Category: consumer

Some rare good news out of D.C. that got lost in all the craziness

There was a story that came out early last week that got buried and lost amid the avalanche of negativity coming out of Washington, one that bodes well for American consumers and has been a long time coming. Congress passed and President Trump signed a bipartisan law that will protect patients from unexpected bills from... Read more »

An open letter to hoarding shoppers

This isn’t funny anymore. At first it was mildly amusing, in the beginning when it spawned toilet-paper shortage jokes. But this is more than a month in now, and it needs to stop. I’m pissed, and I’m going to use curse words in this column—apologies to the sensitive. This behavior is getting serious and dangerous.... Read more »

Pier 1 closing stores, and my world just became a little less pretty

Say it isn’t so. News broke earlier this week that made me sadder than the announcement of Harry & Meghan’s break from the royal family. Home decor retailer Pier 1 Imports announced it is closing 450 of its stores, including it turns out, the two locations nearest to me. Those ominous, giant “Storewide Sale” signs... Read more »
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Is pricey prescription pet food just a racket?

Anyone who has had to purchase prescription diet food for their pet knows how crazy expensive these products can be. Even if you have pet health insurance, it usually doesn’t cover prescription food. I had a cat with digestive problems, so my vet at the time recommended Royal Canin prescription dry cat food, upwards of... Read more »

Buyer beware: The truth behind some of those 5-star ratings on Yelp

The consumer review site Yelp.com is one of my favorite social media sites and my go-to for everything from restaurants to dentists. But do you ever see a business with an average 5-star Yelp rating and wonder if the place really is as amazing as all that, or if they have manipulated their reviews in... Read more »

Don’t like the price Zillow puts on your home? Don’t bother suing—you’ll lose

It seems that people either love Zillow or hate it. Home buyers tend to be in the first group, and home sellers in the latter. While it can empower consumers with knowledge, it can frustrate homeowners when the “Zestimate” falls considerably below their asking price or what they believe their property is worth. Zestimates are... Read more »
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Why I don't miss working as 'holiday help'

By all reports, the roaring economy has made retail stores desperate for seasonal workers, or what used to be called “Christmas help.” This brings back memories of my own adventures working in retail during the holiday season. The first was in the 1980s, when I was an 18-year-old college freshman. I took a job at... Read more »

Attempts to sanction bus operator for offensive ad could run afoul of First Amendment

Suburban Express, a Champaign-based bus line that serves Illinois college students, provoked outrage recently when it sent a promotional email to University of Illinois students that read: “You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.” The line, from what I’ve read, was an apparent reference to the allegedly high number of... Read more »