Are gift cards better for you — or better for the business?

Ask Richard Brigleb about gift cards, and he’ll tell you about the $200 worth of plastic for a wine store and local restaurant he just found in his kitchen drawer.
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The one thing every good customer forgets? You’ll never guess

Petr Kopka/Shutterstock
Petr Kopka/Shutterstock
You’re a smart consumer. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.

You look for bargains, you read the fine print, you know how to navigate your way around the branches of a phone tree.

But aren’t you forgetting something?

Most enlightened consumers fail to do one thing with alarming consistency: they don’t review their credit card purchases in a timely manner – or at all. No one knows exactly how frequently (or infrequently) American consumers review their credit card statements, but based on my own dealings with customers who are disputing a card purchase, I can tell you, it’s not often enough.
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Check confusion at Macy’s is driving me #$&[email protected] mad

littleny / Shutterstock.com
littleny / Shutterstock.com

Question: I recently made a purchase at a Macy’s store in San Francisco using two checks. One check for the amount of $31 was supposed to go towards the Macy’s American Express Card Account. Another check for the amount of $173 was supposed to go towards the Macy’s department store account.

I was told by my bank that both checks were processed electronically and deposited. But just one problem: The amounts went to the wrong accounts ($173 went to the American Express Account and $31 went to the Macy’s department store).

My wife, whose name is on both accounts, and I have attempted to make several phone calls to solve this matter, to no avail.
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Oh no! JetBlue breaks guitars, too?

jetblueAdd the word “breaks guitars” after any company, and everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about.

“Breaks guitars” is synonymous with terrible service, bureaucracy and corporate arrogance. And you’d expect an airline to be particularly sensitive to it.

For those of you who missed the whole United Breaks Guitars episode, here’s a recap: Back in 2009, United Airlines destroyed country musician David Carroll’s checked guitar and then basically ignored his damage claim.
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Stopped payment on my compensation check

Question: I was recently denied boarding on an Alaska Airlines flight from Boise, Idaho to Sacramento. I was unable to check in early online, making me one of the last to check in at the airport.

I had to cancel an appointment and was rerouted through Portland. What should have been a half-hour stopover turned into a half day, and I arrived in Sacramento late in the evening.

Alaska Airlines wrote me a check at the airport for 200 percent of the amount of the original one-way ticket as compensation for the major inconvenience. Nice, right?

Not really. I’ve just found out that Alaska Airlines stopped payment on the check. My bank is charging me $7 for depositing it, too.

Needless to say, I’m absolutely furious with Alaska Airlines. Overbooking is a horrible practice. I can’t support a company that allows me to purchase something they don’t have to give. Is there anything you can do to get Alaska Airlines to make good on its promise? — Ashley Cates, Boise, Idaho

Answer: Yes, overbooking is a horrible practice. And once Alaska Airlines cut you a check, it should have honored it.

But should it have paid you for the denied boarding in the first place? According to Alaska Airlines’ contract of carriage — the legal agreement between you and the carrier — the answer is “yes”. It says that if you’re bumped from a flight, you’re owed 200 percent of the sum of the value of your remaining flight coupon to your next stopover, to a maximum of $800, or half that if the airline can arrange comparable air transportation.
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