First World Consumer Problems

This is going to be a very uninteresting blog post to most people, so skip it unless you’re fascinated by Bitcoin or consumer culture, or extreme couponing problems.

2 weeks ago the value of Bitcoin shot up significantly. What was a few hundred dollars in my spending account became over $1300CAD, so I thought I’d purchase some items I’d been meaning to get when I had a bit of money saved up. I asked my friend Jeff how I could spend it, and he sent some great charity suggestions my way, so I put $20C toward 3 causes I feel good about including Wikimedia, and others. Only 1 of my 3 donations processed, as I then learned the transaction fee for Bitcoin had also gone through the roof. Instead of a nickel being enough to have a transaction processed, 60¢ wasn’t even enough to have it be confirmed before my wallet client timed out and (thankfully) returned the funds rather than leave them in limbo.

Armed with this new spending knowledge, I found through a Google search how to spend Bitcoins on some electronics I both wanted, and didn’t yet know existed. I’ve put computers together for 22 years, but haven’t as much lately, and expensive modern components are now out of my realm of first-hand experience. A coworker had been telling me about m.2 SSDs, so I ordered one of those new hard drives and PCIe adapater card for it since my motherboard doesn’t have the required slot. And I wanted a Blu-ray burner to back up my photo collection again, which is well over 400GB for the last 17+ years of photos and videos. There’s an M-Disc blank available that’s estimated to last ~10-100 times longer than a typical Blu-ray burnable disc. They’re $6 each, but made to last a lifetime as a one time investment.

My first order was a failure, as my transaction fee I specified was again too low. I succeeded the next time with a smaller purchase of a burner, and the 3rd attempt worked with a bigger fee of about a dollar, for $267 more in equipment. Feeling accomplished and on a roll, I went back for more.

My Canon camera I got in 2008 had mostly broken on my vacation early this year, so I’ve been without a great zoom camera since then. Itching to get back into astrophotography, night photography, and things my phone doesn’t do well, I found a Canon SX540 for $400 on NewEgg.ca. It was $50 less at Amazon. I get things at Amazon too much, and they don’t take Bitcoin, so I contacted NewEgg.ca chat assistance who explained who to contact for a price match request. I contacted the Marketplace vendor ELECTRONIQUE HI-FI on Sunday and they agreed to price match the camera for me to the Amazon price. Yay, good deal, but the story isn’t over. I put the camera into my cart, and checked out, but Bitcoin as a payment option was greyed out. NewEgg.ca chat assistance then explained BTC isn’t available as a payment option for “Marketplace” items. ARGGHH!

Not one to give up too easily, I found coincards.ca, a gift card vendor who accepts Bitcoins. I looked at their exchange rate, and it appeared to be a reasonable 1 or 2 percent, so I made a plan to get one after waiting until the end of Monday when I anticipated the price of Bitcoin would go up further. I purchased a gift card for NewEgg.ca. It would take more than 2 hours to process once the Bitcoin transaction was confirmed by the Bitcoin network of miners. This delay put me into Tuesday morning. No big deal, I thought, I can wait.

I went to buy the camera on Tuesday morning, and found the one in my cart was now again listed at $399. I emailed the company and they explained they couldn’t keep it at the lower price on NewEgg, but could honour it at their website (where they could make a bigger cut of the profit). This didn’t work for me, since I was holding $400 in NewEgg-only money, not cash or credit card for their website.

So I’m using that money for other equipment on my list, and went back to coincards.ca to get an Amazon card to purchase the $350 camera there instead. I transferred the required amount of Bitcoin to them (with the $20C “convenience charge”, oh I can feel the convenience), and of course the amount would have been about 5% less BTC the following morning as it shot up again to a new record high.

The payment processed for a full day before my card arrived, and the camera I had been eyeing dwindled to 3, 2, then no cameras remaining at $350 with free shipping. I instead selected a camera with $12 shipping, and ordered. It shipped last week. It should be here by the time I publish this blog post.

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