Fair.com Review: I Got a Car, I Think, Maybe…

05.22.18

If you are trying to gauge the direction of the retail automotive market Fair.com is worth watching. They’re a lot like Maven, Canvas, and Book except the cars are used, and you work directly with the dealership, not the manufacturer.

We opted to use Fair.com because my daughter wanted a convertible and I want her to want to come home for the summer. I also wanted her to be safe and in a relatively new vehicle. I found a fun car on May 9th and put in a request. All of my emails (which in reality are just chats initiated in the app) went unanswered.

Phones are spotty with Fair as well. They say office hours are 9-6, a second voicemail says 10-7, but the reality is that the phones were answered less than half the times I’d called midday. When I did get a person on the phone on May 19th they were like, “Ummm.. yeah, that car isn’t available.”

You’ll recall from my previous post that I’d been trying to get a car from Fair.com for a full ten days at that point.

I found another car, a 2015 VW Beetle convertible. It had 15,000 miles on it and was $800 down and $420 a month, you can turn it in with 5 days notice and the term is as long or short as you please. Additionally one of their employees has been sharing a coupon code all over the web. So I used SHAANR100 as a discount code to save $100 on the drive off. Check and see if it still works.

It was simple. I signed docs online and then tried to confirm with Fair via the app (it’s email – but whatever) that I wanted to get the car that day. No one responded. I called. No one answered. I sent an SOS type chat through the app and got a phone call saying I could get the car the following day at 4.

There was no indication of who to speak to upon pickup. Communication from Fair.com is abysmal.

I risked it and had my son drive me to Thousand Oaks. He’s a damn hero for making that trek. As I wandered onto the lot, I was directed to the sales manager who had the car clean and waiting for me. He was very nice, it was one signature, he showed me the car, and I was done.

Sort of. The car’s been in an accident. The bumper has fresh paint on it, and it’s out of alignment. No, it doesn’t show on carfax. That doesn’t mean that work hasn’t been done. I’m not even concerned that it’s unsafe, I simply don’t want to get dinged for it when I return the car in August or September.

Of course, there’s been no response from Fair.com. No acknowledgment whatsoever that I sent emails and photos indicating prior damage.

But after speaking with the sales manager I understand why.

Fair.com buys the car from the dealer and leases it to me. When the term is complete the car will roll right out to auction. Fair.com isn’t in the car business. Fair.com is in the banking business. Which is fine, it just explains why they aren’t very good at cars. They’re good at meeting my fiscal needs, so that’s what made me their customer.

There’s a very limited warranty, but I’m not overly concerned as it’s a newer and low mileage vehicle.

I’d also like to add that one of Fair.com’s founders is also the founder of TrueCar.com. I’m going to assume that all pricing is… well…. neither True nor Fair. Again, it worked for me, but I’m waiting to see who comes out of the gates to challenge them because the experience thus far is lackluster at best.

Fair.com emails are a mess

Ten days after my inquiry I received a response from fair. Of course it was for the first car, not the one I’d gotten from them three days prior. It’s a mess over there.

The Summertime Car Dilemma for College Students

05.14.18

Jane is coming home from college next week, and she needs a car. Well, I need her to have a car because I don’t share well and I’m not excited about ridesharing as a full-time plan.

We got rid of Jane’s car when she decided to go to school in New York City. Naturally, she won’t be needing it for the bulk of four years. During short breaks, like winter, I can rent a car, and she can drive mine as it’s prohibitively expensive to have a driver under 25 on a rental car. But for summertime, I’ve tried to find other solutions. I’m still unclear on what we’ll do but here are the options.

Buy a beater and then sell or donate it at the end of the summer.

This was my first plan, and I found a 1983 Ford F150 that I thought would be a lot of fun to drive for the summer. In fact, it was a manual transmission, short bed, and only leaked a little oil. I was going to go and buy it for $3,500 on Tuesday but thank goodness AJ and I almost had an accident on Sunday. The freeway just came to a dead stop in front of us and had we been in an old car without power ABS brakes we’d have been in a major accident.

None of us are driving a beater. 

Rent a car for three months from one of the big companies

This still may happen. I have a luxury car reserved with Enterprise for the summer. It’s a Cadillac XTS or equivalent that comes with unlimited miles at $1,430 a month. The after-tax total for three months and 11 days is $5,760. There is no other cost involved. This car doesn’t go onto my insurance, require registration or a fee when I turn it in. If I want to save money, I can scale back on the model and drive something more modest. I’ll also get a bunch of frequent flier miles as well as double points on my credit card as it’s a travel-related expense.

Rent a car for three months from a company that’s new to the US

Sixt is a German car rental company. I’ve got a convertible beetle on hold with them for next week. It’s quite reasonably priced at $35 a day. A 92-day rental puts me at $3,661.93 with more than enough miles to get me through the summer. The problem is a complete lack of communication. I can’t get anyone on the phone so I can ask questions, and that’s too much money for me not to be able to speak to a local person.

The second problem, and this is a massive problem, is that their site is not secure. All you need is my reservation number and last name, and you land on a page that has been populated with my personal information. That this does not require a login is alarming.

How many other backdoors are there?

Sixt Car Rental Summertime Beverly hills

Sixt will give me KLM points though… so what’s a little privacy breach worth to me?

92 day car rental beverly Hills

 

These old style car rental agencies are the most convenient options. If the vehicles require any sort of maintenance I drop them off at the rental agency and grab a different one.

Drive a Ford for a few months with Canvas

The more I think about it; the more Canvas becomes an expensive option. In addition to having a very limited fleet of Ford vehicles, you can only make a reservation 14 days in advance. So the Mustang I wanted to lease for the summer that was available on May 6th is no longer available. It would also be registered in my name, I’d be responsible for maintenance, and I’d have to add it to my car insurance. Two teenage drivers make car insurance really expensive.

The reason I wanted to use Canvas was so that the car would be registered to me and the kids could drive it while I had my car, which I love. I’ve given up on Canvas though. If I want my daughter to love LA more than New York City the car’s going to have to fun and I can’t get a fun car with them.

Fair is an app that operates a lot like Canvas. If it ever works, it could be great. But it doesn’t work.

You essentially lease a lease return for a flat monthly fee and a drive off with Fair. The fees are competitive, the cars could be appealing, and it’s an open-ended lease. A buyer can walk away in two months or 20. Fair was the most attractive option for me as I could lease a car, put it in my name and the kids could drive it. Say hello to the summer of Mini Cooper!

The problem with Fair is that, much like Drive Canvas and Sixt, no one answers telephones and no one answers emails.

Proof. It’s a useless app.

fair app confirmation emailfair app doesn't respond to emails

GM has Maven Reserve. It’s a lot like Drive Canvas but only good for 28 days at a time.

Maven Reserve Los Angeles cars

Maven is still a good option for me if I want to be in a GM Vehicle. Interestingly Cadillac has a program for long-term rentals/short-term leases that also includes insurance much like a rental car. If I get stuck with Enterprise, it’s likely to be a coin toss as to whether I take my Cadillac from Book.

Since Book is Cadillac owned I’m guessing the vehicles will be a higher trim level than your standard car rental company and I will raise my expectations about the maintenance.

Book runs $1,800 a month. There’s no maintenance or insurance required beyond that basic fee. It seems to be the best managed of the bunch, of course, it’s the most expensive too. But I do love a Cadillac.

We’ll see how the summer goes and which of these companies is thriving in 2019.

 

I Only Have Three Days to Tell You About The Good Witch

04.4.18

Joanna Prisco is The Good Witch. She’s also Kai’s wife, but mostly she’s Duke’s mom. And she’s a very good sport.

She ate glittery rainbow bagels with me and my family because that was the thing that the kids needed to do, and she brought Duke so that we could all ooh and ahh over him. We haven’t stopped ooh-ing or ahh-ing. Duke is why Instagram must always exist.

But more timely, Joanna’s next baby (of sorts) will be The Good Witch.

Joanna was fired from her job after attending the Women’s March and refusing to remove photos of it from her personal social media accounts. There are different routes one can take in a situation like this and Joanna found the silver lining. She’s taken a deep breath, developed some new recipes, and launching a business that supports other women.

This is how we get to The Good Witch. 

From Joanna:

The shop will be a modern coffee bar, owned, operated by and dedicated to empowering women. Located in the Lower Hudson Valley (specifically, Westchester’s river towns), the cafe counter will serve ethically sourced, Brooklyn-roasted Parlor Coffee beans as well as a menu of housemade savories and sweets, such as spicy breakfast sandwiches, Vietnamese pandan waffles, summer rolls, fudgy bundts and miniature mochi cakes. Meanwhile, our pantry section will feature a larder of prepackaged goods created by female food artisans, such as Hot Bread Kitchen and The Jam Stand, cookbooks by local women authors (think Dinner: A Love Story) and female-driven food mags like Cherry Bombe and Gather Journal. And we plan to implement a calendar of dedicated specials with proceeds going directly toward nonprofits that benefit women, such as I Am That Girl, She Should Run, Girls Not Brides, among others.

 

In this way, we aim to create an environment that is accommodating to mothers who need a respite in between appointments (stroller accessible, loads of high chairs, charming changing stations) as well as fosters a deeper sense of sisterhood via book readings, food science workshops, panel discussions and community outreach.

I have only endorsed Kickstarters from people I know. And even then only when there has been a compelling story and a need. I’m basically using this one to pre-purchase some food and coffee in the Hudson Valley.

Also there’s a Wall of Femme. Irresistible!

Communities need shops like The Good Witch. And humankind needs to know that sometimes you’ll be fired for doing the right thing. Humankind also needs to know that sometimes being fired is the greatest thing. It allows you to stop, breathe, and pave a new road.

 

I Miss Jonathan Gold (and Anonymous Food Critics in General)

03.21.18

I ate at Park’s BBQ in Koreatown with a group of ten girlfriends recently and as much as I enjoyed it, I sat thinking of Jonathan Gold rather than the mountain of marinated meat in front of me. Not the Jonathan Gold of The City of Gold, but the Jonathan Gold of 2009 who ate at a restaurant repeatedly and anonymously and told us not just about the food and the service but the history of the food and of its ingredients. I miss the Jonathan Gold who reminded us that in fancier restaurants more people have sweated over our dishes.

I miss food critics who know how to hold a chopstick and revere the three-day process of making ramen broth.

I miss the old Jonathan Gold because the 2016 Jonathan Gold suggested we all try The Bellweather.  Had Gold showed up rumpled and anonymous he might have experienced the same dreadful service that the rest of us do, including a hostess yelling at me on my 19th anniversary for wanting a table not behind a swinging door or next to a restroom.

“Where DO you want to sit?” She yelled, gesturing at a half-empty restaurant. My husband and I were struck dumb, and in a moment of terrible judgment stayed to dine at The Bellwether.

We need a new Jonathan Gold. We need the existing Jonathan Gold to tell us stories. To tell us how spices have traveled across continents and why. We need Jonathan Gold to explain the ownership of recipes and restaurants, the customs and the superstitions. We need Jonathan Gold to reaffirm our love for Mariscos Jalisco. Because some of Los Angeles’ greatest meals come from roach coaches.

How can we make Jonathan Gold anonymous again? And how was Los Angeles lucky enough to be home to the only Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic to date? Did we appreciate that enough? You bet we did.

Although Los Angeles is a city of immigrants she’s also a city of segregation. Koreatown, Little Saigon, East LA (getting gentrified but still…), Little Armenia, Chinatown, Little Ethiopia, WeHo is Russian, Encino is Israeli, and more. Dining at family-owned restaurants is one of a few means of experiencing another culture without the burden of international travel. If you’re curious about a country’s climate, try one of their salads. You’ll learn what grows there.

I loved having dinner with my girlfriends and Korean BBQ has become a de facto Los Angeles cuisine. And perhaps because Korean BBQ has so permeated the zeitgeist we didn’t explore. We lost our curiosity about the marinades. We forgot to ask why some places cook for you and others have the diner do the cooking. We neglected to ask about the bibimbap, or at least to read about its origins as a ceremonial food.

We are now finding our foodstuff on Instagram. How else would a rainbow bagel make its way in the world? The more pressing question is: Should a rainbow bagel have a place in this world? Is that cultural appropriation? We want our bagels back (I’m looking at you too Sarah Lee)!

The problem with Instagram is that I don’t really care what a 22-year-old with ombre beach wave hair likes to eat unless she’s a culinary student. I certainly am not concerned with the overstuffed sandwiches the bros love. But social media does get it right. Salt and Straw does have ice cream worth waiting in line for. Bay Cities is the only sandwich you should bring out sailing (I say Godmother). And, yes, Bottega Louie’s macaroons are stunningly Instagrammable but their cobb salad or minestrone soup is really why you want to be there.

But there is so much more to food than photos. There are manners and customs. There are spices and combinations of food to be enjoyed together. There is history. There are chopsticks and there are rules about chopsticks. Give me French food in small portions and yell at me when I request a doggy bag. I don’t care, I want the experience.

I miss food writers who buy their own meals and I miss the days of Jonathan Gold being anonymous.

The Second Space is for the Unemployable

03.14.18

Your typing teacher is unemployed and you will be too if you continue to use two spaces after a period.

Did that sound harsh? Good. It was meant to. You see, just a few days ago a friend shared a link to a humorous post on Facebook about using two spaces after a period. It got a lot of reactions and more than a few shares.

A facebook share of an article about two spaces after a full stop ie. period

And then another friend shared the same post. A friend who is a writer and ostensibly has many other writer friends. The comments around it were alarming. They love their two spaces after a full stop. They stand by their two spaces after a period. They have been mocked for their second space and they will not give it up anytime soon. They love that they’re over 40 and they assert that the double space after the full stop demonstrates wisdom.

The double space after a period demonstrates willful ignorance. Full stop.

These are the people who will not be hired. These are the people who will say they’ve experienced age discrimination. These are not people who are being discriminated against. These are people who are doing it wrong.

Let me explain.

You see, my Facebook groups are where the real information is. As a blogger, I’m on the outskirts of tech insofar as people in tech need bloggers to listen and to send their ideas to our readers. We as bloggers need the tools they curate and create. So I listen. I listen a lot, and with attention to detail. I watch for trends and I try to connect people with one another.

One of my most interesting facebook groups explores age discrimination, primarily in high tech.

Every woman over 30 in Los Angeles suspects age discrimination exists. Every woman over 40 in this town knows it does. I’m self-employed, I’m not immune to age discrimination but with my new project I’ve embraced it. I’m sure many folks skip over it. That’s okay, it’s my niche and I love it.

Back to my facebook groups. In my age discrimination facebook group, there are many articles shared both hopeful and discouraging. There are lots of discussion and job opportunities discussed as many are freelancers and most of us know and respect one another’s work. Almost everyone works in tech or an industry closely related. All of us know more than millennials when it comes to digital best practices. This is our playground. We wrote the rules. In addition to knowing that certain features exist inside of an app/website/piece of software, we remember its genesis and can explain to you why it was needed and how it was rolled out. We know the five W’s of most of what we use. We were alpha testers and know the lady who implemented the feature we love so much. Sometimes that doesn’t matter one iota, sometimes that bit of wisdom is critical. Which is a very long way of saying that we all know why you no longer double space after a full stop. Further, we all had typing teachers and we all unlearned that particular skill. That is wisdom. 

In case you didn’t know the double space after a period or full stop was no longer necessary or even useful as we stopped typing and started keyboarding. Today’s fonts have little to do with yesterday’s typebars. If you want more about this Grammar Girl has a series of posts.

Ilene Strizver, the founder of the Type Studio, says, “Forget about tolerating differences of opinion: typographically speaking, typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong.”

How does the double space after a period keep people from getting a job?

Pretend an editor and has to search a document for all of the double spaces only so they can be replaced with a single space. Would a harried editor hire that person a second time? If their work was otherwise stellar the answer is, probably. But with a note that all subsequent articles should be submitted with proper spacing. When this freelance writer submits that second article with double spacing after a period and says it’s a sign of wisdom, is it? Or is it a sign of rigidity at best and being obsolete at worst?

It’s quite likely submissions are never accepted in the first place because that double space in the email sent a signal that the sender is not current with technology. Logically, a person whose keyboarding skills are dated to typewriter days is a poor hire in a digital world. How long would it take to train this person to use an intranet, to submit expense reports, or to navigate digital files?

It’s wonderful to be mature. Youthful business owners need guidance from the people who built the road they intend to travel.
Smart buiness owners value wisdom. Remember though, that to be wisened means knowing how to listen and learn.