jamesh2651

James H.

5
Level 5 Contributor
United Kingdom

Contributor Level

Total Points
4,936

About Me

Just an Irish lad, trying to give people some insight as to my experiences. I just write about experiences I've had my life. If it's good, I'll tell you. If it's bad, I'll give you all the specifics I have along with the where's, why's and how's. I'm big on customer service. If your business makes it impossible or difficult to contact customer service, then you don't deserve my money and won't get it.

How I Can Help

Ask me. If you read one of my reviews and you have a question, just ask. Ex military photographer, computer repairs (no, not a component swapper. I do logic board repairs, etc.), certified network engineer, and a German car mechanic for ten years.

Interests

Computers... mostly what I do. I repair mostly Macs. Logic board repairs Apple says can't be fixed

46 Reviews by James

12/9/21
Verified purchase

I purchased bitcoin using my Coinomi wallet. They use Simplex for purchases. For £50 I received £38 in bitcoin. Complete Ripoff. For £50 I received £48 on crypto.com. Big difference. In short, don't use Simplex for any cryptocurrency transactions.

Tip for consumers:
My tip? Don’t bother, unless you like losing money. Shop around for other services.

Service
Value
11/6/21

If you are seeking or have a room to let, avoid this one. They regularly advertise rooms to let on SpareRoom in SW England. The problem is, they won't show you the room! They expect you to sign a contract based on the pictures they provide you. They claim covid is the reason they can't show the room, but government restrictions for covid have been gone for months. Besides, if you're going to rent a room in a shared house, everyone in the house will be exposed to you anyway. Think of it this way, would you sign a contract to buy a car, never having seen in person with no test drive? I have requested to see several rooms, but they've always refused me "due to covid restrictions." If your business requires you to meet with people and you constantly make excuses to avoid meeting, then you're in the wrong business.

Tip for consumers:
Avoid... unless you're comfortable with signing a six month lease without ever having seen the property.

895 Views
10/25/21

I've had a free account with ProtonMail for years. Not particularly for the security features, but for the same reason I refuse to feed Google so they can read my emails and extract advertising data. Up until recently, I thought ProtonMail was fairy secure and private. However, they recently agreed to spy on an activist for the Swiss government. At the government's demands, ProtonMail logged a french activist's IP address and gave it to the authorities. You can read about it here... https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/06/protonmail-logged-ip-address-of-french-activist-after-order-by-swiss-authorities/

Tip for consumers:
Good for everyday security and when you don't want Google reading your mail. If you're a subversive or an activist, you might want to rethink your email provider

Products used:
I still use my ProtonMail free account, however I am more wary about the security breach now.

Service
Value
Quality
150 Views
10/9/21

I tried Lebara for a month, just to evaluate the service. Like every other MVNO that uses Vodaphone's network, the data is throttled. Lebara is particularly slow. The most I could ever get was 10 megabits per second. In contrast, when I switch to the other SIM in my phone, I get around 100 megabits per second. That SIM is on the Three network. Lebara has ZERO customer service. There is no one you can call if you have a problem. I send several emails and not one was answered. I'm big on customer service and to not even get a canned response to my email is reason enough to dump the company and move on.

Tip for consumers:
Don't was your time and money. Customer service is non existent and the service is the worst I have ever used.

Products used:
I used the SIM only service for one month.

Service
Value
Quality
8/8/21

I've used giffgaff in the past. The coverage was good, but everything else suffered to an extent. Calls were okay, when you could make one. There were times I had 4 bars signal on my phone, but couldn't make a call. Same with data... full bars and the slowest speed I have ever seen on a network. Imagine using google maps on your phone for satnav and the map stops updating. You have full bars, but literally a blank map screen! It's hit and miss. From what I hear, O2, the operator that carries giffgaff, throttles data and calls to all other network operators that use their network. It's a very inexpensive network, but what good is being inexpensive when you can't even make a call?

Tip for consumers:
Go with a service that doesn't use O2. O2 throttles data and phone calls. Apparently their network doesn't have the capacity to handle all of the subscribers. NEVER port your number without trying the service first. Get the SIM, activate it and test the service with whatever number they give you. If it's acceptable, then port your number. It's much more difficult to port your number, then have to port it back if the service isn't good.

Products used:
I used giffgaff for about three months. It was frustrating and annoying to have full signal, but no connection half of the time

6/30/21

Just be aware that anything you read on the DailyMail is censored. Even comments that are 100% verifiable and accurate are removed if they don't meet their agenda of misinformation and scare tactics. Steer clear and get your news elsewhere

Tip for consumers:
My tips? Don't! They are a waste of time and effort. Controlled by the government, they feed you whatever the government wants.

5/7/21
Verified purchase

I've ordered food using Just Eat several times. There hasn't been any real issues with the service itself, but the lack of any real customer service department makes me go elsewhere. I'm all about customer service. If you want my business, then you better have someone on hand if I have a problem or a question. This chat online rubbish doesn't suffice.
I've been reading about how people get shoddy orders or they order a gift card and never receive it, then Just Eat refuses to refund their money. The solution is simple. Use PayPal to pay. If something isn't right, open a case with PayPal and you'll get your money back. Just be sure to document everything. Example, take a pic of the bad food or mishandled delivery. Send screenshots of replies from the company. Upload all of this to PayPal if you have to open a case and you'll get your refund. Works 99% of the time.

Tip for consumers:
Always pay with PayPal. Just Eat is known for not refunding money when you get a substandard product or your delivery never arrives. Most of the time the deliveries make it just fine and the food is okay. Just in case, pay with PayPal. This way if there is a problem, you can get your money back. The customer service is abysmal and they often ignore your request for a refund, thinking there's nothing you can do about it... well, there is. It's called PayPal.

Service
Value
Shipping
Returns
Quality
5/4/21

Let's get something out of the way... SpareRoom are NOT here to help you find a room. They are here to rent rooms advertised by paying customers. Now with that, lets move forward.
SpareRoom isn't a bad site, it's a site where YOU need to be careful. Remember, these people are trying to get your signature on a lease. May adverts have dated pictures or pictures of rooms that are not the one for rent. If the pictures look too good to be true, then they were probably taken right after a remodel and don't reflect the actual condition of the room now. ALWAYS go and look in person or ask for a virtual tour (using Zoom or Facetime) so you an see the current condition. Never send money without looking in one of these ways first.
The search feature lacks a few things. For example, when you save a search, it won't store the sort order of your search. They want to feed you rooms from their regular paying customers. Also, you can't exclude postcodes. For example, there is an area near me that is ALL student housing. If you're not a student and you don't want to be kept awake all night, then you'll want to avoid this area. It mainly falls within a certain postcode.(first three digits). Now, you can search that postcode by itself, but you can't exclude it from broader searches. I find it a waste of my time as this post code comprises most of the search results. Even when you exclude student housing, you'll still get the majority of your results from this area.
The mobile app is even worse, because you can't specify "bills included" or "furnished" in your search. I hate finding a really nice place only to discover bills are an extra £200 a month and it's completely unfurnished.
The site isn't all bad. You can at least look to see what is available. I recommend ringing them on the phone rather than sending a message. At least if a person answers, the advert is probably real and not a scam.
Most of all, just use common sense. If an advert sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn't.

Tip for consumers:
Take note that this site will nag you to upgrade your account for £20. You won't be able to reply to many of the new adverts for 7-10 days if you don't... and if those adverts a still around after 10 days, they probably aren't worth your time.

Service
Value
Quality
5/4/21
• Updated review

So I get an email from Deliveroo stating they are increasing their service charge from a flat 49p per order to 5% of the order total. In my opinion, 49p is way too much for the shoddy "customer service" they provide and now they want more? Stick with the places that offer their own delivery service and avoid Deliveroo. They aren't worth your time.

Not bad, but needs improvement in customer service.
4/8/21
• Previous review

I've used Deliveroo several times and the service has been very good. The drivers are normally quick and the food delivered hot. I do take issue with the customer service end of the business. The customer service people do the absolute minimum to address problems. I mean MINIMUM. I tried to report an error on one of the restaurant's menus where you were forced to choose a "sauce" even if you wanted it plain. If you didn't choose a sauce, you couldn't order the item. I received a reply a couple of days later stating they would correct the problem... that was over three weeks ago and the problem still exists. Luckily the restaurant has their own website and they offer a choice of no sauce. So when I order form that restaurant, I skip Deliveroo and do it from the restaurant's website... Sorry Deliveroo, you lose.

Tip for consumers:
Beware of glitches on the website. If it's not working properly or you feel something is missing, then check to see if the restaurant has it's own website or is listed on Just Eat. If Deliveroo doesn't care enough to fix it's problems, then take your business and money elsewhere.

417 Views
4/28/21

Proton VPN is owned by ProtonMail, a secure email service that offers encrypted email. Proton has been around for many years and their secure email is very good. The VPN is safe, secure and centred around privacy. Proton VPN is the only VPN that offers a real and secure VPN absolutely free. The free version isn't really limited but only has three locations available from the thousands that are available to paying customers. Those three locations are usually loaded to near capacity, so you won't get super speeds them. Also the three free locations don't unblock geo-restricted content all the time. It's touch and go. Getting ProtonVPN is free and anonymous. Just get a free ProtonMail email address and you get the VPN for free. You can pay for an upgraded VPN and have access to more locations and servers. Crypto currency is accepted for even more privacy. Take note, ProtonVPN is a bit pricey for what you get. I recommend paying with crypto currency as there is no conversion fee. If you live in the UK, your money will need to be converted to USD or Euros. Either way, you'll pay a fee for the currency conversion. Both PayPal and your Bank will charge you a fee AND take a percentage of the conversion.
No, i don't have proof of purchase. How would I get proof of purchase for something that's free?

Tip for consumers:
Get a ProtonMail account and email address. You only need the free one. Then use it to get free ProtonVPN. Simple!

Products used:
I use the free version of ProtonVPN as it serves my needs.

407 Views
4/28/21
Verified purchase

I joined Smarty a little over a year ago and it was a decent upgrade from GiffGaff. Smarty uses the three network. The signal is is okay and I always had good data speeds. Coverage could be a little better, but what would you expect for £10 a month with unlimited voice, text, and 30gb of data.
The bad is customer service is poor at best. They are great for making excuses instead of fixing the actual problem. The most recent problem is the straw that broke the camel's back, as it were...
Smarty doesn't allow you to send text messages to "short code" addresses. A short code is a 5 or 6 digit number instead of a full mobile number. Here's the problem... A new law requires services like PayPal to text you if a purchase is made that is over £30. The text asks you if you made the purchase and you are required to answer yes or no, or the purchase is cancelled. The text comes from a short code address, 62226. Smarty won't allow you to reply. No matter what you do, the response text will not go through. I purchased a laptop on eBay using PayPal. Because I couldn't respond to PayPal's text message, the sale was cancelled. The seller was a bit upset and was reluctant to let me change the payment method. I finally talked him into it and used Apple Pay on my work iPhone to complete the sale. I can respond to short code messages on my work phone as it is on EE.
I sent a message to customer service, as there is no way to call them, asking why I couldn't respond to PayPal. I received a load of apologies and their assurance that Smarty is working hard to implement short code text messages on their system. Rubbish! I did some searching on the web and found people who have been complaining about this for over a year, always getting the same basic reply... "it's coming very soon."
Finally Smarty blocks what they refer to as "adult content." It's not necessarily adult content, but anything they think you shouldn't access... like VPN sites, for example. The ONLY way to turn this off is to submit a credit card, in your name, to prove you are "of proper age." I am over 40 years old and I don't own a credit card anymore. I destroyed all of them and their scheme to keep you forever in debt. Smarty claims this is the ONLY way to remove the content lock from your data. I offered to send them a picture of me holding my ID, showing my age. They refused... another reason for leaving.

Tip for consumers:
Before choosing your mobile carrier, do your research. Choose a carrier with a good reputation for customer service, even if it costs a little extra. You'll be thankful you did in the long run.

Products used:
I signed up for the £10 plan originally. After about a year, I became tired of the non existent customer service and their lies. The inability to respond to PayPal text messages (short code messages) is what finally did it for me and two days later I ported my number out to a different mobile carrier. Bye Smarty. I won't miss you.

Service
Value
Quality
3/23/21

I order from a particular restaurant that only provides delivery through Uber eats. The restaurant is fine, it's Uber eats that sucks. Biggest gripe is customer service. Uber eats is another one of these companies that makes it virtually impossible to contact a real human being. I had a problem with their web interface randomly switching the language on their website. I tried to contact them to see if we could solve the problem. Not a chance. No contact email, no phone number, no nothing.
Customer service is a big thing for me. If your company is not willing to provide me with some sort of contact method, then you don't need and won't get my money. PERIOD!

Tip for consumers:
Use them at your own risk. If you have a problem, there is no one to contact.

Service
Shipping
520 Views
2/12/21

I've been testing Mullvad VPN now for a few weeks. The service is good, the customer service is okay, and the security is very good. Mullvad doesn't require any information about you to sign up. Just generate an account number, add time to the account (5 euros for a month) and surf. You can even pay with BitCoin to help with anonymity. They don't keep logs so there is nothing to give to authorities, should an order arise. The only problem is with this anonymity comes people that abuse the system. In doing so, there are increasing numbers of sites that are blocking Mullvad's IP addresses. I used to order food through a food delivery service. Worked fine with other VPNs, but they block Mullvad. Edit: Since this review was first published, Mullvad has added more servers and the new ones aren't blocked like the old ones.
Mullvad uses up to date encryption and protocols. OpenVPN and Wireguard are the two protocols. Wireguard is fast, but you may have problems generating wireguard encryption keys if your ISP blocks Mullvad's API. May ISPs do. The solution would be to generate the keys inside the encrypted tunnel using OpenVPN, but obviously they haven't figured this out yet. They do, however, offer OpenVPN on port 443 in order to bypass VPN restrictions set in place by your ISP. They also offer double hopping or bridged connections. You connect to one VPN server and your traffic is routed through another VPN server, making it very difficult to trace where you are visiting.
Mullvad is located in Sweden. While it is in a 14 eyes country, Sweden has very strict privacy laws protecting consumers. Even if there was an order to hand over logs to authorities, there are no logs to hand over.

Edit: Mullvad has since added several virtual servers to their network which temporarily solves the blocked sites problem. These servers only add new IP addresses that are 'clean' and unblocked... for now. These are leased servers and not owned by Mullvad, which can be a security issue.

Tip for consumers:
If you're looking for decent anonymity and security, check out Mullvad. Just be advised, you may run into some roadblocks that sites have setup to block Mullvad's IP addresses. Just try a different server for now.
The service is reasonable at 5 euros a month and you can pay with cryptocurrency, which I recommend if you want more privacy and security. When you renew, just create a new account for better anonymity.

518 Views
1/30/21

I've been using IVPN for about a month now and I really don't have any complaints, other than it being located in Gibraltar. Gibraltar is technically outside of fourteen eyes so it's outside of the internet spying jurisdictions such as the USA and UK, but it is governed by the UK, which is considered an enemy of the internet. IVPN doesn't give you a bunch of buzz words such as "military grade encryption" or claiming to be 100% private. Using a VPN enhances privacy to an extent, but it doesn't make you invisible. IVPN enhances anonymity by accepting crypto for payment and not requiring ANY personal details to register. No email, no names, no phone number. You simply generate an account number, send payment using that account number only, download the VPN client or OVPN configuration files for your own OVPN client and hop online. It's that simple. They use OpenVPN and WireGuard with strong encryption. They also have doublehop which sends your traffic through two VPN servers as an added layer of protection. So far, speeds are fast and servers responsive. The VPN client will show you which servers have the best response so you can connect to the one that will give you the best performance. I've tried a lot of VPNs and IVPN is one worth having. One feature I like about IVPN is it's firewall. IVPN has a kill switch that blocks all internet access if the VPN isn't connected. This can be disabled if you like. So the difference with IVPN's kill switch and other VPN's kill switch is... IVPN's kill switch can be set to load on startup of Windows. It loads first and blocks the internet until the VPN tunnel is established. This means programs can't sneak onto the internet and reveal your location/IP address before IVPN starts and connects to the VPN. A nice security feature.

Tip for consumers:
If you're looking for an added layer of security to your internet experience, consider using a VPN. VPNs are great for open WiFi hotspots such as those in airports, bus terminals, and coffee shops. It adds an encrypted connection so someone close by isn't intercepting your data and collecting information about you. They can't use what they can't see.

Products used:
I used the standard IVPN subscription. 2 devices and basic VPN connectivity without all the extra bells and whistles. I don't need anything more.

494 Views
1/27/21

If you're looking to secure your privacy online, then look no farther. This site has loads of recommendations for things like cloud services, VPNs, messenger apps, browsers, and other tips that will secure your online experience and stop sites like FaceBook and Google from tracking everything you do across the web. They show you tips on how to configure your browser, the best extensions to use and even how to completely delete your FaceBook account, if you want. Keep big tech from using your info to make themselves richer and stop them from watching everything you do.

Tip for consumers:
Privacy tools site is a collection of tips and apps to help make your online experience a bit more private.

1/21/21

As always, you get exactly what you pay for. If it seems too good to be true, then it is too good to be true. You won't get an iPhone 12 Pro Max for 150. Just like eBay, AliExpress has good sellers and bad sellers. Like eBay, there are seller ratings and number of sales each seller has made. It's up to you to decide who you will buy from... just like eBay. I choose the seller with high ratings and lots of sales. They are usually the ones who can be trusted to give you the better items. However, with the current aggressive anti-west climate in China, I haven't been buying anything from AliExpress. Why support those who hate you? Just my opinion. Feel free to do what you like.

DHL
23K Views
1/19/21

While DHL MAY have lower prices, you pay for it with the total absence of customer service. I recently had the misfortune of needing to speak with a human being to solve a problem. There was a mistake on some shipping paperwork that needed to be corrected before the parcel was collected the next day. Sure, just give them a call... so I did. I listened to a computer prompt me for the shipment number, then for the originating postcode... I entered the postcode 15 different times, but the computer didn't go any farther. Silence. There is no replacement for a human being and if DHL refuses to give us a way to speak to a human being, then they don't need my money and will never get it.

Service
Value
Shipping
Returns
Quality
1/14/21

I don't usually have Android phones, but these are exceptional and affordable. Xiaomi uses top shelf parts and their phones are well made with close attention paid to detail. Right now you can get a Xiaomi flagship phone that will meet or exceed big name flagship phones for HALF the price. You often get a faster processor and larger battery than comparable phones as well. The only issue I have with Xiaomi phones is the camera software. The cameras themselves are top shelf, but the software doesn't produce the best pictures. Switching to other software like Google Camera helps immensely. Batteries usually last two days with moderate use and the displays are excellent at 400+ PPI. Many of their phones have Amoled displays at an LCD price. Poco is also made by Xiaomi. Their OS is a heavily modified Android called Miui. It is fully customisable to the point where you can make your phone display look like a Windows phone or an iPhone, right down to the menus and icons. Miui is also much more secure than Android and always has been. If you want a top shelf phone without paying top shelf prices, get a Xiaomi phone. Just make sure you are buying the Global version and not the Chinese version. You can check this and the authenticity of the phone on mi.com. Just enter the IMEI or serial number on the authentication page. You will also be happy to know if you buy a Xiaomi phone directly from their UK website, you get a 2 year warranty. That's twice as long as any other phone.

Tip for consumers:
The Redmi series phones have huge batteries, perform very well, and have great value for the price. You won't be disappointed.

Products used:
I purchased a Xiaomi Redmi Note 9. It's not the flagship, but it's a flagship class phone at a budget price.

14.6K Views
1/14/21

No customer service. You send a query by email and they send a canned response with a link to something completely unrelated to your query. Useless. They rip you off with currency conversions AND charge you a fee on top of it. While I am currently located in the UK, I added a US dollar credit card, and they took pounds Sterling from it! After all the fees to convert usd to gbp from my bank and back to usd by PayPal to make an eBay purchase from eBay.com, I lost almost 15 dollars! PayPal is also making it increasingly difficult to make claims. They reject claims even though you provide proof of the claim. So why are we bothering to use them anymore? There's no advantage.

Edit: So PayPal is down to one star now. I'm no longer using PayPal at all. I use a VPN when I use the internet for an added layer of privacy. PayPal refuses to allow me to make purchases whilst connected to my VPN. When I try to make a purchase, I log in. Paypal asks me for the code from authenticator app. I enter it and then it says we need you to enter a security code so we really know it's you... mind you, I just entered the code from my authenticator app. So they text me a code and I enter it. Now I go to make the payment and the payment never completes. It just keeps taking me back to the payment screen. Remember, I've already proven who I am, but PayPal won't complete the sale until I exit my VPN. In total contrast, I can access my online banking with just my password plus security code and send £5000 to another person with no other challenges. If my bank has no problem with my VPN, then why should PayPal. They treat me like a criminal! So the only reason I kept PayPal was for purchases on eBay... well eBay accepts ApplePay now... goodbye PayPal!

Tip for consumers:
You don't need PayPal. There are much better alternatives out there. GooglePay and ApplePay are just two.

Service
Value
Returns
Quality
12/25/20
Verified purchase

I was looking for an inexpensive smartphone to be given as a Christmas gift. I settled on a Xiaomi Redmi Note 7. It's really a great phone for the price. Everywhere I looked it was selling for £160 to £200. kidult-online.com was selling it for £108.80 delivered to my door. Sounded too good to be true, but they accept PayPal and if there were any problems I would be able to get my money back. They claimed 3-5 days delivery from Hong Kong. I got an email that it had been shipped and a Royal Mail tracking number. The number appeared to be no good as Royal Mail said it couldn't find it in the system for the first six days. Come to find out, they ship it from HK to UK by DHL and then RM makes the final delivery.
Day six RM shows the package. And I received it on day 7.
So here's what I got... First, the phone came in shrink wrap. Xiaomi doesn't shrink wrap their phones. The sim removal tool, literature, and warranty paperwork were not in the box. It also shipped with the charger and a UK adapter.
The phone seemed to be okay and works fine. Can't beat the price and shipping time was okay, even though it was a couple days late. I'll chalk that up to the holidays.

EDIT: So after noticing the Chinese text scattered everywhere in the operating system, I looked a little closer and discovered the phone is NOT a global version phone, but a Chinese version, thus the lower price. It only had half the storage as well! They advertised and sold it to me as a Global version (see the receipt attached), but it's the Chinese version. It doesn't support all of the mobile bands for global use, so it doesn't work with all of the mobile carriers where I live. I also went to Xiaomi's website to authenticate the phone by it's serial number and it is, in fact, the Chinese version of the phone... FRAUD! See the attached capture from Xiaomi's website. Time to open a case with PayPal!
I contacted these people and explained the problem. They seemed to be very apologetic and sent me a shipping label to return the phone. I sent the phone back and it was received by them on January 8th. That was the last I heard from them. They stopped answering my emails and have not refunded me so much as a penny. I opened a case with PayPal on the 15th and they have ignored that as well. So it's time to make the dispute a claim and see if PayPal will refund me. They have both the phone and my money, something has to be done at this point.
EDIT: Paypal closed the case in my favour. Apparently the company refused to respond to Paypal, so Paypal closed the case and send my money back. The nice thing is I originally purchased the phone with GBP which was converted to USD and sent to Kidult-online. Since then, the exchange rate has changed and if the original USD amount were converted back at todays rates, I would have lost almost 10% of my money. Paypal refunded the exact amout I paid at the original exchange rate. Kudos to Paypal.

Tip for consumers:
My tip? Simply don't waste your time. They've already proven to me that the company is dodgy, first by advertising one phone, then fraudulently sending me a different one thinking I wouldn't notice the difference. Then ignoring me when I asked for my money back.

James Has Earned 26 Votes

James H.'s review of Surfshark earned a Very Helpful vote

James H.'s review of Smarty earned a Very Helpful vote

James H.'s review of VPN Mentor earned 2 Very Helpful votes

James H.'s review of DailyMail UK earned 3 Very Helpful votes

James H.'s review of ProPrivacy earned 2 Very Helpful votes

James H.'s review of CherryBlossoms earned 2 Very Helpful votes

James H.'s review of eBay UK earned a Very Helpful vote

James H.'s review of Amazon UK earned 2 Very Helpful votes

James H.'s review of Halfords earned a Very Helpful vote

James H.'s review of Trustpilot earned 10 Very Helpful votes

James H.'s review of ExpressVPN earned a Very Helpful vote

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