Posted in Mobile App, Travel

To Exchange Money Or Withdraw Abroad

Should I exchange my money before leaving? Or should I use the ATM abroad to withdraw abroad? The answer to that would depend on the currency of the country you’re heading to and try to do the USD/Your Home Country’s Currency and Currency of The Country You’re Visiting/USD exchange rate comparison.

On ATM Withdrawal:

For the past year up to the present, the USD to THB (Thai Baht) exchange rate fares well compared to PHP (Philippine Peso) to THB. My Payoneer MasterCard, for example, is in USD currency and if I use it to withdraw at an ATM in Thailand, I probably would get 200 baht more compared to using a GCash MasterCard to withdraw THB money which is in PHP currency by default.

An ATM in Thailand from a bank called Siam Commercial Bank (colour violet) would prompt me if I wanted to follow the bank’s conversion rate displayed on the screen. There also is an additional 220 baht withdrawal fee. From countless withdrawals with the SCB ATM machine, I noticed that choosing the option of NOT following the bank’s conversion rate was preferable. I also tried the Krungsri Bank ATM machine many times but it would not give me the option to view the bank’s conversion rate.

On Exchanging Currency:

I do not recommend exchanging money three ways. Stick to the bills on hand and exchange them at a currency exchanger WITHIN the city or locale you’re in. Exchanging my money at an airport almost always gets me 500 baht or 350,000 dong short. That’s a lot. Local currency exchangers (and legal ones, please) often have the best rates – the kind of rate that’s closest to what you would see on the XE mobile app.

Here’s the slip of a currency exchanger at the airport (arrivals) in Don Mueang:

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At the time, 1 VND was equivalent to 0.0013 on the XE mobile app. It fluctuates between 0.0012 and 0.0014. What’s interesting was when I exchanged my Vietnamese dong into Thai baht at a local exchanger in Ben Thanh Market before leaving HCM a month and a half ago, the rate they had was 1 VND = 0.0013 THB.

Before I left Thailand for HCM in early October, I went to a local exchanger to exchange my baht into dong. The rate of the local exchanger was similar to that of XE’s.

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Here are the details of the currency exchanger I recommend:

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Posted in Courier, Technology

Shipping Laptops With Lithium-Ion Batteries

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Once when I had to make a decision between choosing DHL and FedEx for shipping laptops with lithium-ion batteries from the Philippines to a neighbouring country, my first choice was DHL. It proved to be a cumbersome selection. Not only was the Macbook Air laptop returned, the customer service part of the follow-up was hell. I ended up going to FedEx which had surprisingly a more straightforward approach in shipping laptops with lithium-ion batteries internationally.

If you prefer to ship a laptop with lithium-ion battery because your consignee already has a DHL account, make sure you include the Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS of the built-in battery with the commercial invoice. Your consignee would contact the courier company to schedule the pickup from your address and the shipping charges would be billed to your consignee’s DHL account. From my experience with shipping a Macbook Air with lithium-ion battery, I did not have much luck finding the MSDS even after I called up Apple’s 1-800 number in the Philippines. Apple Support sent me a PDF document titled Macbook Air 13-inch Environmental Report.

According to a DHL staff from Manila, a Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS is a document signed by a licensed chemist to prove that the laptop is non-hazardous. Unlike other conventional laptops with removable batteries, the Macbook Air (and not just the Macbook but even their iPhones) has a built-in battery. My sister’s friend who is a licensed chemist informed us that the MSDS is not just any document signed by a licensed chemist, rather it is actually an official document signed by an authorized body that even she who was licensed could not produce a document like it.

Because DHL Manila did not accept the Macbook Air 13-inch Environmental Report, the laptop was shipped back to my address after being held up in customs for 3 days.

We even tried to contact Apple again and requested an MSDS specifically for the built-in battery only. The customer service agent at Apple Singapore took over the matter. They explained that Apple doesn’t have a specific MSDS for the lithium-ion polymer battery of the Macbook Air. However, they requested that we transfer them to the person in-charge of the final clearance for shipping the item overseas. DHL Manila said that suggestion is not going to work because all they need was the MSDS.

When we dealt with FedEx, they told us that DHL in the Philippines do not use their own plane – they tie up with the local airlines to ship items. I was doubtful about this until I noticed that the storage box which was returned to us by DHL had a Cebu Pacific sticker on the side. I then understood what he meant about why the MSDS was required. Since they use Cebu Pacific in this case, DHL had no control over airline rules and regulations for shipping laptops with built-in lithium-ion batteries.

Posted in Mobile App, Travel

Can I Use Grab Overseas?

 

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So you’re planning a trip outside of the Philippines but just within Southeast Asia and you’re asking yourself, can I use Grab overseas? The answer is yes. But can I use Grab overseas and still have my Grab rewards points intact? The answer is also yes.

Sometime last year I went out of the country and used my Grab mobile app overseas. This entailed a change to the local sim card and when I landed in NAIA 3 after my trip, I saw my Grab rewards points restarted to zero even though I had the same email address with which I registered my Grab account with. No one in Grab Support could satisfactorily address my concern.

Since they overhauled their system, the option to link one’s Grab account to a Google account or a Facebook account has become available. This feature helped keep the rewards points intact even if you are changing your Philippine sim card to a local one. I’ve done this in Thailand and Vietnam. I would insert my Thai or Vietnam sim card once I arrive at the airport or at the land border. As I had emphasized in this article, I do recommend using a local sim if you plan to get around as much as you can in Southeast Asia where Grab transport service is available. I cannot stress enough how it is the safest option for tourists.

The catalog for rewards points redeemable vary from one country to another. I had wanted that iFlix subscription for 1 year for Platinum Members worth 2,100 points but the Grab Vietnam market does not offer it as it was only available in the Philippines.

Posted in Finance, Mobile App, Travel

Withdrawing Funds Using RCBC MyWallet Overseas

When traveling overseas we may overlook the fact that not all debit cards can be used in a lot of ATM machines. I would always recommend to bring two or more debit cards. I currently have the GCash MasterCard and RCBC MyWallet for the meantime.

I also have my PayMaya physical card which is already linked to my verified PayMaya virtual card account but I am excluding it for now because of the Ph500 roaming fee my Smart postpaid account would automatically charge me once I insert my SIM to a working phone here while being overseas. As PayMaya now requires a text verification upon logging in to the PayMaya mobile app, I don’t think it’s worth it using my Smart postpaid SIM when I have two other debit card alternatives.

In Thailand, I could withdraw funds from my GCash MasterCard in most ATM machines. Most 7-Eleven stores in Thailand have ATM machines outside the premises but you have to also make sure the ATM machine is not that of a local bank. As for the RCBC MyWallet, I have tried withdrawing cash from it in both Siam Commercial Bank and Krungsri ATM machines and have been able to transact successfully.

I should also like to mention that solely depending on GCash MasterCard is not a good option because of the monthly withdrawal limit. There were times when I’ve reached my limit in GCash on the last day of the month and I had to wait for the next day, the first day of the next month, to do a withdrawal. In case waiting might pose a hassle for you, it’s good to have other options too.

It gets tricky here in Vietnam for the RCBC MyWallet. Techcom Bank, BIDV Bank, Lienviet Post Bank, Vietcom Bank and Maritime Bank are the most common ATM machines I could run into and GCash would be accepted in all of these. The only ATM where I found I could use my RCBC MyWallet is that of VP Bank. Unlike Vietcom and Techcombank, you won’t come across VP Bank ATM machines in most big malls. I had to research VP Bank ATM locations online.

I do find my travelling situation to be unique but I hope this has helped anyone who has trouble finding a bank in Vietnam they can withdraw their funds with using RCBC MyWallet.

Posted in Food Delivery, Mobile App

Warning When Using The Yellow Cab PH App

In two months’ time I will have commemorated my 1 year anniversary of not having been reimbursed by Yellow Cab. Someone once told me no matter how insignificant the amount owed may be, you still have to get back what’s yours.

On August 6, 2016, I ordered via Yellow Cab’s mobile app. An error appeared when I clicked through the payment gateway – it rejected the transaction on the grounds that my card did not have sufficient balance. Well, I checked before I ordered so I was sure I had enough on my reloadable prepaid card (it was the RCBC Mercury Drug MyWallet Visa Card). However, when I checked my balance and transaction history in my RCBC AccessOne mobile app, I saw the amount due for the Yellow Cab order had been deducted.

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I contacted Yellow Cab’s customer support and they sent me a screenshot of their system indicating the transaction I made using the MyWallet Visa card was rejected.

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By September 18, 2016 I had to contact RCBC’s Customer Support because I was still not refunded the amount. October came and RCBC had not replied. If you don’t proactively follow up with them, they’d forget it about it. Out of sight, out of mind.

By October 29, 2016, RCBC’s Customer Support told me that according to their ATM center, they could no longer do a reversal because the amount had already been remitted to the merchant. After that date, all subsequent e-mail exchange had been between Yellow Cab or a representative of the Max’s Group as they are collectively called and I.

On November 1, 2016 I had to send a follow-up e-mail to Max’s Group because my October 29th e-mail was ignored. Jharry from Customer Care replied that they will be coordinating with their merchant bank and that “Rest assured that we are with you in monitoring this concern.”

Silence. On November 17, 2016, I decided to send a follow-up e-mail. No reply. On November 21, 2016, I reiterated my request for an update. NOTHING. On December 2, 2016, I sent an e-mail again. I did get a reply on December 3, 2016 that they have not received a reply from their merchant bank yet. Sure. My December 28, 2016 and January 25, 2017 e-mails were ignored.

Thank you so much, Max’s Group, for ignoring me.

Posted in Finance, Mobile App

Update: Same Day Local Funds Transfer Withdrawal Alternative for Upwork Freelancers

A few days after I wrote about a speedy Local Funds Transfer alternative for Upwork freelancers in the Philippines (Same Day Local Funds Transfer Withdrawal Alternative for Upwork Freelancers), I learned that the Upwork management (once again) has made several changes to their withdrawal payment methods. Since the same day local funds transfer withdrawal alternative I mentioned required Skrill, I was a little upset that Upwork will no longer be partnering with Skrill. In a follow-up email, Upwork mentioned that Upwork freelancers can still withdraw funds to their Skrill account until April 24, 2017.

This was the first email they sent out:

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It does sound all good but I still would opt to find another way to get my funds out by some other means. Why? Because when you withdraw to PayPal you are getting the most out of the current peso-dollar rate compared to the Direct to Local Bank option. For me, this means having to go back to withdrawing to PayPal and using the PayPal to GCash option. I still stand by my option to use my GCash mobile wallet (cashless purchases, of course!) and transferring some of my funds to my RCBC Savings bank account via Coins.ph as usual.

On the GCash mobile app, there is an option to transfer your PayPal funds to your GCash account. My PayPal is already linked to my GCash account and the GCash mobile app needs to  update that line of code for those who already have their PayPal accounts linked to their GCash.

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I have asked GCash support about the processing time for transferring PayPal funds to GCash and below is their response:

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Posted in Business, Finance, Uncategorized

Direct Money Transfer Scam in OLX

As a precautionary measure, we should do our research when it comes to online ads before we confirm a shipment. Online selling/shopping has its risks.

My cousin recently posted her online ad on OLX for an iPhone 6s she was selling. An eager, wait, too eager buyer responded to her online ad and immediately proceeded to making the so-called direct money transfer. There are many red flags, however, with this direct money transfer.

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  1. The email address onlineverificationdepartment@accountant.com – One Google search will tell you that @accountant.com has frequently been associated with online scammers.
  2. The Direct Money logo is actually owned by http://www.direct-money.com. If the transfer was legit, the email address should have contained something like onlineverificationdepartment@direct-money.com
  3. The Payment Approved logo, upon doing a Google search image, has a different filename.
  4. The orange logo with the text Send Money Worldwide belongs to Ria Financial.
  5. The disclaimer about the escrow payment. This puts the seller in a precarious position because no funds have been received by the seller and the buyer is requesting for the item to be shipped.
  6. It’s signed by Direct Money Transfer Service but there is no link to a website that you can click through. Nowhere in the email is a clickable link indicating which financial or remittance agency the wire transfer was supposedly made from.
  7. Copyrighted by Continental Exchange Solutions, Inc., which Ria Financial is a part of. However, the Track a Transfer in Ria Financial Services’ website does not return a valid money transfer starting with DMT.
  8. The logos, like any other in the email, cannot be clicked through.

 

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Be warned when you come across an email address coming from @accountant.com especially when it comes to payments.

On behalf of my cousin, I replied to the interested buyer that we will put the shipment on hold until the payment has been received. He was requesting to have the iPhone 6s sent to an address in Balibago, Angeles, Pampanga to a different recipient. I made it clear to him that I did contact Direct-Money.com (seeing as their logo was used in the email confirmation for the wire transfer) via the Hong Kong phone number. I spoke with a Nigel Hazell who was kind enough to verify after I forwarded the email confirmation with their logo on it that the transfer was not done via their company nor their partner agencies.

 

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The interested buyer somehow got defensive in his subsequent email replies. His scam has been exposed and he has been found guilty. He literally wanted my cousin to cancel the shipment while he sulks his sorry, guilty, pathetic ass. Never mind the bad punctuation. The syntax strangely reminds me of those Nigerian scam emails.

 

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It’s so bad because it seems he doesn’t know how to communicate. He DID see the pictures of the phone in the OLX online ad and in the OLX private chat my cousin did send him a few additional images of the phone. He continued to evade my question about which remittance agency in the Philippines the money can be claimed if indeed he was being truthful about the wire transfer. He went on with his ad hominems and I told my cousin to desist replying to him. It’s a shame other legit companies like Direct-Money.com and RiaFinancial.com have been dragged into this direct money transfer scam to make it look like the bogus wire transfer was real.

 

 

Posted in Business, Marketing, Travel

Jinisys Fortifies Its Proven Track Record in Software Solutions

Jinisys Software, Inc., with offices in strategic business locations such as Alabang and Cebu City, is one of the Philippines’ most dependable provider of all-inclusive software solutions. Since 2008, Jinisys Software has developed and enhanced their oft requested office automation systems such as hotel management system, restaurant point-of-sale system and call accounting systems. Other straightforward product additions also extend their scope to property management system, asset and warehouse management system as well as shipping management system.

Their online 24/7 customer service support facilitates prompt answers to client’s inquiries. With over a hundred companies served and growing, Jinisys Software fortifies its proven track record when it comes to office automation and software solutions. Request your software solution with Jinisys Software HERE.

Posted in Business, Internet, Technology

Streamline Hotel Operations With Jinisys Software Solutions

As a hospitality business gets bigger, it needs to upgrade the various systems it uses to facilitate its growing operations. Jinisys Software, the Philippines’ premier Software Engineering Company, is a very capable ally in this department. For a hotel industry, for instance, Jinisys Software will fulfill your essential requisites for an automated hotel management system, saving your burgeoning company from the tedious herculean task of manual data input. Software systems such as Folio Plus, Event Plus and In-House Plus, which are suitable for MS SQL, MySQL and/or Oracle database environments, can be integrated into your current hotel management system to streamline hotel operations. To keep up with the smartphone frenzy, Jinisys Software has also come up with JTracker, their own mobile application which can be accessed via an iPhone, Android or Windows smartphone.

Visit Jinisys Software HERE for an in-depth explanation of each product they offer.