The rise of the insincere travel offer – and what to do about it

Before Brenda Galindo retired to Winterville, N.C., Continental Airlines made her a promise: The frequent flier miles she’d earned from her business travel wouldn’t expire.
Read more “The rise of the insincere travel offer – and what to do about it”

Warning! These “free” travel offers can really cost you

The travel industry is infatuated with the word “free,” and face it, so are travelers. Don’t believe me? Then feel free to ask anyone who has taken advantage of a “free” deal and regretted it.
Read more “Warning! These “free” travel offers can really cost you”

A little disconnect on Sprint’s discount offer

Sprint promises Jennifer Thomas a discount, but it doesn’t come through. Can she force the phone company to honor its word?
Read more “A little disconnect on Sprint’s discount offer”

Did United Airlines overcompensate this passenger?

Gary Wiener’s question comes along only once in a blue moon. Did United Airlines overcompensate him after a recent flight delay?
Read more “Did United Airlines overcompensate this passenger?”

In 2014, beware of the word “free”

Mega Pixel/Shutterstock
Mega Pixel/Shutterstock
How dumb do they think you are?

As the dust settled on the now-finished holiday shopping season, I couldn’t help but wonder. One study concluded it was one of the strongest seasons in recent memory, adding that more than seven shoppers said they plan to take advantage of “free shipping” offers, while nearly half expect “free” returns.

I nearly choked on my espresso when I read that. Did they just say “free”?

Right about now, half of you are saying to yourself: TANSTAAFL! That’s shorthand for “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” and you’re right, of course. Bonus points if you can tell me which Robert Heinlein book it’s from. (Yeah, I grew up reading sci-fi novels.)

The other half? “Grinch!” (Belatedly.) Or worse.
Read more “In 2014, beware of the word “free””

The unauthorized guide to fine print, holiday edition

Zoon/Shutterstock
Zoon/Shutterstock

When Ben Blout invoked a big-box store’s “low price promise” after discovering a lower price on his merchandise, he learned something customers rediscover every holiday shopping season: some restrictions apply.

Make that lots of restrictions.

“They told me they won’t match any printed advertisement that is not valid for at least one week,” says Blout. “Specifically, their price match excludes timed events like early bird specials and door busters.”

Fine print is a problem any time of the year, of course. But most consumers get foiled by it around the holidays, in part because more people are shopping, and in part because of the extra offers with the extra restrictions.
Read more “The unauthorized guide to fine print, holiday edition”

Verizon won’t honor its “Triple Play” gift card offer

Aruna Gabalis/Shutterstock
Aruna Gabalis/Shutterstock
Steve Schuster signs up for Verizon service after it offers a bonus of $200 in prepaid Visa gift cards. But the plastic is never delivered, and now Verizon is refusing to pay. What now?

Question: I recently accepted a job offer in the Washington area and established new phone, cable and Internet service with Verizon. Suffice it to say I’ve had a laundry list of problems. All have been resolved but one.

I was offered $200 in prepaid Visa gift cards for signing up for my Verizon service. Now, a Verizon representative says because of the discounted plan I have, I’m not eligible for the gift cards.
Read more “Verizon won’t honor its “Triple Play” gift card offer”

AT&T offered a discount on wireless service and then backed out — now what?

Question: I was recently offered a 22 percent discount through AT&T wireless through my employer. When I asked about the details, I was told the discount was off the entire bill. Every time I called AT&T before making the decision, I asked if the discount was off the entire bill. Every time I was assured that it was.
Read more “AT&T offered a discount on wireless service and then backed out — now what?”

Who benefits the most from your airline affinity card? (That’s not a trick question)

Hey buddy, wanna sign up for a credit card?

OK, that wasn’t Citi’s come-on when it asked Jerry Mandel if he was interested in an affinity card that would help him collect American Airlines miles. But it probably should have been.
Read more “Who benefits the most from your airline affinity card? (That’s not a trick question)”