Resolve To Be A Smarter Consumer

It’s that time of year again, when the gym sign-up fees are low and the expectations are high. It’s the time for making resolutions, and if you’re looking for a few… we have some suggestions. This year, you can resolve to be a smarter consumer.

Resolve to Stop ID Theft. Never give your credit card information over the phone to someone who phones you, pretending to be the gas company. Shred your documents before putting them in the trash. Use secure p4ssw0rds. You know, ones with letters and numbers. Don’t use the same password for different websites. Keep an eye on your credit card statements. Report fraud. Do not give your SSN to strangers. Ignore fake emails from “PayPal,” “Ebay,” “Bank of America,” etc. Check your credit report yearly. Don’t be fooled by fake collection letters. Smash the RFID in your passport. Go crazy.

Resolve to Get Executive Customer Service. Don’t take no for an answer. Let “May I speak to a supervisor?” be your mantra. If that doesn’t work, go straight to the top.

Resolve to Never Purchase The Extended Warranty. If you’re looking for extra warranty protection, some credit cards offer it automatically. Get one. (The major exception to this rule is Apple Care.)

Resolve To Ignore Rebates. Do not buy something just because there is a rebate, unless you are a really, really, really, anal Type A person. Rebates are designed to “encourage breakage.” This means rebates are designed to keep as many people as possible from getting their money. If your purchase comes with a rebate, fine, but don’t buy something “because” it has a rebate.

Resolve To Exercise Your Rights. Don’t like your cell phone? Get out of the contract during the trial period. Don’t like being searched at the door at Best Buy? Politely decline.

Resolve to Document, Document, Document. Here at the Consumerist we tire of complaints that are not accompanied by documentation. Did you call Verizon? Great. Record it. Did you get a stupid cable bill? Great. Scan it. Did someone not get your flowers on time? Great. Send a picture of your flowerless friend and her bitter salty tears. Send us something. Even if it’s just a picture of your middle finger, send us something. This site depends on you.

Resolve to Write The Consumerist. Get ripped off? Don’t like it when the people at Cold Stone Creamery sing? Love Walmart? Hate Home Depot? Tell us (with documentation) about it at tips@consumerist.com. Good luck in 2007! —MEGHANN MARCO

Comments

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  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    I Am in Yr Science Lab
    Shrinkin Yr Childrenz.

  2. Meg Marco says:

    yes.

  3. * Resolve to never buy gift cards.

  4. brkl says:

    Where can I get a cat that big? Or a kid that small?

  5. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I resolve to get a much bigger litter box.

  6. Again, with the cats. I am starting to believe in the consumerist cat conspiracy.

  7. raindog says:

    2.6 seconds later, both kids’ necks had been neatly snapped and Baxter had already left the scene to stalk a large German Shepherd named Sarge.

  8. adamondi says:

    That was the first thing I thought when I saw this post, DeeJayQueue. How about this one?

    I’m in ur cleanroom
    Eatin ur kidz

  9. RandomHookup says:

    Resolve to pay off your credit cards in full, on time, every month.

  10. missdona says:

    Resolve to use warranties, instead of buying a new one.

    This might involve better record keeping.

    My method is:

    (a) scan receipt
    (b) staple receipt to manual or documentation
    (c) file manual/receipt combo in a binder with plastic sleeves

    I blow through cell phone headsets like they were nothing- I think the Jabra and Plantronics people know me by name at this point.

  11. etinterrapax says:

    Resolve to start a filing system!

    Cuts way down on lost proof of purchase, and is easy as pie. Obtain filing container of choice. Mark sections: Bills, Receipts, Manuals, Car, House, Tax. Add other categories as appropriate. Put papers in folders. When tax time, complaint time, warranty time, rebate time comes, there you have it.

  12. acambras says:

    And if you have substantial credit card balances, resolve to:

    1) Pay off any future purchases in full each month (or stop charging altogether).

    2) Pay off the accumulated balances much faster. If your minimum payments add up to $500 per month, try to put $550 toward credit card bills. Put that extra $50 toward your highest interest card. Also helpful is the snowball method – as you pay down your debt, your minimum payment amounts will decline. But keep putting that $550 toward credit card payments. So as the months go by, you’ll be putting an extra $50, $60, $70, and so on toward your highest interest card. Once it’s paid off, start on the card with the next highest rate.

    3) Call your existing credit card companies and inquire about getting the rate lowered on your card. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Of course you’ll have more leverage if you have good credit and if you’ve been good about making your payments on time.

    4) Look into balance transfers to cards with low APRs. Make a list of every account, its balance, and its APR, then start shopping around for a good deal. Beware of balance transfer fees and annual fees. And if you do score a good promotional rate, make sure you pay your bill on time – if you’re late with a payment, a lot of companies will take away the promotional rate and apply the “default rate,” which is quite possibly much worse than the rate on your old card.

    Be aggressive about paying off credit card debt. Why? Because it’ll save you money, it’ll make you feel better, and the credit card companies HATE it! ;-)

  13. feralparakeet says:

    I would say that the one major exception to what’s posted above would be in the case of extended warranties – if you buy a new car, it is absolutely worth it. I use the hell out of my extended warranties and won’t ever buy a new car without one.

    Though, I don’t know that buying a new car is the most worthwhile idea… but if you’re gonna, get the warranty.