Review: A $7,000 Meridian Sound System In $147,000 Range Rover

by Categorized: Auto Date:

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This week’s tech column, courtesy of Tribune Newspapers:

Of course this is a crazy daydream. I cannot possibly be romping through the Rubicon Trail in the world’s most luxurious SUV while listening to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 through the world’s most exotic, standard-equipment car-audio system.

Of course it is. I am actually sitting in a flat-top East Coast parking lot under graying skies, mildly awe-struck, in the front passenger seat of a $146,895 Range Rover Autobiography LWB listening to Meridian Audio’s 29-speaker, 24-channel, 1,700-watt Signature Reference 3D sound system.

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No Love For eLove After Woman Pays Dating Service $7,000

by Categorized: Consumer Complaints Date:

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This weekend’s Bottom Line column:

At least one woman says the least likely place to meet a mate is a matchmaking service that charges as much as $10,000 to join.

Let’s call her Scarlet, which is not her real name but matches the color of her face soon after paying $6,995, plus tax, to eLove of Glastonbury in late 2011 for 33 referrals and a “priority matching” VIP plan.

When east-of-the-river Scarlet, 70, contacted The Bottom Line last fall, she had not received a referral in almost a year despite having been promised one every six weeks when she signed up. She wanted a refund.

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Mortgage Rates Hold Steady: 30-Year At 4.14 Percent Nationally

by Categorized: Banks Date:

Mortgage rates barely moved in the past week, with 30-year rates averaging 4.15 percent and 15-year rates averaging 3.24 percent nationally, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac.
A week ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.12 percent and 15-year rates averaged 3.22 percent.
The numbers from New England:

This week:
30-year: 4.14 percent
15-year: 3.24 percent

Last week:
30-year: 4.12 percent
15-year: 3.22 percent

A year ago:
30-year: 4.51 percent
15-year: 3.54 percent

Can Yonanas Make Frozen Fruit Taste Like Soft-Serve?

by Categorized: Food/Beer Date:

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This week’s tech column, relatively low-tech this time, courtesy of Tribune Newspapers:

The Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker earns hosannas from youthful dessert eaters, yet the alpha male isn’t convinced this machine can turn slightly thawed fruit into a healthful treat that looks and tastes like soft-serve ice cream.

So, kids, it’s your Yonanas machine against the alpha male’s Ninja Master Prep Professional blender. Scared already? It’s the $49.99 Yonanas, a too-sweet, make-me-gag reference to your machine’s almost-mandatory ingredient (bananas), against the mighty Ninja, a $69.99 overachiever that tied the $450 Vitamix 5200 as best blender in Consumer Reports’ ratings.


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Rocky Hill Spa Closes: What About My Gift Card?

by Categorized: Gift Cards Date:

(MCT)
Today’s Bottom Line column:

Q: “My daughter gave me a birthday gift card worth $50 to a spa on the Silas Deane Highway in Rocky Hill. Several weeks ago, I tried calling to schedule an appointment and the phone was no longer in service. When I drove to the spa, the building space was empty. There is no forwarding address or phone. Do I have any course of action?”

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BBB’s Checklist for New-Car Buyers

by Categorized: Auto Date:

Recommendations from the Connecticut Better Business Bureau for new-car shoppers:

Determine your budget - This sounds straightforward, but there’s more to budgeting a new car purchase than just the monthly payment itself. How good is the vehicle’s fuel efficiency? Remember that your results may vary from EPA mileage estimates. The website FuelEconomy.gov is a good resource for ‘real-world’ mileage data reported by car owners.

How much will insurance cost on the vehicle? Contact your insurance agent for quotes on various models you may be considering. How much will maintenance and repairs cost? Online reliability reports can give you a sense of which models are more expensive to repair.

When considering monthly payments, use online calculators to see how different rates, down payments and loan terms can impact your payment.

Look at the big picture – Don’t become so focused on the monthly payment that you lose sight of the purchase price or total cost over the term of the loan. Extending a loan from 60 months to 72 months for lower payments can translate into additional thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Explore financing options – Visit your local credit union or bank to see what interest rate they can offer, and consider getting pre-approved for a loan. Having this information (or an offer) in hand will allow you to decide whether dealer financing is the best option for you, and gives the dealer a ‘target’ to match or beat.

Comparison shop online - You can get a price quote on a vehicle from most dealerships in a matter of hours, and then compare competing offers. Websites such as Edmunds.com provide free information on what you can expect to pay for a particular model in your region, and can help you determine the value of your trade-in.

Look for rebates – Many rebates are available, but some carry eligibility requirements that should be disclosed in advertising, such as loyalty bonuses, active duty military, trade-in bonuses, etc. Make sure you understand these qualifications to avoid disappointment.

Understand leasing options - If you decide to lease a vehicle, make sure you’re clear on the terms of the lease, and the pros and cons as opposed to purchasing. Leasing can mean driving a nicer car at a lower monthly payment than might be possible with a purchase, but if you drive more than about 12,000 miles a year or are concerned about “excess wear and tear” charges, leasing may not be the best option.

What’s the bottom line? When looking at the price of a vehicle, remember that you will also pay fees for documentation, title and registration, along with applicable sales tax.

Mortgage Rates Steady Heading Into Fourth Of July Weekend

by Categorized: Banks Date:

Mortgage rates remained steady in the past week, with 30-year rates averaging 4.12 percent and 15-year rates averaging 3.22 percent nationally, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac.
Thirty-year rates averaged 4.14 percent and 15-year rates were at 3.22 percent.

The numbers in New England:

This week:
30-year: 4.12 percent
15-year: 3.22 percent

Last week:
30-year: 4.14 percent
15-year: 3.23 percent

A year ago:
30-year: 4.31 percent
15-year: 3.42 percent