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Consumer

Do You Let Brands Use You for Advertising?

by Luke Landes
World Book Encyclopedia

From one of my social media accounts a few days ago, I responded to an article in Psychology Today. First of all, the article is a good read that discusses the relationship between money and happiness, and a recent study that disagrees with some of the more publicized studies from the past few years. It’s ... Continue reading this article…

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Maker’s Mark Adds Water

by Luke Landes
Maker's Mark

I’ve never had Maker’s Mark, but I do have friends who enjoy this particular brand of bourbon — or the bottles in which the bourbon is sold. With this latest piece of news, I’m wondering if the company believes the bottle is the product being sold rather than the alcohol inside. Beam, the corporate owner ... Continue reading this article…

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U.S. Postal Service Ending Saturday Delivery

by Luke Landes
Mailboxes

The U.S. Postal Service announced today that Saturday delivery of first-class items will end in August. When I asked a few years ago whether we should eliminate the Postal Service entirely, the question generated a good discussion, with many readers agreeing that the best solution to the perennial problem of the service not generating enough ... Continue reading this article…

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Credit Card Checkout Fees Are Here

by Luke Landes
Credit Card Surchage

I’m currently in California, visiting my mother, who as I mentioned in a previous article is in the hospital. While articles this week will likely be slow on Consumerism Commentary, one thing I won’t have to deal with while visiting family is the relaxed regulation on merchants who accept credit cards. Starting this week, retailers ... Continue reading this article…

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American Express, Capital One and Discover Refunds Total $435 Million

by Luke Landes
American Express

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hasn’t stopped its crusade against credit card issuers that manipulate and deceive its customers. Earlier this year, regulators ordered Capital One to pay $210 million in refunds and fines for tricking card holders into buying add-on products with the implication that these were required purchases for those with bad credit, ... Continue reading this article…

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Black Friday: The Dark Side of Humanity

by Luke Landes
Darth Vader

It is a sad commentary on our culture when not only are people willing to trample and hurt each other to scramble for what is perceived to be a “good deal” but when such trampling is glorified by the media. (Crazy people drive ratings, and ratings drive large advertising profits for the media!) No one ... Continue reading this article…

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The Black Friday Hoax

by Luke Landes
Holiday presents

This is the time of the year when American consumers become focused like a laser on finding deals from retailers. There is some compulsion to buy more stuff as the holidays approach — as gifts for friends and family, in the spirit of Christmas and Hanukkah, and as gifts for ourselves. After all, with the ... Continue reading this article…

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Are Class-Action Lawsuits Good for Consumers?

by Luke Landes
Scales of Justice

Over the past few days, thousands of Bank of America customers have begun noticing unexpected credits in their checking account transaction activity. Thousands more will see the credits when their receive their paper statements for November, and even more will receive checks in the mail. The long battle with Bank of America over overdraft fees ... Continue reading this article…

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Credit Life Insurance: You Don’t Need It

by Luke Landes
Money

Occasionally, Consumerism Commentary readers send in questions or stories they’d like to share with a wide audience. These questions and stories come to me through email, via Facebook, and through this website. Recently, a new reader who discovered Consumerism Commentary due to my multi-year coverage of Bank of America (primarily the articles pertaining to the ... Continue reading this article…

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Price Gouging: How to Know and What to Do

by Luke Landes
Price Gouging

Price gouging is often a problem after natural disasters, but what appears to be gouging might not always be a plan by unscrupulous business owners to take advantage of needy consumers. During regular operations, there is rarely a need for a business to increase prices sharply for its customers. Businesses generally, but not always, pay ... Continue reading this article…

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Resist Planned Obsolescence or Accept the Financial Consequences

by Luke Landes
Old phone

Products of all types — cars, incandescent bulbs, your iPad and iPhone — are designed with planned obsolescence in mind. The need or desire to replace products quickly and a shorter product life-cycle are a consistent drain on wealth. In the previous generation, the latest television sets were big household expenses, just like they are ... Continue reading this article…

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Will My Honda Civic Drive Another 2,850,000 Miles?

by Luke Landes
Honda Civic

While I am happy I’ve kept my 2004 Honda Civic eight and a half years and haven’t felt the need to upgrade, I’m certainly not as dedicated to maintaining old cars as an automobile enthusiast. In fact, I’ve been ridiculed and insulted by people whose opinion is that eight years is not very impressive for ... Continue reading this article…

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Discover Bank Forced to Pay $200 Million Refund and $14 Million Fine

by Luke Landes
Money Hand Refund

There’s no place for deceptive marketing tactics. Discover Bank‘s credit card customers allegedly found themselves on the receiving end of a sales pitch without knowing it. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), teamed with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), uncovered evidence of slimy sales tactics. In many cases, consumers thought they were adding free ... Continue reading this article…

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Are Consumers Really Concerned About Savings?

by Luke Landes
Savings piggy bank

A survey released by Chase today concluded that 74 percent of Americans are concerned about having enough money in savings, but only 34 percent have increased their savings since the economic downturn. There’s more to the survey, but this fact alone raises more than enough questions to consider for an entire day. What does it ... Continue reading this article…

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Individualized Coupons Aid Price Discrimination

by Luke Landes
Grocery store

I’m not a fan of allowing companies to track every purchasing decision I make, but I’ve sacrificed some of my expectations for privacy in return for convenience. I use my credit card for most purchases, and over the years, credit card issuers could have created a database with my transaction history and could theoretically use ... Continue reading this article…

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Capital One to Pay $210 Million Including Refunds and Penalties

by Luke Landes
Capital One

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau struck Capital One hard this week. The consumer protection agency has found that the credit card company improperly marketed add-on products to its customers. Because of this behavior, Capital One has agreed to pay refunds to 2.5 million customers totaling about $150 million, in addition to a $25 million penalty ... Continue reading this article…

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Credit Card Users May Pay an Additional Fee

by Luke Landes
Credit cards

When retailers and credit card issuers argue about fees, does the consumer win? The consumer is generally ignored in these discussions. Businesses are controlling the dialogue. Businesses, particularly small businesses that rely on profit margins more than volume, were successful in getting regulators to restrict “swipe” or interchange fees. The fees credit card transaction processing ... Continue reading this article…

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Best Mark Interco Mystery Shopping Scam

by Luke Landes
Best Mark Interco Mystery Shopping Scam Letter

Somehow, my name and address found its way on a list of potential suckers. Some company out there thought I would be gullible, falling for an obvious financial scam. A few days ago, I received a letter and check for almost $3,000 in the mail. I wasn’t expecting this delivery, so my suspicions were high ... Continue reading this article…

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Stop Facebook From Using Your Information for Advertising

by Luke Landes
Facebook

I generally don’t buy clothing that displays noticeable branding. I’m not completely immune from allowing my body to be used as a billboard, however. Although I don’t wear shirts emblazoned with “GAP” across the front, someone who checks me out from the back might see a Lee or Levi’s label. Some shirts might have a ... Continue reading this article…

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Back-to-School Saturday: You Know, For Kids

by Luke Landes
Aeropostale - Teen Shopping

November’s Black Friday has been has been around for decades, but it’s only recently that it became the crazed shopping event resulting in deaths due to shopper stampedes. Online retailers invented Cyber Monday to bring some of the hype associated with brick-and-mortar retail locations to the internet. Don’t get me wrong; both “holidays” provide opportunities ... Continue reading this article…

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