Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reebonz online shopping review

I am sure many of you have heard about Reebonz online website which sells new and vintage luxury items at heavily discounted prices. I have made a few purchases from them as well, after being unable to resist the temptation of buying something at a much lower price.

Recently I bought another bag which I have thought it was a regrettable decision I made because the style of the bag doesn't suit me. It was a Tod bag with a central zipped divider separating 2 compartments. Now it wasn't clearly stated on the website this is how the bag will look like and the photos did not show the full interior of the bag. The reason why it doesn't suit me is because I rely heavily on bag organiser and there is no room to fit in one if you have a central zipper blocking the way.

There is no way of returning the bag to Reebonz because most of its ads state no returns nor exchanges for sale items. But most of their items are sale items anyway. So after a few of these shopping mishaps, I decided to share with you the lessons I have learnt...

Never buy a bag which you have not seen or touched before
This is very true for hand bags as they are very personal items. Do note that there are several different styles for the same line of hand bags as well. In my case, the Tod bag has one without the central zipper which I have seen in their shop. But photos on the reebonz website doesn't show every aspect of the hand bag they are selling. So if I have seen the real bag in a shop, I may not have bought it at all.

Do not rely on the dimensions given.
This is very true for certain hand bags as a length 30 cm can be roomy and spacious for certain styles but appear small and cramp for others. The cutting and zippers and other details matter a lot. It also doesn't tell you the weight of a bag. This is particular true for Miu Miu bags which has fallen out of favour in recent times because of the heavy hardware and bulky matelasse leather that it carries for certain styles. Most of the photos are misleading. A small size bag look almost similar to the medium or even large size bag in photos. So my best advice is to go to the shop, look and carry the bag before you click "purchase".

The bags they carry are either past season or those that are slow to sell
Although this may not apply to every bag but do take note majority of them are posted there for a reason. The more popular ones are usually sold before you realise it is there. Some of the deals are usually too good to be true, especially the 70% discounted items, which doesn't allow returns or exchanges. So if you have bought the bag and you don't like it, you will be stuck with it.

They always have time sales to pressure you into buying
These sales can last 1-2 days and promise you very big discounts off the retail prices. It's part of a marketing strategy to make you develop an urge to purchase before the sale is off. But if you watch these sales on a regular basis, they come back again every few days and the same bag, if not sold, will be listed for an even lower price. So do not buy without doing your research and seeing the actual bag.

Not so secure payment using credit card
Most of the time I pay for the item using PayPal. There was once I accidentally choose the option of credit card. Instead of asking you for the details of your credit card number via a secured online transaction, a Reebonz staff called me the same afternoon to ask me for my card details (date of expiry and CVV number). Very few online business operate in such a way. So beware of using your credit card.

Their vintage items are priced very similar to retail prices
For selected items, you might want to know the retail price before buying a vintage. I have come across a few of them with prices not very different from new pieces. So ask yourself whether you would rather pay a few hundreds more for an unused item from the boutique or buy something which has been used by someone else.

So far, I haven't had an encounter for post sales service from them. But a Google search did throw up several reviewers on purseforum who claimed their after sales service left a bitter taste for them. I had a phone conversation with their staff where she was asking me for my credit card details - it did give me a feeling that she was very rushed and impatient on the phone. I expressed my surprise that she had to call me up to verify my credit card details and as a wary consumer, I asked her if this was a routine and acceptable practice. In the end, I didn't get a very satisfactory answer.

Reebonz buys pre-owned items from consumers as well. The prices they offer are usually very low. Once I sold my Miu Miu (retail at $2000) for $400 to them. This was at about 1/5 of the price I paid for. But there was not much choice as this was a brand which doesn't retain much value and there were not many avenue to sell pre-owned bags. Reebonz do not accept pre-owned Coach and Kate Spade anymore. So if you were really into these brands, you should just buy and keep them forever or pass them to your relatives if you decided not to use them anymore. I sold a few of them on Gumtree but that was after much hassle - a lot of bargaining involved and some of these buyers never show up at all.

So think twice or even thrice before committing to your online purchase. I think it is best to go overseas to buy such luxury items and claim tax refund - you get to see and feel the item and at the same time get a huge discount.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Akira Portable Air Con review

There are not many reviews on portable aircon online so I think it's worthwhile to post one of my own after having bought and used one.

As you may be aware, the weather in Singapore is generally hot and humid on most days. Our attic heats up in afternoon and can be unbearably hot. The reason being that the attic is a space that is directly beneath the roof and the air heats up in the day and becomes trapped in an enclosed space. A ceiling fan will definitely help to circulate the air but we have not considered installing one in the attic. If you were to buy an apartment, try not to select the topmost unit as it will likely have a similar problem to this.

Long story cut short, I feel my attic will serve little purpose if it is too hot to enjoy in the day. The idea of installing a mounted aircon unit did come to my mind before moving in and I had also consulted a few contractors who told me that it would be fairly useless because I have an staircase which opens to the storey below and there was no way to enclose it with a door.

We chose to buy a portable air con from Akira after seeing it on sale in Giant for $399. The unit is stylishly designed and has the capacity of a 9000 BTU. It was intended to be used as a spot cooler. However do note that many malls display their portable aircon without attaching the huge PVC trunking behind. This is an important attachment to pump the hot air out of the room.

After using it for a while, I think the most important consideration for such portable aircon units is the noise they generate. It is okay to put it next to you if you are reading a magazine, but it makes too much noise for you to sleep soundly to it. The energy consumption is probably a bit more intensive than the wall mounted unit which uses invertor technology.

Another consideration is that it takes up pretty much space, given that it is a floor unit and there is a huge trunking behind it. It is also heavy at its weight of 30 kg. There are wheels for you to roll the unit around. But if you stay on a level which requires you to bring it up the stairs, you need two strong men to hoist it up.

Portable air con is not a suitable set up for all types of windows. You need to have one that comes with sliding panels so that the PVC panel (provided with the unit) can sit in comfortably at the window frame. For other window types, you may google DIY videos which provides you with the instructions on how to make a frame for you to insert the trunking out of the window.

The merits of this portable unit is that it has a "self evaporative" function. This means that any water residue collected in the machine can be made to evaporate into the air once you switch it off. However, if you intend to switch it on more than 10 hours a day, then the collected water may not evaporate in time and result in water leakage onto the floor.

It works slightly better than an air cooler and is able to provide chilled air to the immediate surrounding. The plastic flaps move up and down to circulate the chilled air to a short distance. For a small bedroom, this should work pretty well. But the noise is a killer, unless, of course if you are a very sound sleeper.

So is it worth paying a few hundreds to buy a portable air con unit or a few thousand to install a wall unit? It depends on your individual needs. If you need just one unit to cool a particular small area in your home or if you are renting a bedroom from your landlord who refuses to provide you with aircon installation, then this is the choice for you. However, if you are a house owner who needs to aircon a few rooms in your apartment and you are staying in one place for the long haul, this may not be the best solution for you. Wall mounted units can be regularly serviced over the long run to prolong its lifespan. I called up Akira service centre and they told me they do not do on-site servicing and you have to bring the unit to them if it is spoilt.

All in all, I think it's not really that great an investment. So if you are thinking of getting one, you can consider this after you have no other alternatives such as installing wall mounted air con units, which looks nicer, save your electricity bills and have a longer lifespan.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Schnauzer Nanoblock

After searching online for schnauzer lego kit, I come across a local toy shop at jelita selling this. It costs $13.90 per pack and comes full with instructions. It says for ages 12 and up. My previous attempt at building Nanoblock was the simple Mario kit I bought from Groupon. I thought this one shouldn't be that tough but it turns out to be otherwise.
The size of the Nanoblock is 4 x 4 x 5 mm. With my small fingers I already found it hard to assemble. I think it would be even worst for a man with big hands. And you cannot exert too much pressure on it, else the whole structure will fall apart instantaneously.
The simplest way I find is to compartmentalise the nano blocks into an art palette and then pick out those that you need. You need to be fairly organised and focused on the instructions and cross your fingers you didn't do the wrong thing. One step leads to the other. And there are also lighter grey blocks which should be picked out in the beginning, or else you wouldn't be pulling out your hair if you mix it up in the body of the dog.
I spent around one hour to complete, and towards the end the body collapsed and one piece of block fell out and I couldn't figure where it goes back. But all's well end well. I got my completed schnauzer after another 30 mins. It should go into a glass cabinet untouched after this. Don't ever let your kid hold this; you will regret the falling apart pieces!
Difficulty : 4/5. It's not impossible to do. You just need to exercise lots of care handling it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Anniversary dinner at JAAN Equinox

After a search on hungrygowhere, we narrowed down a few places for our 8th wedding anniversary dinner. JAAN at Equinox generally had good reviews and I decided to book a table for this occasion. 
I called their restaurant number but was directed to email booking instead. The email response was prompt, and I informed them as it was my anniversary dinner I requested a table with a "view". I was told that there would be an extra charge of $20 for that.
One day before the dinner, there was no phone reminder. But we turned up at the appointed time and took the lift to the 70th floor. The staff quickly showed us to our table, however I notice the table adjacent to us was just at an arm's length, so there was very little privacy. In fact, the other couple's conversation was just within earshot.
We ordered the 5 course food tasting menu with one other lobster soup and main course of lamb loin. There was also free flow of bread and sorbet in between the courses. Croaky was rather pleased with the cod fish and his pork. I find my lamb loin was a bit not so tender for its price of $70. There was also more vegetables than meat on my plate. The courses took quite a long time to come, and was served like wedding dinner style. By the time for dessert, it was 2.5 hours later and Croaky has no more room for the cake. So Woolly has to gobble it up.
The staff was also quite inattentive to refilling our glasses even though there were quite a number of them. I have to catch their attention and ask them to do so. Most of the diners were foreigners - I noticed a table of Japanese and another with Caucasians. They ordered seafood platter for two ($180) and it was served with lobsters and raw shellfish on ice; looked quite delicious. Perhaps we should try that the next time. It was also a good place to chill out with wine.
The night scenery is beautiful. You can see the skyline of the entire CBD with a good view. I wish I can set up a tripod with my DSLR (hee hee). It would be a good place to capture the blue hour if they would allow. My Samsung phone took reasonably good shots of it, except the food looked overexposed with the flash. The lighting in the restaurant was pretty dim.
Because our main courses crawled to our table at tortoise speed, the waiter apologised and offered to waive off the surcharge for the window view. The final bill came up to $296, and there was further discount with POSB and DBS cards. It was cheaper than dining at the Teppanyaki restaurant Shima.
Conclusion: I think it's worth a try if you haven't been there to enjoy the view. Get the seafood platter plus a bottle of wine. That way you don't have to wait very long. 
The food comes well presented.

The night scenery from our window table


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Prenatal massage at Z spa

I was hoping to get a massage during the prenatal period so I went around sourcing for one. Many massage parlours refuse to accept pregnant ladies because of various reasons. Luckily the Internet is a good resource for looking up for information but there are not many reviews of such services.
We booked Z spa after reading about it offering prenatal massage and there are couple rooms so that Croaky can also have a good rub. A lot of the more upmarket prenatal spas do not offer massage to the husband so that is a big big minus point.
When I first made the appointment, the male counter staff was a bit impatient and kept asking me if I bought Groupon for the massage. I kept emphasising no and we are first time customers. That aside, on the day before the appointment there was no sms or call reminder which I thought it was a bit strange. However, I am someone who always kept my appointments in my good old fashioned diary and so I had no trouble remembering the date.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a middle aged lady and offered longan tea. It was a small but decent setup. Two masseurs were assigned to us. All the while I was lying on my side hugging a bolster while the masseur worked on my back and limbs. The strokes were soft and reasonably good for me. But Croaky complained that there was too much pressure for him. We opted for 90 mins massage and paid $207. Croaky was hesitant to take a package because he worried we wouldn't be able to make future appointments if we did.
Verdict: Good for couple massage. No extreme hard selling. Worth a try especially if you are looking for prenatal massage.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Woollycroak relaunched

This has been our wedding blog since 2005.

For a couple of years, the domain has suffered a huge state of neglect as we are both busied with our married and working lives. I become tired of updating the blog because it requires me to switch on my computer and spend hours to resize and upload the photos.

Now that the domain is still being paid for on a yearly basis and because there is so much emotional attachment to this name, I decided to give it another lease of life. Blogging also becomes a little easier with the use of android apps and I can post a new entry and upload my photos taken from my handphone.

I think it is a good avenue to post reviews of services and products which we have come across so that other people can make an informed choice before spending their money. Hopefully you will find some use to the reviews that I write.