Tell Us Who To Go For

A swank new commenting system, a few editors full of vim (alchemically? Transmuted piss and vinegar), a world full of companies that need scrutinizing, and twenty thousand visitors a day to help guide us. That’s you, guys.

This post is specifically for you to come in and tell us what companies you think we should go for in the coming weeks; which businesses or industries most deserve our steely, unblinking gaze.

If you’ve got a specific story about a company, or a link to a direct story, please continue to send that into tips@consumerist.com. This thread’s more for you guys to give us an overview of the consumerist concerns that most interest you, so we can keep our eye on the trends and go after them accordingly.

If you’re a commenter, jump in and start ranting. Not a commenter? Want to point us in the right direction? It’s as easy as choosing a username, a password and posting anyway. We’ll vet you and approve you forever if you’re good.

Comments

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  1. Andrew Ferguson says:

    Electronics stores.

    I worked at Future Shop (the Canadian version of Best Buy) for three years, and the deceptive practices, HR violations, and outright lies told to customers would just astonish me at times.

    I’m glad that I’m gone, but I really want to see them held up to the consumerist microscope.

  2. The_Truth says:

    Gas stations, where they charge $X.XX 9/10

    How the hell am I supposed to get back my 1 tenth of a cent when I drop a gallon of gas in my car?

    Are fractions of a cent not illegal? I havent seen it any where else, only on gas prices. Which of course allows them to charge an additional cent per gallon over what they are actually advertising, as no one really sees the added 9/10ths.

  3. adamondi says:

    The added 9/10ths shows up right on every gas station price per gallon sign. When you deal in a business where people will drive miles out of their way in order to buy gas that is 1 cent cheaper per gallon, you have to use the 9/10th of a cent trick. After all, how many other industries use $1 cheaper to edge out their competition? Apple sells iPods at $249 so that they can advertise a price that is “Under $250.”

    Raising a stink over 9/10ths of a cent that is marked clearly on price per gallon signs isn’t a good way for The Consumerist to spend its time.

    I would like to see the site go after some of the horrible mortgage lending scams out there. Especially all the shifty Adjustable Rate Mortgages that are so heavily advertised.

  4. Chaoticfluffy says:

    I’m with adamondi – mortgage scams need a collective smackdown. But even worse than the adjustable-rate ones are the interest-only ones that neglect to tell people that not only are they not building equity, but they’re not even reducing their debt with their payments.

  5. d0x says:

    Sprint/Nextel for telling My girlfriend she wasnt allowed to cancel her cell phone, then charging her for the month after she made the call and refusing to remove the charge and still refusing to cancel her account despite the fact that she told them many times she would pay the contract fee. The phone hasnt been used since mid august which is when she called the 1st time. Its now nearing the end of sept and we are starting to get a little pissed.

  6. d0x says:

    Sprint/Nextel for refusing to cancel my girlfriends cell phone. She called in mid August and they told her she wasnt allowed to cancel. She hasnt used the phone since then and she was since billed for Sept.

    We keep calling and they keep refusing to cancel her contract despite the fact that she told them from the get go she would pay the termination fee of $200+. She was a great customer, always paying her bill. So good in fact that used to reward her with free minutes every couple of months.

    Sept is almost over and im afraid she is going to be charged again. How can they refuse to cancel her cell phone, this cant be legal!

  7. stick with the model of going after businesses that the broadest possible demographic tend to deal with. cell providers and big-box retail is dead-on the right track. how about the movies? between theatres and the rental industry and the growing download market, there has to be something juicy.

  8. The_Truth says:

    I need to clarify myself:

    There is no physical denomination for tenths of a cent. In essence they are charging you for something, that because u cannot pay it, means you have to pay the rounded up price.

    Im not talking about taking on 99 to a price so that it seems lower than its rounded up price. Im talking about charging you in such a way that because u cannot pay it , it gets rounded up.

    see?

  9. Demingite says:

    I’ve also wondered why it’s even legal for gas stations to set prices at 9/10 of a cent. I disagree that it — and Apple’s pricing at $249, and any company that prices things like $99.99 etc. — is an unworthy target for Consumerist. It’s a very widespread practice and yet it’s a stark symptom of a “dupe the consumer into buying our product” mentality.

  10. llamanunts says:

    You need to check out eCost.com (found via shop.com). They are running a scam wherein you agree to purchase a product… then it’s not shipped. Suddenly, whaddaya know, the shipping cost is fourteen times what you thought it was. An email will follow regarding my AWFUL experience attemptin to buy an LCD TV from them.

  11. adamondi says:

    Large firms deal in fractions of a cent all the time. Sure, there is no physical denomination for tenths of a cent, but when you are buying multiple gallons of gasoline, those tenths of a cent multiply up to full cents and so on.

    Regardless, I still don’t think it is worth the time or effort. There is so little payoff to the endeavor.

  12. Celeste says:

    More dirt on DRM and companies that sneak it in on us.

    Predatory lending practices are also entertaining, although I have a hard time believing anyone gets an “Interest-only” loan and doesn’t realize they aren’t paying any principal on it.

  13. misskaz says:

    Ticket brokers – you know, those jerks that scoop up all the tickets for your favorite band the second they go on sale, then resell them (fully legally, depending on the laws of your state) at $600 a pop. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up on a Saturday morning, logged on to ticketmaster (or gone to a physical TM location) well before the tickets go on sale, only to find the show sold out within 3 minutes or so. And minutes later see ads for the very same tickets on sale at 10x the face value from ticket resellers.

  14. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    I love the Consumerist, but I am sick of 90% of it targetting things that inconvenience wealthy white kids. Electronics toys, Internet services, airlines, Starbucks…I mean, those are good fodder, but can’t we do something a little more relevant, too? Just because not everybody already knows and is seething about it doesn’t mean it’s not shocking, meaty, scathing news.

    Examples of things I’d like to see more of are DRM, banks, insurance companies (probably my number one — these people are ALL sharks, and on top of it the government makes it MANDATORY to do business with them!), big businesses screwing U.S. employees and moving overseas and/or skanking their way out of pension obligations, and the government shirking its duties. (Did you all miss out on the bit about the oil-company auditors SUING the Dept. of Interior over forcing them to drop claims against companies that were underpaying their royalties to the American taxpayer? That’s *huge*!)

    Anyway, my $0.02.

    (Note to Chaoticfluffy — Option-ARM mortgages are worse than interest-only, because they let you pay so little that your balance is actually going UP (as opposed to staying still), and then when it reaches a certain amount or a certain timeframe, your amount-due suddenly readjusts to that of a sub-prime loan. This, not rising interest rates, is why so many people are folding under payments that double or triple suddenly.)

  15. Briana says:

    Sallie Mae has recently partnered with Erie Processing (see announcement here: http://www.erieeducational.com/news/letter.asp). It looks like they’ve also sold off their customer’s phone numbers too, many of which are on the DNC list (such as mine).

    About two weeks ago I started receiving calls from a NY number. They’d call every day, never left a message. Usually between 8-9 PM on weekdays. I went to WhoCalled.us to find out who it was, and saw the number is registered to Erie Processing. Since then I’ve received about 10-12 calls from them, never leaving a message. I can’t get in touch with anyone at their listed number to take me off their call lists. Apparently many others are having the same problem. The whocalled page on them was down when I checked just now, but there’s a cached versio of it here where you can see many other people with the same complaint.

  16. BudhaCronX says:

    Absolutely Gas Stations/Oil companies! Also, the film and music industry, they refuse to change and make all kinds of money off of us and screw us all!

  17. Tankueray says:

    I second the insurance company vote. My house insurer is in the process of screwing me at the moment…

  18. Evil Tortie's Mom: R.O.A.C.H. says:


    Cell phones, insurance, oil, and big-box.

    But don’t ever stop ragging on AOL.

  19. ajn007 says:

    I was under the impression that the 9/10 on the gas station marquee referred to 9/10 of a gallon. So it isn’t $x.xx for a gallon of gasoline, but $x.xx for 9/10 of a gallon of gasoline.

  20. ajn007 says:

    Oh, and I would suggest that all types of financial institutions be targeted by Consumerist (banks, credit card companies, investment brokers, etc.) Those bastards have rigged the entire system to screw us all out of money. Lots of money.

  21. LTS! says:

    All the hating. Perhaps what the Consumerist would be better off doing is to stop allowing people to blame everyone else for their problems and teach people how to not get screwed.

    If anyone thinks that a single website complaining to a company is going to influence years of financial/insurance industry practices they are sorely mistaken.

    Want to crash a bank? Stop giving it money. If you can’t do that then you can’t complain because you’ve allowed yourself to play their game.

    Want to complain about the movies? Stop going. It’s all shit anyway. People keep paying the extortion rates of the entertainment industry and they will keep on going for more.

    Consumers who get fucked on their mortgage I have no sympathy for. It’s all written in a contract and if you are too ignorant to read and understand it then you shouldn’t be entering into contracts. Don’t waste energy on a lost cause they wouldn’t know what to do with it.

    Fractions of a cent are not unique to gasoline stations. Look up long distance rates for a lot of services and you will see .0265 per minute or other similar items. The point is that it gets rounded up and does really boil back down to BS marketing. Is it legal? Sure enough because the rounding process works both ways. If you were to be charged $1.99 and 9/10 you’d pay $2.00, if that had to be refunded to you you’d receive $2.00 because the business can’t pay a fraction of a cent either. In cases of advertising where you may get fractional cent costs per click, impression, etc. these will add up and allow business to work with numbers that are smaller. Of course there are other workarounds but you’d still need to come back to the fraction of a cent case. It’s deceiving in the world of gasoline to be sure but perfectly legal.

    Let’s focus on companies who make it a point to avoid treating the customer right. Kind of like what happens now.

  22. homerjay says:

    Rich white kids are the only ones that can afford internet service?
    I think its important to remember that Consumerist is merely one year old.

    John and Ben have created something here that they probably didn’t expect. They’ve got a sounding board for your average joe that big companies and the mainstream media are paying attention to!

    They probably had no idea that this was going to take off when they started which is probably why they haven’t gone after insurance companies and the government.

    Baby steps…. Insurance companies probably still don’t give a crap about some blog and will likely not respond to anything posted here about them. But that doesn’t mean they won’t next year!

  23. IsenMike says:

    I’d like to see you get some hate on for TicketMaster. The fact that the DOJ hasn’t brought it’s monopoly-stomping boots down on TM yet makes me sick. $11 “convenience” charge? Give me a break. More like $11 “we’re a monopoly so you don’t have a choice, you’d better learn to like it if you want to see any live music” charge.
    And charging for parking, for each and every ticket? What if I walk to the venue? What if I’m in a van with 8 people? We’re paying $16 for parking, while the singular schmoe is only paying $2? It’s all BS. They can get away with it because they’re huge and they’re the only choice, not only for consumers, but for artists and venues as well.

    Wasn’t it Pearl Jam that tried to launch a nationwide tour a few years ago, sans TicketMaster, and couldn’t do it? Doesn’t that bother anyone else? To me it makes it extremely clear that the lack of competition to TicketMaster is not in the nation’s best interest.

  24. Jupiter Jones says:

    What about
    a) the massive monopoly that is diamonds and DeBeers
    or
    b) Gift certificates / cards that come with expiry dates.

  25. bambino says:

    Mary, your insensitivity is desensitizing.

  26. acambras says:

    Jupiter,

    I don’t know about other states, but in Connecticut, it’s illegal for gift certificates or gift cards to have expiration dates. Ditto for service charges that erode the card’s value as it ages. I only know about this because CT’s attorney general has been aggressive about pursuing violators of this law.

  27. Jupiter Jones says:

    acambras,

    I suspect this is the sort of thing that is spotty from state to state or country to country. Maybe the Consumerist could edumacate us all about the rules for this around the US. Don’t forget Canada, America’s least crazy friend!

  28. acambras says:

    Yes, as they once said on Kids in the Hall:

    “Canadians — we’re like Americans but without handguns.”

  29. homerjay says:

    “Canada??? Why would we leave America for America Jr?”

  30. Myron says:

    Here’s a few:

    – Compare pictures of fast food in advertisements with the sloppy, soggy mess you actually get from the drive through.

    – Researching insurance rates online. I recently tried a few insurance comparison sites for term life insurnance. I found that when I changed the variables to make myself look more or less healthy, the rates stayed the same. I suspect these are teaser rates they have no intention of giving you.

  31. I say we need more ‘Fran’. What she up to these days? How was the sensitivity training? Is ‘Mike’ really ‘retarded’?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  32. GenXCub says:

    I am not a rich white kid (1 out of the 3), but I think it’s fair to say that if you’re reading this website, you probably have a cell phone, you’ve probably been to starbucks at least once (or a similar overpriced coffee establishment), and you’ve probably travelled on an airplane. Those three topics probably make up a good percentage of the consumerist content, and so it speaks to our experience. I’m sure there are plenty of other consumer experiences to read about like bad treatment at the welfare office, but I think it’s better when what is on this site is something that is familiar to all of us so that we may provide input and experience, rather than just looking like an exposé.

    How many of us have had a need to speak directly with an oil company?

  33. ajn007 says:

    LTS! wrote:
    “…if you are too ignorant to read and understand it then you shouldn’t be entering into contracts.”

    Hmm, yes, I agree. We should refrain from educating the unexperienced and let corporations screw the ignorant. Maybe then they will treat the enlightened fairly.