Share your brilliant burst (or dashed dream) as a consumer advocate


Ever protested an unfair retail policy, pointed out that an advertisement is misleading, organized a boycott, or somehow advocated for yourself or another consumer? Whether you won or lost, tell us your story and you'll be entered into a random drawing for a $25 Amazon gift certificate!


Julie Rains demands that her coupon be honored (it's the principle, not the dollar)

When I was a junior in college, my residence hall-mates and I received expiration-date-less coupons from a major pizza delivery company in August when we arrived for the start of the fall semester. Many of us hadn't used the coupons all year but found them when we were getting ready to move out for the summer in May. So I (and others) tried to use the coupons to get $1 off our pizza orders.

As a side note, I was taking a business law class and learning about the concept of the "reasonable" person. Basically, companies need to determine what the reasonable person (not the wacko person or the ultra-safe person) would do in a certain circumstance, and then set policies that are consistent with what the reasonable person would think or do. Of course, companies have to abide by laws but absent specific regulations or contracts, businesses should try to communicate in a way that a reasonable person can comprehend.

Anyway, I ordered my pizza and tried to use the dollar-off coupon. My pizza delivery person was resistant to accepting the coupon. I protested but decided that if his response to me, upon my insistence, was something like, "well the reasonable person would not think that a coupon given in August would still be valid in May," then I would accept his decision. He said, however, "so, sue me."

Well, I lost that round and paid full price for the pizza.

What I lack in persuasion, however, I make up in persistence. The following August, when I was attending a workshop presented by the campus legal advisor, I learned about a complaint process through the state attorney general’s office. I filled out a form that explained my complaint and waited for a reply. A few weeks later, I was thrilled to learn that the attorney general's office agreed with me!!

From that point until my graduation, coupons with no expiration dates were accepted by the delivery drivers, and within a couple of years, this particular pizza delivery company started putting expiration dates on its coupons. I am sure that I am not the only one who complained. Over the years, the coupons from the pizza delivery companies have drifted back to their old ways (with vague references such as "expires within 30 days") but my victory still seems sweet.

My dashed dream? I received compensation for a cleaning product that didn't work as expected from the retailer where I made my purchase. I received an unsigned check from its trustee (a major U.S. bank) for something like $1.93. I had recently relocated and was holding over $10,000 in a savings account (the proceeds from my home sale, awaiting investment) and had a checking account with the same bank. I tried to deposit the check but the bank refused to accept the deposit because there was no signature on the check. Surely, the bank could have cashed the check, waited for it to clear, and upon settlement, made the funds available to me. I guess I could have pursued my cause but at this point, I felt I had wasted more time than $1.93 was worth.

Linsey Knerl gets tough while recovering from surgery

My most challenging consumer dispute involved a gym membership. While I was recovering in the hospital from major surgery, my ex decided to get us a couple's membership at the franchise gym nearby. (Nothing says, "rest and get better" like 24-hour access to the elliptical trainer.) Under a fair amount of morphine and some little red pills, I agreed, and I signed the contract for a one year term.

I was released the next day, and upon returning home had a case of buyer's remorse. (Could it be because I was instructed by my Doc not to exercise for a full 6 months?) I contacted the gym, and attempted to terminate the contract without penalty on the last day of the 3 days allowed by the terms of the contract. I was told it was cancelled and my check would be returned by mail within a week.

The check ended up being cashed, and they called the next week to confirm that I still wanted to meet with the personal trainer! I was in shock, and upon telling them about my call to cancel the membership, they told me that it was too late because I had called on a Saturday. Since business wasn't conducted on Saturdays, my call was not honored.

Since I knew this was garbage, I called daily. Twice daily. Three times daily. I went to the gym. I wrote letters to corporate. I threatened my local news team on them. 7 months (and a heck of a lot of polite but firm squawking) later, I received payment in the amount equal to my check.

Of course, by then I was able to exercise, and needed to join a gym. But you can guarantee that I went to the mom and pop place down the street.

Jessica Harp educates staff of apartment rental office on federal law

With my husband being in the military and having to move around a lot, I cannot tell you how many times we have had to break leases and/or rental contracts. Thankfully, we are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which allows us to break leases and contracts without having to pay early termination fees. But every time we have had to move, there has always been at least one company that insisted they did not have to follow the SCRA -- even though it is federal law! The most memorable company that has insisted that they did not need to abide by the SCRA was our apartment complex in Alabama.

As per the SCRA, when my husband received his military orders for us to move, I took the orders down to the rental company so that I could fill out the paperwork to break the lease. They told me they would be more than happy to break the lease for me, but that I was going to have to pay for the remainder of my contract plus an early termination fee. WHAT? I reminded her of the SCRA, showed her the military orders, and suggested that she talk to her boss if she needed any clarification. She didn't even blink before she said, "We don't follow the SCRA." Oh really? Why not? "We don't have to. It's optional." Um...I don't think federal law is optional. "Well, we can't just let you out of your lease." At this point, I realized I was going in circles, so I asked to speak with her manager, who (conveniently) was not in the office. The only next step I knew to take was to threaten to call the military lawyers. She didn't even blink when I threatened to call the lawyers. She said, "People threaten us with lawyers all the time. What makes you think you're any different?" At this point, I left and called the military lawyers, and they had the situation resolved within hours.

I went back to the rental office the next day to complete the paperwork, and the manager was tripping over himself to apologize to me. He gave me this huge speech about how the company supported the troops and how the lady I talked to the day before had been reprimanded for her attitude and lack of customer service. Honestly, his apology was great, but I was just glad that I knew the law. If I hadn't of known the law, as well as stood my ground, we would have paid A LOT of money in unnecessary fees.

Friend of Will Chen leads an exodus of poorly treated movie-goers

My friend John loves the movies. A fea years ago John attended a showing at one of those craptacular multiplex theaters. Ten minutes into it he noticed that the screen was unusually dim and the sound was out of sync with the action. There was a lot of discontented murmuring and a couple of people actually left the theater. But most of the audience stayed despite the problems.

My friend wasn't going to take it. He went to the front of the screen and told everyone that they deserved better treatment after paying $12.50 for tickets and sitting through 20 minutes of gawdawful previews. My friend stormed out after his speech and the entire audience followed him. The manager of the multiplex ended up giving everyone a refund and two free tickets to future showings. The movie they were watching? The Prince of Egypt.

Paul Michael seeks simple explanation for friend, spurs incident investigation

I was 21 and working in my first job as a junior copywriter in a London ad agency. One of the account managers I was working with came to work one day very shaken and stressed. She was a wreck. My art director and I sat her down, made her a drink (tea, we're English) and asked what happened.

She cleared away the tears and described a horrible train journey. This was in the mid 90's, when train accidents in the UK were increasing. She said her usual morning commute was going well, but then the train started speeding up. And speeding up. It was rocketing down the tracks, everyone started freaking out, the train took a corner at a nasty speed and literally started tipping over. Everyone was screaming, people and kids were crying, it was your basic "oh my lord, I'm going to die" moment.
Thankfully, just as suddenly as the train had started speeding up, it started slowing down. The train arrived at the station and not one thing was announced to the passengers. No explanation. Nothing. When she asked what had happened, she was met with a vacant expression and a complete denial.

I was only in my first year of copywriting, I was still learning the trade of persuasive writing. But I was so enraged by my friend's ordeal that I turned straight to my PC and crashed out letters to everyone I could think of. The management of the train company, the press, you name it. I hoped for something of a resolution for this poor girl who just wanted to know what happened. My letters prompted a full investigation of the incident, the firing of the driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel and compensation for my friend. From that point I knew that sometimes you can make a difference. That words matter. That one voice can raise an army of voices. I have been looking out for the consumer ever since.

Justin Ryan's mom gets a department store to alter its policies

I've not had any wild advocacy moments that come to mind, but I wrote recently about my infamous mother and her quest to have the ring I bought her for Mother's Day sized for free. I can't think of a better anecdote to include!

Read her story in The Affair of the Sapphire Ring.

Tell us your consumer advocacy moment and you'll be entered in a random drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate. Deadline to enter drawing is 8/26. Don't forget to enter your email address in the field provided and only one entry per person!


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Guest's picture

When I was 16 I wanted to see Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back in theaters with my friends. My mom bought our tickets but left before we went into the movie. When we got to the door, the ticket taker wasn't going to let us in because we weren't 17, despite the fact we had tickets. After some arguing and saying 'this is ridiculous' a couple hundred times, we finally got into the movie.

Guest's picture

I have so many Consumer Advocate stories.....I am known throughout my circle for my "poison pen" talents!
I will share my latest and greatest challenge, and try to keep it short:
My Mother & her husband are in thier late 60's and retired, living on the east coast of our state about 3 hours away. My Mother has recently been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, and her husband with early onset Alzheimers. Due to their health, my siblings and I have been taking turns going over and staying with them to help with Doctor appts, surgeries, paying bills, etc. I was put in charge of bill paying. While going through their credit card bills, I was seeing all sorts of new charges for things like "Great Fun", "Buyers Advantage", "AutoVantage", etc...ranging from $9.95/month upwards to $199.99! It seems they are all under the same parent company by the TLG prefix on the bill. Parental units have no idea what these charges are, or where they came from. After further research I found the parent company wwas TRILEGIANT in Connecticut, and they have MANY complaints against them for fraudulent behavior towards consumers, including a class action lawsuit! I not only had to spend hours on the phone getting OVER $2500 in charges removed from my Mom's credit card, but wrote letters to the Better Business Bureau (they filed a complaint, Trilegiant never responded - surprise), Trilegiant (never responded, big surprise), and, most recently, the State Attorney General's Office in CT...waiting to hear back. I am happy to have the charges removed, and have my voice heard...and it would be a bonus if I can get at least some of their money back.

Julie Rains's picture

I have heard my friends complain about such charges that parents didn't authorize or were confused by advertisements and 6-pt fine print. Your best advocate might be the credit card company; call and explain the problem, tell them that the charges are disputed, and let them resolve the problem. The cc companies are typically vigilant about addressing problems such as these thanks to federal regulations pertaining to credit.

Just a note, if the charges were incurred by a debit card, you won't have the same protections.

Guest's picture

I recently filed a complaint with the Fair Housing Act for being denied housing because, "this place isn't suitable for children." I'll let you know how it goes...

Guest's picture

In my ever lasting desire to keep my skin clear I joined a well know skin care club that sent their products to my door every two months. To my surprise one November I got another package just after receiving one the month prior. I decided to quit the club and mailed back the product. As promised they refunded my money, for the product only not the shipping. I called to inquire why. They explained that as per their policy they are unable to refund the shipping. I explained that I did not authorize an additional shipment. The customer service rep explained the additional shipment was made because their shipping facility was closing for Christmas (in November). She also smuggling added that notifications were sent to customers about the additional shipment. I said, “Oh really, can I have a copy of this letter because I didn’t receive it.” She immediately said, “I will refund the shipping.” Now when I get told about these “policies” that is the first thing I say, “I must have missed that. Can you send me a copy of this policy?”

Guest's picture

Back in the 1980's I lived about a six hour drive from the area where most of my family lived, which also had many more retail establishments than the place where I lived. One of these places was a so-called catalog store, where you entered the store, filled out an "order form", dropped it in a slot, and several minutes later you'd be paged to a counter where they had your order (after it had been picked from the stock in the back room). These types of stores went away about the same time as parking lot photo processing kiosks, but I digress. This particular store was still about an hour away from our ultimate destination (the town the family lived in) so it's not like it was real convenient to go there.

Anyway, during the summer I had purchased a solar-powered digital wristwatch. This was supposed to run for years, with the internal battery recharged by a solar cell on the face of the watch. Unfortunately, it went completely dead within a few months, well within the warranty period. When we came back to the area for Thanksgiving I returned it to the store, and they offered to ship it back to the manufacturer for warranty service. I was assured there would be no charge for this.

About a week before Christmas I got a postcard from the store stating that my watch had been repaired and was ready to be picked up. So a couple days before Christmas, on the way to the family for the holidays, I stopped at the store to pick up the watch. I thought it would be easy, just go in and show them the postcard and they'd give me the watch. Was I ever wrong.

When I went to the counter the guy at first couldn't find the watch and didn't seem particularly interested in looking for it. When I explained that I lived over 250 miles away and that it wasn't convenient for me to just come back, he went back in the back and rummaged around a while, then came back out and told me he couldn't give me the watch because the manufacturer hadn't paid the store for the repair. "So let me get this straight - the watch is back there but you won't give it to me because you think the manufacturer owes the store something? Doesn't the store stand behind the merchandise it sells?", I asked.

He said they did but basically kept giving me BS excuses why he couldn't give me the watch. I then asked to speak to the manager, and was told that the manager was on his dinner break and wasn't available. I guess he thought he was pretty slick; I think the real truth was that he didn't want to be bothered to look for the watch, but in any case the concept of "customer service" was totally lost on this jerk.

I proceeded to walk away from that counter and out into the main part of the store. I positioned myself near the jewelry counter, where it appeared several customers were contemplating last-minute holiday purchases. And I took up a position in the middle of the activity and said, in a very LOUD voice:

"Well, I can assure you that I will never buy anything else from a store like this that refuses to honor the warranties on their products!"

The place grew quiet...

Several people turned and stared...

And the reluctant employee turned about as white as a sheet. He practically ran over to me and said "Sir, please, just a moment, I'll get the manager for you."

And when the manager arrived and I explained what had just happened to him, he couldn't have been more apologetic. He found my watch and gave it to me. He did say that there was some type of reimbursement expected from the manufacturer, but that was not my problem, especially since they had sent me a card indicating that the watch was ready to be picked up. He didn't say what might happen to the employee I originally spoke to, but I would hope he got reprimanded, at least.

One thing I will say is that by the time I had walked out into the store area, I had made up my mind that the only way I was leaving without my watch was if I was escorted out of the store by the police or mall security. And if that happened, I was mulling my options as to which television station or consumer protection agency was going to hear from me first. So, it's probably a really good thing that the manager diffused the situation. I may have been slightly more flexible if it was a local store and not so far out of my way, but in no way do I regret my actions that day. Sometimes, the only way to deal with unreasonable people is to do something a little unexpected.

Oh, by the way, it turned out that the concept of a solar assisted wristwatch was apparently just too far ahead of its time. The thing celebrated the expiration of the warranty period by dying again (within a few weeks). I never bought another one, for obvious reasons.

I always thought it was too bad I didn't know any of the writers of Seinfeld - this whole incident was so bizarre that with a little added creativity it could have been the basis of a Seinfeld episode. :)

Guest's picture

Every year, my girlfriend and I hold off on buying some stuff from Best Buy that we really want. This is because we know that every year McDonald's runs their Monopoly game offering stackable "Best Buy Bucks" coupons (up to $50 off on any purchase). However, this past year, rather than going to McDonald's and getting absurdly fat on the food, we mailed away a ton of self-addressed stamped envelopes requesting free game pieces. When they arrived in the mail, we had accumulated a serious amount of free bucks (some of the pieces were worth $1 and some were worth $5).

About a week before the Best Buy Bucks expired, I went to my local Best Buy in Secaucus, NJ to purchase some blank DVDs as well as a new DirecTV HR20 receiver. When I reached the register, the clerk explained to me that they were no longer accepting Best Buy Bucks pieces. When I asked why, she said that her manager said they were no longer good anymore. After trying to get some more background and getting no where fast, I asked to speak the most senior manager currently working. When I told him what she told me, he tried pulling some lie that Best Buy headquarters had phoned each Best Buy the same morning and said that they were to turn away any Best Buy Bucks. When I called his bluff, he retreated and said that the call was actually a lie and that this local Best Buy had decided to stop accepting Best Buy Bucks coupons that were in sequential order because they presumed they were stolen. (I guess at McDonald's stores all the pieces on a stack of cups and sandwich/fry containers are in sequential order and some employees steal/sell them.) I had explained that I mailed away for the pieces and that it was extremely unprofessional for him to assume that I was a thief. While this argument going on, another customer came up with the same problem and was listening in on my argument with the manager. The manager then informed us that we were trespassing and then threatened to call the police and have us both arrested. I then threatened back to call the local news channel's beat reporter and have them do a story about their poor handling of the situation and refusal to honor un-expired coupons. (Mind you, it was a few days before Black Friday, which I also reminded the manager of.) Eventually, the cocky and aggressive manager blinked and agreed to give me my proper discount. I told him that I wasn't leaving until he honored the same for the other customer as well (which warranted a smile from the shy high-school kid standing behind me, and an angry scowl from the manager behind the counter).

All in all, a good battle -- but the consumer definitely came out on top.

To boot, when we entered the non-Best Buy Bucks codes on the website, we ended up scoring a $200 American Express gift card. ;) Thanks McDonalds! Perhaps you should do some Circuit City Bucks next year.

Guest's picture

I was in a town an hour from home and realized that I had failed to bring a jacket for work. I wanted to find a really inexpensive place and buy one that would suffice for the day. Upon entering the store, a rather harsh, kind of abrupt sales clerk approached me. I remember making a mental note of it, but didn't think much about it. I search and search for a jacket that 1.) fits me and 2.) is cheap. I foolishly drank way too much water that morning and really needed to use their bathroom, but just wanted to find something to wear first. I try on quite a bit of shirts and jackets, but hung up everything I tried on and even returned some of it to the rack where I originally found it.

Upon finding a jacket that was more than I wanted to spend, but pretty cute, I took it to the counter to pay. Now I'm honestly dying, I have to go to the bathroom so badly, kicking myself even more for drinking so much earlier! Same woman that lacked interpersonal skills upon me entering the store rung me up and asked, "Out of all those clothes, this is ALL you found?!?!" "...yes, I know," I responded. After paying, I kindly asked her if I could use their restroom. To which she replied, "We don't have a restroom here." I asked her in bewilderment, "You don't have a restroom here???" I mean, let's face it, they have eight hour shifts! "No...we don't have a public restroom," no personality lady replied. I said, "ok" and left the store.

I got out to my car...still haven't went, mind you. I marched right back into the store. I stand in line, bag in hand. Now a different lady was at the counter...I'm sure the other one was on a bathroom break! I told her I would like to make a return. She looked at the receipt and saw it was purchased a matter of minutes before this. She asked me what was wrong with the jacket. I told her that I had asked the other lady if I could use the restroom and she snottily replied that there was no restroom. Then I told her, "I refuse to shop in stores that do not allow their paying customers to use the restroom. I'll shop elsewhere." There was a lady in line behind me that left the store and did not make her purchase. I don't know if she was in a hurry or if perhaps...she agreed with me. Either way, that is my new shopping policy! If they can't pay their customers the courtesy of a restroom, I needn't darken their doorstep. If I was home, not spending money in their store, I would not be in this predicament.

After making it to a nearby coffee shop that did allow the use of their restroom...I felt total relief and complete satisfaction from my new decision, might I add!

Guest's picture

I was shopping at one retail store that sells massive amounts of cosmetics, perfumes and beauty supplies. This store aspires to be both elegant and sophisticated (hence the monochromatic decor) and also hip, which means that the sales associates tend to be beautiful people. Sometimes these "Melrose Place" clones are hired more for their looks than their makeup expertise...or common sense, for that matter.

At this particular store (not the prominent one in Times Square but at one of the upscale malls in Raleigh, NC) I went in to buy an outrageously overpriced bottle of lotion that is one of the few that actually contain SPF but somehow manages to keep my face matte and not a shiney, happy mess. The SAs were snotty and ignored me as they chatted and gossiped, but I already knew what I wanted to buy so I didn't really care. As I approached the register, though, one SA detatched herself from the herd to ask me if I'd found waht I needed. Though this was an obvious and evil ploy for her to claim the commission for "helping a customer" I still thanked her nicely and told her to just ring up my purchase.

I happened to notice her flinch for just a second as she glanced at the bottle, but then she scanned and rang it up and stuffed it into the bag. A bit unnerved, I took a look at the bottle myself, and then saw that clearly printed towards the bottom was an expiration date that was, well, at least a couple of months past due. I showed the SA, who was busy rushing my credit card transaction through, and she tried to act like, "Oh well." I then said I didn't want the bottle (I even apologized!) and the SA got all it was not HER (or the store's) fault they had kept expired products out on teh shelves. She even said, 'I already ran your card through' as though that would deter me from making the return. However, with much eye rolling, she gave me the refund.

The story does not end there. Out of curiousity, I stayed behind to see what she would do with the bottle. To my horror, instead of keeping it behind the counter or bringing it to the backroom or throwing the dang thing out, the SA (right in front of me, I might add) sauntered RIGHT BACK to the section of the store and REPLACED THE BOTTLE back onto the shelf. Now, I am not a raging health fanatic, and I honestly don't know if expired cosmetic products become toxic or whatever, but....the expiration date is a basic principle that most people have been taught to understand is a due date after which products lose efficacy, go "bad" (as in spoiled milk), stop working, etc. So I very gently and kindly suggested to the SA (who rolled her eyes at me) that it might not be a good idea to reshelf an expired product. She didn't move, so I took it down, then happened to look at the next bottle, only to find the same past due expiration date. I didn't go ballistic, but I again mentioned this to the SA, who was giving me a total stink eye. I was torn between whether to go vigilantte and start pulling the bottles myself, or whether to stop "embarassing" this poor SA and just leave, but I really didn't want this thing to just blow over.

So I also stood there but a bit, just looking at the SA. She then sighed and started pulling bottles off the shelf. It was rather funny because while she was bitching out loud, "These ALL aren't expired..." she was actually finding that they WERE all expired. At this point, another SA (maybe amanager) finally noticed us and came over to ask why the SA was yanking bottles. He saw the expiration date and told her to toss the bottles....the SA had nothing to say now!

I didn't get nor did I expect any "thank you's;" I also didn't make this a grand spectacle and maybe I should've done more to bring that SA's horrid customer service out in the light. But I am satisfied that I stuck it out and saw this to the very end.

Guest's picture

Yeah, I have another "best buy story":

I purchased a Kodak digital camera and printer right before our child was born last December. Everything works great, except after about the second time of replacing the ink, the film gets stuck in the printer making it impossible to remove the cartridge. I go on my lunch break to replace the printer (which is still under warranty) and there is another lady with the same exact model, same exact problem. They replace it with another printer, same model and because it is on sale now *it is February* they also give me a gift card for the difference *14 dollars and some change*

So I use my printer, go to change the ink, and what do you think happens? SAME THING! I take it back to Best Buy and say, "I just want something comparable to this printer, but I no longer want this model" My time is valuable and I can't keep spending an hour and a half every other month returning a product. After arguing with employees about how even though it is a Kodak product, Best Buy sold it to me and they should STAND BEHIND THEIR PRODUCT, I get a manager who says if I want something other than my original product, then she will gladly give me Kodak's 1-800 number. WHAT???? As if I couldn't find that information on any website, and then spend another hour explaining the situation to someone and then have to take the time and resources to pack up the product and ship it to them??? OH NO! So I basically did the same thing as one of those other stories and just said "SO YOU SELL ME A CRAPPY PRODUCT THAT BREAKS NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE, AND NOW YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT I NEED TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THE MANUFACTURER TO GET A REFUND??" That did it. So she told me to go pick out another printer.

Not the end of the story.

So I walk back with this kid and say, ok, find me a printer that is comparable to my old printer and that works with my stuff. So he pick out this HP printer. Fine. We walk up to the counter, after the price is deducted from the Kodak printer the guy says, "ok, you owe 18 and some change." What? Ok, so you are telling me that I just wanted a printer, and one top of having to bring it back TWICE, now I have to pony up almost 20 more bucks just to get what I originally wanted??? I told him he could have my gift card from the first time that had the 14 bucks on it, but I'd be damned if he was getting $4 from me. He said "well what am I supposed to do for the $4?"

I don't know. Comp it. Erase it. I don't care if it is a quarter, I am not paying for it. I just wanted a printer that worked, and I didn't pick out the printer, the salesguy did. Ridiculous. Anyway, to top it all off, the printer works fine, but I can't buy the ink in bulk at Sam's Club or anything; the only place that I have been able to find the ink guessed it, at Best Buy.

Oh one more thing. Back before I was trying to be debt free, we bought our computer there and I put it on the Best Buy card, with free interest for a period. After about 3 months I paid the balance off in full. The next month I got a bill for 15 cents. I thought, weird, I guess I wrote the check out wrong. The next month, another 15 cent bill!!!! I wrote "STOP SENDING ME 15 CENT BILLS" in the memo. I mean, if it says "to pay in full, send XXX" then that is what you should send in, right?????

Whateva. I hate Best Buy.

Julie Rains's picture

As a mostly polite southerner, I will appreciate any comments that indicate that you were so sweet that you kindly and correctly persuaded the store manager, call center representative, owner, etc. of your rights. Of course, any other comments of your consumer advocacy efforts are welcome.

Guest's picture
Kyle J

One of my prouder moment came when I was able to step in and help an older lady at Circuit City who was being lied to about the benefits of the extended warranty plan on a new TV. It was a young salesman and he was telling her a bunch of crap about how the warranty covers everything including normal wear and tear, which I knew was not the case. When I stepped in, he stuttered and mumbled and starting back tracking real quick. Felt good!

Guest's picture

I teach my students consumer rights and media awareness. One activity that we do is dissecting magazine advertisements. After that, I ask the students to create their own "spoof" advertisement using the techniques that we have discussed. I believe that it helps them to think about the consumer choices that they make a bit more.

Guest's picture

While I could post numerous war stories about transactions that went a miss, a few that ended up filing complaints with Better Business Bureau, FTC, Attorney General's office or the State Department of Insurance and one lawsuit, this story is one with a happy ending without a lot of grief.

I work 3rd shift and the cafeteria is closed, so I frequently buy a snack size bag of chips called "Salalitas" out of the snack machine for 75 cents on the days that I work. I had been doing this with no problems for at least two years until one night I got a bag that was stale, but the expiration date on the package was still good.

I e-mailed the company, Snak King, after finding it on the internet advising them that I loved their product and e-mailed them information in the paragraph above and the numbers off the package just to let them know that perhaps a bad batch may have slipped through the cracks and to check it out and figured that was the end of that, heck it as only 75 cents.

I received a prompt replay and asked for my name and address advising they would send me something in the mail to make up for my inconvenience, so I figured they would just ship me a refund check for 75 cents or cents off coupon.

A few days later, a large box arrived containing 4 full size bags of 4 different chips that they make.

It is great to know that there are companies out there that are still devoted to standing behind their products and making sure a customer is satisfied just by making them aware a problems exists and not having to fight for it.

Guest's picture
Rick Sterner

Years ago, when I was 18, United California Bank (long gone) advertised that they had "the friendliest tellers in town, or your money back". I found the tellers to be indifferent, and downright rude at times.

I worked in a print shop, so I printed a few dozen posters that said "These tellers are NOT the friendliest in town! -- an unhappy customer." With the help of a friend, one night we taped those posters on all of the doors, windows and drive up windows of the bank.

The next week, I went into to my banking (this was before ATM's), and to my pleasant surprise the tellers were friendly like I had never seen them before. I guess the manager gave them a little "pep talk" after removing all of those embarassing posters.

Guest's picture
Celia Fischer

On spring break in March, I went with some college friends to scuba dive in Florida. I was having ear pain, so I went to a local clinic, where the doctor diagnosed an infection and prescribed antibiotics. I paid $80 on the spot and left.

Two months later I got a bill from them. For a visit by somebody else in April, which they had put on my record. I wrote back and politely explained that I was a college student and had only been in Florida for one week in March, therefore it was impossible that I had visited their clinic in April.

They sent me a nasty last-chance letter threatening to turn me over to the collectors. For an $80 bill for a visit I never made. I replied with an even nastier note threatening them with my (phantom) laywer and never heard from them again.

But seriously? I write a letter from an out-of-state address, explaining that I'm out of state and you made an error, and you threaten me with a collection agency?!