attorney general en-US Share your brilliant burst (or dashed dream) as a consumer advocate <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/share-your-brilliant-burst-or-dashed-dream-as-a-consumer-advocate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src=" burst.jpg" alt="fireworks burst" title="burst of brilliance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ever protested an unfair retail policy, pointed out that an advertisement is misleading, organized a boycott, or somehow advocated for yourself or another consumer? Whether you won or lost, tell us your story and you&#39;ll be entered into a random drawing for a $25 Amazon gift certificate!</p> <p><strong>CONGRATULATIONS TO KATHRYN, OUR WINNER FOR THE $25 AMAZON GIFT CERTIFICATE DRAWING. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR PARTICIPATING.</strong></p> <p><strong>Julie Rains demands that her coupon be honored (it&#39;s the principle, not the dollar)</strong></p> <p><img src="" alt="Julie Rains" title="Julie Rains" width="64" height="85" align="left" />When I was a junior in college, my residence hall-mates and I received expiration-date-less coupons from a major pizza delivery company in August when we arrived for the start of the fall semester. Many of us hadn&#39;t used the coupons all year but found them when we were getting ready to move out for the summer in May. So I (and others) tried to use the coupons to get $1 off our pizza orders. </p> <p>As a side note, I was taking a business law class and learning about the concept of the &quot;reasonable&quot; person. Basically, companies need to determine what the reasonable person (not the wacko person or the ultra-safe person) would do in a certain circumstance, and then set policies that are consistent with what the reasonable person would think or do. Of course, companies have to abide by laws but absent specific regulations or contracts, businesses should try to communicate in a way that a reasonable person can comprehend. </p> <p>Anyway, I ordered my pizza and tried to use the dollar-off coupon. My pizza delivery person was resistant to accepting the coupon. I protested but decided that if his response to me, upon my insistence, was something like, &quot;well the reasonable person would not think that a coupon given in August would still be valid in May,&quot; then I would accept his decision. He said, however, &quot;so, sue me.&quot;</p> <p>Well, I lost that round and paid full price for the pizza. </p> <p>What I lack in persuasion, however, I make up in persistence. The following August, when I was attending a workshop presented by the campus legal advisor, I learned about a complaint process through the state attorney general’s office. I filled out a form that explained my complaint and waited for a reply. A few weeks later, I was thrilled to learn that the attorney general&#39;s office agreed with me!!</p> <p>From that point until my graduation, coupons with no expiration dates were accepted by the delivery drivers, and within a couple of years, this particular pizza delivery company started putting expiration dates on its coupons. I am sure that I am not the only one who complained. Over the years, the coupons from the pizza delivery companies have drifted back to their old ways (with vague references such as &quot;expires within 30 days&quot;) but my victory still seems sweet.</p> <p>My dashed dream? I received compensation for a cleaning product that didn&#39;t work as expected from the retailer where I made my purchase. I received an unsigned check from its trustee (a major U.S. bank) for something like $1.93. I had recently relocated and was holding over $10,000 in a savings account (the proceeds from my home sale, awaiting investment) and had a checking account with the same bank. I tried to deposit the check but the bank refused to accept the deposit because there was no signature on the check. Surely, the bank could have cashed the check, waited for it to clear, and upon settlement, made the funds available to me. I guess I could have pursued my cause but at this point, I felt I had wasted more time than $1.93 was worth. </p> <p><!-- / message --><!-- / message --><!-- edit note --><!-- edit note --></p> <p><a href="/linsey-knerl" title=""><strong>Linsey Knerl</strong></a><strong> gets tough while recovering from surgery</strong></p> <p><img src="" alt="Linsey Knerl" title="Linsey Knerl" width="58" height="85" align="left" />My most challenging consumer dispute involved a gym membership. While I was recovering in the hospital from major surgery, my ex decided to get us a couple&#39;s membership at the franchise gym nearby. (Nothing says, &quot;rest and get better&quot; like 24-hour access to the elliptical trainer.) Under a fair amount of morphine and some little red pills, I agreed, and I signed the contract for a one year term.</p> <p>I was released the next day, and upon returning home had a case of buyer&#39;s remorse. (Could it be because I was instructed by my Doc not to exercise for a full 6 months?) I contacted the gym, and attempted to terminate the contract without penalty on the last day of the 3 days allowed by the terms of the contract. I was told it was cancelled and my check would be returned by mail within a week. </p> <p>The check ended up being cashed, and they called the next week to confirm that I still wanted to meet with the personal trainer! I was in shock, and upon telling them about my call to cancel the membership, they told me that it was too late because I had called on a Saturday. Since business wasn&#39;t conducted on Saturdays, my call was not honored.</p> <p>Since I knew this was garbage, I called daily. Twice daily. Three times daily. I went to the gym. I wrote letters to corporate. I threatened my local news team on them. 7 months (and a heck of a lot of polite but firm squawking) later, I received payment in the amount equal to my check. </p> <p>Of course, by then I was able to exercise, and needed to join a gym. But you can guarantee that I went to the mom and pop place down the street.</p> <p><strong><a href="/jessica-harp" title="">Jessica Harp</a> educates staff of apartment rental office on federal law</strong></p> <p><img src="" width="85" height="85" align="left" />With my husband being in the military and having to move around a lot, I cannot tell you how many times we have had to break leases and/or rental contracts. Thankfully, we are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which allows us to break leases and contracts without having to pay early termination fees. But every time we have had to move, there has always been at least one company that insisted they did not have to follow the SCRA -- even though it is federal law! The most memorable company that has insisted that they did not need to abide by the SCRA was our apartment complex in Alabama. </p> <p>As per the SCRA, when my husband received his military orders for us to move, I took the orders down to the rental company so that I could fill out the paperwork to break the lease. They told me they would be more than happy to break the lease for me, but that I was going to have to pay for the remainder of my contract plus an early termination fee. WHAT? I reminded her of the SCRA, showed her the military orders, and suggested that she talk to her boss if she needed any clarification. She didn&#39;t even blink before she said, &quot;We don&#39;t follow the SCRA.&quot; Oh really? Why not? &quot;We don&#39;t have to. It&#39;s optional.&quot; Um...I don&#39;t think federal law is optional. &quot;Well, we can&#39;t just let you out of your lease.&quot; At this point, I realized I was going in circles, so I asked to speak with her manager, who (conveniently) was not in the office. The only next step I knew to take was to threaten to call the military lawyers. She didn&#39;t even blink when I threatened to call the lawyers. She said, &quot;People threaten us with lawyers all the time. What makes you think you&#39;re any different?&quot; At this point, I left and called the military lawyers, and they had the situation resolved within hours.</p> <p>I went back to the rental office the next day to complete the paperwork, and the manager was tripping over himself to apologize to me. He gave me this huge speech about how the company supported the troops and how the lady I talked to the day before had been reprimanded for her attitude and lack of customer service. Honestly, his apology was great, but I was just glad that I knew the law. If I hadn&#39;t of known the law, as well as stood my ground, we would have paid A LOT of money in unnecessary fees.</p> <p><strong>Friend of <a href="/will-chen" title="">Will Chen</a> leads an exodus of poorly treated movie-goers</strong></p> <p><img src="" alt="Will Chen" title="Will Chen" width="85" height="85" align="left" />My friend John loves the movies. A fea years ago John attended a showing at one of those craptacular multiplex theaters. Ten minutes into it he noticed that the screen was unusually dim and the sound was out of sync with the action. There was a lot of discontented murmuring and a couple of people actually left the theater. But most of the audience stayed despite the problems.</p> <p>My friend wasn&#39;t going to take it. He went to the front of the screen and told everyone that they deserved better treatment after paying $12.50 for tickets and sitting through 20 minutes of gawdawful previews. My friend stormed out after his speech and the entire audience followed him. The manager of the multiplex ended up giving everyone a refund and two free tickets to future showings. The movie they were watching? <em>The Prince of Egypt</em>.</p> <p><strong><a href="/paul-michael" title="">Paul Michael</a> seeks simple explanation for friend, spurs incident investigation </strong></p> <p><img src="" alt="Paul Michael" title="Paul Michael" width="85" height="85" align="left" />I was 21 and working in my first job as a junior copywriter in a London ad agency. One of the account managers I was working with came to work one day very shaken and stressed. She was a wreck. My art director and I sat her down, made her a drink (tea, we&#39;re English) and asked what happened.</p> <p>She cleared away the tears and described a horrible train journey. This was in the mid 90&#39;s, when train accidents in the UK were increasing. She said her usual morning commute was going well, but then the train started speeding up. And speeding up. It was rocketing down the tracks, everyone started freaking out, the train took a corner at a nasty speed and literally started tipping over. Everyone was screaming, people and kids were crying, it was your basic &quot;oh my lord, I&#39;m going to die&quot; moment. <br />Thankfully, just as suddenly as the train had started speeding up, it started slowing down. The train arrived at the station and not one thing was announced to the passengers. No explanation. Nothing. When she asked what had happened, she was met with a vacant expression and a complete denial.</p> <p>I was only in my first year of copywriting, I was still learning the trade of persuasive writing. But I was so enraged by my friend&#39;s ordeal that I turned straight to my PC and crashed out letters to everyone I could think of. The management of the train company, the press, you name it. I hoped for something of a resolution for this poor girl who just wanted to know what happened. My letters prompted a full investigation of the incident, the firing of the driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel and compensation for my friend. From that point I knew that sometimes you can make a difference. That words matter. That one voice can raise an army of voices. I have been looking out for the consumer ever since.</p> <p><strong><a href="/justin-ryan" title="">Justin Ryan&#39;s</a> mom gets a department store to alter its policies</strong> </p> <p><img src="" alt="Justin Ryan" title="Justin Ryan" width="85" height="79" align="left" />I&#39;ve not had any wild advocacy moments that come to mind, but I wrote recently about my infamous mother and her quest to have the ring I bought her for Mother&#39;s Day sized for free. I can&#39;t think of a better anecdote to include! </p> <p>Read her story in <a href="/ftmd-the-affair-of-the-sapphire-ring" title="">The Affair of the Sapphire Ring</a>.</p> <p>Tell us your consumer advocacy moment and you&#39;ll be entered in a random drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate. Deadline to enter drawing is 8/26. Don&#39;t forget to enter your email address in the field provided and only one entry per person!</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>THE DRAWING HAS ENDED. CONGRATULATIONS TO </strong><strong>KATHRYN</strong><strong>, </strong><strong>OUR WINNER OF THE DRAWING!</strong> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <!-- / message --><!-- / message --><!-- / message --><!-- / message --><p><!-- / message --><!-- / message --><!-- sig --><!-- sig --></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">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="">Great idea for Papa Murphy’s – make the pizzas in order.</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="">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="">Want a Company to Hear You? Talk to Their “People.”</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="">How To Get A Customer Service Phone Number, Fast!</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="">Can a vacuum owner be protected?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs attorney general Boycott buyer's remorse cancellation complaints consumer advocacy contract lease agreements SCRA store policy Mon, 20 Aug 2007 12:54:05 +0000 Julie Rains 1006 at The Key to Free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-key-to-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="money envelope" title="money envelope" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I love mail-in rebates, because I have perfected the art of receiving them. It can be a royal pain-in-the-ear, but if you are willing to do a little extra work, you too can get save a remarkable amount of money on rebates.</p> <p>How do you know when to go for or forego a rebate offer? Here are some tips to help you get your time and money's worth. Some of these tips are well-known, and others are common sense things that people forget in the heat of the retail moment.</p> <h2>Before</h2> <h3>1. Do You Really Need It?</h3> <p>Take a really deep breath and assess if you need the product. Can you get by with a lesser model? You probably can. It is really, really easy to get sucked into the bottom line on a rebate, thinking it's a great deal. It may be a good deal, but do you even need it? I know this seems obvious, but the power of the rebate is a powerful, dark, evil force that science has yet to fully comprehend<span style="font-size: 13px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p> <h3>2. Do You Have the Rebate Form?</h3> <p>Make sure you know where the rebate form is. Ask an associate to provide you with the form. If they say, &quot;It's online&quot; ask them to provide you with the URL. If they don't know what a URL is, and they probably won't, don't take the offer. If the form is in the box, make sure that the store has a fair return policy, should you find the rebate terms too onerous.</p> <h3>3. Read the Fine Print</h3> <p>There are all kinds of stupid restrictions on rebates. You sometimes have to wait for a while before you can send in the rebate, or send in several copies of it, or send them your phone bill for the next three months. Know this BEFORE you take the offer and decide if you can accept it or not. Keep in mind that sending copies of your phone bill is sending your very personal information to complete strangers who may turn around and sell it.</p> <h3>4. Is It Worth Your Time?</h3> <p>Assess the time it will take to do what they want and figure out if your time is worth it. An hour? Two hours? How much money are you saving? If I was saving $150 for an hour's worth of work, I'd totally go for the rebate. If it was $30 for 1.5 hours, I just might not. Also, if you don't have your own photocopier, then it's probably not worth your effort to go to Kinko's and try to do the work there. Know how much your time and effort are worth. In fact, I almost never take an offer for a rebate that is less than $100.</p> <h3>5. Don't Throw Out the Box</h3> <p>Duh. Actually, don't throw out anything. Until you see that the rebate check has cleared in your bank account.</p> <h3>6. Don't Be Lazy</h3> <p>This is your money, and you should get it back. My mother bought two sets of cell phones over the past five years or so. For the first round, my boyfriend and I handled everything &mdash; ordered, received, photocopied, filed, even addressed, sealed, and stamped the items that needed to be sent out &mdash; taking maybe 25 minutes of our time. Mom got all of her money back, although she complained bitterly about having to send them certified. The next time she bought phones, she filed nothing and still blames the phone company for not giving her her rebate. The rebate she never asked for, because it was a hassle.</p> <h2>After</h2> <h3>7. Fill Out Everything</h3> <p>Do this as soon as you get home. Right away. ASAP. They companies want you to forget, so don't do what they want.</p> <h3>8. Make Photocopies of Everything.</h3> <p>Sometimes the company wants a photocopy, sometimes they want the original. Follow the instructions carefully, but regardless of what you need to send them, make extra photocopies for yourself. Digitally photograph the product and product packaging, as well. Every form, every receipt, every UPC symbol must be copied. Twice. Document, document, document. Put together a file folder called &quot;Rebates&quot; and keep all the info stored properly in there.</p> <h3>9. Send Via Certified Mail</h3> <p>Send everything certified mail, so that a signature is required for the company to accept the package. Consumerist says you should get your photocopies or forms notarized.</p> <h2>Follow Up&nbsp;</h2> <h3>10. Email or Call</h3> <p>Large companies will do all they can to pretend that they have no idea what you are talking about &mdash; that's why you kept photocopies of everything. Email is a great way to keep a written record (avoid web forms, if possible, since you don't get to keep a copy), although phone calls are faster. As with all CSR-related phone calls, make sure to ge the name and ID number of your representative right off the bat.</p> <h3>11.&nbsp;Complain With Class</h3> <p>Screaming gets you nowhere, and I definitely speak from experience on this. Hanging up also doesn't help much &mdash; the resounding smack of the handset slamming into in the cradle is just the sound of your rebate disappearing into a void.</p> <h3>12. Threaten, but Nicely</h3> <p>The Better Business Bureau, your state's Attorney General, and Consumerist all love to hear about this kind of stuff, and companies don't really want these groups looking into their lousy customer service. I have a feeling that a lot of CSRs have heard of Consumerist now and REALLY don't want their name up on a web site like that. Let them know that you understand how difficult the process can be, but after a fair warning, you are going to do your best to besmirch their name.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">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="">DO NOT buy a digital camera online until you read this.</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="">The 5 Best Electronics Wipes</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="">The 6 Companies With the Best Customer Service</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="">Buy a drink, get a free Whopper - every single day?</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="">The 5 Best Anti-Itch Creams</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping attorney general BBB complaint CSR customer service electronics fraud free mail-in photocopy rebate receipt shopping Wed, 07 Feb 2007 21:49:46 +0000 Andrea Karim 258 at