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Consumer

My Grandmothers and the Cost of a Funeral

by Luke Landes

Ninety-three years is a long time to live. My paternal grandmother was that age when she passed away this past Saturday. I attended her funeral, a graveside service, earlier this week. She lived in Florida, but she was flown up to Long Island to be buried with her husband, who died in 1968. A couple ... Continue reading this article…

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Take Back the Beep Campaign

by Smithee

If you were to start adding a comment to this blog post, but we first made you wait fifteen seconds after pressing the “comment” button to make you hear some extraneous instructions, you’d be terribly frustrated. Now imagine if every Web site had the same problem, and imagine further that you were being charged for ... Continue reading this article…

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EPA Disqualifies Shoppers From Cash for Clunkers Program

by Luke Landes

The Cash for Clunkers Program went into effect recently, but so did changes to the official EPA-estimated mpg ratings of several cars. For example, the 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis, according to CNN Money, was rated a combined 18 mpg last week, but as the program began this week, the rating for this year, make and ... Continue reading this article…

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Stealing Entertainment, Revisited

by Smithee

A week ago I wrote a post called “Is it Ever Okay to Steal Entertainment?”, which produced great comments from our readers, many of whom were clearly incensed that I would ever try to rationalize stealing from content creators. I’ve been thinking about the criticism and understanding that was added to the original article. I ... Continue reading this article…

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Is it Ever Okay to Steal Entertainment?

by Smithee

As a part-time producer of creative works that I think are worth something (though I’m not currently requiring payment for anything), I struggle with the urge to acquire my entertainment media as conveniently, quickly and cheaply as possible. My viewpoints on this have changed over time, especially as my disposable income grew, and I’d like ... Continue reading this article…

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Vacation vs. Social Networks

by Smithee

Summertime is traditionally when most people take their annual vacations, and since the social media explosion, more aspects of a given person’s vacation will end up as photos on Flickr, or “wish you were here” messages on Facebook. I’m a big fan of openness (with the obvious exception of my use of a pseudonym on ... Continue reading this article…

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Still Having Problems With TIAA-Cref? Tell Us Now

by Luke Landes

On July 20, TIAA-Cref will be holding its annual participant meeting. There is an effort underway to encourage the company to be more socially responsible and accountable to its customers, and representatives will be attending the meeting to bring any common problems directly to the board’s attention. Are you having customer service problems with TIAA-Cref? ... Continue reading this article…

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Do You Want RFID in Your Mobile Phone?

by Smithee

Håkan Djuphammar, VP of Systems Architecture for Ericsson, made a prediction recently that all new mobile phones sold after Summer 2010 would have two-way RFID chips in them that would allow them to act as a tag or a reader. If what you just read sounds like technobabble, watch this short news excerpt to get ... Continue reading this article…

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Emotional Barriers to Negotiating and Haggling

by Luke Landes

It is in any consumer’s best interest to try to get the lowest price on all purchases, yet haggling, negotiating, or bargaining, at least in my culture, is not a social norm. Other than in specific situations such as buying a car that is not a “non-negotiable” brand like Saturn or Scion, haggling is uncommon. ... Continue reading this article…

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The Cash for Clunkers Program

by Smithee

Editor’s note: The program which was once suspended is still available through Labor Day, 2009. Yesterday the U.S. Senate passed a War funding appropriations bill that paradoxically included a piece of legislation popularly referred to as the “Cash for Clunkers” program. In an earlier article where Flexo pointed out the weirdness of including “guns in ... Continue reading this article…

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Who Are These Strangers on Twitter?

by Smithee

In my non-Smithee life, I spend a lot of time on Twitter, although it’d be more accurate to say I spend a lot of time through Twitter. I’ve made some solid connections and had interesting conversations, seen a lot of funny videos and kept up with the news I care about. Because my updates are ... Continue reading this article…

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Would You Buy a Car From Wal-Mart?

by Luke Landes

After General Motors’ bankruptcy, there is no question that the automobile industry will change significantly. With less competition and higher costs of production, prices will increase. It will be more difficult and more expensive to find parts and service for some vehicles. The selection of vehicles will be more limited. Perhaps more brands will opt ... Continue reading this article…

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Savings Mistakes That Cost More in the Long Run

by Luke Landes

The economy is not out of the woods yet. Companies are still laying off employees; the automotive industry is just getting started. For many families, the pressure is on to find ways and make decisions to save more money in order to prevent going into or going deeper into debt. The situation presents a good ... Continue reading this article…

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What General Motors’ Bankruptcy Means For You

by Luke Landes

According to early news reports, General Motors will file for bankruptcy one hour from now, at 8:00 am Eastern Time this morning. GM was officially born as a company on September 16, 1908. Its long history is a reminder that no company will survive forever regardless of its performance; like humans, corporations are mortal and ... Continue reading this article…

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Digital Television Transition Approaching

by Luke Landes

June 12, 2009 is the final day that full-power television stations will broadcast in an analog over-the-air signal. The date was originally set for February 17, but due to broadcasters who needed more time and congressmen who felt the public needed more time to understand the transition, the deadline was extended until next month. This ... Continue reading this article…

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The Unownership Society

by Luke Landes

Seven years ago, when people I knew were buying houses they couldn’t afford with the philosophy that real estate prices always go up, and the go up fast, I was sitting on the sidelines. I had no money, no desire to settle down, and no belief that real estate in the form of home ownership ... Continue reading this article…

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Cash 4 Gold: Scam! Real Tips for Selling Your Gold Jewelry

by Luke Landes

Consumerist has pointed out a discussion on ComplainsBoard about Cash4Gold, an outfit that promises top dollar for trading in your gold jewelery. With the tight economy and gold prices relatively high, many consumers will find this a good deal. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to get the true value for your traded in items. A ... Continue reading this article…

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How Citigroup Used $45 Billion from the Government

by Luke Landes

Citigroup released a report today explaining how it “spent” the $45 billion provided to the company by the government as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). On a high level, the report accounts for $46.5 billion spent or allocated to a variety of programs across five categories: residential mortgages, personal and business loans, ... Continue reading this article…

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Good News for Retail: Presidential Merchandise

by Luke Landes

After a lackluster holiday season for the retail industry, one particular niche has seen good news recently. Sales of merchandise related to Barack Obama have been strong. Amazon.com has created an Inauguration Store to feature a number of presidential products available for sale. This is the most consumerized election in recent memory, but it’s understandable. ... Continue reading this article…

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A “Computer Glitch” Caused Macy’s Customers to be Charged Twice

by Luke Landes

On December 22, a representative for Visa wrote about that company’s protection for customers who use debit cards: If your account is compromised, Visa is committed to setting things right without further aggravation or inconvenience to you. Visa’s cardholder protection policy requires all financial institutions issuing Visa products to extend provisional credit for losses from ... Continue reading this article…

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