A Lesson In Scammers

Some time ago, the art bug bit me and I started being pulled toward wanting to draw again. I draw very, very scarcely because I don’t like most of my drawings, and drawing itself felt very tedious with what I had. So, I had the idea to get a graphics tablet, a kind of tablet specifically made for artwork. Only problem was my naïveté rose its gullible head.

At first, I was hooked on getting a tablet called a Wacom Cintiq 13HD because not only is it generally believed tablet artwork is always better than mouse-created artwork, but Wacom is akin to Apple when it comes to graphics tablets. A lot of artists insist nothing compares to Wacom, and the huge prices (the one I link costs $800 from its retailer) are worth it. However, for $800, I could buy a desktop computer, so I didn’t exactly want to spend that amount of money on something I was only going to use for one purpose.

Amazon had a list of third-party sellers who I thought had it on offer for much less. Notice I said “thought”. I’ve had Amazon since 2008 and while I wasn’t exactly a regular buyer of theirs (mostly because I didn’t have my own bank card until 2012, when I was finally 18), I never had any trouble with them, so I thought nothing of it. I quickly learned there’s a different between buying from Amazon and buying through Amazon.

I bought from a seller who’d “just launched”. Turned out to be fraudulent.  Not only did the item never come, but it never even shipped. I’ve had orders where there was no shipping info and the item still arrived on time, but in this case, the seller couldn’t even be reached. Amazon cancelled my order and I got the money back. I thought maybe that was one bad seller, so I tried with another “just launched” seller who had the Wacom Cintiq tablet for even lower than the first did. This one got exposed even faster as a scam, as the seller’s profile vanished. Interestingly, it reappeared days later after I’d called customer service to have that order cancelled. I’m currently waiting for the pending transaction to clear, so the money is available to me again. I even went to my bank to be certain and they assured me since it’s pending, the money is still there, and the transaction will clear since Amazon cancelled the order and didn’t charge me, as charges, unlike refunds, are immediate.

You can imagine how much I kicked myself. I went on DeviantArt and asked for some alternatives. A very helpful user led me to a journal she made that detailed Wacom tablets, as well as alternatives to the expensive brand. She told me it’s likely those who insist Wacom is the absolute best say so because it’s the only one they’ve ever used. It’s no surprise I became so persistent in trying to get a Wacom tablet when it’s the one praised to high heaven, despite not having much more overall than the others. In the end, I settled on getting a tablet called an XP-Pen Artist 10S, which cost $300. Since it was eligible for free same-day shipping, I opted for that and, to my surprise, it worked! I ordered it at 11am and it was delivered to my door at 7:20. It works wonderfully!

I wish I could say that’s where this story ends, but it’s not. To help with the cost of purchasing the graphics tablet, I tried to sell my iPad, since I no longer use it. Now, I’m not so naive, I believe every buyer is genuine, but I still ended up almost falling for a scam because it was one I’d never heard of. Basically, if there’s any mention of shipping agents, cashier’s checks, wiring extra money back, or shipping to any place besides the buyer’s location (especially outside of the country), pass! I actually busted one scammer on my own, and he tried very hard to convince me he wasn’t a liar, giving every excuse in the book and changing his story a dozen times.

On to the scammer I was fooled by. This person wanted me to ship it to Texas as a gift for a family member of his, and since Texas isn’t international, I didn’t find it strange. He wanted to make the payment through Paypal, a service I’ve used for years and found trustworthy (though not so trustworthy, I’ll give it my social security number!), so I agreed. He even sent me what seemed like an official email from Paypal that the payment had been sent through, so I was ready to ship my iPad. I took it to the post office, boxed it up, and paid for it to be shipped. After I submitted a picture of the tracking number, as asked in the first email, I later got a confirmation one. I thought everything was fine.

It wasn’t until I was on my way back home I realized everything was not fine at all. I read over the emails and this time, I took notice of the email address. It was from Yahoo. That was weird to me. Why would Paypal use a Yahoo account? I searched for it myself and found something interesting Paypal’s help page. Paypal always addresses customers in their emails by their names. The scammer’s emails addressed me by the name on my Google account, which is a nickname, but I use my real name on Paypal. On top of that, there was no pending transaction for the payment. I called their customer service and after I described the emails, the representative told me those emails were not from them and suggested I return to the post office. I couldn’t go back right then, so I called the post office and asked them to hold my package until for two days, when I’d be able to come back for it. Thankfully, they did. In the end, all I lost was the $11.28 I paid for the shipping since that was non-refundable, but I didn’t care. That was a very small loss compared to losing my iPad. Just because I didn’t want it anymore didn’t mean I wanted to be scammed out of it.

When the scammer contacted me again, I furiously and unkindly told him to go away, explaining I caught him in his lie. He said it was a third-party Paypal service exclusive to Texas that people used because Paypal was too much of a pain to bother with. Even if that had a slight amount of plausibility, why wouldn’t the customer service representative have told me that? Paypal’s employees don’t know about another Paypal branch?

In the end, I learned two things. Only buy expensive items through Amazon, and buyers are terrible. Every buyer I had for my iPad was a scammer, and I tried on three sites: Craiglist, Facebook marketplace, and LetGo. I suppose I should consider myself fortunate in that I didn’t lose any money with the third-party sellers. I’ve heard Amazon, though they’re not perfect, has a reputation for not fooling around when it comes to scammers, and with how quickly they got those investigations done, I can believe it. But I can only imagine they think they have an idiot for a customer. I don’t blame them.

Disney: Life Lessons

I know children’s media in general has a reputation for being educational to some extent, if only to appease what’s known as the “moral guardians”.

However, Disney is my most favorite when it comes to (animated) films and recently, I found a pattern in their movies, particularly the Disney Princess line. All of their DP follow the expression about things getting worse before they get better. Right before the situation improves and the happy ending comes, it’s made to seem like there’s no way it possibly could improve.

And I like that.

Obviously, animation isn’t to be taken as realism, but it’s certainly true in life things sometimes do worsen before they finally improve. Sometimes, people do hit rock bottom before they finally move back up.

It happened to me. At first, I could think only think of two major things where that was the case – my job and my boyfriend – but upon further thought, I’ve been through it more times than I can count.

Before I had my very first job interview, I’d gotten myself trapped in another city due to following a shady job agency I was too desperate to see through. That was one of the days I genuinely came to close to giving in to the heavy depressive thoughts that returned. Before I met my boyfriend, I was ready to give up on dating because I’d gotten nothing out of it in that two years and it didn’t feel worth it to keep trying. Despite the “downs”, I’m very happy with him and he’s the best relationship I’ve had. I had never kept any steady friendships beyond school due to moving and I was prepared for high school to end the same way. I met my best friend in 11th grade and we’ve been friends for five years, and still are.

That’s not to say I’d be willing to repeat those worst periods again, or that I’m happy they happened. You’d have to kill me before I return to high school or anything lower. I’m happy there was something get out of living through them.

There’s another low point I’m anticipating this May, but I foresaw it years ago. I’m not sure what good will come out of passing through, but hopefully, I remain pleasantly surprised. The upside is this time, I have much more support than I did with any of my previous low points.

As for Disney, I hope they do continue this trend of things hitting their absolute worst before getting better. It may not be new or original at this point, but it’s definitely an important lesson.

Wrong Way To Motivate

A certain post in one of my Facebook groups reminded me of something from high school.

When I was in tenth grade (for the second time due to transferring schools), one of my teachers once mentioned planning to get her master’s degree. In what subject, I forgot, but I suppose I asked her about it. I really don’t remember what I said, but I do remember her answer. She told me she was pursuing it because she wanted to be able to walk into a store for a pair of $600 shoes and say she has the money for them.

I didn’t know what to think of that. To this day, I still don’t. I do now understand her intention with that answer was likely motivating me to take my own schoolwork more seriously, but that came off as an extremely shallow reason. I realize she meant she was trying to financially better herself, but surely, there was a better way to phrase it.

I won’t lie and pretend I don’t like shopping. I do, and in the last few years, clothes have made the list of what I like to shop for (when it’s of my own wishes, not someone else’s). But I don’t think there’s any article of clothing on the planet that looks so appealing, I’d be willing to give $600 for a single quantity of it. Especially not clothing that’s worn on the ground! One “talent” I do have is the tendency to give my shoes a pounding. That $600 would become a waste in 2 to 3 months.

Obviously, these are my values, but I don’t like the idea of materialism being a motivator for education. For starters, education itself is expensive. I think I’d sound very funny if I told someone I spent thousands of dollars to be able to blow thousands of dollars. That sort of reason would likely motivate only someone whose end goal was wealth. My end goal is stability, which is not synonymous with wealthiness. That doesn’t mean I’d complain if I were rich. It means it’s not necessary for me to be happy. For me, when I can say I fully support myself without living paycheck to paycheck, I’ll see myself as successful, regardless of what the number allowing me that privilege is.

For the sake of not coming off as “holier than thou”, I’ll say right now I do not think I’m better than anyone whose end goal is wealth and purchasing multi-hundred dollar clothing. If that teacher’s given reason makes sense to someone else or motivates, great. I’m just not that person. Yes, there are expensive things I do want and sometimes obtain, but those things have many more functional uses than strutting pavement, so I see them as more valuable for my own use.

I’m certainly not above materials. I have a big collection of books, games, DVDs, and dolls, as well as some smaller collectible things like jewelry, boxes, and stuff animals, and I have a $100 phone. Whenever I think about that teacher’s comment, I think about how much $600 could buy besides a single pair of shoes. Perhaps it’s only because she said shoes I found her answer very weird since shoes are meant to be worn outdoors and would naturally ruin over time from use. Maybe she was exaggerating and merely trying to emphasize a point. Maybe she thought that was the goal of all students. Or maybe it was some kind of last resort since I wasn’t an easy student to motivate. I value the job I have now over school, so she wouldn’t be entirely off the mark. Only wrong it’s money I care about most.

I do plan to return to school, but I have my own motivation and finance is only a part of them. The most important parts are somewhat intangible. And one is human.

Favorites of 2016

I keep coming back to this blog and finding I have so little I want to write about.

My life hasn’t really changed in any huge way. There are no news or articles I really want to discuss. There’s nothing nagging my mind or that I’ve been deep in thought about. Same old aggravations, same general routine, and all. I’m not unhappy about that. I simply don’t want to talk about it all the time.

So, I’ll do this. I’ll end my blog posts for 2016 with my favorite things of this year. If I come up with something else to talk about, I’ll post it, but for now, I’m considering this my last post of the year.

  • Movies. This year, I saw Zootopia, The Jungle Book, Storks, and Moana in theaters. Moana was my most favorite because it was an awesome movie and the very first Disney Princess movie I ever got to see in theaters. My least favorite was Storks. It was a cool movie, but it had a very annoying character throughout it that I personally didn’t find funny.
  • My job. This one is probably as obvious as crystal clear glass. I finally got my very first job and was finally making some money of my own. I confess I’ve done the typical thing and spent my money almost as soon as I got it, but only once have I spent all of it. I’ve been much more careful since and I try to never let my bank account fall under $100. This was the first year I was able to buy Christmas presents and that felt great!
  • Travel. I hate traveling, but to be with my boyfriend makes the trips worth it. Since I started working, we’ve gotten together almost weekly instead of monthly like we used to. For me, that’s the best reward of having this job. Of course, being who he is, he’s not letting me pay for everything. One thing I told him long before I got a job was I would never let him go hungry on any night if I could help it. He thought I was kidding, but I meant it. I have to argue with him to get him to take just $10 for food if he needs it. I appreciate he’s so grateful and won’t take advantage of me, but he knows I hate him going hungry. I was also finally able to bring him to my house once. No, my family didn’t meet him, but I was glad I could finally show him my room. My bed is too small for us, though. He was more content on the rug. 😛
  • Pokémon. First off, I loved the year-long giveaway for the 20th anniversary! I got every one! I’ll never use them, but I love collecting, so I’m so glad I didn’t miss out. Meloetta and Manaphy are my favorites. Sun and Moon come after. Although I still have some small gripes, the games have not disappointed me. I think my favorite feature is Poké Pelago. I also question if the games really do cater more to kids. Sure, it seems so on the outside, but the games are really darker than any previous game has ever been. I’m almost willing to bet the creators did that on purpose. Make the games seem too easy at first, only to later shock the players with the real difficulty. And it is hard! Something I’m doing in S&M that I’ve never done in any game I played before is using the X items. It’s either that or all the bosses kill me. Well played, Pokémon Company. Well played.

I’ve been considering trying to get my driver’s license if I keep my job after the seasonal period. I don’t have a car to drive, but I think it’ll be nice to have it my license is all. Then, if and when I do have a car for myself, I’ll have getting the license out of the way.

2015 brought me a wonderful partner and 2016 brought me a great job. I’m hoping 2017 will bring something good as well, although I imagine there’ll be some heartbreak before it comes.

I’m Not Leaving

The last time I made a post like this, it was in December 2013, and I’m not linking it because all but one of those things are completely and wholly untrue now.

Recently, I started thinking about Disney’s upcoming, new Disney Princess, Moana. I plan to see it in theaters with my boyfriend and it will be the very first Disney Princess movie I’ve ever seen in theaters. What crossed my mind was if I’d acted on any of suicidal thoughts I’ve had in the past, that wish wouldn’t be becoming reality.

In truth, I have those thoughts more often than I feel comfortable admitting. I suppose it’s not really bad, but aside from my boyfriend and my best friend, the things I list are usually small. Video game series, television ones, art and stories I’ve created, even this blog. I’m happy to know these things. While I still hold the belief I’d prevent my existence if I could go back in time to do so, since I’m already here, I don’t want to leave.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my self-worth and value as a member of society. I very much do, as I’m sure I’ve made evident. Even as I type this, those thoughts of if I’ll ever be more of a contributor than a tax burden are going through my head. Every so often, those thoughts do take over and become very powerful, but the upside is it usually passes within about two days. A very mentally painful two days, but two days nonetheless. It’s not enough to make me wish I wasn’t an adult or make me miss my childhood.

This past weekend, I was with my boyfriend and I realized I frequently call his house “home” when we’re together (“Are we going home after this?” “Who’s home?”). In the latter example, it might make sense because I’m asking who’s at his home, but the former example is obviously including myself. He’s fine with it, but that was the first time I caught myself doing that. I do feel at home with him, not only in his house, but in the state and city he lives. Not so much I’d dare venture around it alone, but enough to have no anxiety about ever going out there. If it were possible and I knew for sure I wouldn’t become homesick for the city I live in, I’d stay there for a week if he and his family allowed it.

I don’t have everything I want in life, but I’m happy because I do have what I wanted more than anything as a kid. I wanted to be surrounded by people who love and care about me. The “surrounded” part doesn’t exist in a physical sense, but I feel it’s there. I never cared if it was a huge team of people. Him and my best friend really are enough (although that doesn’t mean I’d be closed to more). I wanted to go on trips like I did as a kid. I go out of town, out of state, to visit him and it’s a lot more fun than the same museum five times in a row. I wanted another place to call home. I found it.

I’ll keep trying, particularly since I can’t do much else, but I’m not completely unhappy with where I’m at now. I understand things do happen slowly. It certainly took a lot of friends to find my best friend, and a lot of bad dates and relationships to reach my boyfriend. It only makes sense it’ll take a lot of missed jobs to finally find one. I still did score an interview, so that’s something. At least, I know I’m worth being considered.

I’m not happy to be alive, meaning I’d still have preferred not existing to begin with, but I am happy to have things and people in my life that make it not so bad.