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Tell Me How To… Join A Gym

Our own expertise is limited, but the knowledge and experience of the Consumerist community is unlimited. That’s why we’re turning to you, the Consumerist Hivemind, to provide guidance and help solve readers’ problems. Today’s question: how does the wise consumer choose and join a gym while getting the best deal and avoiding shady practices? [More]

Sprint Is Upgrading Its Network Here, When Should I Upgrade My Phone?

Sprint Is Upgrading Its Network Here, When Should I Upgrade My Phone?

Erica and her family are Sprint customers who are eligible to upgrade their phones in a few months, but they have a dilemma. In the market where they live, Sprint’s 4G service is the older WiMax network. An upgrade to LTE is coming…sometime in the next year. They have their choice of phones that can use one network or the other, but not both. Yes, this is the very definition of a first world problem, but it’s a gamble. Do they choose faster data now and being forced to use 3G after the upgrade comes, or the other way around? [More]

Wedding Venue Got A Liquor License, Changed BYOB Policy On Us

Wedding Venue Got A Liquor License, Changed BYOB Policy On Us

Redd and his fiancé started their wedding planning about a year ago. They wanted to have both the ceremony and the reception at the same venue, and found one that seemed ideal. Catering was available, but since the facility didn’t have a liquor license, they could bring in their own alcohol. They could save a lot of money that way, since Redd brews his own beer and other types of booze are cheaper to purchase yourself than to buy from a caterer. Months after they signed the contract and paid in full, they learned that the venue had obtained a liquor license. Facility staff insisted that they had the right to change the contract after it was signed, and the Redds would have to purchase their booze from the venue. [More]

Is This 9/11 Casino Promotion A Nice Tribute, Or Just Tacky?

Is This 9/11 Casino Promotion A Nice Tribute, Or Just Tacky?

Reader Bearcat44 spotted this ad in the Spokane, Wash. Spokesman-Review. It’s from an Idaho casino running a promotion tomorrow, September 11th. To honor the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, they’re offering special rates to law enforcement, medical personnel, and other first responders in order to honor “heroes who protect and serve our community.” [More]

Should Your Landlord Be Able To Decide If Your Significant Other Can Stay The Night?

Should Your Landlord Be Able To Decide If Your Significant Other Can Stay The Night?

Remember the days of Three’s Company, when the only way a man could convince the landlord to let him stay in an apartment with two single women was by pretending to be gay? Even when I first moved to New York in the mid-’90s, more than a few landlords told me I could only have male roommates and that female overnight guests were frowned upon. But times are changing and most people just expect their landlord to butt out, so long as they aren’t knocking down walls or installing hot tubs in the bathroom. But there are still some people out there that don’t want any unwed hanky-panky going on under their roof. [More]

Who Dares Visit A Restaurant Without Reading Online Reviews First?

Who Dares Visit A Restaurant Without Reading Online Reviews First?

The best satire is deeply rooted in reality. That’s why an article from this week’s issue of the Onion shook us to the core. “Brave Woman Enters Restaurant Without First Looking It Up Online,” the headline blared. At Consumerist HQ, we asked each other: is there really anyone out there who is so bold and reckless that they would do such a thing? [More]

Save Me From The Supermarket Light Pollution Menace

Save Me From The Supermarket Light Pollution Menace

Until a few months ago, Chris didn’t mind sharing a fence with a grocery store. Being able to scoot next door to pick up a few items would be pretty convenient. Then the lights came on. Two terrible, bright, glaring parking lot lights. They shine in his windows, illuminating his bedroom to an extent that even the thickest curtains can’t block. The lights are, of course, on 24/7. The store manager promises to solve the situation, but no solution is in sight. The only things in sight are those parking lot lights. Those bright, bright parking lot lights. What would the Consumerists do? [More]

I Didn't Buy A Ticket To An R-Rated Movie So I Could Entertain Your Toddler

I Didn't Buy A Ticket To An R-Rated Movie So I Could Entertain Your Toddler

Baby-sitters must be hard to come by these days. That’s the only possible explanation for why Kelly found herself entertaining the small child next to her during a showing of the R-rated movie “Ted.” The encounter raised all kinds of questions. For example: why was this child sitting in a stroller that was positioned to block Kelly’s seat? Why didn’t Regal Cinemas staff do anything about the stroller? Why didn’t the child’s mother notice or care that the kid was yapping to Kelly? Then, of course, there’s the key question on which this entire problem hinges: why bring a toddler with you to an R-rated movie? [More]

I Want My Trans Fats Back: Consumerist Readers Speak Out About Recipe Changes

I Want My Trans Fats Back: Consumerist Readers Speak Out About Recipe Changes

Last week, we asked you, the members of the Consumerist Hive Mind, what prepared food items you’ve abandoned or fallen out of love with due to a recipe or ingredient change. What we learned from reading the responses: Consumerist readers love their junk food almost as much as Consumerist editors do. [More]

AT&T Offers Me A Discount On Wireless Service & Then Backs Out… Now What?

AT&T Offers Me A Discount On Wireless Service & Then Backs Out… Now What?

For the month of August, consumer advocate Christopher Elliott will occasionally be sharing some of the questions and problems he receives from readers. In this week’s case, Pam’s job entitles her to a discount on AT&T wireless service — a discount she’d been promised would be applied to all five phones on her account. But only after she’d changed over — and lost her unlimited data plans — did she find out the discount doesn’t cover all her devices. How can she get the company to keep its word? [More]

Why Should Consumers Settle For Crappy Concert Sound?

Why Should Consumers Settle For Crappy Concert Sound?

Back during our comments outage, reader Chris wrote to us about an incredibly disappointing concert that he attended. The show wasn’t terrible because the artists weren’t any good: even if you don’t like country music, you have to grant that Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw are hard-working, talented, and very attractive entertainers. No, Chris’s problem was that up in his seats on the upper level of the arena, the Angel Stadium of Anaheim, the sound quality was terrible, song lyrics impossible to decipher, and even spoken words in between songs impossible to understand. [More]

I Can't Afford A Hotel While My Home Is Fumigated

I Can't Afford A Hotel While My Home Is Fumigated

Tom and his wife are facing a scary proposition: termites. In their home. They’re renters, so they called the landlords. That’s why people rent, right? So they have landlords who will take care of this stuff. And their landlords are happy to take care of it: by calling in exterminators to tent the house and kill any pests inside. That’s okay, but requires vacating the house for a few days. Tom and Mrs. Tom don’t have the money to cover a motel stay up front for the time they’ll be required to be out of the house. Sure, they could sleep in their car and hang out at the library or something when they’re not at work, but they have dogs. And they live in Florida. It’s August. Even the cheapest motels that allow dogs are too expensive. What should they do? [More]

Why Do You Disapprove Of My Capitalist Kid’s Lemonade Stand?

Why Do You Disapprove Of My Capitalist Kid’s Lemonade Stand?

Writer Helaine Olen has a young son, and he engaged in a classic American summer activity: he started a lemonade stand on his quiet suburban street. He earns some spending money and probably learns some important lessons about customer service and profit, and the neighbors who patronize his stand get a refreshing beverage. But, Olen writes, her son’s customers want more than that. They ask what charitable cause his lemonade stand is raising money for, and disapprove when they learn that his stand is a for-profit venture. What the heck? [More]

Trapped In A Tollbooth Without Money: What Do You Do?

Trapped In A Tollbooth Without Money: What Do You Do?

Visiting Orlando, Sarah ended up in a Florida Turnpike toll booth that only accepted change or EZ-Pass. The booth apparently wasn’t set up to capture her rental’s license plate and automatically charge her. It was unmanned. She had no change. She found a solution to the problem that was practical, but violated some traffic laws. She wonders: what would others have done? [More]

How Far Would You Drive To Return A Redbox DVD?

How Far Would You Drive To Return A Redbox DVD?

Joe lives in a pretty rural part of Vermont. Rural living has many advantages, but one disadvantage that you may not have thought of: low density of Redbox kiosks. Which is fine. You only need one, after all. Unless you’re Joe, and that one kiosk in your town has broken down. Your movie is due, and the nearest working box is fifteen miles away and in a different state entirely. We’ve discussed the customer’s responsibility when it comes to broken-down Redboxes before, but how far does that responsibility extend? Driving an extra thirty miles to avoid a $1.50 daily charge on a DVD might seem like a false economy, but maybe that depends on your schedule or on your gas mileage. [More]

My Parents’ House Was Struck By Lightning And Burned Down. What’s Next?

My Parents’ House Was Struck By Lightning And Burned Down. What’s Next?

When you’ve escaped from a late-night fire and lost your home and all of your belongings with it, what do you do next? That’s what Rudy wants to know, on behalf of his parents. Last week, their house caught fire hours after being hit by lightning. They got out alive, and are about to begin rebuilding their lives. But first: the insurance claim. An adjuster from Allstate is coming today. Rudy wonders whether the Consumerist Hive Mind have experienced this kind of catastrophic loss and massive insurance claim, and have any advice for his family. [More]

Realtor Rents You Construction Zone Vacation Condo, Shrugs

Realtor Rents You Construction Zone Vacation Condo, Shrugs

Alex and his brother have been on vacation this week, renting a condo at the beach. Sounds fun and relaxing. Or it would be, if it weren’t for the construction workers re-siding the condo building. They’re tossing debris everywhere, including near cars, leaving tools and construction materials around off hours, and hammering at 8 A.M. It’s making these vacationers cranky, and the real estate agency that rented them the condo said that they would contact the owners, but hasn’t contacted them. The vacation is nearly over. What should they do? [More]

Deck Contractor Has 2/3 Of My Money, Isn’t Answering The Phone

Deck Contractor Has 2/3 Of My Money, Isn’t Answering The Phone

Kristina got estimates from a half-dozen different contractors to build her deck. All had excellent reputations and references. The company she ultimately chose told her that they would have the deck completed by the first week of May. Now it’s the second week in June, and there are a few holes in the ground, but no lumber, no workers, and no deck. She wonders: what should she do now? [More]