In The News

Friday 6/6 is National Donut Day! Which free donut will you choose?

At Brad's Deals, we love freebies and doughnuts (though, we don't all agree on the spelling of the sweet treat--I like doughnuts better, but I think I'm in the minority). So, naturally, we're super pumped about the upcoming National Donut Day on Friday, June 6, when some stores are giving away free donuts!

In honor of the sugar-filled holiday, we decided to compose a finger-licking ode (pretend this article is being sung to you) to donuts. Here are some of our favorites.

Photo: juliusmayojr / Flickr.

Old Fashioned Donut

Classics are classics for a reason. Best bets come from Dinkel's and Stan's Donuts (specifically the vanilla orange flavor) in Chicago and Los Angeles and Carmella's Creme in Champaign. Carmella's Creme proves that donuts don't have to be really expensive to be good. Most cost under a dollar and are made in an old Taco Bell. Though, sometimes your mind can help you deal with shelling out several bucks for a donut, like one of our designers. "My mind refuses to consider the possibility that I spent that much money [$2 or $3] on a donut that isn't the best ever," she wrote about Stan's Donuts. Regardless of price, all of these donuts are great!

Krispy Kreme's Classic Glazed

These glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme have been described as "airy sugary heaven" that you "can't go wrong" with. Another thing you can't go wrong with is freebies! See the bottom of this post to see how you can get one of these glazed donuts for free!

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Saturday is Free Comic Book Day!

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! The event was created in response to an article that proposed the idea by Joe Field, the owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, Ca. Since Free Comic Book Day started in 2002, millions of comics have been given away and several celebrities, like LeVar Burton and Stan Lee, have given their support.Free Comic Book Day 2014

Comic stores around the world will participate by offering free comics, special sales and other extra events. For instance, Jellaby author Kean Soo will sign copies of his comic at Challengers in Chicago. In Beaverton, Ore., Things From Another World is offering 20% off almost everything in the store (in addition to a free comic) and will host Joshua Williamson, Vicente Navarrete, and Ben Bates. Check with your local store to see what events they are hosting.

The number and type of comic that's distributed varies, so check with your local store. However, your free comic will be from this list.

Free comic book titles include:

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Why Lower Fares at Frontier Mean You'll Actually Pay More

Your carry-on luggage now will cost you an extra $25 to $100 dollars at Frontier Airlines.

Frontier Carry On Fees

Photo: Cubbie_n_Vegas / Flickr (via Wikimedia Commons)

Starting yesterday (4/28/14), Frontier changed to an ultra-low fare model and is boasting that the change means that airfares are now an average of 12% lower than they were before the switch. The catch is that they will now charge up to $50 per direction if you want to take a carry-on bag with you on the flight. It's also worth noting that a checked bag is $20 - or $5 less than the cheapest carry-on option. And thus Frontier joins Spirit and Allegiant as the third U.S. domestic airline to begin charging travelers for carry-on luggage.

"With an unbundled product, customers can save even more by choosing to pay for only the products that they want, allowing them to customize their flight experience for each and every flight," said David Siegel, CEO of Frontier Airlines, in a press release posted to FlyFrontier.com. "With today’s further reduction in Frontier’s amazing low fares our customers will find even greater value and our guaranteed lowest fare when they book at FlyFrontier.com."

So Frontier is doing its best to convince the flying public that this change is to their benefit, but let's be honest: When was the last time you flew without a carry-on?

Frontier understands what every modern air traveler knows: Overhead bin space is at a premium now that flyers use it to avoid checked baggage fees. No profit-motivated business, and especially not an airline, is going to lower prices just for the good of the consumer. If it's not adding to their bottom line, they're not going to do it. And when you crunch the numbers here, the truth becomes clear. Frontier may have lowered fares, but they actually raised their prices. 

Frontier's new carry-on bag fee schedule:

Pay the carry-on fee during booking $25 each way
Pay during online check-in $30 each way
Pay when you add it to an existing reservation $35 each way
Pay while checking in at the airport
(both self-service and at the counter)
$35 each way
Pay at the gate during boarding $50 each way

You can check out Frontier's full Carry-On Baggage Policy and all of its fine print for more details.

And now for the math that shows why this is going to cost travelers more.

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Amazon Will Collect Sales Tax in 21 States as of 5/1

The free ride is over for Floridian fans of Amazon.com. As of May 1, 2014, Amazon will begin charging sales tax on all orders in the state thanks to the opening of two new fulfillment centers in the state, and the average sales tax will be around 6%.

Amazon Sales Tax List 2014

Photo: Seth Anderson / Flickr

Amazon never charged sales tax in Florida previously because the Seattle-based online retailer had no physical presence in the state. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax and this is, consequently, why many online retailers only charge sales tax in one or two states where they've got brick and mortar or warehouse locations. Although the IRS has long required taxpayers to report any unpaid sales tax on items purchased online,  this legal requirement has never been effectively enforced, and most consumers aren't even aware of the requirement. "Even if consumers do know, they often fail to comply because they assume no one else does," Bob Meighan CPA, a vice president with tax-software firm TurboTax, told NBC News in 2008. Although the NBC News story is now six years old, neither the law nor its lack of enforcement has changed.

Frank Mora of Ybor City told the Tampa Bay Times that the new Amazon sales tax will lead him to look elsewhere for the lowest prices. "It will definitely discourage me from using Amazon. The bottom line for me is what's going to be the least expensive.''

Bloomberg reported this week on a recent study by researchers at Ohio State University which showed that households reduce their spending at Amazon by 10% after sales tax is introduced in their states. "There is no ambiguity,” Brian Baugh, co-author of the study, told Bloomberg. “It has been their competitive advantage." Nonetheless, the new Amazon sales tax in Florida is expected to bring in an additional $70-80 million in annual revenue for the state.

Here is the list of the 21 states where Amazon currently collects sales tax:

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Michaels Offering Free Credit Monitoring After Credit Card Breach

If you've already signed up for Target's free credit monitoring, you can stack it with Michaels' offer to get two years instead of just one. Details below.

Following up on news of a credit card breach initially reported in late January, popular craft and hobby retailer Michaels revealed the findings of their investigation into the security breach which potentially exposed approximately 3 million credit cards to hackers.

Michaels Free Credit MonitoringThe company's statement reveals that the breach occurred between May 8, 2013 and January 27, 2014 at Michaels stores and between June 26, 2013 and February 27, 2014 at Aaron Brother's locations. For both stores, the information was stolen using malware installed on a limited number of cash registers and did not affect online purchases.

Information taken by the hackers includes card numbers and expiration dates. It is not believed that any other personal information, such as name, address or PIN numbers, was breached.

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Bitcoin: Its Flaws, Its Future, and Where to Spend It

Bitcoins: Likely headed for a Tulipmania-like crash. Image via i8seattle on Flickr.

In 1630s Holland, the in-vogue product was tulips. The price of the flower rose dramatically, and many people paid a pretty penny for one. Then, the price abruptly fell. Later, this period of time was called Tulip Mania. How is this relevant to today?

Experts predict a similar thing will happen with Bitcoin, a volatile digital currency. During its five year history, the amount of money Bitcoins are worth has changed significantly. Now, they're worth an inflated sum of money—and, all things that go up must go down, too. Therefore, it's likely that right now we're in a "Bitcoin bubble" that has to burst sometime. According to Nout Wellink, the former president of the Dutch Central Bank, the popularity and inflated price of Bitcoins is worse than tulips in the 17th century. "At least then you got a tulip [at the end], now you get nothing," he said.

How does Bitcoin work?

It can be used for purchases instead of cash or credit cards. Users have virtual wallets and keys. The unique keys can be used to send payment to or receive payment from other virtual wallets. Bitcoin operates via mathematical equations and computer verification.

What are some of Bitcoins' flaws?

Bitcoin—and other digital currencies—seek to challenge "typical" currency that is highly regulated, with rules attached to its use. In contrast (and by intentional design), Bitcoin is largely unregulated. While in theory this lack of regulation is a good thing (there isn't a "middle man"), in practice, Bitcoin has fallen short.

Due to the lack of regulation, it is impossible to get your Bitcoin money back if you lose the key. If you lose a credit card, you can call up the company and tell them to freeze your card.  This isn't the case with Bitcoin. For example, James Howells accidentally threw out a hard drive with 7,500 Bitcoins (roughly $7.5 million dollars). He simply forgot that they were stored there. Howells can't call up Bitcoin to get his money back—the only way to retrieve the money would be to find the hard drive with the key in a landfill (where it likely is... somewhere).

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How to Return Your Recalled Fitbit Force (and Possibly Make a Profit)

The Fitbit Force earned rave reviews when it was initially released, even winning the top spot on TIME's list of the top 26 fitness trackers. But then reports of skin irritation and allergic reactions slowly began to surface until a few days ago when Fitbit halted sales of the Fitbit Force and voluntarily recalled those already sold. How to return your Fitbit Force

While the consensus is that some users likely are reacting to the nickel in a small metal component (a common jewelry allergy), there is speculation that it might also have something to do with the glue used in manufacturing. It's not a hugely serious problem, but Fitbit decided to take action out of an abundance of caution.

You can find the Fitbit Force Return Kit Request Form here.

Here is our take on your options with regards to the Fitbit Force recall, including how you might even make a profit from returning it. 

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What You Need to Know About the Graco Recall and Your Options

Baby equipment manufacturer Graco announced a massive recall of 3.7 million convertible car seats and child booster seats yesterday over concerns that the buckles may trap children in their seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommended recalling 18 seat models. Graco has agreed to recall 11 of those, all of which are for toddlers and older children. The seven other models that the NHTSA recommended for recall (and which Graco is contesting) are infant seats.

Recalled models include:

Recalled Graco Harness Buckle Photo

A side-by-side photo of the recalled Graco harness buckles (left) and their new and improved replacements (right).

  • Cozy Cline
  • Comfort Sport
  • Classic Ride 50
  • My Ride 65
  • My Ride 65 with Safety Surround
  • My Ride 70
  • Size4Me 70
  • My Size 70
  • Head Wise 70
  • Smart Seat
  • Nautilus 3-in-1
  • Nautilus Elite
  • Argos

Models recommended for recall but for which an official recall has not been issued:

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The Cost of Amazon Prime Is Going Up? Time to Cancel Netflix

When I set out to cover this story, I'll admit that this is not the headline I had in mind. How do you get from an Amazon Prime price hike to canceling Netflix? On the surface, the connection seems tenuous at best. But the more I dug in, the more this conclusion seemed obvious. I'll start this off with a little background and news about the potential price hike, and then I'll detail how and why it makes sense to cancel Netflix instead of Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime Price Increase

Photo: Mike Seyfang / Flickr

News broke late last week that Amazon seriously considering raising the price of an Amazon Prime membership by as much as $40. Amazon's Chief Financial Officer Thomas Szkutak mentioned the possible price hike on Thursday in a conference call discussing Q4 results, and cited rising fuel costs as the primary reason why it might happen.

An Amazon Prime membership currently runs $79 per year, a cost which many cash-strapped online consumers already find cost prohibitive. However, it would be the first price increase for Prime since it was launched nearly a decade ago in 2005. How many services can you name that today cost the same as they did nine years ago? Consider, too, that Amazon Prime today offers members significantly more than its initial offering of only free 2-day shipping - so you actually get more bang for your buck today than you did nine years ago.

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How to Sign Up for Free Credit Monitoring from Target

We promised last week that we would follow up with details on how Target customers affected by the data breach can sign up for the free year of credit monitoring that they announced they would be offering, and this is that post. Monitoring will be provided via Experian's ProtectMyID service.

Photo: Jay Reed / Flickr

The form asks for your full name and email address. Once entered, you will receive an activation code within 1-5 days (mine arrived in about 10 minutes), along with further instructions for setting up your credit monitoring. After submitting your code, you will be asked for personal information that includes your social security number. You'll also be asked to verify a few basics, like a street you used to live on or a loan application you recently submitted, to doubly and triply establish that you are who you say you are.

If the idea of handing out your SSN online feels weird and wrong, and it generally should, trust that Experian is a rare exception to the rule. Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus and absolutely is considered trustworthy. You cannot set up credit monitoring without completing this step, and it would not be an effective service if you could.

Click here to Sign up for Free Credit Monitoring

Just in case there is any confusion: You are NOT giving your sensitive personal information to Target.

We feel it's definitely worth your time to sign up, especially since we heard about a similar breach at Neiman Marcus over the weekend, and an anonymous but apparently knowledgeable source noting that at least three other unnamed major retailers have also been hacked recently. Credit monitoring will cover a lot more than Target.

You can check out our previous coverage of the Target breach here: