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Consumer

AT&T Acquiring T-Mobile USA: Today’s Mobile Phone Options

by Luke Landes
Telephone

This weekend, AT&T announced its plans to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion, pending regulatory approval. The new company would be the leading mobile telephone (and data) service provider in terms of customers. With the new AT&T soaking up 39 percent of the mobile market, and with Verizon Wireless at a close second at 31 percent, this ... Continue reading this article…

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CoinStar is a Rip-Off

by Luke Landes

The whole premise is almost absurd. It reminds me of children on a playground — one invariably tries to trick another by offering three quarters in exchange for a dollar bill. Even kids are smart enough not to fall for this trick. For some reason, however, people are content using CoinStar machines. For a whopping ... Continue reading this article…

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Chase to Limit Debit Card Transactions to $50?

by Luke Landes

CNN Money is breaking this story right now. According to a company insider, Chase Bank is considering limiting debit card transactions at either $50 or $100. Any purchase you plan to make with your debit card that exceeds the amount — for example, your weekly groceries at the super market — would be declined if ... Continue reading this article…

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Soften the Effect of High Gas Prices

by Luke Landes
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I got lucky: I decided to leave my job, and the associated daily commute, around the time gas prices started rising faster. Now, with more unrest in northern Africa, a gallon of gasoline at the pump costs more than $3.50 on average, with some location sporting a price north of $4.00. High gas prices, though ... Continue reading this article…

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Replacing Dollar Bills With Dollar Coins

by Luke Landes
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While politicians, political commentators, and opinion-yellers are knocking heads and locking horns in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to determine how to spur the economy while cutting the budget deficit, there is an old debate about currency that refuses to die. For the most part, the public isn’t excited about the idea of eliminating paper ... Continue reading this article…

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Kraft Downsizing or Protecting Consumers?

by Luke Landes

In last Sunday’s Consumerism Commentary Podcast, our guest from Consumer Reports, Tod Marks, talked about product downsizing. With commodity prices rising, companies — particularly food product companies — are trying to determine how they can cover their increasing production and distribution costs without losing their competitive edge. In order to maintain the same price point, ... Continue reading this article…

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Giving Your ZIP Code to Cashiers

by Luke Landes

One of my first jobs as a teenager, twenty-some years ago, was a salesperson at Radio Shack. Our point-of-sale system functioned on phone numbers for some reason, so whenever a customer wanted to purchase something, we asked the customer for his or her phone number. Even if the customer was buying a pack of AA ... Continue reading this article…

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Comparing Airfare is Frustrating: What Would Make You Loyal?

by Luke Landes

Retails airlines are battling their customers. People shopping for flights generally want one thing: the lowest price on airfare. The airline industry doesn’t want that to be the case. They’re making this shopping process more difficult for their customers. For example, some airlines do not make their prices available through websites that aggregate fares, like ... Continue reading this article…

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Are Groupon’s Super Bowl Ads Offensive?

by Luke Landes

Update: Groupon has pulled the controversial ad campaign described here. I’m a big fan of Christopher Guest. He has wrote and directed several great films, popularizing the “mockumentary” genre. This is Spinal Tap is one of his highly-acclaimed films. He has also directed many commercials, some of which feature his regular troupe of actors, those ... Continue reading this article…

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Best Buy’s Buy Back Program

by Luke Landes
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The consumer retailer Best Buy has found a way to lock customers into tighter relationships. The company’s rewards program may no longer the attraction it once was, so the company is introducing a benefit that will encourage shoppers to come back to the store. It also encourages the product upgrade philosophy, something that cell phone ... Continue reading this article…

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Mobile Payments Could Be the End of Credit Cards

by Luke Landes
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In my wallet, plastic is king. I use my credit card for almost every transaction, though in rare cases I still go for cash. Like many others in this country and around the developed world, I also carry my cell phone around with me everywhere I go. Cell phone technology is progressing quickly, and this ... Continue reading this article…

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Verizon Wireless Kills “New Every Two” Discount

by Luke Landes
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The year 2000 was not an easy one for me. I had hardly any money thanks to a low-paying non-profit job and student loan debt. Even when not spending much beyond the necessities, I wasn’t improving my financial condition. I was moving around from apartment to apartment; by 2004 I would had lived in seven ... Continue reading this article…

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The Myth of Ownership

by Luke Landes
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Who really owns all of your stuff? It’s comforting to think that everything that we have in our possession, acquired by legal means, belongs to us. That’s not always the way it works, however. The myth of ownership is expected to apply to people who buy their possessions with credit and can’t afford to keep ... Continue reading this article…

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Gas Prices: Are You Ready for $5.00 per Gallon at the Pump?

by Luke Landes
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One of the benefits of no longer having a daily commute is I’ll be spending much less for fuel in my car. When I traveled to an office five days a week, and even when my travel schedule was changed to four days a week to allow one day for remote access, I filled up ... Continue reading this article…

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Don’t Get Ripped Off By Auto Mechanics

by Luke Landes

Mechanics are salespeople, and like brokers they often have more knowledge about their products and services than the average consumer. Therefore, they are viewed as professionals and without taking the time to learn about cars, customers have no choice but to trust their recommendations are in the customers’ best interest. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the ... Continue reading this article…

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Best Buy Eliminates Some Restocking Fees

by Luke Landes

On the heels of a lackluster sales report during the holiday season, Best Buy has decided to eliminate restocking fees. Until recently, Best Buy charged customers 15 percent of the purchase price to restock an opened item. These returned electronics, if sold, usually feature a sales price of 10 percent off the regular price. It may be ... Continue reading this article…

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Cyber Monday and Black Friday

by Luke Landes

As I mentioned a few days ago, Consumerism Commentary is matching your charitable contributions. Please take this opportunity to give to your favorite charity. Here’s how to make your charity count twice. The four-day weekend has seen consumers spend $45 billion, up from $41.2 billion last year. I contributed to this figure slightly, buying three ... Continue reading this article…

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Takes Shape

by Luke Landes

In July, the federal government passed a sweeping new law to reform the financial industry. One of the biggest and most hotly contested aspect of this new law is the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. President Obama has tapped Elizabeth Warren to oversee the development of this new agency. The new director won’t ... Continue reading this article…

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Is Annie Leibovitz a Failure?

by Luke Landes

Annie Leibovitz is one of today’s most famous photographers. You may have seen her name in the news recently for her financial problems rather than for her art. Although reports of her annual income included numbers north of $3,000,000, she was saddled with multi-million-dollar debt and exposed to legal problems. The photographer is mainly known ... Continue reading this article…

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Black Friday Onslaught: Truly Frugal Holidays

by Luke Landes

With the first cold weekend after the summer, I can tell just by looking around that people everywhere have begun thinking about the holiday season. I’m not talking about Veterans’ Day or Thanksgiving; Christmas is the day on people’s minds as they erect their gaudy displays. The advertisements are not yet full-force on television, but ... Continue reading this article…

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