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Consumer

Which Wine Do I Want to Buy?

by Smithee

I enjoy a good glass of wine, but I don’t know how to find one. I haven’t been buying wine long enough to have memorized a group of “go to” bottles. I probably made the mistake of buying Bolla Pinot Noir three times before I finally learned that I don’t like it. Between my unreliable ... Continue reading this article…

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The New Financial Regulation Law and Your Money

by Smithee

Flexo posted a good review of the major changes in the Wall Street Reform bill that passed through Congress yesterday, and mentioned that it will be some time before we know exactly how the regulations which are now possible will be written. But there are some reasonable guesses we can make, and I thought it ... Continue reading this article…

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Sales Tax Holidays, 2010

by Luke Landes

This year, many states throughout the nation will offer a sales tax holiday, a period of time during which merchants will not charge customers sales tax. For a few days each year, you can buy certain items without paying the state sales tax. This is a great way to find the purchases you would buy ... Continue reading this article…

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Your Plans for the New iPhone 4

by Smithee

We recently asked you to take a poll about your iPhone upgrading intentions, including your contract situation and which hardware features you found the most tempting. The results were sometimes surprising. 162 people answered the poll, and 48 percent of you are planning on upgrading within two months from today. That’s much higher than I would ... Continue reading this article…

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Power-Saving Televisions on the Way

by Smithee

I’ve always been a big fan of saving energy, both mine and my household’s, but more for efficiency reasons that a desire to “save the Earth”. If there’s nobody in a room, it just doesn’t make any sense to leave the light on. If turning off unused devices helps reduce global power consumption, then so ... Continue reading this article…

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I Want the New iPhone & I Don’t Care What’s In It

by Smithee

Apple’s new iPhone hardware will be formally unveiled next Monday, and I’m already itching to be able to buy it. I bought the original iPhone within a few weeks of it being available, and I upgraded to the iPhone 3G just a couple months before the iPhone 3GS came out. My wife has had that ... Continue reading this article…

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Television of the Future

by Bryan J Busch

Hi, I’m new here. Flexo invited me to create some original videos for Consumerism Commentary, and I’m happy to present the first one, which explains how I managed to retain my (possibly saturated) television habit but simultaneously remove the monthly cable bill. At the core of the problem was the fact that we were paying ... Continue reading this article…

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How Does Fraud Detection Work on Your Cards?

by Smithee

You probably know that your debit and credit cards have someone watching over them for indications of fraud and/or theft, and we’ve written here before about making sure you tell the bank in advance of a trip so that they don’t mistakenly block your card. I’ve personally seen this system work well, and also not ... Continue reading this article…

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Government to Regulate Credit Card Swipe Fees

by Smithee

It will be at least a month until we know what the final financial overhaul bill looks like and exactly what proposals are being made, but one smaller provision that exists in similar formats in both pieces of legislation is a change to the way debit and credit cards are handled in stores. Currently, the ... Continue reading this article…

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FCC Considering Regulation to Stop Surprise Phone Bills

by Luke Landes

As the story goes, I was about fifteen when I started getting involved with online communities. At that time, however, being online meant using a slow modem to dial various bulletin boards over a regular telephone line. My problem was that I didn’t realize that I was dialing long distance phone numbers. My parents weren’t ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Intelligently and Responsibly Buy a Car

by Luke Landes

Car companies want you to buy their products on impulse. They would, generally, prefer that the step of thinking is removed from the consumer’s process. This is evident in the commercials you see around the holidays in which a spouse is surprised when he or she notices a gift wrapped in a large red bow ... Continue reading this article…

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Customer Service: Politeness vs. Demands

by Smithee

The prevailing wisdom when dealing with customer service representatives is to just keep repeating, “Let me speak to your supervisor,” until you eventually get what you want. Every time I read this, though, I get defensive and annoyed. I can’t forget that year I spent answering the phones for Bank of America, and the myriad ... Continue reading this article…

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How to Teach Kids About Advertising

by Luke Landes

As I sat down to write this article, a commercial for an upcoming movie appeared on the television. Here was my thought process throughout the minute-long trailer. One: I recognize that voice. That’s Ben Stiller, who is adequate in comedies but better in movies that are slightly off mainstream. Two: The music in the background ... Continue reading this article…

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Kelley Blue Book Announces the Top 10 Green Cars

by Luke Landes

As gas prices increase, you can save some money by buying a more environmentally friendly vehicles. That may only be true when evaluating the cost of gas over time, however. Hybrid and other cars that rely on energy sources other than gasoline may cost more to own over the long-term when you consider the initial ... Continue reading this article…

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Will You Pay for Hulu?

by Smithee

This is a follow-up to my earlier post last October when serious speculation started about how Hulu would charge for content. To summarize my first post: Sure, I’ll pay for Hulu, provided they get rid of the ads. One business model is plenty. This week, the news broke about Hulu Plus, a $10 / month ... Continue reading this article…

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Is Netflix Streaming a Good Deal?

by Smithee

My wife and I use Netflix‘s streaming service as one of the pillars that holds up our cable-free entertainment setup. It was also the main reason I started subscribing to a XBox Live Gold membership, though that comes with some other benefits which I always forget about until the moment I notice them. The XBox ... Continue reading this article…

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FreeCreditReport.com No Longer Offers “Free” Credit Reports

by Luke Landes

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 required the Federal Trade Commission to regulate marketing surrounding products offered by the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion). Starting this month, offers like FreeCreditReport.com must be transparent about their offers when they are tied to “free trials.” It’s easy for us to single out Experian’s FreeCreditReport.com because ... Continue reading this article…

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He’s teasing you; nobody has two television sets.

by Smithee

That’s a line from one of my favorites movies, Back to the Future, during the scene where Marty McFly almost has dinner with his mother and grandparents. If there ever was a commentary on consumerism, this is near the top of my list: Lorraine Baines: Our first television. Dad just picked it up today. Do ... Continue reading this article…

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Beware the Downloadable Content (DLC)

by Smithee

I buy maybe three video games a year, which is as often as they make games good enough to buy. I find it impossible to pay $60 for a new game, partially because as a child of the original Nintendo, I got accustomed to $40 games, so I always wait at least a couple weeks ... Continue reading this article…

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Dallas’s Smart Power Meter Problem

by Smithee

I wrote last November about a rollout in my city to upgrade everybody’s power meters to the “smart” kind which should allow the power companies to operate and communicate remotely with our electricity. They should also enable us consumers to have more data about which devices in the house waste the most energy. It appears ... Continue reading this article…

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