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Consumer

Average Billing: Is it For You?

by Smithee

My electricity provider (which is Green Mountain Energy, because I’m an aspiring hippie), offers me the ability to make the same payment each month, based on the previous six months’ usage. Here in Dallas, people require air conditioning for roughly nine months a year, so our average monthly billing is about $300. I won’t say ... Continue reading this article…

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Cash for Clunkers: The Revenge

by Smithee

The “Cash for Clunkers” program that we told you about on June 19 has received a shot in the arm in almost-last-minute actions by the House and Senate. They approved an additional $2 billion to continue the unexpectedly popular rebate program through Labor Day. Opponents of the program feel like: Richard Shelby, the top Republican ... 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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Cash For Clunkers Suspended

by Luke Landes

Editor’s Note: This program is back on again and should be available through Labor Day, 2009 All good things must come to an end, and in some cases, prematurely. The “Cash for Clunkers” Program, or more formally, the Car Allowance Rebate System, has allocated almost all of its budget to rebates after only four days. ... 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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Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2009

by Smithee

Businesses are hoping to get more bargaining power when it comes to how much they are charged to accept credit and debit card purchases. The Credit Card Fair Fee Act (read the whole bill), was reintroduced this year and is now being discussed in Congressional committees. I first heard about it when I was buying ... 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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The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

by Smithee

A new law signed by the president yesterday gives the Food and Drug Administration the ability to regulate the tobacco industry. The primary focus of the law is to stop cigarette companies from aggressively marketing to children. To that end, it will soon be illegal to: sell candy-flavored and fruit-flavored cigarettes put tobacco company logos ... 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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Study: iPhone Users Are Younger, Richer and More Productive

by Luke Landes

According to a new study, employees who use iPhones are statistically wealthier, younger, and more productive at work that their counterparts who use other smartphones. 32,000 people were surveyed and placed into categories based on the type of mobile phone they own. They were then evaluated based on income, the cost of their monthly cell ... Continue reading this article…

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Consumer Reports Exposes Cool Surge’s Misleading Claims

by Luke Landes

The Cool Surge portable air conditioner claims, in full-page newspaper advertisements that look like newspaper articles, to reduce the temperature of an average room by “up to ten degrees” using as much energy as a 60-watt lightbulb. Other air conditioners often use 500 watts or more, so it sounds like this device might be worth ... Continue reading this article…

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Do You Get Satisfaction?

by Smithee

It seems like as long as we’ve had the Web, we’ve had support forums, usually for software, probably because you can’t depend on software to work the same way twice in a row. Sometimes the support forum is managed and moderated by the company that makes the product, and more often you can find one ... 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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