Consumer Affairs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4809/all en-US How to Select a Charity to Donate to After a Natural Disaster http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-select-a-charity-to-donate-to-after-a-natural-disaster <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-select-a-charity-to-donate-to-after-a-natural-disaster" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/charity_donation_illustration_482378218.jpg" alt="Learning how to select a charity after a natural disaster" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With the hurricane season we're having, there's no shortage of nonprofit organizations you can support with your dollars and time to aid people in need. But how do you know which organizations have the most impact and do the most good with the resources they have? Here's how to find the most reliable charities of which to donate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-donating-money-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do-after-a-natural-disaster?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Donating Money Is the Best Thing You Can Do After a Natural Disaster</a>)</p> <h2>1. Utilize charity assessment tools</h2> <p>There are a number of sites that evaluate nonprofit programs and provide you with information on their efficiency and efficacy.&nbsp;<a href="https://charitynavigator.org/" target="_blank">Charity Navigator</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.givewell.org/" target="_blank">GiveWell</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="https://guidestar.org/" target="_blank">Guidestar</a> all evaluate nonprofit donations. One of their main metrics tells you the percentage of donations that goes to programs, and the percentage that goes to administration costs. While this metric is important, it's not the whole story, and comes with a very large caveat: for a charity to do its work, it must have administrative costs and overhead. Without talented people, a nonprofit can't do its best work, and like all employers, a nonprofit must compensate its employees for their skills. Use this metric as <em>one </em>input to your donation decision, but don't let it make the whole decision for you.</p> <h2>2. Check news stories</h2> <p>Before donating to a charity, check out the latest news stories on a particular charity with a simple Google search. You will likely find stories that highlight the work the organization is doing through its programs and hopefully you'll also discover some firsthand testimonials about the organization's impact. If there have been any recent scandals or shady activities, you'll find them here, too.</p> <h2>3. Review testimonials</h2> <p>Before making a donation, take a look at the organization's website to get a sense of their programs and staff. There is often a press section that showcases recent news releases with the latest news coming from the organization. It's also a good idea to check out the leadership team to determine if you feel they are good stewards of your gift. It's also worth taking a look at their board, major donors, and supporters, if they highlight them.</p> <p>Have they recently won a large grant or formed a reputable partnership? If so, it's another data point that can show someone has scrutinized their work and deemed it valuable. Like the administrative cost percentage, these grants and partnerships don't tell the whole story, but they are another point of reference to help your decision-making process. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-charitable-donations-that-do-the-most-good?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Charitable Donations That Do the Most Good</a>)</p> <h2>4. Scan through social media channels</h2> <p>One great gift of social media is that it gives individuals and organizations a way to connect with supporters and beneficiaries of their work directly. Poke around on their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds to see their work in action and find out who supports them.</p> <h2>5. Think local</h2> <p>While the big international nonprofits often get the most attention when disaster strikes, local nonprofits can often be just as effective, if not more so. That's because they have such close relationships with people on the ground. For example, the local food banks in Texas and Florida have been able to mobilize quickly in areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. After Harvey, I made a gift to the&nbsp;<a href="https://safoodbank.org/" target="_blank">San Antonio Food Bank</a> because they were the closest food bank to the areas in and around Houston that were hit hard by the storm.</p> <p>This same giving strategy can be applied to international work. After the massive earthquake that struck Haiti, I donated to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.pih.org/" target="_blank">Partners in Health</a> because their dedication to Haiti over many years has allowed them to have a tremendous impact on the health and wellbeing of the Haitian people.</p> <p>If you're more comfortable giving to a large organization such as the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.redcross.org/ns/apology/disaster_homepage.html" target="_blank">Red Cross</a>, and the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.salvationarmy.org/" target="_blank">Salvation Army</a>, make sure they have a chapter in the geographic location where you want to help and tag your gift to go to that specific relief program. Local hospitals and health centers are on the front lines, and are often the first places that local people turn to in the wake of a disaster.</p> <h2>6. Consider who you want to help</h2> <p>Many nonprofits have a mission that designates who they help and the causes that matter most to them. This can be children, animals, environmental protection, or education, to name just a few.</p> <p>In the case of the recent hurricanes in the U.S., local chapters of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.humanesociety.org/" target="_blank">Humane Society</a> and the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.aspca.org/" target="_blank">ASPCA</a> are helping to rehome pets that were left behind by their families.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6115947/k.B143/Official_USA_Site.htm" target="_blank">Save the Children</a> has expanded its services and started new programs in key Texas locations in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Natural disasters often destroy or damage housing. Charities such as&nbsp;<a href="https://www.habitat.org/" target="_blank">Habitat for Humanity</a> can make use of your financial contributions as part of the rebuilding efforts.</p> <h2>7. Support sustained efforts</h2> <p>Given the speed of our news cycle, there is a swell of concern immediately after a disaster, and then that concern fades over time. One of the best ways to contribute to sustaining support is to consider a gift to an institution that continually works in the area.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bgca.org/" target="_blank">Boys &amp; Girls Club</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ymca.net/" target="_blank">YMCA</a>, and local schools, places of worship, and community centers are key sources for sustained support in impacted communities.</p> <p>When disaster strikes, it takes a large, collective effort to help people reconstruct their lives. Your donation and support is critical, and a thoughtful gift can make all the difference.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-select-a-charity-to-donate-to-after-a-natural-disaster">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/why-donating-money-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do-after-a-natural-disaster">Why Donating Money Is the Best Thing You Can Do After a Natural Disaster</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/how-will-the-comcastnbc-merger-really-affect-you">How Will The Comcast/NBC Merger Really Affect You?</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/epipens-and-other-ways-companies-have-profited-from-your-pain">EpiPens and Other Ways Companies Have Profited From Your Pain</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/downside-of-the-rolling-jubilee">Downside of the Rolling Jubilee</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-v-mind-the-gap">Recession Journal V: Mind, The GAP</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Financial News charitable donations donate give back how to donate how to help hurricane harvey hurricane irma hurricane season natural disaster Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:31:10 +0000 Christa Avampato 2024299 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Find and Hire a Reliable Contractor http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-and-hire-a-reliable-contractor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-find-and-hire-a-reliable-contractor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/smiling_construction_worker_at_work.jpg" alt="Smiling construction worker at work" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hiring a contractor for a home improvement project can be among the biggest financial commitments you will make. Poor project execution by a contractor can result in years of frustration and unplanned expenses. Here are four steps you can take avoid headaches by getting the best contractor to work on your project. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/architect-designer-or-contractor-who-should-you-hire-for-your-project?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Architect, Designer, or Contractor: Who Should You Hire for Your Project?</a>)</p> <h2>Plan your project and your budget</h2> <p>Before you start looking for a contractor, you will need at least a basic plan for the work you want done so you'll know what type of contractor is needed. You may be able to save money by strategically combining projects. For example, I'm having a chimney rebuilt and bathroom roof vent added at the same time I'm having my roof reshingled.</p> <p>Home improvement projects can make your home more enjoyable and more valuable as well. In some cases, the return on investment can be more than the expense of doing the project.</p> <p>However, even if a project will <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/boost-your-homes-value-with-these-5-projects?ref=internal" target="_blank">boost the value of your home</a>, it's important to make sure you can afford it. A home improvement loan or a home-equity loan from your bank or credit union may be less expensive than other forms of financing for a project. A loan officer can quickly give you a range for the line of credit that you could obtain and an idea of the repayment terms. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-renovations-that-almost-pay-for-themselves?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Home Renovations That Almost Pay for Themselves</a>)</p> <h2>Find contractors to bid on your project</h2> <p>When you have decided the scope of the project you want done, the next step is to contact contractors and get estimates. You will want to do some research and contact only highly-rated contractors who are qualified to do the kind of work that's needed.</p> <p>Here are some reliable places to find contractors:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Recommendations from neighbors who have done projects similar yours.</p> </li> <li> <p>Companies you see working in your neighborhood on projects that impress you.</p> </li> <li> <p>Contractors with good ratings on consumer review sites: Angie's List, the Better Business Bureau, and Yelp.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Keep in mind that it can take a few months from the time you start requesting estimates until work begins on your project. Most contractors schedule jobs in the order that they are signed up, and good contractors are often very busy, so be prepared to be patient.</p> <h2>Evaluate estimates before booking</h2> <p>It's good practice to get <em>three </em>estimates for your project before selecting a contractor. This will give you a good idea of the cost range for your project, and you'll have three expert opinions on what should be included. Some contractors will make verbal promises when they are talking to you about your project, but such statements can easily be forgotten later and you'll see that reflected on the estimate. Make sure to get any special requests and promises in writing &mdash; even if it is handwritten on the estimate as a note.</p> <p>When reviewing estimates, it might seem like choosing the low bidder would automatically be the smart way to go, but if one of the estimates is significantly lower than the others, you should find out why. The lower bidder may be cutting corners to save money by using lower quality materials or inexperienced laborers. Some low bids are &quot;bare-bones&quot; estimates that leave out work that will likely be needed, so the actual cost of completing the project will be higher than the estimate.</p> <p>For some projects, the grade of materials will be specified in the estimate, the type of shingles or siding that is included in the estimate, for example. Materials can make a big difference in the cost, and also to the quality of your project. Look at the labor portion of the estimate separately from the materials to compare costs. You can ask a contractor to update their estimate using different materials if that's what you prefer. This is your house, after all. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-home-improvements-you-should-always-negotiate?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Home Improvements You Should Always Negotiate</a>)</p> <h2>Ask all the questions you need</h2> <p>With your favorite estimate picked out, there are a few questions to ask before you pull the trigger and sign a contract. You want to make sure you are signing up with a contractor who will be able to complete a project for you without unpleasant surprises after the contract is signed.</p> <p>Questions to ask before signing a contract:</p> <ul> <li> <p>When will the work be scheduled?</p> </li> <li> <p>Can you provide references for similar projects?</p> </li> <li> <p>Can I visit a project in progress?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are you and your subcontractors insured?</p> </li> </ul> <p>Think twice before signing a contract if you discover any of these red flags:</p> <ul> <li> <p>The contract calls for a big payment in advance of any work being done.</p> </li> <li> <p>The contractor doesn't provide references you can contact.</p> </li> <li> <p>You are being asked to get required building permits.</p> </li> <li> <p>The company has not been in business long, or is using a new name.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Spending some time to plan your project, screen potential contractors before getting estimates, compare competitive estimates from several qualified bidders, and check out your contractor's work before signing a contract greatly increases your chances of having a good experience and a result you'll be pleased with.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-and-hire-a-reliable-contractor">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/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing">6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing</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/10-frugal-ways-to-keep-your-home-warm-this-winter">10 Frugal Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter</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/architect-designer-or-contractor-who-should-you-hire-for-your-project">Architect, Designer, or Contractor: Who Should You Hire for Your Project?</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/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget</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/like-diy-avoid-these-ten-costly-mistakes">Like DIY? Avoid These 10 Costly Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Home contractor handyman home improvement home repairs trustworthy contractor Tue, 19 Sep 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2022480 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Donating Money Is the Best Thing You Can Do After a Natural Disaster http://www.wisebread.com/why-donating-money-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do-after-a-natural-disaster <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-donating-money-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do-after-a-natural-disaster" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hurricane_harvey_impacts.jpg" alt="Hurricane Harvey Impacts" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We're watching the news, following the updates on Twitter, and staying in close contact with friends and family members as we march through peak hurricane season. In the wake of Harvey and Irma, we all desperately want to help those who have been and will continue to be impacted. While we might reach for what's in our cupboards and closets, the donation of goods isn't the most effective way to help. In fact, it actually hinders recovery efforts. Here's why the best thing to donate in the wake of natural disasters is cash.</p> <h2>Dollars go further</h2> <p>When we go to the grocery store or shops, we pay retail price. When a food bank or another nonprofit buys goods to help people, they pay wholesale or bulk prices that are lower than retail prices. This means when you donate money directly to these organizations, they can make every dollar go further to help more people.</p> <h2>Most goods will be discarded</h2> <p>Here is a sad fact: Donating goods is more beneficial for the giver than the receiver after the natural disaster. We feel like we've helped when we give old blankets or coats, but truthfully, we're hindering the recovery efforts when we donate goods. The Center for International Disaster Information, a leading authority on recovery efforts, says <a href="https://www.cidi.org/how-disaster-relief-works/guidelines-for-giving/#.WbG_NNOGORt" target="_blank">unsolicited goods are rarely needed</a> in the early stages of response. These unwanted donations compete with much-needed efforts when it comes to people power, transportation services, and storage space. So save the waste and send cash instead.</p> <h2>Text donations are too slow</h2> <p>While it is immensely helpful that we can send a quick and easy text to give money after a disaster, the nonprofits and relief agencies we are funding receive the donations much faster if we go right to their websites to make a donation there.</p> <h2>Stick with the establishment</h2> <p>If you are looking for a place to make a donation, it's best in these situations to go with established organizations. They have the networks, connections, and expertise to make the most of the donations. Religious organizations as well as national and local nonprofits that are registered as 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations are the best stewards for your money. They also allow you to deduct the donation on your taxes, making it possible for you to be even more generous. If you want to research nonprofits before making your gift, local United Way and local Community Foundation chapters have a wealth of information. In the case of Harvey, look to Houston's chapters. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-charitable-donations-that-do-the-most-good?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Charitable Donations That Do the Most Good</a>)</p> <h2>Other donation options</h2> <p>There are two other ways to give that don't involve cash or material items, but are also extremely necessary in the wake of a hurricane or other natural disaster: shelter and skills.</p> <h3>Give your space</h3> <p>Do you have a spare bedroom or couch? Can your business location, community center, or religious organization provide space to shelter people? Can you take in a foster animal or adopt an animal to give them a forever home? The giving of your space is something that many people (and animals) need and appreciate more than we could ever imagine. Mattress Mack in Houston has become a national celebrity for <a href="https://twitter.com/MattressMack/status/901969638694600705?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2017%2F08%2F29%2F546953258%2Fhouston-s-matress-mack-opens-his-doors-to-house-flood-victims" target="_blank">opening up his mattress showroom as a shelter</a>.</p> <p>Airbnb is now waiving service fees and the requirement that hosts charge at least $10 per night; free accommodations are now permitted in selected areas that have been affected by natural disasters.</p> <h3>Give your expertise</h3> <p>Are you a doctor, veterinarian, social worker, carpenter, electrician, plumber, or attorney? Do you have extensive knowledge of insurance policies? Do you have strong government experience that you could leverage to help people? These kinds of skills and areas of expertise are often in demand in areas affected by natural disasters. Again, working through local government or relief agencies that are on the ground is the most effective way to give your knowledge and experience to those who need it.</p> <p>The desire to give is necessary and appreciated. Let's help those in the need the best way that we can. Together, we can make a difference.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhy-donating-money-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do-after-a-natural-disaster&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhy%2520Donating%2520Money%2520Is%2520the%2520Best%2520Thing%2520You%2520Can%2520Do%2520After%2520a%2520Natural%2520Disaster.jpg&amp;description=Why%20Donating%20Money%20Is%20the%20Best%20Thing%20You%20Can%20Do%20After%20a%20Natural%20Disaster"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Why%20Donating%20Money%20Is%20the%20Best%20Thing%20You%20Can%20Do%20After%20a%20Natural%20Disaster.jpg" alt="Why Donating Money Is the Best Thing You Can Do After a Natural Disaster" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-donating-money-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do-after-a-natural-disaster">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/how-to-select-a-charity-to-donate-to-after-a-natural-disaster">How to Select a Charity to Donate to After a Natural Disaster</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/epipens-and-other-ways-companies-have-profited-from-your-pain">EpiPens and Other Ways Companies Have Profited From Your Pain</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/dropping-the-price-of-gas-to-250-a-gallon-in-a-week">Dropping the Price of Gas to $2.50 a Gallon in a Week</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/beware-of-the-phrase-we-can-cut-your-debt-in-half">Beware of the Phrase &quot;We Can Cut Your Debt In Half!&quot;</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/downside-of-the-rolling-jubilee">Downside of the Rolling Jubilee</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Financial News donating to charity flood victims how to donate hurricane harvey hurricane irma natural disaster Tue, 12 Sep 2017 09:00:05 +0000 Christa Avampato 2019307 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/senior_woman_giving_credit_card_details_on_the_phone.jpg" alt="Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was a child, my grandmother often watched me while my parents were away. One day, I was sitting at the kitchen table while she made a sandwich for me, and the phone rang.</p> <p>My grandmother answered, and a deep, muffled voice said &quot;Mom? Thank God, I need help.&quot; The man, claiming to be my dad, told her he had been stranded and horribly injured, and needed her to drive to his location with money.</p> <p>My grandmother was shaken, but promised to send help right away. She quickly hung up and tried to get a hold of my mom. Thankfully, my dad was the one to answer the phone, completely healthy and carefree.</p> <p>I look back and still shudder at what could have happened if my grandmother had driven to where the man told her. It was my first introduction to con artists who take advantage of the elderly, but it continues to be a major issue. In fact, losses from elder fraud cases cost more than $36 billion in 2015, according to a True Link Financial report on financial elder abuse.</p> <h2>Preying on the elderly</h2> <p>The elderly are targeted by con artists because they tend to be less familiar with the latest technology and trends. They're less likely to recognize an email from a fraudulent &quot;bank,&quot; for example, asking for personal information. Worse, many seniors are simply lonely and isolated. Scammers prey on that. A kind, friendly voice on the other end of the phone can be convincing. And once a scam is complete, the victims often feel so bad about falling for it in the first place that it prevents them from reporting the crime to the police or even family members. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a>)</p> <h2>How to protect your loved ones</h2> <p>Shielding your elderly parents or relatives from harm can be difficult, especially if they live alone. These four tips can help prevent con artists from successfully targeting them.</p> <h3>1. Have a family code word</h3> <p>Come up with a family code word to use when there's a real emergency. Pick an odd word that has meaning to your family and is easy to remember. That way, if someone calls claiming to be a family member in need of help, your elderly relative can prompt them for the code word to verify their claim.</p> <p>If my family had a code word and my father really needed help, stating our designated word would have shown my grandmother it was a legitimate crisis. A scammer would have no idea, and would be revealed as soon as they couldn't relay the word.</p> <h3>2. Encourage them to ignore the phone</h3> <p>Many scammers will call just to find out if a person lives alone. Program your loved ones' phones with the numbers of family and friends, and encourage them to not answer the phone if they don't recognize the number.</p> <p>If a caller leaves a voicemail saying they're with a particular company &mdash; for example, a bank or credit card issuer &mdash; show your relative how to verify the number by looking up the company online, rather than just blindly returning the phone call. Taking that extra step to check a bank or credit card company's information can save your loved one from falling for a trick.</p> <h3>3. Help monitor accounts</h3> <p>If your relative is comfortable with this, offer to check over credit card or bank statements. Review them periodically for odd purchases. This is not quite the same as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-youll-encounter-when-taking-over-a-loved-ones-finances" target="_blank">taking over your loved one's finances</a>; it's just providing a second set of eyes. If your homebody great-aunt suddenly has charges for a Vegas shopping spree, for example, you'll be able to alert her and help dispute the charges right away.</p> <p>Some banks will let even you monitor the account, but won't give you access to the funds, which can give your loved ones peace of mind.</p> <h3>4. Check AARP's Fraud Watch Network</h3> <p>Some scams are regional, affecting only certain cities or neighborhoods. And the latest iterations of fraud can evolve over time, preying on the unsuspecting.</p> <p><a href="http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/" target="_blank">AARP's Fraud Watch Network</a> reports on fraud trends both nationally and locally. If you sign up for their alerts, you will receive notifications about scams happening in your area. By getting those alerts, you can warn your elderly relatives and friends about potential con artists and how they work.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Protect%20Elderly%20Loved%20Ones%20From%20Financial%20Scams.jpg" alt="How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">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/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</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/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</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/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</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/obamacare-fraud-alert-con-artists-prey-on-worried-health-insurance-consumers">Obamacare Fraud Alert: Con Artists Prey on Worried Health Insurance Consumers</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/scams-what-the-ftc-wants-you-to-know">Scams: What the FTC Wants You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs con artists elderly family members fraud identity theft phone scams protecting relatives scams technology Mon, 04 Sep 2017 08:30:06 +0000 Kat Tretina 2012632 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spot a Fake Review http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-fake-review <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spot-a-fake-review" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-601154706.jpg" alt="how to spot a fake review" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We depend on product and service reviews to make responsible shopping decisions. But, according to a Cornell University study, consumers are horrible at discerning the difference between actual customer endorsements and fake reviews. And when pitted against Cornell's computer program, that can <a href="http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/07/cornell-computers-spot-opinion-spam-online-reviews" target="_blank">detect fake hotel reviews with 90 percent</a> accuracy, human research subjects could only spot the fake reviews 50 percent of the time.</p> <p>Ugh. Really?</p> <p>With 50 percent accuracy, why even bother reading reviews when we could just flip a coin and save ourselves a lot of time?</p> <p>Luckily, we can train ourselves to be better at spotting fake reviews by using the same clues the Cornell software uses to sniff out online deceit. Here are some ways to spot spammy reviews.</p> <h2>1. The reviewer has a tiny internet presence</h2> <p>When it comes to researching a product, it's important to review the reviewer. If you are shopping on Amazon, search for customer reviews marked &quot;<a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/amazon-verified-purchase" target="_blank">Amazon Verified Purchase</a>.&quot; Verified buyers are more likely to leave truthful comments. If you are shopping on eBay or Etsy, look at the feedback percentage. If you are using Yelp, is the reviewer a member of the <a href="https://www.yelp-support.com/article/What-is-Yelps-Elite-Squad?l=en_US" target="_blank">Elite Squad</a> that has been vetted by Yelp's community managers? Are you using a site like Hotels.com that only allow reviews from customers who have actually booked rooms?</p> <p>Since there's a first time for everything, even writing reviews, if you want to check on a newbie reviewer's credibility, just do some Google searches to put a face to the review. Many review sites require commenters to sign in through their Facebook or other social network accounts, so you can click on their profile to see that they're a real person.</p> <h2>2. The review lacks detail</h2> <p>The Cornell study used online reviews for Chicago hotels to train their computer program to spot deceptive language. One of the extremely subtle tells of a fake hotel review is that the reviewer spends more time describing his vacation than the details of the hotel room. (Because how can you describe the mattress or the water pressure in the shower if you've never been there?)</p> <p>Are you shopping for vacation accommodation right now? Use Cornell's <a href="http://reviewskeptic.com/" target="_blank">Review Skeptic</a> to test the veracity of the hotel reviews.</p> <h2>3. The reviews vary wildly between websites</h2> <p>Get a second opinion on big-ticket items. If the majority of the reviews are glowing on one website, but a mixed bag on another, assume you are getting astroturfed and do more research before making your purchase.</p> <h2>4. The positive reviews were posted over a short timeframe</h2> <p>Does a new product have numerous five-star reviews that are time stamped to the same day or even the same hour? If so, beware. It's likely that someone has been hired to write fake reviews to artificially boost that product's reputation.</p> <p>The exception to this rule is books. Writers and publishers will send out Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of books just prior to their release date to professional book reviewers, librarians, book scouts, and popular book bloggers. While publishers and authors have been known to game the system, professional bookworms who regularly read Advance Reader Copies and manuscripts for work only receive a free book as compensation in exchange for their review, so there's not much of an incentive to keep them from being brutally honest.</p> <h2>5. The review includes staged photographs</h2> <p>Are there a lot similar-looking photographs included with the reviews? The editors of Wirecutter.com used fakespot.com &mdash; a lie detector for reviews &mdash; to test the <a href="http://fakespot.com/product/rxvoit-noise-isolating-earbuds-with-smart-built-in-in-line-mic-bass-enhanced-bass-boosted-and-stereo-surround-sound-audio-in-ear-headphones" target="_blank">authenticity of Amazon reviews</a> for a new brand of earbud. The Wirecutter team became suspicious when they noticed that many of the earbud reviews contained suspiciously similar photographs. That product has since been removed from Amazon. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a>)</p> <h2>6. They are short and sloppy</h2> <p>Fake review mills typically pay writers only a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html" target="_blank">few dollars per review</a>, so mill workers tend to write quickly and formulaically. Extreme brevity, typos, and lack of punctuation are all hallmarks of reviews written by someone who has been paid to churn out fake content.</p> <h2>7. The review sounds like an infomercial</h2> <p>In order to improve the SEO visibility of a company, some fake reviews will be weirdly specific about name dropping the product. For example:</p> <p>&quot;The One Acme Do-it Yourself Tornado Kit Seed Your Own Tornados lets you make your own roadrunner-catching tornadoes! Assemble The One Acme Do-it Yourself Tornado Kit Seed Your Own Tornados in the comfort of your own home. Just add water. My hubby loves his One Acme Do-it Yourself Tornado Kit Seed Your Own Tornados so much that we're buying a One Acme Do-it Yourself Tornado Kit Seed Your Own Tornados for our darling daughter as a wedding gift!&quot;</p> <h2>8. The company does not have a website</h2> <p>A company with many positive reviews and no online presence beyond an Amazon storefront is a red flag. If you can't contact customer service, you probably won't be able to get a refund for a product that doesn't work or is never delivered. Ironically, shady companies don't care about your verified one-star review.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-spot-a-fake-review&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Spot%2520a%2520Fake%2520Review.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Spot%20a%20Fake%20Review"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Spot%20a%20Fake%20Review.jpg" alt="How to Spot a Fake Review" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-fake-review">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/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</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/i-just-things-should-work-properly-too-mr-dyson">I Just Think Things Should Work Properly too, Mr. Dyson. UPDATED 7/7/09</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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</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/5-things-you-should-never-buy-on-groupon-or-livingsocial">5 Things You Should Never Buy on Groupon or LivingSocial</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/big-list-of-senior-discounts">Big List of Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping ads amazon review fake review honest review online review paid ads product review sponsored content yelp review Fri, 18 Aug 2017 08:30:05 +0000 Max Wong 2005242 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Passport http://www.wisebread.com/3-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-passport <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-passport" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/serious_lady_with_luggage.jpg" alt="Serious lady with luggage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was in business school, I went to South Africa as part of an economics class. Seeing South Africa was a dream I had for many years, and it was a nearly perfect trip. In the airport on the way home, I discovered my passport had been stolen right out of my bag. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-dont-have-your-id-at-the-airport?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do If You Don't Have Your ID at the Airport</a>)</p> <p>Picture this: I was the last person in line at airport security, it was Friday at 6 p.m., and the next day was my birthday. None of my friends could come back through security to stay with me. I was alone and stranded in South Africa for an entire weekend without my main proof of ID, something you need to stay at a hotel or purchase any travel tickets when you are abroad. It was a harrowing journey to get a new passport under these circumstances. On the upside, it taught me about the kindness of strangers and what to do if you lose your passport. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-wallet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Wallet</a>)</p> <h2>Report the loss immediately</h2> <p>Whether at home or abroad, it is important for you to report your lost passport immediately. If, like me, you are traveling when it happens, contact the local police department and file a report. Make sure to keep a copy of the report for your records. Additionally, the United States Department of State must also be notified to prevent fraudulent use of your passport. You can contact them by phone at (877) 487-2778. Once the passport is reported missing, it will be made invalid, so even if you do find it later, you'll no longer be able to use it.</p> <h2>Contact the U.S. embassy</h2> <p>If you are traveling internationally when you lose your passport, you need to contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate to get a replacement. Unfortunately, my passport was stolen after the embassy was closed on a Friday evening so I had to wait until Monday morning to get a replacement.</p> <p>When you go to the embassy or consulate, you will need a recent color headshot facing the camera taken within the last six months. Make sure the photo is two inches tall and two inches wide. Your head must be between one inch and one and three-eighths inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. I know this sounds nitpicky, but passport photos have very specific requirements.</p> <p>Also, be prepared to pay the passport replacement fee, provide proof of your identity and U.S. citizenship, and bring the police report and your travel itinerary. The embassy or consulate will have the forms you need to file to get a replacement passport. The wait at the embassy or consulate can be a few hours and you may need to answer a number of questions. Replacing my passport took the better part of a day from start to finish.</p> <h2>Be prepared to pay</h2> <p>If you are in the U.S. when you lose your passport, you have some additional options depending upon when you next plan to travel abroad. You can put in for a rush order if you are willing to pay an additional fee of $60 and can visit a <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/where-to-apply/agencies.html" target="_blank">regional passport agency office</a> in person. Just as when you are abroad, you will need to bring a photo, proof of your identity and citizenship, the police report, and your travel itinerary. This rush option is for people who are traveling abroad within the next two weeks.</p> <p>If you have more time, you can go to an authorized passport acceptance facility, such as a local post office, to get your replacement passport. The State Department website has a list of <a href="https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/" target="_blank">approved U.S. passport facilities</a> that you can filter by ZIP code. It will take about four to six weeks to receive your new passport through an authorized facility.</p> <p>Replacing a lost or stolen passport is an inconvenience, but don't beat yourself up over it. You are not the first person, nor will you be the last to have this happen. Fortunately, there is a well-detailed process to get a replacement no matter what the circumstances. And, like me, it may just give you an interesting travel story to tell when you do (eventually!) arrive home.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F3-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-passport&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F3%2520Things%2520You%2520Should%2520Do%2520Immediately%2520After%2520Losing%2520Your%2520Passport.png&amp;description=3%20Things%20You%20Should%20Do%20Immediately%20After%20Losing%20Your%20Passport"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/3%20Things%20You%20Should%20Do%20Immediately%20After%20Losing%20Your%20Passport.png" alt="3 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Passport" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-passport">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-2"> <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/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</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/travel-and-money-using-your-credit-card-on-the-road">Travel and Money: Using Your Credit Card on the Road</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/once-in-a-lifetime-experiences-ive-earned-with-credit-card-rewards">Once-In-A-Lifetime Experiences I&#039;ve Earned With Credit Card Rewards</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/5-cheap-international-vacation-destinations">5 Cheap International Vacation Destinations</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/the-best-times-of-year-to-travel-anywhere">The Best Times of Year to Travel Anywhere</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel id identification international travel lost passport Passport travel documents Tue, 15 Aug 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Christa Avampato 2003024 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Actually Get When You Win Free Food for Life http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-actually-get-when-you-win-free-food-for-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-actually-get-when-you-win-free-food-for-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-612641212 (1).jpg" alt="Learning what you get when you win free food" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some people say that there's no such thing as a free lunch. However, there are plenty of retailers promising you the chance to score free meals, ranging from pizza to ice cream, for life! Are these contest prizes too good to be true, though? Let's find out what you actually get when you win &quot;free food for life.&quot;</p> <h2>1. McDonald's Free Soft Serve for Life</h2> <p>In honor of National Ice Cream Day, McDonald's offered a <a href="https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/national-ice-cream-day.html" target="_blank">free vanilla cone</a> and a chance to win free soft serve for life for customers who downloaded and used the Mickey D's app to redeem their vanilla cone on July 16 between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. While the promise of a cool treat for every day of your life was quite nice, the actual prize was even better: a $312 McDonald's Arch Card and a check for $4,680. Hey, nothing is as refreshing as <em>cold</em>, hard cash! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/never-miss-free-ice-cream-again-complete-calendar-of-annual-free-stuff-days?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Never Miss Free Ice Cream Again: Complete Calendar of Annual Free Stuff Days</a>)</p> <h2>2. PizzaRev's Free Pizza for Life</h2> <p>Pizza tastes so good that some wish they could eat it every day. Banking on that idea, the chain PizzaRev ran a #BeRevolutionary contest to win pizza for life. So, what does that mean? According to the contest's official rules, California resident Haley won a maximum of one pizza per week in 2017. That's 52 pizzas a year for the rest of her life!</p> <h2>3. Undz's Free Pizza for Life</h2> <p>The definition of &quot;for life&quot; can vary a lot across retailers. Take for example, underwear online retailer <a href="https://undz.com/pages/win-pizza-for-life" target="_blank">Undz</a>, which offered the chance to score free pizza for life. The catch? It specified one large pizza each week for 20 years. If you do the math that translates to a total 1,040 large pizzas.</p> <h2>4. Circle K's Free Soda for Life</h2> <p>During hot days, a tall cold glass of the fizzy stuff can quench your thirst and hit the spot. Convenience store chain <a href="http://circlekstores.promo.eprize.com/polarpop/public/fulfillment/rules.pdf" target="_blank">Circle K</a> offered U.S. residents one grand prize of free Polar Pop for Life and 35 first prizes of the same soda for one year. The grand prize was actually a $10,950 Circle K gift card, and the 35 first prizes were awarded as $365 Circle K gift cards. With such a gift card, winning &quot;free soda&quot; also meant you could get anything from coffee to hot dogs to snacks at this convenience store.</p> <h2>5. Starbucks' Free Coffee for Life</h2> <p>Caffeine lovers, rejoice! The promise of the bitter, black elixir for free for life is just too titillating and was brought to life by the biggest coffee chain in the world. For the grand prize winner, <a href="https://starbucks.promo.eprize.com/holiday16/public/fulfillment/rules.pdf" target="_blank">Starbucks For Life</a> meant a daily credit for 30 years for one free food or beverage item redeemable at participating stores in the U.S. The daily credit would be delivered through a registered Starbucks smartphone app or registered gift card. Alcoholic beverage menu items were off limits to the grand prize winner.</p> <h2>6. Vehicle City Tacos' Free Tacos for Life</h2> <p>So far, we've reviewed free-food-for-life offers that were subject to luck. Here's one that required you to actually go on a dare. Flint, Michigan-based <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/01/free_tacos_for_life_if_you_tat.html#comments" target="_blank">Vehicle City Tacos</a> grants one free taco every day for life to customers who tattoo a taco saying &quot;VCT&quot; or &quot;Vehicle City Taco&quot; on their bodies. The tattoo must also be at least 3-by-3 inches and be located somewhere that can be shown in public.</p> <h2>7. Burger King's Free Whoppers for Life</h2> <p>In the U.S., the King is very selective about who he selects to hand out the coveted BK Crown Card &mdash; which grants you free Burger King menu items, such as the whopper, for life. There are <a href="http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/06/celebrities-get-free-burgers-with-burger-king-crown-gold-card.html" target="_blank">12 famous BK Crown Card holders</a>, including Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Hudson (former Burger King employee), and George Lucas.</p> <p>But instead of limiting itself to well-known celebrities, Burger King chose a different route in Argentina (where it's been for over 60 years) and gave average Janes and Joes with a unique feature a chance to get free food for life. All Argentina residents with last name &quot;Parrilla&quot; (which translates to &quot;grill&quot; in English) would be eligible to get <a href="http://www.infobae.com/espacio-no-editorial/2017/04/03/por-que-las-familias-de-apellido-parrilla-comeran-hamburguesas-gratis-de-por-vida/" target="_blank">free whoppers for life</a> after registering at a local store and providing their government-issued ID number.</p> <p>With about 12,000 Parrillas living in Argentina, that was a bold move for Burger King! In the end, an estimated 300 Parrillas took Burger King up on the offer. &quot;Free Whopper for Life&quot; meant one free Whopper per month at any Burger King store in Argentina for the entire life of the registered Parrilla.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-you-actually-get-when-you-win-free-food-for-life&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2520You%2520Actually%2520Get%2520When%2520You%2520Win%2520Free%2520Food%2520for%2520Life.jpg&amp;description=What%20You%20Actually%20Get%20When%20You%20Win%20Free%20Food%20for%20Life"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20You%20Actually%20Get%20When%20You%20Win%20Free%20Food%20for%20Life.jpg" alt="What You Actually Get When You Win Free Food for Life" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-actually-get-when-you-win-free-food-for-life">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/6-ways-to-score-free-food-at-chick-fil-a">6 Ways to Score Free Food at Chick-fil-A</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/avoid-these-fast-food-items-say-fast-food-employees">“Avoid These Fast Food Items,” Say Fast Food Employees</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/7-starbucks-savings-hacks-that-actually-work">7 Starbucks Savings Hacks That Actually Work</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/14-secret-fast-food-menus-revealed">14 Secret Fast Food Menus Revealed</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/eat-256-big-macs-to-win-a-5-gift-card-0">Eat 256 Big Macs to Win a $5 Gift Card</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Food and Drink contest winner contests Fast Food free coffee free food free food for life mcdonald's burger king Starbucks Tue, 08 Aug 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1998637 at http://www.wisebread.com Who Really Benefits From a Class-Action Settlement? http://www.wisebread.com/who-really-benefits-from-a-class-action-settlement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/who-really-benefits-from-a-class-action-settlement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-481471171.jpg" alt="class action lawsuit" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A couple years ago I got an unexpected letter in the mail. A company where I had interviewed for a job 10 years prior was accused of using discriminatory hiring practices. My human resources record with the company had been unsealed as a result of the lawsuit and, according to this letter from the lead law firm for the plaintiffs (the people filing the lawsuit), I had been discriminated against during the hiring process. I needed to respond with a phone call and letter confirming that I had indeed interviewed during that specific time frame.</p> <p>The letter struck a chord. I had indeed gone through a harrowing interview process with that company and I was devastated when I didn't get an offer because they were my dream company to work for at the time. Their reasons for not hiring me were very hurtful (they were actually honest about their discrimination when it happened), and it left a scar on me that persisted for a long time.</p> <p>About a year after the law firm contacted me, I received a sizable check in the mail for a settlement. This incident prompted my interest in class-action lawsuits and who benefits from them. You see stories about class-action settlements all the time in the news, and you may even get contacted if you purchased a certain product within a period of time, with a message saying you could be entitled to a settlement. Many of these settlements will only yield a few dollars per person, so the effort put forth may not be worth it, but how can you tell?</p> <p>Here's what I learned from this experience.</p> <h2>Settlements vary widely</h2> <p>Depending upon the damage done to plaintiffs and the number of plaintiffs in a case, the amount of a settlement varies widely from a handful of dollars to thousands of dollars per plaintiff. Almost all class-action suits that resolve favorably for plaintiffs result in a monetary settlement. As a plaintiff, you don't have much, if any, say in how the case is argued, the way the firm representing the plaintiffs presents the evidence, the amount of the settlement, or even when to take a settlement rather than continuing to litigate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-settlement-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Smart Things to Do With Your Settlement Money</a>)</p> <h2>How to track them down</h2> <p>In my case, I was fortunate that the law firm directly contacted me at my home address. I didn't even know the lawsuit was underway. I thought it was odd that I wasn't aware of this, but actually, it's not that uncommon.</p> <p>Many people don't realize a lawsuit is underway unless it makes headline news. Fortunately, you can keep tabs on some class-action suits by checking <a href="http://www.consumer-action.org/lawsuits" target="_blank">Consumer Action</a>. If you suspect you may be entitled to money from a class-action lawsuit, type in the name of the company being sued, for example, and see what pops up. If you do find something, this website provides instructions on how to file your claim as part of the lawsuit.</p> <h2>Who cashes in?</h2> <p>The law firm of Mayer Brown LLP did an empirical <a href="http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/uploads/sites/1/Class_Action_Study.pdf" target="_blank">study of 148 consumer or employee class action suits</a> that were filed in or removed to federal court in 2009. This kind of study is very rare and it turned up some disappointing data.</p> <ul> <li>It turns out, 14 percent of cases during that period had not reached a resolution.</li> <li>Of the 86 percent that did have a resolution, less than a third involved any kind of settlement for the plaintiffs. So most of the time, there was absolutely no benefit to those who were suing the company.</li> <li>Also, of the 86 percent that did have a resolution, not a single one went to trial. This means that the merits of the plaintiff complaints were never fully considered by a judge or jury in any of the cases.</li> </ul> <h2>Given the data, should you participate?</h2> <p>Should you even participate in a class-action suit? That's a very personal question and despite the data, I would say &quot;maybe.&quot; If, like my class-action participation, there is a high amount of potential payout versus time involved to participate, then it can be worth it.</p> <p>For 10 years, I felt badly about what had happened to me with that potential employer, so the emotional stakes were high. But the time investment needed to participate was small. It took me just 15 minutes to make the phone call to the law firm, confirm my details, and send them a short letter. I didn't have to do anything else. I didn't have to pay anyone any money to participate or to collect my settlement. Through my research, I found out that my case was the very best case scenario of a class-action suit. The vast majority don't resolve nearly as favorably as mine did.</p> <p>Even if my class-action suit hadn't resulted in any kind of settlement for me, I would still consider my participation worthwhile. I had felt wronged by this company for a very long time. For me, just the fact that the case had enough merit to be brought to the company's attention was a form of vindication that relieved a lot of sadness and shame for me. In my book, that's a victory.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwho-really-benefits-from-a-class-action-settlement&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWho%2520Really%2520Benefits%2520From%2520a%2520Class-Action%2520Settlement-.jpg&amp;description=Who%20Really%20Benefits%20From%20a%20Class-Action%20Settlement%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Who%20Really%20Benefits%20From%20a%20Class-Action%20Settlement-.jpg" alt="Who Really Benefits From a Class-Action Settlement?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-really-benefits-from-a-class-action-settlement">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-2"> <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/6-strange-ways-online-shopping-has-changed-the-world">6 Strange Ways Online Shopping Has Changed the World</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/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</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/10-ways-to-be-the-perfect-customer">10 Ways to Be the Perfect Customer</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/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</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/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs cash in cash settlement class-action settlement extra income lawsuit legal settlement shopping Mon, 31 Jul 2017 08:30:09 +0000 Christa Avampato 1992968 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How Debt Settlement Can Make Your Debt Worse http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/financial_problems.jpg" alt="Financial problems" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The commercials, usually played on AM radio or late-night TV, promise an easy solution to your debt woes: Debt settlement companies say they can eliminate your debts in as little as two months or reduce the amount you owe by 65 percent, 75 percent, or 85 percent.</p> <p>That sounds pretty great. But debt settlement isn't quite as simple as those commercials promise.</p> <p>Working with debt settlement companies &mdash; firms that negotiate lower debt amounts with your creditors &mdash; comes with serious financial repercussions. And plenty can go wrong. Before you sign up for debt settlement, make sure you explore your other options.</p> <h2>A dangerous gamble</h2> <p>The biggest problem with debt settlement is that it's a gamble. You're gambling that the process will work and that your debts will either be eliminated or lowered. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that this will actually happen.</p> <p>And because of how debt settlement companies operate, you can cause severe damage to your credit while taking this bet. Say you are struggling to afford your monthly credit card payments and a host of large medical bills. You call a company specializing in debt settlement. That company will then tell you to stop making your payments to this creditor.</p> <p>That sounds like terrible advice (because it is). The debt settlement company's goal here is to convince your creditors that there is no way you can afford to pay off your debt in full. But it often takes months for the settlement company to convince your creditors to lower your debt. Defaulting for that long ruins your credit.</p> <p>At the same time, the debt settlement company will ask you to make regular payments to it, which the company will deposit in a savings account. During the time that you're not making payments to your creditors but you are making them to the debt settlement service, the company will negotiate with your creditors, hoping to reduce the amount you owe to each of them.</p> <p>Once your creditors and your debt settlement company reach an agreement, the company will use the funds you've deposited to pay off the remainder of your debt, taking a cut as its own fee.</p> <h2>It doesn't always work</h2> <p>Unfortunately, debt settlement doesn't always work. A report by the Association of Debt Settlement Companies made to the Federal Trade Commission in 2007 reported that on average, only 45 percent to 50 percent of consumers complete a debt settlement program once they've started it. Many customers take actions that will hurt their credit scores only to gain no financial relief by doing so.</p> <p>In 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported even lower rates, saying that less than 10 percent of consumers successfully complete a debt settlement program.</p> <h2>You could be charged high monthly fees</h2> <p>The National Foundation for Credit Counseling says that many debt settlement companies charge monthly fees for their services that can run as high as $89 a month. That's a lot of money for a service that might not reduce your debt significantly anyway.</p> <h2>You'll pay a lot even if your debts are reduced</h2> <p>Debt settlement companies typically charge their clients in one of two ways: They'll either charge a percentage of your total debt for their fee, or a percentage of the final debt amount that they negotiate.</p> <p>Say you owe $70,000. If the company charges you 20 percent of your total debt, you'll pay $14,000 for their services. Maybe the debt settlement company reduces that $70,000 debt to $35,000. If the company charges, say, 20 percent of your final negotiated debt, you'd pay $7,000.</p> <p>Obviously, it's better to work with a company that charges you a percentage of your settled debt. But even then, you'll be paying plenty for debt settlement.</p> <h2>Your credit score might crash</h2> <p>Debt settlement can devastate your credit score. Any time you pay a credit card bill more than 30 days late, for example, your credit score will fall by 100 points or more. If you deliberately do this while working with a debt settlement company, you will see your score plummet.</p> <p>Your credit report will also list any debts that were settled. This is considered a negative on your report because your creditors were forced to accept less than what they were owed. This, understandably, might make creditors less excited to work with you in the future.</p> <p>Often, debt settlement companies negotiate a debt that has already been charged off, meaning that the original creditor has given up on collecting it and has sold the debt to another creditor that then tries to get at least some money from you. Such debt will be listed as charged off on your report. This negative mark will remain on your credit report for seven years, and won't disappear just because you eventually settled the debt.</p> <h2>Alternatives</h2> <p>Fortunately, there are alternatives to debt settlement.</p> <ul> <li> <p>If you have a high enough credit score, you can apply for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards" target="_blank">balance transfer credit card</a>. Many of these cards have low or no interest for periods of at least a year &mdash; often longer. You will have to pay a balance transfer fee (usually 3 percent of your balance) and be very careful about finishing paying your balance before the introductory period ends and a new, much higher rate kicks in. But for some people, this option works. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-hidden-dangers-of-credit-card-balance-transfers?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Hidden Dangers of Balance Transfers</a>)</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>You can also check with your bank or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-use-peer-to-peer-lending-to-pay-down-credit-card-debt" target="_blank">peer-to-peer lenders</a> to get a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-personal-loans-may-be-better-than-credit-cards" target="_blank">debt consolidation loan</a> at a lower interest rate than you're paying now. But with these types of loans you'll also need a good credit score.</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>If you don't have good credit, consider contacting your creditors directly to work out a repayment plan that fits your budget. Creditors are under no obligation to work with you, but many will as a way to eventually get the money that you owe them.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can also work with a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency to craft a debt management plan (DMP). The counseling agency will negotiate with your creditors on your behalf, typically resulting in a 20 percent lower interest rate and a 50 percent lower monthly payment.</p> <p>You will usually have to close all of your credit card accounts while you're under the DMP, but the upside is that you will only have one payment to make and that's to the credit counseling agency. Closing your accounts will cause a temporary dip in your credit score, but a DMP is much less harmful overall to your credit than debt resettlement. You can find nonprofit credit counselors in your area through one of two associations: the <a href="https://www.nfcc.org/locator/" target="_blank">National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)</a> or the <a href="http://fcaa.org/" target="_blank">Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA)</a>.</p> </li> <li> <p>As a last resort, you may consider bankruptcy. This is sometimes less damaging to your credit report than a debt settlement, though certain types of bankruptcy stay on your credit report for longer. Be sure you thoroughly assess the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-bankruptcy-is-the-right-move" target="_blank">pros and cons of bankruptcy</a> before taking this step.</p> </li> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fheres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHeres%2520How%2520Debt%2520Settlement%2520Can%2520Make%2520Your%2520Debt%2520Worse.jpg&amp;description=Heres%20How%20Debt%20Settlement%20Can%20Make%20Your%20Debt%20Worse"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Heres%20How%20Debt%20Settlement%20Can%20Make%20Your%20Debt%20Worse.jpg" alt="Here's How Debt Settlement Can Make Your Debt Worse" width="250" height="374" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse">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-2"> <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/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</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-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">The Overdraft Protection Racket: Why Banks Want You To Overdraw, And How You Can Get Your Money Back.</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/what-can-you-do-with-13-extra-a-week-0">What can you do with $13 extra a week?</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/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them">4 Annoying Things Bill Collectors Can&#039;t Do -- And How to Stop Them</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/why-you-need-to-know-the-difference-between-secured-and-unsecured-debts">Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Debts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Debt Management bad advice credit score Creditors debt settlement fees hidden dangers repayment plans Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1985925 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Misleading Gadget Marketing Gimmicks http://www.wisebread.com/8-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fun_with_virtual_reality_headset.jpg" alt="Fun with virtual reality headset" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Consumers now have thousands of computers, tablets, e-readers, phones, game consoles, and other gadgets to choose from. Unfortunately, technology marketing teams have a frustrating history of creating misleading marketing campaigns &mdash; from the commercials they create to the facts listed on product listings. Here are eight misleading marketing gimmicks to be aware of before you purchase any new tech toys.</p> <h2>1. PlayStation 4 Pro's 4K graphics</h2> <p>The new PlayStation has been marketed as a new 4K gaming experience. Despite the marketing claims, developers have begun to admit that the <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2016/09/08/ps4-pro-isnt-4k-that-doesnt-matter/" target="_blank">console doesn't have the processing power</a> to render a true 4K image. Instead, the PS4 Pro fills in half of the required pixels for a 4K image (like a checkerboard) and utilizes an algorithm to fill in the missing pixels for a 4K screen, which will still result in a high definition gaming experience, but not technically 4K.</p> <p>The PS4 Pro will be close enough to 4K image that most gamers won't be able to tell the difference. Mislabeling the PS4 Pro as 4K isn't malicious, but it's still indicative of an industry that continually oversells image quality as true 4K.</p> <h2>2. Video game trailers with misleading images</h2> <p>Video games, every once in awhile, mislead gamers about the quality of the graphics. Gamers awed by the trailers, purchase the game, and then are disappointed by the poorer-than-advertised image quality. Game marketers hoodwink gamers in two ways: pre-rendered images and cross console game images.</p> <p><a href="http://www.craveonline.com/entertainment/1157417-steam-makes-major-change-no-mans-sky-false-advertising" target="_blank"><em>No Man's Sky</em> has come under fire</a> (and an investigation by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority) for using concept art and pre-rendered footage to advertise their game in a manner that over-exaggerates the graphics.</p> <p>In 2010, <a href="https://www.gamespot.com/articles/final-fantasy-xiii-ad-banned/1100-6273824/" target="_blank">Final Fantasy XIII's trailer</a> was banned by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for using PlayStation 3 clips to advertise the Xbox 360 version of the game. The trailer convinced individuals to purchase the game, only for them to discover the Xbox 360 version of the game had lower quality graphics.</p> <h2>3. Available storage space</h2> <p>Available memory is an important aspect of many purchases. Is 8GB enough? Or would a 32GB device be better? Each consumer needs to make an educated decision which device best fits their needs. The problem is that tech manufacturers often choose to not advertise how much of the memory has already been used by preinstalled software and hardware.</p> <p>How big can the discrepancy between advertised and available storage be? In the past, <a href="http://wgntv.com/2015/01/02/16gb-iphone-not-really-a-16gb-and-now-apple-is-being-sued-over-it/" target="_blank">Apple iPhones and iPads had 20 percent less</a> storage space than advertised. And in one case, one of <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2013/1/29/3929110/surface-pro-disk-space-windows-8" target="_blank">Microsoft's tablets had less than half</a> of the advertised storage space.</p> <p>Before you purchase a new device, check user reviews for the product, and the product listings on Amazon, as the site tends to list both overall and available memory.</p> <h2>4. Laptops with overinflated battery power estimates</h2> <p>Laptop manufacturers rarely advertise a realistic battery estimate. Major tech companies have fallen into a maddening habit of unrealistically tweaking power tests to skew the results far higher than most consumers can expect.</p> <p>Users might get the projected battery power out of the laptop if they dim the screen far lower than comfortable, increase battery power saving settings far higher than useful, and never play games or watch movies.</p> <p>On average, laptop power projections tend to be two to four hours lower than what the company claims. If you're in the market for a new computer, you can find out just how much each major computer company over-exaggerates their battery life by checking <a href="http://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/03/which-laptop-battery-tests-manufacturers-overstate/" target="_blank">computer battery tests conducted</a> by Which.co.uk.</p> <h2>5. E-readers with misleading battery calculations</h2> <p>The manufacturers of e-readers are slightly more honest (if you read the fine-print) about their attempts to mislead consumers about the battery power of their devices. Amazon's Voyage's specs at the very top of the page state the &quot;battery lasts weeks, not hours.&quot; At the very bottom of the page, Amazon reveals that it will only last weeks if it is used half an hour per day.</p> <p>It's not just Amazon. Barnes &amp; Nobles advertises that their NOOK GlowLight Plus has &quot;weeks of battery life&quot; and later reveals the 30 minutes of reading time per day formula they used to come up with the number.</p> <h2>6. E-readers cause &quot;no eye strain&quot;</h2> <p>Amazon has claimed for years their Kindles don't cause eye strain. Recently they softened their claim by advertising their newer Kindles can be read for hours without eye strain.</p> <p>It's true that the Kindle is slightly easier on the eyes in some circumstances, but it won't necessarily eliminate the chance of eye strain after hours of reading.</p> <p>The New York Times explains that <a href="https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/do-e-readers-cause-eye-strain/?_r=0" target="_blank">e-readers can be great in bright settings</a> but cause strain in dark settings due to E-ink low contrast ratio and the backlight on the screen. An e-reader can eliminate some eye strain, but integrating breaks into your reading binges every 20 to 30 minutes is a far more useful method.</p> <h2>7. Unlimited phone data plans</h2> <p>Are you tired of meticulously monitoring your data consumption each month? Phone companies have an answer for that pesky problem. Just sign up for an unlimited data plan.</p> <p>These plans sound wonderful, but the reality is slightly less than ideal. For example, Verizon's plan only ensures 4G LTE service for the first 22 GB of service. After that, they can decrease your speed of service. Other networks offer similar caveats. T-Mobile, AT&amp;T, and Sprint all have policies that allow them to decrease the speeds they grant individuals once they reach 22 to 28GB each month.</p> <p>Think very carefully before signing onto an unlimited plan, the cost might not be worth the service offered. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-prevent-your-smartphone-from-wasting-data?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Ways to Prevent Your Smartphone From Wasting Data</a>)</p> <h2>8. Surround sound headphones</h2> <p>Headphones are often marketed as surround sound gadgets even if they <a href="http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/08/02/surround-sound-headphones-explained" target="_blank">don't offer a true surround sound experience</a>. When consumers pay for a surround sound experience, they expect that the headphones or stereos used will send sound toward an individual from every direction.</p> <p>A large portion of the marketplace offers simulated surround sound headphones and other gadgets that have two speakers and utilize internal and external amps that turn stereo sound waves into a surround sound experience.</p> <p>Simulated headphones are typically cheaper, but they don't offer the same level of high quality surround sound experience.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/samantha-stauf">Samantha Stauf</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks">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/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</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/how-to-buy-a-new-computer-without-breaking-your-budget">How to Buy a New Computer Without Breaking Your Budget</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/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online">8 Items You Should Never Buy Online</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/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping advertising marketing gimmicks shopping tips tech gadgets tech toys Tue, 20 Jun 2017 08:30:18 +0000 Samantha Stauf 1969194 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Items You Should Never Buy Online http://www.wisebread.com/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/problems_buying_online_with_credit_card.jpg" alt="Problems buying online with credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Online shopping makes life easier. There's no doubt about that. But what about when it doesn't? Depending on the retailer, returns can be a huge hassle, and some make it difficult for you to prove that an item was received in poor condition or wasn't what you ordered.</p> <p>With most purchases, the reward outweighs the risk. However, when online shopping, just because you can buy an item without leaving your home, doesn't mean you should. Here are a few things that aren't worth buying online.</p> <h2>1. Cars</h2> <p>There's no way to tell if a car, or any vehicle, actually works unless you drive it. Since you can't test drive a vehicle online, purchasing that way is risky. Also, most used car-buying advice tells you to have a mechanic look at the car before you buy it. There's no way you can do that without having access to the car in-person.</p> <p>Besides, what's more fun than a test drive? How else will you know that you enjoy driving the car, that it is comfortable, and has the features you want? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-can-score-a-great-deal-on-a-new-car?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Times You Can Score a Great Deal on a New Car</a>)</p> <h2>2. Pets</h2> <p>With all of the places out there that treat animals terribly &mdash; think puppy mills and unlicensed breeders &mdash; buying online is a huge gamble. After all, if you don't see where the animals were raised and get a clue as to how they were cared for, your sweet ball of fluff could arrive with a terrible and costly disease.</p> <p>Plus, meeting a pet in-person helps you determine if their personality is a good fit for you and your family. The only way to find out about that is to see the animal before you buy or adopt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-best-pets-for-frugal-animal-lovers?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 8 Best Pets for Frugal Animal Lovers</a>)</p> <h2>3. Real estate</h2> <p>Buying any sort of property should be done in-person, even if you have to travel to see it. Unless you view the property, you'll have no real idea of its condition. If you've seen any real estate photographs lately, you know that they can make a home or a piece of property look drastically better than it actually is.</p> <p>Looking at property in-person also gives you a much better idea of its size, shape, and suitability for your life than you'll get if you just look at it online.</p> <h2>4. Prescription medication</h2> <p>There are many reputable pharmacies that sell prescriptions at discounted rates, but there are also many that aren&rsquo;t. While these may make some effort to get you the right drug at the right time, you won't really know what you're getting. And you won't know if the place is inspected and regulated, either.</p> <p>The only exception to this would be purchasing from an online pharmacy that you have access to through your doctor or insurance company. These are much more likely to be reputable, because they have to prove themselves to get that sort of professional affiliation.</p> <h2>5. Name brand knockoffs</h2> <p>It's tempting to buy designer knockoffs online, but the truth is that it's not worth it. Many of the sites that sell these items are not secure, or are located in countries where online security, overall, is lax. You can never know what might happen to your credit card information once it's out there.</p> <h2>6. Large appliances</h2> <p>There are great deals on large appliances online, but what happens if it doesn't work out? They can be impossible to repackage, and then you have to arrange (and sometimes pay for!) the item to be picked up again. Besides, who can tell if the color is actually going to match and be perfect for your home unless you see the item in-person first. Save yourself a massive potential headache and buy these in the store. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</a>)</p> <h2>7. Furniture</h2> <p>This is similar to the discussion of large appliances, above. While it's possible to get a great deal on an item when you purchase online, the potential return process makes the whole thing less desirable.</p> <p>In addition, you need to make sure that your furniture is comfortable and that you like the materials. Unless you can sit on that couch or open and close the drawers on the dresser, you won't know that until the item is delivered.</p> <h2>8. Mattresses</h2> <p>There are some mattress companies that only sell online. While some people swear by these products, it seems dubious to me. After all, we spend about ⅓ of our lives asleep! You need to know that you'll be comfortable, and the best way to do that is to try out a mattress in a store, and then to check that it comes with a warranty. Most companies will take your mattress back for a certain number of days, so you can try it out first. If you do purchase a mattress online, confirm that it comes with a reasonable trial period.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online">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/6-things-its-better-to-buy-at-the-last-minute">6 Things It&#039;s Better to Buy at the Last Minute</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-one-question-you-should-ask-before-every-major-purchase">The One Question You Should Ask Before Every Major Purchase</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/how-to-prevent-a-drunken-online-shopping-spree">How to Prevent a Drunken Online Shopping Spree</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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</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/5-things-you-should-never-buy-on-groupon-or-livingsocial">5 Things You Should Never Buy on Groupon or LivingSocial</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping internet scam never buy online online shopping shopping tips Shopping Tricks Spending Money Mon, 19 Jun 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1966172 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Common Shopping Myths, Debunked http://www.wisebread.com/6-common-shopping-myths-debunked <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-common-shopping-myths-debunked" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/surprised_funny_woman_with_shopping_bags.jpg" alt="Surprised Funny Woman with Shopping Bags" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As consumers, we are bombarded by a lot of rules and advice about the purchases we make. Do this, don't do that, buy this, buy often, and so on. However, most of this &quot;helpful advice&quot; comes from the very people who have a significant stake in seeing us open our wallets more often. Here are six common shopping myths that we have debunked. Don't fall for the hype.</p> <h2>1. Black Friday is the best day of the year for deals</h2> <p>The frenzy surrounding Black Friday makes it feel like the ultimate shopping day. This is the day you'll get all of those bargains just before the holidays; you are going to save a fortune, right? Well&hellip;yes and no.</p> <p>There are some legitimately crazy-great deals on Black Friday, but they are extremely limited and go quickly. The other deals throughout the day are not guaranteed to be the lowest prices of the year. In fact, many items can be less expensive at other times during the year. You will also be bombarded with prices that are compared to the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price), which is seldom the regular retail price, even when there's no sale. And, of course, online deals and Cyber Monday give you similar chances to save. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-genius-ways-to-save-on-cyber-monday?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Genius Ways to Save on Cyber Monday</a>)</p> <h2>2. Replace your mattress every 7-10 years</h2> <p>A good rule to remember with a mattress is YMMV (your mileage may vary). Depending on the quality of your mattress, how it is used, how you care for it, what mattress protector you use (if any) and a host of other factors, you could easily get 15 or more years from your mattress.</p> <p>If you are away on business a lot, and live alone, it could last 20 years. On the other hand, you may need to replace it earlier than seven years if you have kids using it as a trampoline every day, it's a low end mattress with a low coil count, or it has suffered from significant spills, accidents, and other damage. It's like an oil change, or a pair of sneakers. It's not the age of the mattress &mdash; it's the mileage.</p> <p>Once you realize you're waking up stiff and sore, and you're tossing and turning at night, it's time to start looking around. But don't believe an arbitrary number given to you by companies invested in making money off new sales.</p> <h2>3. Any food past its sell-by-date must be thrown away</h2> <p>This is another rule we follow blindly, causing people all over the globe to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-wasting-13-of-the-food-you-buy-heres-how-to-stop" target="_blank">waste one-third of all food</a>. We follow the rule because of the date on the package, also known as a &quot;best before date&quot; or &quot;best by&quot; and these are all just as confusing. The sell-by date is a guide given to stores so that they keep only the freshest produce on the shelves.</p> <p>However, there is a huge difference between freshest and edible. Those dates are not meant for consumers to live by. Food can remain good for days, weeks, months, or even years after those sell-by dates. Canned goods, including low-acid foods like meat, vegetables, and fish, may be good for up to five years, according to the USDA. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-eat-this-a-quick-guide-to-expiration-dates-and-food-safety?ref=seealso" target="_blank">A Quick Guide to Expiration Dates and Food Safety</a>)</p> <p>You have to use your best judgment, and your senses. Does it look good, smell good, feel good, and taste good? It's probably fine. If you get a whiff of something you don't like, it feels slimy or unusual, or just sets off red flags, then trash it. But don't throw away anything based on some arbitrary date given to ensure maximum freshness. You're literally throwing money into the garbage.</p> <h2>4. Diamonds are a girl's best friend</h2> <p>Sure, Marilyn, Sheryl Crow, Prince, Shirley Bassey, and Miranda Lambert have all crooned about diamonds. The ads you see on TV and online make it seem like gifts of diamond rings, necklaces, and earrings are the best possible gift to get for a woman. But it's all just fakery, marketing hype, and clever campaigning centered around the DeBeers brand.</p> <p>For decades, DeBeers has been stockpiling diamonds to keep the price artificially high. And in the '80s, they released an odious campaign announcing that &quot;you can't look at Jane and tell me she's not worth two months' salary.&quot; Actually, she's worth a lot more. Your partner is priceless, but the ring on her finger? It's almost worthless once you put it on there.</p> <p>If any woman believes that the ring on her finger is insurance against things going wrong, she is sorely mistaken. That $10,000 diamond ring will fetch between $2,000 and $3,000 on the secondary market &mdash; if you're lucky.</p> <p>Diamonds are only worth about&nbsp;<a href="http://diamondcuttersintl.com/qa/mrs-4/" target="_blank">19.7 percent of the original price</a> once you leave the store. Unlike an investment, a diamond never goes up in value. Get simulated diamonds for a fraction of the price, or a different gemstone altogether. Spend the rest of the money on gold, property, or something that has a much better shot of going up in value over the years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-great-reasons-to-choose-a-secondhand-engagement-ring-and-where-to-find-one?ref=seealso" target="_blank">3 Great Reasons to Choose a Secondhand Engagement Ring</a>)</p> <h2>5. Bulk-buying always saves you money</h2> <p>Can you save money buying in bulk? Of course you can. The warehouse clubs with annual membership fees are excellent for certain products, and you should take advantage of them. But don't blindly assume that bigger is better. Sometimes, the per-item cost is actually more expensive in a bulk pack. Examine the labels closely, and see if what you're paying per item, or per ounce, is the best deal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-creative-ways-to-save-money-with-bulk-buying?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Creative Ways to Save Money With Bulk Buying</a>)</p> <h2>6. Outlet stores are your best bet for high-end discount goods</h2> <p>Who doesn't love shopping in outlet stores? You see these big brands everywhere, and then look at the price tags with shock; 70, 80, and even 90 percent off! This is a frugal shopper's dream.</p> <p>Well, not quite. Outlet stores propagate the myth that high-quality unsold items are being sold at a fraction of their original price. They maintain that these are last season's goods that rich people buy at full price, and you can grab them at a bargain because you don't care about being on-trend. This is all false.</p> <p>As reported by BuzzFeed, barely <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/sapna/customers-finally-aware-that-most-outlet-merchandise-is-now" target="_blank">10 percent of the inventory</a>&nbsp;in an outlet store is left over from the original full-price stores. Most of it is made specifically for these outlets, using lower-quality materials from &quot;brand-appropriate&quot; vendors. They may carry labels you love, but these are not of the quality you will ever find on the racks in Nordstrom, Saks, Gap, and the like.</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/6-common-shopping-myths-debunked">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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</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/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online">8 Items You Should Never Buy Online</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/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</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/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</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/8-ways-retailers-use-big-data-to-track-you">8 Ways Retailers Use Big Data to Track You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping myths debunked shopping myths shopping tips shopping trends true or false Mon, 05 Jun 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1959135 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Cash In On Getting Bumped From a Flight http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-cash-in-on-getting-bumped-from-a-flight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-cash-in-on-getting-bumped-from-a-flight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-180110401.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to cash in on getting bumped from a flight" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Even before a United passenger was infamously dragged off a plane because his flight was overbooked, most people dreaded getting <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight" target="_blank">bumped from a scheduled flight</a>. And yet, there are travelers who actively <em style="font-size: 13px;">try </em>to get bumped in order to reap the financial rewards airlines sometimes offer, which is usually a few hundred dollars in vouchers for future flights.</p> <p>However, airlines have been known to offer higher amounts, and cash or gift cards instead of vouchers. And now that United has rewritten its rules to offer customers up to $10,000 to give up a seat (and Delta will pay up to $9,950), there could be some real profit in the pursuit of the bump. Let's look at some tried and true bumpee tactics to learn how you can get in on the action.</p> <h2>Pad your travel itinerary with extra time</h2> <p>You've probably heard gate staff announcing that they're looking for folks to give up their seats, and then offer an escalating reward. As the numbers climb higher, you sit there kicking yourself for booking your flight the night before the wedding you're supposed to attend, making it impossible for you to take the deal.</p> <p>When possible, fly in a day earlier than you think you need to. Not only does this give you the freedom to accept a bump, but it makes it less likely that you'll miss your event due to other delays.</p> <h2>Choose a bump-friendly airline</h2> <p>Some airlines bump travelers more often than others. Fortunately, this data is publicly available. The Department of Transportation records two kinds of bumps: voluntary, as in, they paid you to give up your flight; and involuntary, as in what happened to <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-united-dragged-passenger-dao-0414-biz-20170413-story.html" target="_blank">Dr. David Dao on that United plane in Chicago</a>.</p> <p>In 2016, Delta had the most voluntary bumps at 129,825, followed by Southwest at 88,628, and United at 62,895. It's impossible to say if United's new, more passenger-friendly booking policies will change this in the next year, but based on past behavior, Delta is your best bet for getting paid to give up your seat.</p> <p>Delta has also been known as being particularly generous with its rewards; a Forbes columnist and her family <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurabegleybloom/2017/04/09/why-delta-air-lines-paid-me-11000-not-to-fly-to-florida-this-weekend/#208638f74de1" target="_blank">got paid $11,000</a> in gift cards to give up seats on several flights in one weekend. Sure, some of it was luck, but they also had a flexible travel schedule, they were willing to give up their seats each time their flights were rebooked, and they negotiated bump compensation to get the best deals.</p> <h2>Choose a bump-friendly flight</h2> <p>While some travel experts dismiss the notion that flights at any given time are more likely to be overbooked, others advocate booking flights on those nightmare days other flexible travelers avoid: the holidays, Monday mornings, and during periods of bad weather. The biggest downside to this tactic is that flights tend to be more expensive during busy times.</p> <h2>Have alternate plans in mind</h2> <p>Sometimes I've not volunteered for bump compensation simply because I didn't have enough time to think through how a schedule change would affect my plans. But if you know the opportunity to get bumped is a possibility, you can make contingency plans.</p> <p>How would you know in advance that you might get bumped? Check the day before, and before you leave for the airport, to see if the flight is full. You can find out if a flight is sold out by going through the booking process up until the part where you would pay on the airline site, or you could check the seat maps on <a href="https://www.expertflyer.com/" target="_blank">ExpertFlyer</a>.</p> <p>Once you know your flight is fully booked, research alternative flights that would get you to your destination at a satisfactory time, warn friends and family that you might be late, and pack a snack for a possible extended wait at the airport. Most importantly, avoid checking luggage.</p> <p>For most people, getting bumped means arriving late. But sometimes people give up their trips altogether, for the right offer. That columnist who got paid $11,000 originally thought she was going to be late to see family in Florida, but when the offers got richer and the family got bumped again and again, they ended up giving up their weekend altogether. For them, at that price, it was worth it.</p> <h2>Request the bump the right way</h2> <p>This is perhaps the most important step of all. Some airlines, including Delta, allow you to <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/how-delta-masters-the-game-of-overbooking-flights/" target="_blank">indicate when checking in</a> if you'd be willing to give up your seat for compensation, and for how much.</p> <p>For other airlines, your best bet is to arrive at the gate early, luggage in hand, and let the gate staff know that you'd be interested in being &quot;voluntarily denied boarding.&quot; If you have already researched an alternative flight, tell them about it. If they have multiple volunteers, staff are more likely to choose someone who makes the rebooking process easy for them. Then, stick close to gate area so you don't miss any announcements.</p> <h2>Negotiate well</h2> <p>So you've been chosen for voluntarily denied boarding! The work isn't over yet. Before agreeing to go ahead with the deal, ask (nicely) for these things:</p> <ul> <li> <p>A good seat on the rebooked flight of your choice.</p> </li> <li> <p>A higher amount. They offered $500? It doesn't hurt to ask for $800.</p> </li> <li> <p>Meals and lodging during your delay.</p> </li> <li> <p>Cash instead of vouchers.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Vouchers have expiration dates and other restrictions that can make them hard to use. Most airlines offer vouchers as a default; so ask if you can get cash or gift cards instead.</p> <p>If the airline is asking you to fly the next day, it will probably also cover your hotel and dinner for the night. If the delay is less than a day, you should be able to get meal vouchers to use at the airport. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-websites-for-last-minute-airfare-deals?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Best Websites for Last-Minute Airfare Deals</a>)</p> <h2>Understand that it's never a guarantee until the plane takes off</h2> <p>Even after planning ahead and negotiating a bump, chances are you'll end up on your original flight anyway. Usually gate staff gathers a list of volunteers, but it's not a done deal until the flight boards, because if anyone misses the flight, they won't need to bump you after all. With this in mind, make sure to let the staff know you want to retain your seat assignment and boarding pass while you wait.</p> <p>And however it ends up, don't forget to thank the gate staff who worked with you! Smart frequent travelers even carry gift cards or chocolates to thank staff members who get them bump offers.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-cash-in-on-getting-bumped-from-a-flight">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/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight">What to Do If You Get Bumped From a Flight</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/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</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/7-free-perks-you-should-ask-for-on-your-next-flight">7 Free Perks You Should Ask for on Your Next Flight</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/9-ways-to-protect-your-luggage-on-your-next-trip">9 Ways to Protect Your Luggage on Your Next Trip</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/4-affordable-autumn-destinations-for-nature-lovers">4 Affordable Autumn Destinations for Nature Lovers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel bumped from a flight flight passenger flight tips making money overbooked flight travel tips United Airlines Thu, 18 May 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1948479 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-185311029.jpg" alt="Woman asking questions before buying a refurbished appliance" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some form of risk comes with any purchase, whether it's a new or refurbished item. Fortunately, refurbished appliances and electronics can be a great deal, if you do your research first. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-secret-to-buying-electronics-for-cheap?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Refurbished Electronics Are Such a Great Deal</a>)</p> <p>Refurbished products are items that have been used, opened, or slightly damaged in some way. They have been repaired to return them to a &quot;like-new&quot; status. If you're thinking about buying a refurbished item to save some cash, ask yourself the following questions first.</p> <h2>Is it a good deal?</h2> <p>Large appliances are designed to last a long time with little maintenance, so you can feel confident about buying a one- or two-year-old refurbished appliance. As a general rule, if a refurbished item includes a full warranty, working parts, and significant savings, it's a good deal.</p> <p>Another way to quickly determine whether a particular purchase is worth it is to subtract the amount of depreciation from the original cost of the appliance. For instance, if a new appliance is $500 and is expected to last 10 years it would have $50 depreciation per year. If you are purchasing the item after two years, you'd ideally want to find something that is under $400 ($500 - two years of $50 depreciation = $400). (For help with this number, check out: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-long-these-6-appliances-should-last" target="_blank">Life Expectancy of 6 Major Appliances</a>)</p> <h2>Can you find a better price elsewhere?</h2> <p>Use a price comparison site like PriceGrabber to first determine where you can get the best deal. Then, compare the total costs of refurbished versus new appliances. New appliances frequently come with free or discounted delivery, which can save you quite a bit off the total cost. Inquire about shipping costs before deciding on a used appliance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-stupid-shopping-mistakes-even-smart-people-make?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Stupid Shopping Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a>)</p> <h2>How can you find a reputable seller?</h2> <p>It's important to choose a reputable retailer. While you might be able to save more money with a private seller or local repair shop, there&rsquo;s a chance you won't be able to do anything if the item turns out to be a lemon.</p> <p>You can find great deals on refurbished items both in-store and online. Consumer Reports suggests <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/electronics-computers/should-you-buy-refurbished-electronics/" target="_blank">purchasing refurbished electronics at Amazon</a>, but warns that they don't always include warranties. You can also see customer reviews on Amazon, which can help you make your purchasing decision.</p> <h2>What about warranty coverage?</h2> <p>Refurbished appliances are often covered by a warranty from the manufacturer or store. If the appliance has no warranty, or a very short one, it might be a warning sign that you're getting a dud.</p> <p>Even if the seller doesn't offer a new warranty, you might still receive what's left of the original warranty. These warranties tend to last between 30 days and one year, so they aren't usually as long as you would get with a new item. And while you can add an extended warranty to brand-new appliances, you can't do the same with refurbished items. Some warranties only cover new parts, so you'll want to inquire about exactly what the warranty covers.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">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/8-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks">8 Misleading Gadget Marketing Gimmicks</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/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</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/the-5-best-cast-iron-skillets">The 5 Best Cast Iron Skillets</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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</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/how-to-buy-a-new-computer-without-breaking-your-budget">How to Buy a New Computer Without Breaking Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping appliances buying used home goods refurb refurbished appliances refurbished items shopping shopping tips tech gadgets Wed, 17 May 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1948476 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do If You Get Bumped From a Flight http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-163031146.jpg" alt="Man learning what to do after getting bumped from a flight" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Overbooked flight? Somebody's going to get bumped &mdash; a common, but inconvenient aspect of travel by airplane. Indeed, it's within an airline's power to deny ticket-holding passengers a seat on a flight. Of course, passengers have some control in these situations, as well. The next time you're forced to give up your seat on an oversold domestic flight, know that <a href="https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights" target="_blank">these are your rights</a>, from the federal Department of Transportation.</p> <h2>1. Remember that airlines must seek volunteers first</h2> <p>Before an airline can bump anyone involuntarily, they need to first find passengers who are willing to give up their seats. If you have some flexibility in your schedule and can arrive at your next destination a bit later than originally planned, you can give up your ticket in exchange for a later departure time. If you decide to volunteer to give up your seat, find out whether the airline is able to issue you a new ticket or if you'll be flying standby. If it's the latter, find out whether the airline can offer you any compensation toward food or lodging while you wait. It could be a while, and, as we all know, airport cuisine isn't cheap.</p> <h2>2. Ask about compensation</h2> <p>If you are bumped involuntarily, ask an airline representative what, if any, compensation you are entitled to. You are entitled to compensation if, for example, the airline fails to arrange substitute transportation to get you to your final destination within one hour of your originally scheduled arrival time. The amount depends on the price of the ticket and the length of the delay. For example, if your new travel arrangement itinerary is scheduled to get you to your domestic destination between one and two hours after your originally scheduled arrival time, the airline is required to pay you 200 percent of your one-way fare to your final destination that day (up to $675 maximum).</p> <h2>3. Request a written copy of your rights</h2> <p>DOT requires each airline to offer all involuntarily bumped passengers a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets to fly on an oversold flight and who doesn't. This is your guide to navigating any bumped seating situation. You will be less likely to miss out on any compensation owed to you if you request and keep a copy of this with you.</p> <h2>4. Seek a refund for any prepaid upgrades</h2> <p>If you prepaid for an in-flight amenity, such as premium seat selection, and you do not receive those services on your substitute flight, the airline that bumped you must refund those charges. There will be times an airline is unable to honor prepaid amenities if, for example, the plane you are on for your replacement flight is not equipped with the same bells and whistles available on your original booking.</p> <h2>5. You get to choose: free tickets, vouchers, or a check</h2> <p>You have the right to insist on compensation by an on-the-spot check for the dollar amount equal to the ticket price. Alternately, airlines may offer free tickets or dollar-amount vouchers for future flights. The choice is yours!</p> <p>Our advice: If you paid a higher-than-normal rate for your ticket, opt for the check. This way, you'll have a shot at rebooking a new trip for less, leaving you with the leftovers to spend however you desire.</p> <h2>6. If you aren't compensated fairly, you can pursue a complaint</h2> <p>If being bumped costs you more than the airline will pay you on the spot, you can try to negotiate a higher settlement with their complaint department. But don't cash the check or use the voucher while you're negotiating. As soon as you spend your compensation bucks, your right to haggle for more is gone.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2520to%2520Do%2520If%2520You%2520Get%2520Bumped%2520From%2520a%2520Flight.jpg&amp;description=What%20to%20Do%20If%20You%20Get%20Bumped%20From%20a%20Flight"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20to%20Do%20If%20You%20Get%20Bumped%20From%20a%20Flight.jpg" alt="What to Do If You Get Bumped From a Flight" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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