This week there was a finance technology conference in New York called Finovate. I was able to slip in incognito because my press pass had been printed out as, “Ben Popken, Managing Editor, The Consumer Blog.” Freed from the shackles of people knowing who I was and thereby trying to influence my reportage, I was able to survey the scene with a clear and penetrating gaze. Here are four of the new sites that sounded the most interesting. [More]
You need a flowchart and a spreadsheet to understand all the different stages of the debt ceiling bill that passed the House yesterday and is likely to pass the Senate today. But let’s not get hung up on who does what to whom at what point, and when that super-awesome “sudden death mode” of spending cuts kicks in. Instead, let’s look at what the debt-ceiling bill means to you and your wallet. [More]
Summer’s Eve is catching some flack for a series of ads that use hand puppets, titled vertically, to promote its line of feminine genital cleansing products. With three puppets, each portraying a different ethnicity with phrases like “”ay-yi-yi” (Latina) and “do you really want to be itchy down here? Mmmmhmm” (African-American), and “Just a little love for your vertical smile,” (Caucasian), for some viewers the clips are managing to hit that magical advertising sweetspot of being both sexist and racist. [More]
Q: I’m taking a vacation, room rates are ridiculous. Any way you can save me some money?
A: This is fun. You can start your own miniature bidding ware by calling up several hotel desk clerks and ask them for “the cheapest non-refundable rate.” Play them against each other. Using this method, you can save upwards of $20 off the online rate, even though they insist that that’s their cheapest available rate.
With more tornadoes on the way tonight after last weekend’s deadly twisters that killed 45 and left hundreds of homes damaged and destroyed, it’s important to have your ducks in a row to get your tornado insurance claim check issued quickly should disaster strike. After you shake off the daze and dust from the destruction, what do you do to get your cash fast and get on the road to repair and recovery? [More]
Last week, the the Director of Homeland Security suggested to Congress that the TSA get a cut of airline baggage fees. The fees encourage travelers to carry on their bags, and this in turn leads to more bags that have to be inspected by hand at security checkpoints. Should taxpayers keep picking up the tab, or should airlines give the TSA a piece of the baggage fees? How about neither? What if instead the TSA looked for more creative ways to offset costs and even increase revenue? Here are 10 modest proposals: [More]
The liquidators have swooped into Borders with giant black and yellow signs screaming 20-40% off. But are these sales a good deals for consumers? I visited one to find out. [More]
Wells Fargo is meeting today at noon with the Philadelphia homeowner who “foreclosed” on them, The Consumerist has exclusively learned. Patrick says he “received a call from upon high” late yesterday and that he now has an appointment, “with a very senior Wells Fargo person.” It will be interesting to see how this plays out. But how did Patrick go from embattled and ignored homeowner to seated across the negotiating table with leverage? I spoke with him to find out more about both how and why he did what he did. His story is an inspiration to anyone who’s dreamed of going toe-to-toe with the big banks and winning. Turns out that armed with persistence, and a little legal know-how, Davids can take down Goliaths. [More]
Just because the economy is in the dumps doesn’t mean your spirits have to be on V-Day. There’s lots of great ways to celebrate your relationship without buying into all the myths of conspicuous consumption. At the same time, classic romantic gestures can be nice and sweet, as long as there’s more feeling than Franklins behind them. Here’s a guide to some last-minute, creative, frugal and even free ways to say “I love you.” (Spoiler alert: the best day to celebrate February 14… is February 15! It’s like getting Valentine’s Day half-off!) [More]
One of our readers works sales in an insurance telemarketing operation. He’s stepped forward to give us the skinny on how he gets commission, the real reasons that drive some of their tactics, and what personal information you should never give over the phone to a telemarketer. [More]
Back by popular demand after the file on our server got messed up, it’s Consumerist’s easy excel budget spreadsheet! It lets you track your cash flow and expenses, and plan for upcoming purchases and bills. Use it properly and you’ll never overdraft again. [More]
Last week Meg McLain’s story lit up the internet. She says she was cuffed, her ticket was ripped up, and she was kicked out of the airport after she refused the body scanner and tried to ask questions about the pat-down. The TSA took it seriously enough to quickly post security footage of the incident on their blog. I reached Meg by phone to find out more about what happened, and, especially, why she refused the body scanner in the first place. Here is the interview, which has been condensed and edited. [More]
Target gave $150,000. Best Buy chipped in $100,000. Companies supporting politicians or their political action committees isn’t new. A quarter-million dollars for Minnesota Forward—a group that supports anti-gay rights candidates like Tom Emmer—might seem like a gay rights issue, but it’s so much more. It represents the next frontier in consumer activism and a world where every purchase acts as a political statement. Join us inside as we explain. [More]
Whenever we write about things like cable TV, DRM and paywalls, we get numerous comments and e-mails from readers about various ways — almost all illegal — people beat the system and get TV shows, movies, video games, software, etc. for free. Which has got us to wondering where you draw the line on these and other matters. [More]
We busted the trusts! Oil! Rail! Coal! Kapow! You just got Tafted! Yeah, but that was a century ago. Industries have had more than enough time to mutate and adapt, especially when it comes to technology, and figure out new anti-consumer ways to develop and maintain hegemony. You get higher prices, lower product quality, and fewer rights. They get more yachts to waterski behind. In no particular order, here are some of the top 7 legalized ripoffs consumers face today: [More]