consumer affairs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/301/all en-US 5 Customer Service Battles You Just Can't Win http://www.wisebread.com/5-customer-service-battles-you-just-cant-win <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-customer-service-battles-you-just-cant-win" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/airport-customer-frustrated-86513930-small.jpg" alt="airport customer frustrated" title="airport customer frustrated" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Regular readers of my articles will know that I am something of a consumer watchdog. But even I have to admit that some battles cannot be won. They can certainly be fought, but you will end up wasting your time and money trying to get any kind of outcome on the following five customer service issues. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-get-exactly-what-you-want-from-customer-service?ref=seealso">9 Ways to Get Exactly What You Want From Customer Service</a>)</p> <h2>1. Returning an Open DVD, Blu-ray, or CD</h2> <p>Once upon a time, you could return open box media. I personally returned a few VHS tapes in my time for different titles because I just wasn't happy with them. Reviews were hard to come by back then, and copying a VHS tape took some major hardware which most people didn't have access to (I know I didn't).</p> <p>These days, copying media is so easy my grandma can do it. Because of that, no store is going to let you return an open DVD, Blu-ray, or CD (including software) unless you are going to swap it for the exact same title. Basically, something has to be wrong with it. But if you're looking to swap it for another title, or get a refund, you may as well talk to the wall. You will get nowhere.</p> <h2>2. Getting a Free Replacement Without a Warranty</h2> <p>Things are certainly not made to last these days. It's actually called &quot;planned obsolescence&quot; and manufacturers first started doing it with light bulbs. They'd make them cheaper, sell them for the same price, and you'd buy replacements sooner. Warranties are there to protect you from defects for the first year, but to be honest most products will pass that test. It's after two or three years that things go bad.</p> <p>But whether your TV or iPad stops working a month after the warranty expires, or three years, you will have an impossible time getting a free replacement. If you're really lucky, you may get a discount on a new product, or some kind of deal on a repair. But &quot;like for like&quot; will not happen unless the retail gods have blessed you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-secret-credit-card-perk-that-saved-me-300?ref=seealso">The &quot;Secret&quot; Credit Card Perk That Saved Me $300</a>)</p> <h2>3. Terminating a Service Contract Without Consequences</h2> <p>Whether it's a cell phone contract, the lease on a car, or the alarm system on your home contracts are there to protect the company. When you signed the contract, you gave up certain rights in order to get something from the company, be it a free phone, a discounted rate, or other free equipment. That contract will also state, very specifically, the consequences of getting out of the deal early. This will almost always be a hefty &quot;early termination fee.&quot; If you somehow think that being super friendly and giving the company a &quot;great&quot; excuse is going to get the customer service rep to waive the fee, think again.</p> <p>There may be a few loopholes you can use to your advantage, such as moving out of state or having a massive life change, but generally you signed the deal, and you take the penalty. Next time, read the contract and know exactly what you're getting into. Also, some of these companies, and in particular the alarm companies, will auto-renew your contract annually without even telling you. The same early termination fees will apply; so, get to know your expiration dates.</p> <h2>4. Getting an Airfare Refund Because You Missed the Flight</h2> <p>So, here's the deal. Whether you buy a refundable or non-refundable ticket, you're pretty much screwed once the flight has taken off. At that point, the ticket you hold in your hand has lost its face value. Now, you will most likely be offered another flight if you get to the airport within a few hours of the original departure time. But after that, kiss goodbye to your ticket. And refunds are just never going to happen unless you know someone who works for the airline that can pull a few strings.</p> <p>You may think that buying travel insurance will help. Check the details though. The most common reason people miss a flight is due to bad traffic, and travel insurance doesn't cover it. It will cover tornadoes and hurricanes, but those are much more rare than being stuck on the highway. Remember, before you book, make sure you really want to go. You'll pay more for refundable flights, but you'll have more options prior to the flight departing.</p> <h2>5. Expecting Insurance to Cover &quot;Wear and Tear&quot;</h2> <p>Many people seem to confuse insurance with maintenance, and that's a big mistake.</p> <p>Normal wear and tear happens, especially to homes, and you cannot expect the insurance company to replace an old roof for free, or jump on your cracking concrete and repair it free of charge. The bottom line is this; if it has broken over the natural course of aging, or your own pets did the damage, you can expect to get a big fat <a href="http://www.keithrlaskey.com/four-common-denied-homeowners-insurance-claims/">no from the insurance company</a>.</p> <p><em>Have you waged any fruitless customer services battles lately? Vent below!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-customer-service-battles-you-just-cant-win">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-tipping-wrong-this-is-what-you-should-be-leaving">Are You Tipping Wrong? This Is What You Should Be Leaving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-companies-with-the-best-customer-service">The 6 Companies With the Best Customer Service</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-clever-ways-to-reuse-your-plastic-shopping-bags">18 Clever Ways to Reuse Your Plastic Shopping Bags</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-save-money-with-an-easy-to-follow-car-maintenance-checklist">Bookmark This: Save Money With an Easy to Follow Car Maintenance Checklist</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-long-these-6-appliances-should-last">This Is How Long These 6 Appliances Should Last</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living consumer affairs customer service service Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:00:06 +0000 Paul Michael 1227984 at http://www.wisebread.com Recession Journal Part IV: The Double-Dip Trip http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-iv-could-this-be-the-last-entry <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recession-journal-iv-could-this-be-the-last-entry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/magic_beans.jpg" alt="magic beans" title="magic beans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever been broke as Jack's magic beans?&nbsp;</p> <p>You know, broke as when said beans dropped on the floor because he brought home magic beans instead of food?</p> <p>Have you ever been that hard up for cash but anticipating a reprieve?</p> <p>Oh you have.</p> <p>Okay, well, do you remember how you felt when that direct deposit finally hit or you heard that the check really was in the mail? You felt better right?</p> <p>Do you remember the euphoria of going from broke to liquid, if only temporarily, and did the money start to burn holes in your pockets on account of you spending it already in your mind before you withdrew cash, wrote a check or swiped a card?</p> <p>If you're familiar with these questions and can answer them honestly then you are a living breathing symbol of the economies of 1980-83 and 2007-2010.</p> <p>Let me explain. For the past 18 months or so, most of us have &quot;felt,&quot; broke, if only broken in spirit by the slew of continual bad news. In point of fact a great number of us were even broke literally if we or someone on whom we depended loss their job or home.</p> <p>But now, oh but now folks, we have a potential reprieve &mdash; that's the good news. As of the start of September, everything from consumer confidence and expenditures, oil prices, retail sales and industrial output capacity is moving in a positive direction.</p> <p>Financial market indices, as a result are up, buoyed by the psychological boosts these numbers bring. The S&amp;P 500 index, for instance, hit an 11-month high the week of September 7, 2009.</p> <p>And even the one down arrow is shaping out to garner a big thumbs-up as a recently-released Labor Department jobless claims last week fell to the lowest level since July.</p> <p>But should we start spending in our minds now? Should we stimulate the economy and not let the terrorists win now?</p> <p>Well that's up for debate but the truth is that we still don't know if a lift out of our lovely recession will be a &ldquo;V&rdquo; recovery for victory over being broke as beans or a &lsquo;W&rdquo; recovery &mdash; as in wait and see because we&rsquo;re not out of the woods yet. Who knows, maybe we might even be in for a VW recovery. Wouldn't that bug you out. Marinate and then laugh if you care to.</p> <p>So my good people, the &quot;VW&quot; or just &quot;W&quot; recovery, represents an up-down-then-up again recessionary trajectory, one that despite current indicators could be in the offing.</p> <p>What to do?</p> <p>Well, in a cursory web search using the search terms &quot;Double-Dip Recession,&quot; I found Richard Marcus, associate professor of managerial economics and finance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and I knew that school was in.</p> <p>And I knew that he has a handle on such things as money and the like. And I knew that he would likely pick up the phone himself and given the often genteel mannerisms of fly-over state residents, I knew he would actually talk to me if I explained who I was and why I was calling and that his work would help further an eventual point that I would be getting to.</p> <p>Dr. Marcus likens the current economic situation to the extended double-dip recessionary period of 1980 to 1983. Back then, as it is now, there was major government spending and the recession was exacerbated by a severe credit crunch as well as monetary policy from the Federal Reserve that made the downturn more protracted.</p> <p>Over static on my cell, Marcus posited that if forecasters are to use history as a guide, the 1980-83 downticks turned around with sustained spending, a tax cut and more &ldquo;helpful monetary policy&rdquo; and that nowadays if we want sustained change we should act accordingly.</p> <p>Marcus says that while there is every indication that the current recession will soon be over, this economy is sort of like a swimmer underwater that comes up from air and then goes below again, only to come back up.</p> <p>I like that he used wide-open metaphors that could apply to dips. He was doing my bidding (insert cartoon villain laugh here).</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d said before that I thought there&rsquo;d be some upturn but I also said that the period 2007 to 2010, will likely take as long to right itself as that time in the 1980s,&rdquo; Marcus told me. &ldquo;This is because you have a tax increase that will kick in to slow the economy and eventually even $800 billion in stimulus money will teeter out. Plus the Federal Reserve has doubled the monetary base and they have to be more restrictive.&rdquo;</p> <p>Indeed despite positive economic data, the government&rsquo;s current fiscal and monetary bend and that of the early 80s are two sides of the same coin in that policies in both eras seem, as Marcus puts it, &ldquo;contractionary in nature.&rdquo; Plus Marcus added that he expects overall unemployment to continue to rise, &ldquo;likely going to 10 percent or above before it&rsquo;s all over.&rdquo;</p> <p>And now back to you folks. How do you feel? Do you feel confident? Are you ready to pick up those broken beans and throw caution to the wind, take some risks, buy some goods, services or memories?</p> <p>Or are you forever changed due to the emerging consumer ethos of frugality, caution and selectivity as the country emerges from the most pervasive downturn since the Great Depression?</p> <p>&lt;&gt;Well consider the thoughts of yet another economist, Nouriel Roubini, from NYU, whom I probably could not have reached by phone to talk to in a short period of time even if I had one of those long-reaching <em>thingamobobs</em> that grab objects even while you're sitting down.</p> <p>Roubini is known in many circles as &ldquo;Doctor Doom,&rdquo; and he has said that going forward, even if the recession ends, there might not be enough spending in this or other countries to offset the wicked drop in consumer demand from &quot;over spenders&quot; in the United States and Britain.</p> <p>Yes the U.S. and U.K., which in recent years have become both home to some of the world&rsquo;s most conspicuously consuming people, and also two of the countries hit hardest by all this crunchy credit.</p> <p>So if you're thinking that a turnaround is here and your money is burning a hole in your pocket and you want to spend as you did in headier times, think again, double dip yourself before you trip yourself.</p> <p>Whether the recession is finally over or not, remember when you were broke as a bean and remember how you felt.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jabulani-leffall">Jabulani Leffall</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-iv-could-this-be-the-last-entry">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-whats-in-your-envelope">Capital One: What’s In Your Envelope?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light">Could the last person to leave America please turn out the light.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-v-mind-the-gap">Recession Journal V: Mind, The GAP</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/possible-protections-for-credit-card-holders">Possible protections for credit card holders</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-vi-its-over-any-questions">Recession Journal VI: It&#039;s OVER!!!!!!!!!!!! Any Questions?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs consumer affairs federal reserve recession Fri, 11 Sep 2009 15:04:09 +0000 Jabulani Leffall 3593 at http://www.wisebread.com Capital One: What’s In Your Envelope? http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-whats-in-your-envelope <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/capital-one-whats-in-your-envelope" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/capital one waste.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="213" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">Just when I thought credit card companies couldn&rsquo;t get any more wasteful, I received the mother of all credit card offers in the mail.<span> </span>Excited by what I thought was something worthwhile in a rather thick envelope, I got duped.<span> </span>And the contents weren&rsquo;t even worth reusing&hellip;..</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Unlike many, I eagerly await my mail each day.<span> </span>Since most of my bills are paid online, if the postman is bringing it, I can expect it to be freshly-paid freelance invoices or the occasional trade mag.<span> </span>Of course, there is usually one or two credit card offers tossed into the mix (which I promptly discard, unopened, into the trash/recycle bin.)</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Yesterday, I received a rather unusual envelope from Capital One.<span> </span>It was standard yellow and almost passed through into the trash, until I took a moment to feel it.<span> </span>It was thick, a little squishy, and had me thinking that maybe (just maybe) there was something inside of interest.<span> </span>It <strong><em>was</em></strong> thick, after all.<span> </span>(Could it be a free mousepad?)</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I can&rsquo;t even believe I took the time to open it.<span> </span>Inside was the standard &ldquo;blah,blah,blah&rdquo; 0% for so many days credit balance transfer offer with return envelope.<span> </span>And one sheet of bubble wrap.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The spendthrift in me immediately became irritated.<span> </span>Why waste the plastic this flimsy, worthless sheet of bubble wrap was made with to send me this?<span> </span>Did they really think that all I needed to do was see this offer to become swept away by their financing?<span> </span>Since I usually recycle any and all packing materials for my own mailings, I examined the barely usable piece of wrap (which couldn&rsquo;t protect a toothpick.)<span> </span>Not even the envelope could be used again.<span> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Now that I&rsquo;m on to their scheme, what will they do next to get my attention?<span> </span>Skywriting?<span> </span>Messages in a bottle down the Missouri River? <span> </span>Tattoo placement on newborn babies?<span> </span>This left me considering one of Paul&rsquo;s unorthodox methods to let them know it was an unappreciated gesture.<span> </span>Sure, the 3 sheets of paper the offer was printed on made it to me unscathed (thanks to that trusty bubble wrap), but this is a big step backwards in practicing conservation and waste-reduction.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I&rsquo;ll be opting out of future offers from now on, and maybe I should contact all my other card companies before they start getting any (really bad) ideas.<span> </span>What other wasteful things are you seeing in your mailbox?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-whats-in-your-envelope">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-cant-save-if-you-dont-try">You Can’t Save if You Don’t Try</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/uk-banks-are-blocking-customers-credit-cards-will-the-usa-be-next">UK banks are blocking customers&#039; credit cards. Will the USA be next?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-we-really-need-help-in-getting-more-debt">Do we really need help with getting more debt?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-credit-card-legislation-buzz-interview-wall-street-journal">New Credit Card Legislation Buzz: An Interview with Wall Street Journal’s Mary Pilon</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-be-ashamed-to-be-on-public-assistance">Should You be Ashamed to be on Public Assistance?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs consumer affairs credit cards junk mail waste Fri, 11 Jul 2008 11:07:06 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2229 at http://www.wisebread.com