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Consumer

Premium Gasoline Possibly Switched With Ethanol E-85

by Luke Landes

When I drive up to a gas station, I have a number of expectations. First, if I see a price advertised for regular-grade gasoline, that’s the price I expect to pay for regular-grade gasoline. That wasn’t the case a few years ago when my local gas station decided to implement price discrimination for customers who ... 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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New $100 Bill Design With Extra Security Features

by Luke Landes

Today’s news is all about the Benjamins. The United States Treasury has redesigned the $100 bill, and it is sporting a number of technically and visually impressive features. Just like the movies, currency is going 3-D. The new bill has a blue 3-D security ribbon woven into the paper. The ribbon displays alternating and moving ... Continue reading this article…

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General Motors Paid Back Bailout Loans in Full

by Luke Landes

Earlier today, General Motors announced that the company paid $4.7 billion to the U.S. government and $1.1 billion to the Canadian government, fulfilling its obligation agreed to when it received its initial bailout funds. In total, GM received $52 billion from the U.S. government, but only $6.7 billion of this amount was considered a loan. ... 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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HDMI Cables Are Cheap

by Smithee

On Tuesday, I asked our readers to answer a few questions about their household TV situation, and I found that 49 percent of respondents don’t use a DVR. I was surprised to learn that, but it says more about me than you guys: I’ve let myself get sucked inside an on-demand, time-shifting echo chamber of bleeding-edge ... 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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Manpacks

by Smithee

I’m a big fan of automation. Not having to think about mundane things on a regular basis is always attractive, since I want to be able to focus on things that are important as often as possible. Enter Manpacks, a service that automatically sends male underwear every three months, which they figure is just often ... 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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Consumer Reports’ Best Cars of 2010

by Luke Landes

When Consumer Reports tests new cars, their staff shop just like consumers. They stop into dealerships and buy cars without giving any indication they intend to test the cars for a major magazine. Rather than receiving specially tuned or improved vehicles, the magazine takes to its test center the same cars ordinary shoppers would buy. ... Continue reading this article…

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Needs Versus Wants: The Great Spending Debate

by Kelly Whalen

This article is presented by Kelly Whalen, Consumerism Commentary staff writer. It’s fairly straightforward to figure out the difference between a need and a want. Needs are basic: food, shelter, clothing, water, warmth. We can also add to that our emotional needs: love, friendship, and care. Wants seem easy to define. Wants are all the ... Continue reading this article…

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Eat Like the Locals and Profit Twice

by Smithee

My wife and I went on a mini-vacation this past weekend (our first using only cash), and while we didn’t specifically plan to limit spending on meals, we managed to do better than I had hoped. Of course she knows about my serious push to do what I can to erase my credit card debt, ... Continue reading this article…

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Future Tech Will Force Us To Be Smarter

by Smithee

Charles Darwin is often misquoted when referring to the concept of “survival of the fittest”, but his writings specify adaptability as the trait that individuals should strive for if they want to survive (and reproduce). In order for our wallets to survive in the future, we’re going to have to learn to be more adaptable ... Continue reading this article…

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