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To address the needs of an ever-more-complex marketplace, Mark Green and co-author Nancy Youman have completely revised and updated The Consumer Bible, and added four chapters of all-new material. Green, a former top associate of Ralph Nader and current Public Advocate for the City of New York, incorporates new tips, strategies, and on-line information to guide consumers to get the best in essential goods and services, and to avoid scams and schemes. The 65 chapters cover it all: food, health care, insurance, ...
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To address the needs of an ever-more-complex marketplace, Mark Green and co-author Nancy Youman have completely revised and updated The Consumer Bible, and added four chapters of all-new material. Green, a former top associate of Ralph Nader and current Public Advocate for the City of New York, incorporates new tips, strategies, and on-line information to guide consumers to get the best in essential goods and services, and to avoid scams and schemes. The 65 chapters cover it all: food, health care, insurance, financial services including on-line trading, automobiles, travel and vacations, lawyers, outlet shopping, cable and direct satellite television, tax-preparation software, organic produce, buying a computer--even the best and worst times to purchase a product or service. And the authors and publisher so believe in this book that it comes with a guarantee: You'll save money with The Consumer Bible, or get your money back.
Mark Green is currently Public Advocate of New York City, the elected ombudsman for resolving citizen and consumer complaints. Author of the million-copy bestseller Who Runs Congress? he's planning to run for the U.S. Senate in 1998. Nancy Youman is a writer who has worked with Mark Green for seven years.
One of America's foremost consumer advocates and the bestselling author of Who Runs Congress? offers a one-stop, street-wise education on how to be a savvy shopper. It features 65 lively chapters packed with over 1,000 tips on all goods and services, from food to health, finances to buying a new car. The perfect guide for saving money, time, and aggravation.
You can order almost anything on the Internet these day: airplane tickets, rental cars, computers, clothes, cigars, kayaks, champagne flutes...the list goes on. Countless big-name retailers have gone online to peddle their goods, like Barnes & Nobles, Ticketmaster, and JC Penny. Yet in 1997, Business Week magazine found that only 1% of consumers with online access frequently shopped via the Internet. The reason? Most people don't feel comfortable typing their credit card number into a system that works by bouncing information over a series of computer systems.
As you become familiar with the Net, you'll find that there are bargains (and convenience) to be had. Just as you wouldn't do business in a store you didn't trust - or buy a "genuine Rolex" from a vendor in Times Square - you shouldn't buy online except from reputable, recognizable companies. A flashy, high-tech site doesn't guarantee the business behind it is legitimate, but the Better Business Bureau does. The BBB (www.bbbonline.org) certifies Web retailers that meet its standards. These feature a special BBB seal on their sites that you can click on; if the seal is genuine, where you can investigate the company's profile. You can also check for any consumer alerts about the company at the Federal Trade Commission's site, www.ftc.gov, or check for news stories about the company by searching with one of the engines described above.
Shop only on "secure" sites that use some kind of encryption - the scrambling and descrambling of information. Anything you send to the site, like a credit card number and other personal information, is scrambled automatically before you send it, making it unreadable to any prying eyes. At the other end of the transaction, the details are descrambled by the retailer using special programs that only they have access to. Secure sites are marked by an "s" after the "http" in the Web address, like this: "https:www.amazon.com". (Amazon.com is an online bookseller that uses encryption technology.) On Netscape, the small key symbol in the bottom left corner of the window, usually broken, will be whole when you're using secure sites. A small, locked padlock appears in the bottom right corner of Internet Explorer's window.
If it still sounds risky, call the vendor. Any retail site worth its salt will also have a toll-free number that you can call to place orders. While Internet commerce has become safer in recent years, it's not so safe that hackers couldn't break into the online sites of ESPN Sportszone and Outside magazine in 1997 and find the credit card numbers of 2,400 customers who had purchased goods from those sites, Luckily, the intruders claimed they were trying to make a point about online security, and there were no reports of wrongful use of the card numbers.
There are also the thousands and thousands of "classical ad" - like advertisements found in news groups and unsolicited e-mail messages offering used computers, used
INTRODUCTION: Smarter Shopping in the New Consumer Century...
PART 1: FOOD
PART 2: HEALTH
Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacists
Doctors and Hospitals
Long -Term care
Weight-Loss Products and Programs
Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses
PART 3: HOME
Houses, Condos, and Co-ops
Home Improvement Contractors
The Energy Efficient Home
Home Security Systems
Furniture and Mattresses
Lawn and Garden Care
PART 4: TECHNOLOGY
Electronic Goods and Appliances
Calling Long Distances
PART 5: AUTOMOBILES
PART 6: FINANCES
Banking on Banks
Retirement Nest Eggs
Mortgages and Home Equity Borrowing
PART 7: WHAT YOU WEAR
Jewelry and Watches
PART 8: CHILDREN
PART 9: TRAVEL AND VACATION
Airlines and Airfares
PART 10: PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
PART 11: SHOPPING
Layaway and Rent-to-Own
Counterfeit and Gray Market Goods
PART 12: BIAS IN THE MARKETPLACE
Selling Minorities Short in the Marketplace
Seniors as Consumers
Consumers with Disabilities
PART 13: LAST RESORT
How to Complain