The Consumer Warning thread

KaJuN

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This is why I normally order coffee online, straight from the roasters. My last order of beans was delayed in shipping, due to the holiday packages. I bought that coffee solely because I needed it right away.
Where might one acquire such a thing?
 

NecroJoe

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This thing: http://www.homedepot.com/p/CE-TECH-6-ft-12-Outlet-USB-RJ45-Coax-Surge-Protector-HDC1206NCU/205893704

I needed a surge protector with at least 10 plugs. In my head, this unique plug layout would have been great for power bricks. The price was right, and it wasn't all piano black.



Sadly, I didn't really look at it too closely. If I had, I would have noticed that plugging in a power brick in any of the plugs was likely to still cover at least one other plug since they are so closely grouped together.

Should have bought this one, instead. I've used close to 3,000 of the 8-plug version of this, and it never let me down. Never even knew they made a 12-plug version.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=622810&gclid=CPjHpeSWltECFYW6wAodZ60FTQ&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876,92051678402,&Q=&A=details

 

Spectre

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Heads up - Might not want to buy anything with a Sears-only warranty. The end of Sears and KMart just hit the nitrous button and is arriving even faster than previously thought. The good news is that Stanley (who bought Craftsman from Sears) says that they will still be honoring the hand tool 'forever' warranty at least for now.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2017/03/21/sears-says-substantial-doubt-can-stay-business/99479726/#

Sears and Kmart might not have enough money to stock their shelves

Sears, an iconic department store chain whose name is as steeped in Americana as apple pie and Levi's jeans warned that it might be going the way of the blue light special, uncertain that it can survive more than another year in the midst of the upheaval that has disrupted the retail industry.

But despite the death watch that has taken root around a brand that was once a lifeline for the American shopper, Sears Holdings which also operates Kmart stores, still has cash to invest, assets to sell, and a plan to move forward that some experts say signals that its demise is not imminent.

Investors were shocked on Tuesday when the company that operates Sears said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had "substantial doubt" about its ability to stay in business unless it can borrow more and tap cash from assets. Its stock plunged 12.3% to $7.98 by the time markets closed on Wednesday.

"Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern," Sears Holdings said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But analysts say that Sears may have more time to stage a turnaround than other companies who made a similar declaration in the past.

A three-year-old rule change requires businesses to be more transparent about potential risks they face within a year of their reported financial statements. Sears, which has closed stores and borrowed millions from its own CEO, acknowledged in the federal filing the headwinds it faces as shoppers bypass traditional retailers for online sellers. Yet, in that same filing, independent auditor, Deloitte, gave an opinion that expressed confidence in Sears' viability.

?Those are the people who are really intimate with Sears and its finances, and if they?re not saying there is a problem, I?m going to buy it,?? says Robert Rostan, CFO for Training The Street, a firm that provides financial training to banks and financial institutions. ?Yes, they are one inch closer to bankruptcy, but I don?t think (Sears' situation has) changed materially.??

Sears has been roiled by many of the same challenges that are confronting the broader retail industry, with traditional stores struggling to compete with online sellers. But Sears has also suffered in the wake of its management's decisions, including the sale of its more than $30 billion credit portfolio to Citibank in 2003, and a merger with Kmart, another struggling chain, a year later.

That tie-up was shepherded by Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund manager who is Sears' Holdings CEO. He has been accused of having conflicting interests with those of other Sears investors, as he cordons off assets that could cushion his personal financial losses if the company ultimately goes bankrupt.



Sears has also failed to keep up with changing shopper tastes and habits, losing customers to specialized stores and rivals such as Walmart even before the competition from e-commerce sites took hold. The company hasn't turned a profit since 2010 and in 2016 racked up more than $2.2 billion in losses.

Sears is taking steps to steer itself back to profitability. In January, it said it planned to close 150 stores. And a month later, the retailer initiated a restructuring program aimed at cutting $1 billion in costs annually and reducing debt by $1.5 billion helped by proceeds from the sale of one of its most valuable brands, Craftsman tools to Stanley Black & Decker.

"It is very important to reiterate that Sears Holdings remains focused on executing our transformation plan and will continue to take actions to help ensure our competitiveness and ability to continue to meet our financial obligations,'' the company said in a blog post Wednesday. It did not return requests from USA TODAY seeking further comment.



Still, Sears said in its Tuesday filing that it can't be sure it will be able to raise the cash to keep going. If it continues to experience operating losses and is unable to generate additional cash, it may not be able to access additional funds under its credit agreement or be able to afford to pay for inventory to stock its stores or pay for other services it needs to operate.

"We acknowledge that we continue to face a challenging competitive environment," Sears said in the filing, noting that after its 2016 loss, it had to finance its cash needs for operating expenses from "investing and financing activities."

Sears, which at the end of its fiscal year had about 140,000 employees, said that it expects to continue to try to generate cash from real estate sales and borrowing. The company said it is also exploring ways to "unlock value" through its Home Services and Sears Auto Center, Kenmore appliances and DieHard batteries and parts business by partnering with other companies, or other means. It says it hopes those actions are enough to ward off the "substantial doubt" that it warned about in the filing.

Dan Nicolich, an analyst at Reorg Covenants, a service that follows the leveraged finance market, said that though Sears "is issuing a warning, it has outlined steps it is taking to stay solvent which may mitigate concerns and help appease auditors.?

But others believe Sears' demise is only a year or two away.

"The business has enough cash on hand and debt financing to see it through this year,'' says Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analysis firm Global Data. But with Sears' liabilities currently exceeding its assets by nearly $4 billion. "it will have trouble beyond that, and it will likely collapse in 18 months to a year. Time and money are both running out for the once iconic brand.''

Sears, steeped in nostalgia, would be missed by many shoppers.

Founded in 1886, Sears was built around its famous catalog that was so complete that entire houses could be ordered -- delivered in pieces to be built on a site. For decades, Sears reigned supreme in middle America by offering the widest range of products -- from jewelry to electric saws, dresses to tires.

"I've been coming to Sears as long as I've known,'' says Ron Marcinko, a furniture builder in Antioch, Tenn. who has been shopping at Sears for nearly half a century. He believes other stores' tools can't compare to the quality of Sears' Craftsman brand. "Now Sears is slowly shutting down and I have to buy off-brand tools. It's a shame to see the good stores close."

John Krug, 85, of Springettsbury Township, Pa. worked for Sears for 42 years. He retired in 1989.

It was a store where the customer was always right, says the retired executive. And Krug recalls how shoppers would come to the Sears store that once sat in the former York County Shopping Center to buy hot dogs and paper cups of root beer at the lunch counter. "At lunchtime, the line was 10 miles long," Krug said.

Vic Tuseck, a 64-year-old plumber in Los Angeles who was visiting a Sears in the suburb of Torrance, reminisced about how the department store chain had been a presence since he was a child. "I'd hate to see it disappear,'' he said. "I'm from Ohio. They were always there. They had the best prices on TVs.''

But other shoppers voiced the indifference that has made Sears more of an afterthought than a destination for many consumers.

"I hardly ever come to Sears because I shop more online or at Walmart where I can buy my groceries at the same time," said Jan Minter, who was checking out mattresses at Sears in her hometown of Goodlettsville, Tenn, near Nashville. "I always try to find the cheapest price."
More video and graphs at link.
 

CrzRsn

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Anyone have any experience with these so-called tactical flashlights? I want a bright as fuck light for my various trips to New Hampshire throughout the year and I don't want to rely on my iPhone flashlight anymore, but there are way too many too choose from on Amazon.

I'm talking about CREE powered stuff like this

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01IM7KF84/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A20CMLDDIHK3U3&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012VOSRH0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/TAC10-GEAR-Flashlight-Rechargeable-Adjustable/dp/B01IM7KF84/ref=sr_1_4
https://www.amazon.com/LED-Tactical-Flashlight-Reyo-Rechargeable/dp/B01M98LVWP/ref=sr_1_9
https://www.amazon.com/LuxPower-Tactical-V1000-Flashlight-PACK/dp/B01MA5KM3K/ref=sr_1_10
https://www.amazon.com/DAX-Tactical-LED-Flashlight-Kit/dp/B01CR93PTE/ref=sr_1_14
and about a dozen more.

They all look the same, so I'm guessing they're all from the same Chinesium factory and just getting branded and packed by different people. The question is, which (if any) should I get? They all claim to be in the 1000-1200 lumen range, however all have reviews saying they're not even close. A lot of reviews say that they're dimmer than 200-300 lumen flashlights, but those are all similarly worded (all mention the $55 200 lumen flashlight from the hardware store down the street) so I don't know if those are real.

I tried looking up some recommendations, but no two sites list the same flashlight.
http://thetacticalguru.com/best-tactical-flashlight/
https://outdoorsmagazine.net/best-tactical-flashlight/
http://hiconsumption.com/2017/02/best-tactical-flashlights-2017/

Any recommendation would be appreciated. Don't really want to spend $50 on a flashlight, but also don't want to waste $20 on something that claims to be something it isn't.
 
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NecroJoe

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I bought this one a few years ago, and have been happy with it's quality. It's only a couple hundred lumen, I wouldn't hesitate to go with the same company again based on this one, but they aren't cheap. I see they make a 1000 lumen one, but it's even more "not cheap."
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003GXF9OA/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

My only complaint: when you do the multi-button-push thing to get to the strobe and low settings, you have to go through "high" and "strobe" to get to "low". Kind of a pain, if you are trying to just use low. It's kinda like a 3-way bulb where the 150w setting is the first click, so you can't get up out of bed and just turn the light on to "low"...you have to click through high to get to it, blinding yourself when all you needed was the lowest 50w of light to get to the bathroom...
 

73GMCSprint

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They are all just rebranded Chinese stuff. Most of them work, at least for a while. They might all use CREE LEDs (though I wonder if they all really do), but usually the electronics driving the LED are subpar, and the switchgear doesn't hold up well over time. The aluminum body is an aluminum body, though sealing is usually not nearly as good either.

If you need something to hold up under heavy use, or getting banged around a lot, or need absolute reliability, you're better off spending the extra money. There are some good brands out there. Streamlight is generally respected. I'm a fan of Fenix; you usually get more features for the same price, or less, than comparable offerings from Streamlight, and the quality is just as good IMO. Otherwise, for most purposes, the Chinese stuff usually works fine.

Another question to ask, is do you REALLY need 1000+ lumens? That's really damn bright. Most of the time you only need 300-500 lumens max, and you can save a lot of money by not overdoing it.
 

NecroJoe

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Another question to ask, is do you REALLY need 1000+ lumens? That's really damn bright. Most of the time you only need 300-500 lumens max, and you can save a lot of money by not overdoing it.
I didn't want to ask, but...yeah, that's friggin' bright!

Oh, who am I kidding...I bought one of these 4000 lumen beasts, too (on a Massdrop for $189.99):
https://www.amazon.com/Nitecore-TM26-Batteries-LumenTac-Keychain/dp/B00BG4B9SG



:lol:

- - - Updated - - -

This one is on sale for Prime Day:
https://www.amazon.com/Anker-Flashlight-Water-Resistant-Rechargeable-Pocket-Sized/dp/B01KH2JP5G/ref=gbps_img_m-6_f45d_be238a67?smid=A294P4X9EWVXLJ&pf_rd_p=c624455a-ed52-4f78-9f81-675ed6faf45d&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-6&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=13887280011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=7BNEBS5N8F9WTM9K0ZVZ

900 Lumens, 18650 battery, Anker brand, 4.5 stars with 750+ reviews.

- - - Updated - - -

Nevermind...Prime Day qty sold out...
 
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73GMCSprint

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Bloody hell, they make a 6000 lumen version of that thing :blink:

If Anker's lights are anything like their battery packs they're probably pretty decent.
 

Blayde

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Why havent they just started using li-po batteries in these that you can fast charge with usb as an alternative to buying batteries all the time, i'd gladly stop using my current one if it had a stand/dock i could plop it into with a usb c charger of similar capacity
 

Spectre

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Why havent they just started using li-po batteries in these that you can fast charge with usb as an alternative to buying batteries all the time, i'd gladly stop using my current one if it had a stand/dock i could plop it into with a usb c charger of similar capacity
There are rechargable 18650 batteries now, but they're an uncommon size in most other markets so people prefer using those AAA carriers and such instead.
 

CrzRsn

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Followup to my flashlight question.

Decided to experiment and went with the one with the highest reviews - the BlueFire branded one with 4.5 stars out of almost 900 ratings. Arrived today, but I only just opened the box. First impressions? Well, you get what you pay for. But in the end, I suppose it was worth the $9 or 10 I paid for it. Why do I say "in the end"? I initiated and cancelled a return/refund request 4 times. Why? I kept finding new problems and requesting my money back, but the engineer in me found ways to fix it each time so I'd cancel the request. I think its to the point now where its actually a decent light and no more problems will arise.

First of all, when I opened the box, before I even put a battery in and turned the thing on, I noticed the lens was absolutely awful. It looked like it had been through hell and back. All scratched up and with tons of artifacts. Tried to wipe it off, but all the issues were on the inside surface. This was return request number 1. Popped a battery in just out of curiosity, and yes, the lens was bad enough to affect the beam quality. Went back onto Amazon to look at reviews to see if this was common or a one off - found quite a few people with similar complaints on the BlueFire. Opened up a few other brand listings to see if everyone was complaining, but didn't get that far. The ALKAI branded one had a diagram of the flashlight disassembled entirely which my listing didn't have. Lo and behold the lens can be screwed off. Its a really fine seam line between the lens and the rest of the light body so I missed that when looking over my light, but sure enough the lens came off. A quick pass of my finger showed all the artifacts to be surface dirt. Broke out a microfiber cloth to clean it all up. Then did a quick rinse with dishsoap to get some more resistant scuffs off and it turned out pretty good and clear. The beam quality was 200 times better. Return request canceled

Started playing with the beam zoom feature when I felt the resistance change and a shadow fall on the beam. Turned the light off, looked into it and saw an o-ring laying there. Return request number 2. Then I thought to myself, "but what is that o-ring for? And how do they assemble it?" Took the lens off again and started playing with the zoom again. Turns out there are 2 o-rings between the LED module and the metal casing. I'm sure they provide some sort of moisture resistance, but their main purpose is to provide sliding friction between the module and casing so that you can set a zoom level and it stays there. Pushed the zoom all the way up and saw the groove for the loose o-ring. Put it in, put the lens back on, zoom worked fine. Return request canceled.

After the zoom, I put a battery back into the light, pushed the button and nothing. Put another battery in, still nothing. Maybe I put them in upside down? Nope. The flashlight lasted all of 2 minutes of run time before frying. Return request number 3. But no, something didn't seem right. There is such little complexity that it couldn't have just fried. Took it apart and started looking at the power contacts. Wait a second, the spring connector is on the positive end of the battery. But the positive end of the battery has a cusp - the spring should be at the negative end. Maybe if I fiddle with the spring to make sure it touches the relatively small contact patch of the positive end of the battery it will work. Yup, light is back. Return request canceled.

Playing with zoom again. All of a sudden there's no resistance and the top part of the case is loose. Return request number 4. This time I can't unscrew it or anything. I take off the lens to see whats going on and I see that both o-rings somehow got squeezed out. I can't get the light separated because there's no friction and there's not enough clearance for me to grab onto the light module. I mess around with it form 6-10 minutes with no effect until I see 2 small indentations on the light surface on either side of the LED that resemble a spanner head screw, but much larger than I've ever seen, maybe 1.5cm between the holes. The assembly workers must have a specially made tool for this, but I obviously don't. Tried to pick at one of them with the point of my pocked knife, but couldn't get enough torque on the thing to spin it on the thread. Then it came to me, I can make my own tool. Grabbed 2 mechanical pencils, put the metal lead guide heads into each hole, put my finger between the pencils to maintain the distance, and turned. Sign of relief when it started to rotate. Got the light module off to find that both o-rings tore themselves apart, likely from the up down movement of the zoom head. I couldn't reuse those o-rings, but I had just the material in my garage to substitute them with - some extremely thin automotive rubber NVH padding I could cut into thin rings to restore the zoom feature. Did that and it worked. Return request canceled. Granted, I'm sure its now not as moisture resistant as it was, but oh well. Also no more return requests since I now modified the light. Though I suppose I could always just remove the NVH padding, but the disintegrated o-rings back in and claim "I don't know what happened."

The light works great now. Took the battery I was using for all the tests out to make sure the other battery worked and it didn't come back on. Probably the contact issue again. Then I though, why should I need to worry about the cusp of the battery hitting the spring, why not move the spring to the flat negative end where its supposed to be. So I broke the soldered point on the spring side, leaving just a flat contact surface and broke out my soldering iron. Not the prettiest work, but got the spring on the other end of the flashlight and now it works every time. There probably was a good reason why the spring was where it was to being with, but oh well, I moved it and now it works better.


Hooray! I have a decent working flash light now. But to get there I needed to spend 30-45 minutes dicking around with it. So lets talk about the light itself. Is it 1,200 lumens? No clue. I don't have an integrating sphere to get an objective reading, nor do I have any reference points to make a subjective quantitative analysis, so I'll go with an anecdotal observation - its really fucking bright. Turned all the lights off in my apartment and turned it on - in the least focused setting my whole living room lit up quite nicely and in the most focused the projection was very bright. Do I regret buying it? No, it will definitely serve its purpose well, assuming it lasts. Do I recommend it? If you want a project sure, but I wouldn't spend more than $10 for the flashlight. The only thing is that in retrospect, I wish I bought this TAC10 GEAR branded one instead. Mine didn't come with batteries, so after buying an 18650 battery set and charger, the total came out to be about the same, but I don't have the belt clip or holster, which I would've liked. I'm trying to remember why I didn't go with the TAC10 one, and I think it was because a bunch of people claimed the batteries were DOA, but looking back at it, all these flashlights and batteries are coming from the same place under different brand names so there was an equally likely chance that the batteries I did get also would've been DOA.

Oh well.
Tl;dr - Flashlight was shit, I re-engineered it, its fucking bright.
 
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tekchamps

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There are plenty of good flashlights out there. Some of them that are promoted the most are only a couple hundred lumens. You can find some on Amazon that are thousands of lumens. It's been hard finding a website that shows the brightest flashlights with thousands of lumens but I found one that talks about them. It's over at tekchamps.com. The brightest one is probably the Acebeam X65. You can find that on Amazon.com.
 

NecroJoe

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tekchamps;n3546326 said:
There are plenty of good flashlights out there. Some of them that are promoted the most are only a couple hundred lumens. You can find some on Amazon that are thousands of lumens. It's been hard finding a website that shows the brightest flashlights with thousands of lumens but I found one that talks about them. It's over at tekchamps.com. The brightest one is probably the Acebeam X65. You can find that on Amazon.com.
Username: Tekchamps
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[IMG2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"http:\/\/gifimage.net\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/06\/i-see-what-you-did-there-gif-7.gif"}[/IMG2]
 

CrzRsn

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The Hotels Tonight app.

On the surface it seems very promising. An app that lets you book last minute same day hotel stays at huge discounts. But unlike services like hotels.com, Priceline, Booking, etc, the difference is that HT handles your entire reservation including payment (the other sites just give you a reservation and payment is still handled with the hotel).

Why is this a problem?

Booked a same day room at a Marriott branded hotel in Washington DC via HT last weekend at a great price. Had an issue with my next door neighbor having party or something around 11pm. Normally I'd still be up at that time and wouldn't care, but seeing as how it was a Sunday night and I had a 6am flight to catch (meaning I needed to leave the hotel at 4am) and I was already showered and in bed, I wasn't having any of it. Called the front desk and they said they'd do something about it. Around 11:15-11:20 the noise was still unbearable so I got up, got dressed, packed all my stuff and went to the front desk. They offered to give me a new room on a different floor and sent the night manager up to deal with that customer. Fast forward to 4am check out time, I ask the front desk if there's any compensation the can provide for dealing with that last night, and they said that since my whole reservation and payment was handled by HT I'd have to take it up with them. They couldn't even print me a receipt or proof of stay because they claimed that its all in the HT system. I figured that was bullshit, but didn't have time to argue with them so I decided I'd just message HT customer service about it. Did that, and they first offered me a $10 HT credit for my next stay within 90 days. 1) I don't have any travel in the next 90 days that doesn't have booked lodging and 2) even if I did, I wouldn't go through HT after this experience. Told them that and asked them to give me a partial refund to my credit card (at this point, anything, out of the principle of it) and they came back saying that they got in touch with the hotel and that there's nothing they could do because the hotel claims there were no issues with my stay and that I was in one room all night. Luckily I know there is evidence because they have one of those TV screens showing people that he front desk is under video surveillance and while I was downstairs getting my new room I could see I was on video. And I showed the night shift manager a video I took in my room where you could hear the next room over going nuts. I just replied to them saying as much, so we'll see where this goes from here.

I have had bad hotel stay experiences in the past and each time, the hotel bent over backwards to try to fix the situation for me. Which is what I was expecting this time (first world problem, I know, but if I'm paying for it, I expect to get what I paid for, in this case a restful night sleep). But it looks like since I went through this 3rd party site that takes care of everything, they had little incentive to help me.

Which all goes back to a post I made in @LeVeL's UK trip thread....

I find all these new Silicon Valley based industry disruptors interesting, but many of them are very half assed in their implementations and lack the support capabilities of the establishments. Had a moldy house rented via AirBnB, their reply was essentially “well that sucks.” Currently having issues with tax forms with one of the new-age investment apps I use, and their reply is “nah, its cool” when it clearly isn’t. Not that disruption is bad, but I just wish it was more thought out.
tl;dr, Hotels Tonight is an app that lets you book last minute hotel rooms at steep discounts. Something went wrong with my stay. The way they handle the reservation and payment makes it impossible to get support/compensation if something goes wrong.
 
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Spectre

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So what it really should be called is Hotels Tonight Will Be Treating You Badly?
 

93Flareside

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Sadly in this day and age with travel, it seems having status is the only way to get leverage with them. Hotel Tonight sounds like a neat idea but as you proved, taking a room in a nearly full hotel is not the best idea. It’s something I’ve wanted to try but am worried about booking that evening and finding a room as I’ve been screwed before booking my normal ways.


I had a bad experience while staying in Grand Haven, MI a couple years ago. That was down to poor planning on my end though as far as late booking goes.
 
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