the amount you may be entitled to has to do with a few factors:

1. What kind of vehicle you're trading in (car, light-duty truck, large light-duty truck)
2. Fuel efficiency (MPG) of new car you're getting
3. How much of an improvement in miles-per-gallon (MPG) from your old vehicle to the new one
4. This is only for the purchase of a new car (model years 2008, 2009 or 2010)
5. Vehicle must be bought between July 1, 2009 and November 1, 2009

Please be sure to do your homework. Also note, since car dealers are still looking to offer incentives, they may be adding extra $$$ on top of the Cash for Clunkers offer. Get all the terms straight before you sign anything!

I must tell everyone that I am amazed that 3 months have gone by since my last posting. I attribute the gap to the heavy load that grad school has placed on me (in addition to my regular job). You may remember from my posting back in the summer of 2007 when I was looking at grad schools. Well, I am happy to report that I only have 2 classes left. This should leave me plenty of time to post here. Thanks for checking in!




Ruby Tuesday's -- MUCH improved

Tue, 28 Apr 2009 04:22:52 UTC

2009-04-28T04:30:15Z

Hello everyone - I realize that it's been about 3 months since my last post, and I apologize for my absence. For anyone who's every done a master's thesis, that's what my life has been about this past year, not to mention my actual job which pays the bills! I hope to post more regularly, and here's an experience I...

Hello everyone - I realize that it's been about 3 months since my last post, and I apologize for my absence. For anyone who's every done a master's thesis, that's what my life has been about this past year, not to mention my actual job which pays the bills!

I hope to post more regularly, and here's an experience I just had last week. I went to dinner with 2 friends (they know who they are!) at Ruby Tuesday's in Bethlehem Township. I was quite pleased with the experience, as it had been quite awhile since I had been to one. Clearly it must not have made an impression either way, which in part explains my not returning.

My friends and I had really great service. The woman who was our waitress was very attentive, and very pleasant. She genuinely seemed to want us to have a good experience. I had read recently that Ruby Tuesday's has really beefed up its training (no pun intended) and it was apparent. We were greeted upon our entry, and the food was very flavorful. I had a burger and it was cooked perfectly. The french fries were good, and you can get an unlimited supply of them if you're really hungry.

The only downfall is that one of my friend had covertly spoken to the hostess about a little 'birthday' surprise our friend who was with us... and nothing ever materialized! That was the one letdown, so much so that we had to tell our friend that we at least wanted 'points' for our attempt!

Have you had a good experience eating out? Let us know. I found the meal to be a good value, and quite tasty, and this time, I left with a positive impression. I'll be doing to Ruby Tuesday's again.




Happy 2009 - A Great Time to Buy a Used Car

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 11:23:12 UTC

2009-01-24T11:37:38Z

Hello everyone! I apologize for my absence for the last few months. The short explanation is that in addition to working full-time, some of you may recall that I am in grad school. Let's just say that this academic year is when I write my master's thesis. For those of you unfamiliar, to say it's time consuming is an understatement!...

Hello everyone! I apologize for my absence for the last few months. The short explanation is that in addition to working full-time, some of you may recall that I am in grad school. Let's just say that this academic year is when I write my master's thesis. For those of you unfamiliar, to say it's time consuming is an understatement! Let's just say that this semester is not as crazy as the last one, and I'm back.

Are you looking for a used car? This might be one of the best times to buy one. New car dealers do not like having used cars on their lots. They take up space, and their cost is much lower than their new car inventory. Hence, you as a consumer have a lot of bargaining power if you are on the market for a good late-model (2005 or newer) car. These are the ones which have depreciated significantly for the original owner, and were taken as trade-ins on newer models. What this means is that you may be able to buy from a dealer at the cost you might pay from a private party.

I have friends who were looking for a car for their college-aged kid, and got what I think is a great deal. They found a 2006 Ford Taurus with low mileage (around 24K miles), and the dealer was asking $10,000. This is near what I found looking at Kelly Blue Book (kbb.com). They wound up buying the car for $8,000. Car is still under warranty, plus this amount is what you'd likely spend buying from a person out of the newspaper or online.

Bottom-line is that you get a car which is checked out by a dealer, may have some original warranty left, and has at least anywhere between an additional 30-day to 90-day warranty as soon as you drive it off the lot. This is some piece of mind for a consumer.

Remember -- do you research! If you go to a dealer and say "I'm willing to give you X dollars and take the car TODAY" you have a lot more leverage than if you say "Just looking...."

Good luck out there. If you've had a successful car buying experience in this current economy, feel free to post a comment.

Thanks, and I'll be more vigilant about posting in the NEAR vs. distant future.




How nice to see gas prices declining

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 18:30:24 UTC

2008-10-29T18:35:58Z

Hi everyone! Hard to believe October is almost over, and an election is less than a week away. I have also noticed that gas is down more than $ 0.50 in the last month or two! What a shock. I filled up my car for $31.00 the other day. In the not too distant past, it had hit $50.00! The...

Hi everyone! Hard to believe October is almost over, and an election is less than a week away. I have also noticed that gas is down more than $ 0.50 in the last month or two! What a shock. I filled up my car for $31.00 the other day. In the not too distant past, it had hit $50.00! The cost at the WaWa in Quakertown was $2.55/gallon, MUCH better than when it was $4.00/gallon.

What I've found interesting about this decline in price is that my driving habits are still in line with the higher gas prices. I am more likely to combine my trips so I am driving less, or rather driving efficiently. I also have been carpooling for grad school with 2 friends of mine, so that saves each of us not just the gas expense, but wear and tear on our vehicles.

Have your driving habits changed with gas getting cheaper? What are you doing to be more fuel efficient? If you have any tips or suggestions, feel free to post them and share.

Remember to VOTE next Tuesday! (and I'll be back with a post around Thanksgiving)




Apple iMac: not the cheapest, but worth the $

Tue, 09 Sep 2008 04:25:19 UTC

2008-10-29T18:30:16Z

Hello everyone - I hope you have all had a great summer. I recently made the big leap! What leap, you ask? The leap from a "PC" to an "Apple" Computer. I am the happy owner of an iMac computer. Having suffered through many, many years with my old Dell, it was time for a change. Let's just say that...

Hello everyone - I hope you have all had a great summer. I recently made the big leap! What leap, you ask? The leap from a "PC" to an "Apple" Computer. I am the happy owner of an iMac computer. Having suffered through many, many years with my old Dell, it was time for a change. Let's just say that I'm glad my Dell had a 4-year in home warranty, as it was definitely put in use over the duration of my ownership.

My Apple is very cool. You just plug stuff in, and it knows what to do. No longer do I need 'drivers' to make a printer or digital camera work. Plus, it has great style. Nothing wrong with aesthetics, I say.

I'm still learning how to use it, as there are several things which are different from a PC, but I'm sure I'll get it sorted out.

Anyone out there also a Mac user? Please share your responses.... I know I'm not alone, and I'm sure there are a lot of people who share my appreciation for great design and great technology.

PS If anyone is looking for a Mac (laptop or otherwise), Apple is running a great deal for students through the middle of September. I saved $ on the unit, plus got a rebate for a "Touch" (basically an iPhone without the phone part) and a printer. That certainly sweetened the deal. Some of you may remember my blogs from last summer when I was investigating grad schools. Yes, grad students (no matter what your age) -- you too qualify for the educational promotion!

Have a great September, and I'll do another posting in a couple of weeks, now that Fall semester has started up again. Remember, please feel free to post your comments if you are a Mac owner!




Happy Musikfest!

Fri, 08 Aug 2008 05:34:57 UTC

2008-09-09T04:24:41Z

Hello everyone! Well this summer has been a busy one, and I do apologize for not getting anything posted in July. I'll attribute my delay to my accelerated summer class I am taking for grad school. I have been down at Musikfest a couple of times this week, and I am still impressed with the 'local' feel despite the typical...

Hello everyone! Well this summer has been a busy one, and I do apologize for not getting anything posted in July. I'll attribute my delay to my accelerated summer class I am taking for grad school.
I have been down at Musikfest a couple of times this week, and I am still impressed with the 'local' feel despite the typical yearly attendance now around 1,000,000 (yes that's 1 million) visitors during the 10 day festival. That's pretty amazing, given that this festival is in its 25th year. Sometimes growth can have a negative impact on service, however the volunteers and vendors have shown this not to be the case.
The vendors for the food and beverages have been very nice and seem to be enjoying themselves. Even walking around through Main Street and the various Platzes (is that the correct plural of platz??) shows Bethlehem in a great way.
Way to go, Musikfest. I only hope that when the casinos come to town, we are able to sustain the small-town atmosphere which makes the Lehigh Valley a great destination.
Thanks for looking in, and I'll try to post sooner rather than later!
Do you have a great Musikfest service example you'd like to share? Feel free to post it. Thanks!




Summer Solstice - Find a Convertible Today (or a friend with one!)

Sat, 21 Jun 2008 15:27:44 UTC

2008-08-08T05:34:48Z

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the first full day of summer. As temperatures go up, those with convertibles put their tops down. Sounds like a perfect way to enjoy the weather! I am fortunate in that I have been a convertible owner since 1993 (2 different vehicles), and I would find it hard to imagine life without one. I remember about...

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the first full day of summer. As temperatures go up, those with convertibles put their tops down. Sounds like a perfect way to enjoy the weather!

I am fortunate in that I have been a convertible owner since 1993 (2 different vehicles), and I would find it hard to imagine life without one. I remember about 5 or 6 years ago that my manager at the time shared with me that he had never been in a convertible, much less with the top down. Needless to say, I had to rectify that situation and give him a ride. It was clear he enjoyed the experience.

If you haven't been in one, there's something very open and free driving with the wind in your hair and the unlimited headroom. I joke that a convertible may be cheaper than therapy, since a nice drive alone or with friends can really help change your mood!

Now if you ride a motorcycle, a convertible will certainly be less stirring, however you get a lot of the same benefits with significantly more safety. I do possess a motorcycle license, and used to ride, however I will tell you that my Dad was quite happy (aka relieved) when I sold the bike.

Whatever you do, if you own a convertible, call up those friends and go for a ride. You'll really enjoy the time spent with friends, enjoying their company and the stars.

Have a great summer, and I'll be back in July with another post.




Mazda 3 Sport Value Edition - a nice ride

Mon, 12 May 2008 02:54:10 UTC

2008-06-21T15:27:37Z

I've been car shopping with a friend of mine, and I must tell you, I am pretty impressed with what you can get these days for $16,000 - $18,000. I know that for some of you, that is still a lot of money. However these days, that is pretty much where a decent-equipped small car is priced. I had the...

I've been car shopping with a friend of mine, and I must tell you, I am pretty impressed with what you can get these days for $16,000 - $18,000. I know that for some of you, that is still a lot of money. However these days, that is pretty much where a decent-equipped small car is priced.

I had the pleasure of test driving a Mazda 3 Sport Value Edition, which was quite a lot of fun. The Value Edition gives you 17" alloy wheels, fog lights, and some other perks, which dress up an otherwise plain sedan. I have to tell you, that if you are a person who enjoys driving a stick shift, this car was a real pleasure - very engaging, and a lot of fun to drive. That's a claim I don't use all the time.

Nowadays, cars come equipped with front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, and all sorts of other safe things. What I liked about this sedan was how well laid out the controls were, and how 'flingable' it was to drive. In fact, this 2.0 liter engine and the 5-speed transmission reminded me of my 1991 Madza Miata convertible I had years ago, in terms of how connected I felt while in the driver's seat.

Air conditioning, power windows, remote entry, CD player, and more are all standard equipment, and the alloy wheels really made this sedan stand apart from the crowd. You get a lot of car for the money, and the Value Edition just adds more perks to the deal.

If you're looking for a small, fun to drive, economical car (32 mpg on the highway, and that's with the new, more accurate EPA ratings), check out the Mazda 3 as part of your research. You may really like what you see.

Do you have a Mazda 3? Feel free to share your impressions yourself. Thanks for looking in.




Before you buy, do your research! (eBay, Craigslist, etc.)

Tue, 15 Apr 2008 02:44:20 UTC

2008-04-15T02:56:43Z

Hi everyone: Sorry it's taken me so long to post. It has been a busy spring. Some of you may recall one of my entries from last summer regarding grad school, and this semester has been a busy one! In addition to full-time work, I am also taking a couple of classes, and my school is 60 miles away (Philly)....

Hi everyone:

Sorry it's taken me so long to post. It has been a busy spring. Some of you may recall one of my entries from last summer regarding grad school, and this semester has been a busy one! In addition to full-time work, I am also taking a couple of classes, and my school is 60 miles away (Philly). Needless to say, once the semester is over, I'll have more time!

Anyway, my topic for this entry is the amazing sheer volume of information available on the web. I have been searching for a reproduction 'Arco' floor lamp, one of those mid-century, arcing floor lamps which terminate in a chrome shade, and have a heavy marble base. A real (old) one is in the neighborhood of > $1500, which is way over my budget (and you can see them on eBay).

I had seen a good reproduction when I was visiting my sister in NY a few weeks ago, even finding a store that had what I was looking for. However, I wasn't willing to buy since 1) I went in on a bus, and 2) I wanted to be sure I wasn't overpaying for the item.

When I got home, I fired up my PC and Googled (yes, I'm using it as a verb!) 'Arco floor lamp' and came upon many entries. I also checked Craigslist and eBay just to see who was selling them. I had a range of prices (and a couple variations on style), and here's the interesting thing: I wound up purchasing the item from the same store in NYC where I had first seen it. Surprisingly, I couldn't find it anywhere in Pennsyvania for a similar price.

Even though NYC has a high sales tax, I did manage to save a huge delivery fee (about $150!) as my wonderful sister offered to go into NYC and pick the item up for me. Since I wound up purchasing a floor sample (which had just been put out a few days before) I also saved $50.00 (you never know unless you ask).

The key to my success was knowing what I was after, and knowing what the price range was. This way, I could evaluate pricing with accurate information.

Have you found some good bargains using the web as a research tool? Drop a note and let us know. Thanks for looking in.




Toyota Prius -- An Interesting Ride!

Wed, 05 Mar 2008 03:24:04 UTC

2008-04-15T02:43:40Z

Hi everyone. Welcome to March. Anyone know where the first two months of 2008 have gone? Let me tell you about my ride (and drive!) in a Prius. You may recall, my friend Liz has one, and about 2 weeks ago we went to/from Philly (we are in grad school together). First off, her car is quite comfortable. It's not...

Hi everyone. Welcome to March. Anyone know where the first two months of 2008 have gone? Let me tell you about my ride (and drive!) in a Prius. You may recall, my friend Liz has one, and about 2 weeks ago we went to/from Philly (we are in grad school together).

First off, her car is quite comfortable. It's not the biggest car out there however it does have a decent amount of room, and the seats are supportive. It's also a hatchback, and the back seats fold down, which is useful. What's interesting is how the technology works. This is a hybrid, so it uses a combination of electric and gas to propel it. The car gets better gas mileage in town because it can rely on the batteries (an oversimplification) vs. the gas engine. Here's something cool: when you come to a complete stop, the car pretty much turns OFF. Seriously. Like you are sitting in your garage. Step on the gas, and the car comes to life. This kind of thing helps give you good mpg.

On the drive down, I was a passenger, and on the return trip, she asked me if I wanted to drive. Not one to turn down an opportunity to drive, I accepted. You have a great view of the road, and even though there are no gauges directly in front of the driver, it was was easy to drive. It has decent pickup, and I wasn't worried about driving on the PA Turnpike. The car is very streamlined, which means it was pretty quiet too, for a small car. Her car also had a built in back-up camera, which when you put the car in reverse, displayed on the main screen in the middle of the dash. The screen (when in "drive") shows you what the car is doing energy-wise, as well as the immediate fuel economy.

Liz gets 46 mpg on the highway, and close to 50 mpg in the city. Her numbers are real-world too. Could I imagine one in my garage? Perhaps. My only concern is the cost down the road if those batteries need replacing (at 90,000 or 100,000 miles) which could be around $3000 or more.

Do you own a Prius? Please feel free to post your comments or thoughts for everyone to see.

Thanks for looking in, and I'll report next on another customer service experience I've had.




Looking Forward to a ride in a Toyota Prius

Sat, 16 Feb 2008 03:38:35 UTC

2008-03-05T03:24:02Z

Hi everyone. Things have been busy, however I have made a resolution (to myself) to be more diligent in '08 with my postings. Tomorrow I am going to/from Philly in a Toyota Prius which my friend Liz owns. I am looking forward to this for many reasons: 1) I'm curious about the whole hybrid 'experience' --- how quiet will it...

Hi everyone. Things have been busy, however I have made a resolution (to myself) to be more diligent in '08 with my postings.

Tomorrow I am going to/from Philly in a Toyota Prius which my friend Liz owns. I am looking forward to this for many reasons:

1) I'm curious about the whole hybrid 'experience' --- how quiet will it be?
2) Liz gets phenomenal gas mileage. Her real-world numbers are 46 mpg on the highway, and 49 mpg in the city. That's almost double what my Subaru gets.
3) I wonder if a hybrid is the way to go in the future?
4) Lastly, I get to be a passenger! (which doesn't happen too often -- then again, I like to drive)

Also, my youngest sister who is in grad school up in Boston has rented a Prius several times through a 'Zipcar' program where you rent a car by the hour. She's had good things to say about them as well.

I'll get back to everyone with my thoughts and comments on the experience. Have a good President's Day weekend, for those of you lucky enough to have a 3 days off!




Happy 2008 - Many Happy (Clearance) Purchases!

Mon, 07 Jan 2008 02:31:49 UTC

2008-02-16T03:38:29Z

Hello everyone: Happy 2008. I hope everyone had a great holiday and all the gifts you gave and received were welcomed happily. For those of you in need of making returns or exchanges -- well, I hope that the lines weren't TOO long! As much as I am a shopper and consumer, I must admit there's a certain fun in...

Hello everyone:

Happy 2008. I hope everyone had a great holiday and all the gifts you gave and received were welcomed happily. For those of you in need of making returns or exchanges -- well, I hope that the lines weren't TOO long!

As much as I am a shopper and consumer, I must admit there's a certain fun in the 'hunt' for clearance items. Who can resist Hershey's kisses, especially if they're 50% off because they have green and red wrappers? And doesn't everyone need next year's Christmas card and wrapping paper? Sure -- when it's 75% off! I was at Target this weekend, and their X-mas items (very little left) were at 90% off. I mean, really -- 90% off!

The only demon which can foul up this master plan is one's personal organizational skills: if you are a clearance sale purchaser, have a PLAN and detailed MAP for where you are going to store these items.

Otherwise, come next Fall, you'll think to yourself: "Don't I have greeting cards somewhere?" If you don't know where you put them, then you've defeated the purpose of your great sales find.

If you have a planner, put a note in it NOW reminding yourself that "the stuff is in the attic" or "in the spare room closet" or "in a plastic container under the stairs." You'll be glad you did.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for keeping track of your great clearance finds, feel free to share them. We all can benefit!

Look for another entry before month's end, on a car topic.




Another great used car purchasing anecdote!

Tue, 18 Dec 2007 01:47:24 UTC

2008-01-07T02:31:38Z

Hello everyone! As I look out my window over my completely iced over driveway and sidewalk (which of course is hard as a rock) -- and before anyone comments, I was out of town this weekend and therefore not around to shovel! -- I thought it time for another car story. This time, I give you the story of my...

Hello everyone! As I look out my window over my completely iced over driveway and sidewalk (which of course is hard as a rock) -- and before anyone comments, I was out of town this weekend and therefore not around to shovel! -- I thought it time for another car story.

This time, I give you the story of my friend Rick. He is a good friend who (smartly, ha ha) trusts me and my extensive car knowledge. Here's the quick synopsis of Rick: he had a circa 1991-92 Honda Accord which he bought used, drove vigorously, loved dearly, and had over 232,000 miles on the clock. It was time for another (used) Honda. I offered insight into some other reputable brands, but he was sold on Honda. (Author's note: I'm a Subaru owner for the AWD, but prior to Subaru, I had 2 Hondas. I had a Civic I put 105,000 miles on before giving it to my brother, and an Accord I put 172,000 miles on)

Rick's budget (and I'm sure he's okay with my sharing this information) was $7000 plus whatever he could get for his old Accord with all the miles. When he was doing his research on the internet, he would go on to websites (example: cars.com) and put in his search criteria (Accord, automatic transmission, cruise control, price max of $7,000) and click on 'search.' Note, the $7000 was before tax, title, and transfer fees.

He found several decent cars (with over 100,000 miles on, but that was OK -- the one he was driving had 100K on it when he purchased it used), and some were a great distance away. Rick would send me the links and ask for my opinion.

Here's where I offered my thoughts to Rick: Since most used cars are negotiable to some degree, I advised Rick to raise his ceiling price when he searched to $ 7,500. In doing so, he opened up what cars he might see, perhaps finding a newer Accord, and even with fewer miles.

The result: Rick found a very clean 2001 Accord V-6, with all the things he was looking for, and several things he wasn't looking for -- leather seats, glass moonroof, 6 CD changer, and automatic climate control ! Plus the mileage was just a bit over 100,000, which was perfect. The car was in Norristown (not too far away), and the dealer was very agreeable.

The even better result: Rick got his car for $7500 out the door. That included tax, tags, his trade, EVERYTHING. If you back out the tax, and say the value of his old car was $500, he wound up getting this great car for about $6600.

What is your take-away from Rick's experience? Don't be afraid to raise your budget by $500 or so. You may wind up finding a great car that you never would have even seen because it would have been filtered out due to your search criteria. Rick never would have found this car had he not raised his "max" price from $7000 to $7500 (which it was offered at) --- and he wound up buying it for about $900 less than that.

Have a great holiday everyone, and I plan to have another posting before year's end. Safe driving!




Happy Thanksgiving (and Retail Shopping)

Thu, 22 Nov 2007 04:42:45 UTC

2007-12-18T01:47:15Z

Hello, everyone! I really have no idea where this month has gone. Suddenly, as I write this minutes before midnight on Wed 11/21, I realize that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Of course, it doesn't help that this year, the holiday is on the earliest possible date, as it was decided long ago that the holiday should take place on the 4th...

Hello, everyone! I really have no idea where this month has gone. Suddenly, as I write this minutes before midnight on Wed 11/21, I realize that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Of course, it doesn't help that this year, the holiday is on the earliest possible date, as it was decided long ago that the holiday should take place on the 4th Thursday in November.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day tomorrow, and for those that have to work (firefighters, healthcare professionals in our emergency rooms and hospitals, restaurant staff, etc.) that your day goes smoothly.

What I don't necessarily give thanks for is the MAD rush which begins on what has famously become known as Black Friday. The name comes from the old balance sheet which businesses use: the sales on Friday put (traditionally) a company into the 'black' which equates to profitability.

I saw an ad on TV which told me Kohl's is opening at 4:00 AM. I mean, seriously folks --- what could someone possibly need at 4:00 AM?? And those poor retail folks who have to get up at 2:30 AM to they can clock in at 3:30 AM before the doors open..... the mind reels....!

From personal experience, I favor the comfort of my warm bed, with my down comforter keeping me in dreamland. I get up early enough on a weekday!

If you are one of those early risers on Friday, please post a note to share how your experience was. Were you among the throngs of shoppers? Or, were you a small but mighty group of retail pioneers?

Have a great holiday everyone, and I'll be back soon with more tales of cars (I have a good one to tell you next time) and customers.





E-Z Pass: A real time-saver

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 01:49:13 UTC

2007-11-22T04:42:34Z

E-Z Pass is a great concept. It allows you to sail by those long lines of cars waiting to pay tolls on the turnpike, through tunnels, over bridges, and the like. I only signed up this past Spring, and my only thought to myself was: What was I waiting for? Just the time savings alone is worth the expense! I...

E-Z Pass is a great concept. It allows you to sail by those long lines of cars waiting to pay tolls on the turnpike, through tunnels, over bridges, and the like. I only signed up this past Spring, and my only thought to myself was: What was I waiting for?

Just the time savings alone is worth the expense! I was down in D.C. last week attending a conference, and came home by way of Philadelphia. Even though the tolls up 295 (Balt-Wash Pkwy) are horrendous ($11.00 -- yikes), at least I wasn't waiting in tedious lines to pay.

E-Z Pass, for those not 'in the know,' is a system where you have a little transponder (a white gizmo you stick on your windshield, near the rear view mirror). When you go through an E-Z Pass lane, a special sensor recognizes your car, and then deducts the appropriate amount from your balance on the account.

It's very convenient. I went the 'auto refill' route. This means that when my account gets below a certain amount, my credit card will get charged a flat amount to put more credits on. The only expense is a $3.00/year rental fee for the transponder. You can also have up to 4 cars on one account, in case you want to take the E-Z Pass with you in your family of vehicles.

This also avoids you having to make sure you have enough cash on hand if you're running to Philly or NJ or wherever. Just make sure you use the right lane at the toll booths.

Thanks for looking in, and I'll be back next month with some more interesting stuff!