With the economy kinda sorta picking up, and consumers in China, India and Brazil buying cars in droves, gas prices are expected to keep going up, and may hit $4 a gallon by early spring, when Americans finish scraping the ice off of their windshields and begin planning road trips. And unlike 2008, when gas last broke the $4 barrier, only to later drop to lower prices, $4 may be a new baseline, followed by $5 gas as early as next year.
It’s hard to keep track of all the extra fees airlines have invented to pad a ticket purchase, especially since they keep introducing new ones; USA TODAY says revenue from added fees have jumped nearly 16% from a year ago. The newspaper reviewed fees from 13 airlines in the U.S. and compiled this handy reference chart of current fee schedules, to make comparison shopping a little bit easier. As expected, Southwest continues to be one of the best values.
CNN’s Travel Companion suggests you start looking for Thanksgiving and Christmas tickets now, because airlines have cut capacity over last year, and the peak travel times for those two holidays are shorter this year than usual. The article also provide some tips for getting a good price: shop for single seats; aim for Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday flights; and if you can, try to fly on an actual holiday.
Ten years ago, 5% of the country had access to broadband Internet. Now over 95% of the country has access. In other technology markets, notes the authors of a new study, prices tend to drop significantly once a technology matures–but with broadband, prices since 2004 have dropped by less than 10% in most markets, if at all. So what’s going on?
Here’s yet another reason to go for generic drugs when you can: drug makers keep raising prices on brand name products. If you group generics and brand names together, drug prices rose by 3.4% in 2009, according to an industry report. However, if you look at just brand name drugs as the AARP did in a new report, the average price hike was 8.3%. An earlier AARP report from May points out that if you look at specialty drugs “widely used by people in Medicare” then the hike jumps to 9.2%.
Gerry and his wife tried to buy a pair of sneakers that the JCPenney website had listed on sale. While other products were marked “online only,” this particular pair of sneakers was marked “also in stores,” so the couple assumed that the price would be the same. Naturally, the store’s employees refused to see the logic of this argument.
Everyday low prices just got a little higher. A JPMorgan Chase study of a Virginia Walmart (hey, it’s a big store, you gotta just pick one to do a decent survey of its inventory) found that in the past six weeks the retailer raised prices on overage of 6%, but on some products, as high as 60%.
Despite the record-breaking heat in some parts of the country, total U.S. energy consumption this summer has actually fallen compared to 2009, and peak demand levels–when electricity consumption is at its highest–have dropped as well.
There are several apps on the Apple app store that help consumers track sales and free offers from developers, but you have to launch them and check in regularly. The website App Spy offers an automated price tracker for games (just games, unfortunately) that will send you an email whenever a price threshhold is reached. If you tend to be an app junkie, it can help save you money by letting you get your fix on the cheap good stuff.
Imagine trying to buy a book from Big Generic Bookstore and watching the cashier add $5 to the sticker price. “What are you doing?!” you cry out, waving a fist menacingly at him. “You look like you can afford it,” he says back to you with a hint of entitltement. That’s basically what a publishing industry expert said in a piece he wrote last week about ebook pricing.
At the National Conference on Weights and Measures later this month, some states are planning to talk about printer ink cartridge labeling and whether it should be more standardized. “It’s time to sort all of this out,” the Florida Weights & Measures chief told the Kansas City Star. Of course, printer companies aren’t about to go along with any changes quietly–Lexmark has already submitted a letter saying that displaying any information on the cartridges will only confuse consumers, because the cartridges are micro-machines and not just ink containers.
Jesse found identical sets of Six Feet Under on DVD, one for $249.99 and the other for $149.99. The more expensive set was most likely a labeling error that would have been caught at checkout — after all, Best Buy sells it online for the cheaper price — but you’d have to be during to grab the set on the right and take it to the register.
ConsumerAffairs.com says that the Texas Attorney General has gone after a couple of online price comparison companies. The sites all claim to offer unbiased comparisons of retailers, but in reality the companies have been accepting payments in exchange for preferential listings. The companies, Intercept LLC and Everyprice.com Inc, both operated multiple sites with names like Flyingprices, Diduprice, and Lowpricedigital. All the sites are currently offline.
Banquet Foods wasn’t satisfied with reducing the size of their mac & cheese meals by a third, from 12 ounces to 8 ounces. They also increased the price, notes our reader Richard, who confirmed the price hike at both his local Seattle supermarket and at Walmart (although Walmart’s prices were lower in both versions). Funny, we thought the whole argument for the shrink ray was that it protected consumers from paying more.
Reader Michael sent us this picture of a 16-ounce bottle of Crest whitening rinse and a 32-ounce bottle that says “BONUS 100% MORE FREE.” Turns out by “FREE” they mean “$1.15 more.”