Labor Day 2014

The fall months are a great time to make some big investments. Of course you’ll always want to do your research ahead of time – there are lots of ways to waste your money this month, too. While Labor Day sales are often terrific, it’s the savings after Labor Day that are really impressive.

Car Sales

The 2015 cars are already on the lot, and that means the 2014s have to go. If you’re shopping for a 2015 vehicle, this is certainly not the best the time to buy. Paying top dollar right at the top of the model year isn’t going to impress your financial manager, but saving a huge amount on last year’s model can score you a huge amount of savings.

When you’re buying a 2014 vehicle, what out for a few things. Car dealers are looking to clear the lot, but they certainly don’t want to lose money. Keep an eye out for hidden fees, extra “requirements” like extended warranties, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the dealership isn’t willing to work on a real deal. It’s far better to go to a different dealership than to be stuck with a lemon of a car or loan.

Patio Furniture

The summer brought beautiful patio furniture to lots of stores. Now that the fall is officially under way, the patio sets need to go, and stores are slashing prices. Look for deals in stores that only hold patio furniture seasonally. Big box stores and discount retail shops will likely be offering pretty terrific deals on tables, chairs, umbrellas and cushions.

One thing to watch for, however, as you’re picking out a new set are returns. The store has to get rid of all of their patio furniture, even the items that others weren’t satisfied with. Since the return policy can be dicey on sale or clearance merchandise, be sure that the box you’re taking hasn’t been opened and that the furniture you’re buying hasn’t been previously used or scraped up before turning over your credit card.

Post Labor Day Sales

There are two big dead times for retail stores. The first is in January, following the budget-busting holidays. The second down time is in the fall after school starts. The big sales over Labor Day and the back-to-school sales on clothing are usually just the beginning of the savings in retail stores.

Christmas items start coming in later in the fall, but the sweet spot for savings is right after the big Labor Day sales and before November. Complete your holiday shopping now and you’ll be shocked at how much you can save by buying well before the holiday “savings” kick in.

Health Savior or Scam? 3 Ways to Tell

Garcinium – Was charged for the “Risk Free Trial” and full price for another order I didn’t make.

Garcinium – Ordered garcinium for $4.95, but was charged $99.99

Garcinium – Garcinium/Supra Cleanse 350 – paying $99.99 not $4.95…requests to cancel not acknowledged

There are many excellent supplements and healthcare products on the market today. Often with so many, it becomes a challenge to figure out which products are actually legitimate and which are simply junk. Worse, some might be legitimate, but you’ll never know because the products are simply a way to entice you into a scam.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can tell when you’re looking at what may be a bogus offer. Better, there are ways to protect yourself as well.

1. Too Good To Be True

It’s one thing to find a product on sale. It’s another to find an offer that is frankly unbelievable. And if it’s unbelievable, you shouldn’t actually believe it. It’s hard to close out a deal that is offering you something that looks promising for less than $5. But those lowball offers are often the way that scammers bring you into the fold. You turn over your credit card information for a cheap supplement offer, and then find yourself facing outrageous charges and rebills.

2. Missing or Vague Fine Print

Legal companies are required to be upfront about additional charges and shipping costs. Don’t click on anything until you’ve found the specifics about additional charges or possible rebills. If you can’t find anything at all about shipping costs or handling issues, look for language about an “introductory” offer or “your first month”. Phrases like that often mean you’re getting into something for a long-term deal – just the sort of thing that has hidden costs down the road.

3. Terrible Reviews

The internet is full of reviews on companies and products that turn out to be junk, not worth the money or shady. Some companies perform illegal practices and continue to do so for some time. If you have even the slightest suspicion, do a quick search for the product’s name plus “review.” For example, you might check for “Garcinium Review”. When you check the posts that consumers have left online, you might being to wonder if there is something to be concerned about. There certainly aren’t very many things customers have said about the product, at least on this site.

4. Protecting Yourself

If you’re afraid to buy anything online, you might avoid all trouble, but you might also wind up missing out on some pretty great deals. If you’re looking to branch out from the traditional big name websites in order to grab some specialty items, you can protect yourself quite a bit by using a prepaid card.

For sale in any grocery or convenience store, a prepaid card loaded up with $20 is nice to have on hand when you’re thinking about trying a $5 or $10 offer. You might wind up with a great deal and a legitimate company. You might also wind up tricking the company that was trying to trick you. When the rebill comes in from the shady company, they won’t get paid. There won’t be enough money left on the card! Best of all, you’ll have the proof you need to know just who you’re dealing with as you make those healthcare supplement purchases.

Travel reviews on Pissed Consumer

Megabus – Review about Bus Travel Service

Megabus – Review about Broken Air Conditioner

Megabus – THE AIR CONDITION WHEN OUT.

There are many ways to travel between cities and states, and for those who aren’t comfortable flying and don’t have the luxury of a nearby train, often the best method of transportation is a bus. Fortunately, there are very nice, luxury buses available for travel. These buses come with electrical outlets, WiFi for internet usage and, of course, air conditioning.

The Discomforts of Travel

When you travel in an airplane or on a bus, you expect some discomforts. After all, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of people all crammed into the same small place. But with the internet available and some good headphones, you can tune out most of what you need to in order to make the trip work reasonably well.

Unfortunately, however, there are some things that you simply can’t handle. The most prominent of which is heat.

Sure it’s hot outside, but when you step inside a luxury bus, you can usually expect the bus to be nice and cool. Many people even get cold on buses and airplanes due to the intensity of the air conditioning.

But when that air conditioning goes out, a bus ride quickly becomes a hellish adventure trapped with all of those other people in a raging inferno of body odor and sweat.

Granted, you may not literally be burning up, but temperatures rise quickly, especially on a sunny, summer day.

Going in Hot

Often, once travel arrangements have been made, you’re stuck. You have to take the bus to the first city in order to catch the next bus on to where you’re headed. Or perhaps you’re scheduled to arrive at a particular time, and you can’t just decide to hop off a hot bus and wait for the next one. Unfortunately, however, sometimes that particular choice is made for you.

When you’re riding on a bus for hundreds of miles, you expect some discomfort. But you expect the air conditioning to at least make the trip with you. You can imagine the discomfort for dozens of passengers when their air conditioning went out on a trip between Atlanta and Mobile. The trip stopped. The bus was emptied and the passengers were told they were waiting on a new bus.

But the new bus hadn’t arrived in three hours. Everyone was irritable, hot and annoyed that they were late. But perhaps the worst experience of all was when the passengers watched the driver pass out from the heat and be carried away in an ambulance. There was still no new bus after that either.

Misery Loves Company

An isolated event can be explained away. We all have difficulty with air conditioning and such from time to time. But when a pattern seems to be repeated time and again, it’s enough to make anyone suspicious. When the air conditioning goes out on a big travel bus in three different states at three different times, it begs the question – is bus travel (on this particular line at least) really your best option?

Furniture Reviews on Pissed Consumer

Living Spaces – Cheap Furniture / Ridiculous Warranty

Living Spaces – 2014 Purchased a sofa and love seat from Living Spaces.

Living Spaces – Furniture delivered damaged/call center won’t accommodate within 7 days of complaint

Living Spaces – Do not purchase Living Spaces VIP Ultrashield warranty

There are some furniture companies that seem to specialize in inexpensive furniture and expensive furniture warranties. The warranties are designed to give you peace of mind as you buy a new couch or mattress, but often rather than enjoying your new items with peace of mind, you realize you’ve got both a broken sofa and a worthless warranty – neither of which was worth the money you spent.

Beware Cheap Furniture

There is a time and place for inexpensive furniture. If you’re living on a budget, cheap furniture may be your only choice. But it’s important to go into your purchase knowing that the items you’re buying aren’t designed to last more than a few years and that discounted price has a catch – either you’re assembling the furniture yourself or the company saved a lot of money on labor and materials.

When you go into a purchase knowing you’re not buying heirloom pieces, you go in wisely. When you are fooled by the bells and whistles and promises of huge savings and great warranties, you’re going in a bit blind.

The Hidden Charges

A furniture store that sells based on price has to make its money somewhere, and usually that money comes in hidden fees and charges. For example, you might be sold a $300 sofa, but you’re also pushed to buy the $89 furniture warranty. You’re promised that if anything goes wrong, that warranty will keep you covered.

But apparently it doesn’t.

When your new sofa is delivered, the arm is broken. When you call to have it replaced, the company will need $99 for the visit out to your home and then only cover the repair under certain circumstances. There’s no way they will be replacing the item, mind you – they will just “do their best” to repair it at your house. The customer service representative doesn’t care that the sofa arrived that way – this is how the company makes their money. The hidden charges.

It’s the same story on a table that arrives scratched. Or perhaps the item you needed immediately, but didn’t get until the next day despite being promised a same day delivery. The situation gets even worse, unfortunately, the longer you’ve had your furniture.

If you notice the sofa is broken a year after you’ve bought it, you’ll probably have trouble even getting a customer service representative on the line, much less a repair guy out to your house. Your mattress sags? Too bad – that’s not covered under the warranty. Your best friend covered your couch in vomit? Whoops! That’s a biohazard and not covered either.

The Bottom Line

While a warranty sounds like a great item when you’re buying an expensive piece of furniture, it’s often worth less than the paper it was printed on – assuming you even get a printed copy for your records. Perhaps your best strategy when buying inexpensive furniture is to simply buy what you need, enjoy it as long as it lasts and replace it when the time comes. Save the warranty funds – it might add up enough to cover the replacement anyhow.

Home repairs reviews on Pissed Consumer

Home Advisors send convicted felon to our house

Home Advisor employs a convicted crook in the neighborhood

You need to fix a leak under your sink. Or perhaps you need your trees trimmed. Maybe you’re even willing to invest $20,000 in a new pool. You need a contractor or specialist to take on your job. Fortunately there are companies available who do a bit of sorting and organizing for you when it comes to finding contractors. These companies find specialists, perform background checks, and suggest the right person for the job – or at least they claim they do.

Skipping the Background Check

People make mistakes. It’s entirely possible for someone to break the law, serve their time and then go on to lead a productive life with a new career. It’s also entirely possible for someone to make their career ripping people off by never delivering the service they claim to provide.

When you are planning to hire a company, you can do different levels of investigation. The first step is usually the Better Business Bureau or a licensing agency, but scammy companies can get around that easily by setting up new names for their existing business. Pool Company A becomes Pool Company B overnight it seems – complete with a blank slate as far as the government is concerned.

The best background check is more intimate – actual referrals from others who have used the company you’re considering. But be careful here as well – the company owner is going to give you happy customers. You want the unhappy ones.

When you’re getting ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new swimming pool, it’s worth it to dig deeper into your service provider. If, for example, you search the actual owner of the company – rather than the ever-changing company name, you might find that she has not one, but two, felonies for business fraud. That should be a big clue that she’s not the one to give your money to.

Bad Referrals

There are many referral services that claim to weed out bad contractors using background checks and the like. They don’t always work, however. In this case, one family lost $20,000 to a twice-convicted felon who was allegedly vetted, tested and then referred by a popular home referral company. To add insult to injury, the company apparently then offered the family a buyout – $500 to pretend it never happened.

As you can imagine, the family wasn’t interested.

It’s not just the big jobs that cause problems, however. Another family claims to have experienced $3,000 in property damage, abrasive workers and downright lies from another referral from the same company for tree-trimming services. In this case, not only were the homeowners threatened, but the would-be tree-trimmers stole the family shovel as well.

A huge deal? Perhaps not. But it’s unlikely a truly professional company would do such a thing.

Do Your Own Digging

The most important thing to gain from the bad experiences of others is to do your own research. While it would be nice to rely on a company to eliminate the poor choices, ultimately it’s your money on the line. Ask friends, family and neighbors for suggestions and then do some serious digging. If you can’t find any negative reviews, it looks like you’ve found your contractor!

The 3 Most Irritating Restaurant Experiences

Bob Evans Restaurants – Carryout complaint

Bob Evans Restaurants – RUDE AND OR PREJIDICE WAITRESS

There are categories of restaurants. Not every eating establishment has four stars, and many are simple, economical and easy places to get hot, decent food. Unfortunately, even when you have only moderate expectations for a restaurant, you can run into trouble and leave irritated and frustrated rather than comfortable and content.

They Screw Up Your Order

There are places that have complicated menu items. And there are people who make simple items more complicated than is strictly necessary. But when you order just the basic menu items – the ones the restaurant has prepared for decades – there is no reason to think they should get it wrong.

But they so often do.

You order on the phone. You ask for three simple things – standard things really. When you arrive to pick up your food, you’re impressed that the server brings it to your car, so you include a tip. But when you get home things aren’t looking so impressive. The salad isn’t there …but the dressing is. The breakfast items don’t even include the same ingredients as they normally do. It’s like someone threw some items together in a container and stuck them in your bag.

They Aren’t Polite

Which can easily lead to the second issue that will drive you nuts – the wait staff and even managers can be downright rude. When you bring your order back to show them the big mistakes, they don’t apologize, they just offer you back some money – and it’s not even the same amount that you spent in the first place! They refuse to see the issue in the same light as you, and you’re now stuck with bad and missing food and missing a few bucks as well.

Worse, sometimes the waitstaff won’t even help you at all. Even if you get the wrong food, at least you got food! It’s even worse when you arrive at the counter to order or sit at your table and then have to wait for your server. You wait. And wait. And wait some more.

Sometimes it’s crowded or just a busy waiter, but other times, it’s flat out rude or even prejudiced behavior – when a server looks at you and turns to walk away, that’s not busy. That’s appalling.

They Get Rid of the Good Stuff

Things change, and that means that sometimes menu items change, too. It makes sense in a way for new items to be introduced or to come and go over time, but when a menu staple suddenly disappears it’s almost as if the restaurant is trying to tick you off.

For example, when you eat pasta every time you visit a neighborhood restaurant, it’s unbelievable when the pasta on the menu suddenly disappears. It’s not just one dish that was removed – it was all of the pasta dishes! An entire cuisine was just struck from the menu and nobody in the restaurant can seem to tell you why.

When this happens, even if the people are polite and friendly, there is only one thing to do – find a new favorite dish or a new favorite pasta joint. 

Protecting Your Bank Accounts from Online Fraud

VistaPrint – Vista Print SCAM

VistaPrint Rip off

VistaPrint – Vista Print sells your credit card information

Most of us know that there are shady websites out there that are looking to do us harm. They might sell your information, steal your files, wreak havoc on your computer or even steal your identity. Learning  how to handle yourself online, especially with websites that don’t seem suspicious, can be highly advantageous.

The Shady Site

The shady website is often easy to spot. There are lots of pop-ups and extra charge options. You’ve usually never heard of the site before and it seems to be a hard sell – forcing you to buy something. Usually the website wants you to buy more than you want or offers a free sample in exchange for your credit card information.

But some websites actually use shady practices and don’t meet the standard criteria. A printing website, for example, may show up on ads both online and on the radio. It’s been around quite a while, and it’s hard to think that there could be a problem with a website that has a history stretching back more than five years and countless advertisements.

Usually the problem companies come and go. This one is still around.

Website Fraud and Illegal Actions

That means that it should be safe, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the printing website that seems so popular and safe has numerous complaints about deceptive business practices, illegal actions and even credit card and bank account fraud.

For example, one customer saw an ad for a free calendar. He wanted to take advantage of the offer and was okay paying for shipping – until he saw that shipping was outrageous. Sending a calendar doesn’t require almost $8 in shipping costs, especially not if it’s supposed to take up to 21 days to arrive.

The icing on this particular cake was the calendar wasn’t even free! By the time the angry customer had finished arranging the images for his calendar, he was going to be charged quite a bit more – even more than shipping.

While that customer chose not to go through with the deal, others have ordered and been burned. One customer ordered business cards through the printing company’s website. She soon discovered that a separate company affiliated with the printing company was charging her credit card every month for items she never ordered or purchased. When she called, she got the run-around, and has escalated her complaints to the federal level – where apparently many others have complained as well.

A similar situation occurred to another customer. He found that a separate company was charging his credit card after a printing order. When he called, he had the same experience – the company tries to make you feel you’re to blame for the “mistake” while continuing to take funds from your bank account.

Protecting Yourself

Keeping your credit cards and information safe isn’t always as easy as we’d like it to be. Unfortunately there are plenty of company out there who work hard at looking respectable, only to work dirty deeds behind the scenes. Your best bet is to stay vigilant, do a bit of research, and always check for complaints or reviews before typing in your credit card information on an unfamiliar website.

Automobile reviews on Pissed Consumer

Beware of Camping World repair service

Camping World – Poor Customer Interaction and Damage to Coach

Camping World Lake City, Florida Service Dept. does more damage than they fix.

Owning a camper or recreational vehicle is fun, but it can be a lot of work, too. Just like a car, a mobile home requires regular maintenance, and when things break on a mobile home, you can’t just take the giant RV into your local body shop. It’s important to know what you’re getting into with mobile home repairs.

Not All Shops Are Created Equal

It’s true for cars and it’s true for RVs. Not all repair shops are created equally. Sadly this is especially true when it comes to the dealership. RV dealerships make money by selling campers – not making small repairs and warranty fixes.

Granted, the service department at the RV dealership can make a significant amount of money if they sell you a few extra items you don’t really need when you bring you camper into be fixed, but that’s standard fare at every repair shop on the planet.

The real trouble when you’re looking at repairs for your camper is the quality of the service itself and that is vastly different between different shops and dealerships. It definitely pays to do your research before taking your camper in. Even some chains have different levels of service – check reviews online to be sure you know what you’re in for.

Consider New Locks

When you bring your mobile home into the repair shop, you’re handing over the keys to more than just the engine. You’re allowing the repair technicians access to your cabinets, storage lockers and anything else they might decide to explore. If there are things you’d like to keep private or safe, it may be best to invest in a small padlock set or the like. That way you can truly lock up any valuables in a safe place.

Customers complain that service technicians have been known to snoop, and even to take a few small items from time to time. One customer found that the technicians opened every locked cabinet and door in their home and left them that way – essentially allowing anyone who wanted to walk through to take whatever they would like. You may have to sacrifice some privacy when you hand over the keys, but you shouldn’t have to leave yourself completely vulnerable.

Don’t Plan on Speedy Service

It’s hard to find a service shop that can get you on the road again in just an hour or two – even if you just need a quick oil change. Bringing a large camper into a repair shop means you’re going to be there for a bit, so settle in.

Granted, there is a limit to what your patience can bear. You might plan on three hours for a one hour job, but you shouldn’t have to call multiple times and even arrive on site to get an update. And if the service department loses your keys and makes you wait overnight while they hunt for them? You have every right to be furious and demand some sort of resolution to the problem – hopefully a good one!

Shopping reviews on Pissed Consumer

Albertsons – Poor cust service and stinky store

Albertsons – constantly stalked by Roy the loss prevention

Albertsons – Rotton Watermelon

Albertsons – Review about Shopping Experience from Los Angeles, California

Sometimes we get in a rut when it comes to buying groceries. We go to the same store we always have, simply because it’s convenient or perhaps habit. But when things aren’t quite what they used to be, or something is definitely off – it’s time to find a new place to shop.

Stalkers

Theft and loss are real problems in all retail establishments. It stands to reason that grocery stores might hire someone to specialize in loss prevention and to be sure that nothing walks away out of the store that hasn’t been paid for. Of course, sometimes these loss prevention specialists go a bit too far and become more of an annoyance than assistance.

If you’re walking through the same grocery store you’ve used for fifteen years and suddenly the loss prevention officer is following you on every trip. Something is wrong. Either you’re doing something highly suspicious or he’s being irritating. If it happens once, you can get it over it. But if happens repeatedly, it’s time to find a new store.

Rotten Food

Grocery stores are in business for one reason – to sell you food. So when that food isn’t fresh, what’s the point? If you visit a grocery store and the entire store stinks, there’s a major problem – especially if the store smells like rotten meat. How are you going to buy “fresh” meat to cook at home when the store seems to contain enough rotten meat the stink the place up?

The same goes for fruit. If you crack open a watermelon and it is rotten and slimy inside, there’s a major issue. If the potatoes are mealy and squishy, same deal. You’re not shopping at the farmer’s market, but you’re paying money for these items – you’d expect them to at least be edible!

Rude Employees

Grocery stores are a business designed around the customer – they bring you items and you buy them if you like what you see. What isn’t necessary, however, are rude employees. Granted you can find a very helpful individual in produce on the same day that you find someone who won’t help you a bit at customer service. It can be a bit hit and miss, but if you are consistently having trouble with rude employees and non-helpful individuals, it may be time to make a change.

Of course, sometimes employees are so unhelpful that they ask you to find a new store without you even planning to! One individual had to move a broken cart to free up one she could use. When the cart fell over, she didn’t bother to pick it up – it was broken and locked already!

She then pushed her cart through the store. An employee caught up to her a few aisles in and told her she was no longer welcome in the store since she was caught on camera damaging store property. Since she hadn’t intentionally damaged anything, she tried to explain, but the store employee wouldn’t let her explain much less listen to what she had to say. It goes without saying that she won’t be back after that level of embarrassment!

Shopping Reviews on Pissed Consumer

Lifeproof – Case got wet ruined my phone

Lifeproof terrible customer service

Lifeproof Iphone Case Warranty Sucks!

Lifeproof – 2 phones trashed

Lifeproof – buyer BEWARE

When you pay almost $100 for a phone case, you expect it to do great thing. In fact, you know it will do great things because the company selling you the case promises – even guarantees – that it will. If you buy the cover and register it with the company, you are promised a warranty on the case and you have the ability to make claims if your phone and the case get damaged.

It seems too good to be true – and maybe it is.

Not-So-Indestructible

A phone case that claims to be indestructible should cover some of the basics. It shouldn’t leak when it gets wet. It shouldn’t allow the screen to crack when the phone is dropped from a normal height. It should be like the waterproof armor it claims to be.

But somehow it’s not. There are many complaints about these heavy phone cases and just how destructible they really are. The phone drops and the screen cracks immediately. The phone falls for a second into a puddle and the case actually traps the water inside by the phone, ruining it.

So much for that “high quality construction”.

Honoring the Warranty

Fortunately, when you paid $80-$100 for that phone case, you weren’t just buying a case you were buying peace of mind. You paid extra knowing that you could file a claim if your phone was damaged, so now you can at least take advantage of that particular option.

Or you can try to, anyhow.

When you call the customer service phone line you might be put on hold due to “high call volumes.” Oddly, no matter what time you call, day or night, there are still “high call volumes” and it takes forever to actually speak to a person.

When you do speak to her, you’ll likely hear something like the following:

- You didn’t buy your case from the right place, so it’s not actually covered under the special warranty. Sorry about that!

- The case is covered under the warranty, but not your actual phone. So if the case is still intact, you don’t have anything to actually report – the case is fine. So sorry about your phone…

- Or you might get lucky and be told that the form you need to fill out is online and she’ll send you the link via email. She’ll get your email address. But you never get the form. Surely that’s not much of a surprise at this point, is it?

There are some really excellent phone cases out on the market. They are made by reputable companies that stand behind their products. But then there are others – like the ones with numerous complaints online.

Before you buy do your research. Don’t waste $100 on a case that doesn’t work. You might as well get a super cute one for $10.

Safety recalls are a part of doing business at times, especially in a heavily regulated industry like the American automotive one. Of course, it may be normal to have to recall one particular model or one particular part from time to time, but so far in in 2014, General Motors has gone well beyond “normal” recalls.

Peak Performance

While GM product commercials for Chevy, Cadillac or Buick vehicles might promise a peak performance of one sort, GM has delivered a chart-busting number of an entirely new kind. In just last six months, GM has had to recall 29 million vehicles – that’s more than any other automotive company has recalled in a year, and we’re barely more than halfway through 2014.

2014 First Quarter

Before you blame the economy or government bailout, it’s important to note that the problems GM vehicles are experiencing span a decade. In the first quarter of this year, GM recalled vehicles from 2004 through 2014 for a variety of reasons ranging from a loss of power steering to seat belt malfunctions.

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2014 Second Quarter

In the second quarter of 2014, GM doubled down. Millions of vehicles dating back to 2003 were recalled for faulty brakes, malfunctioning headlights and seat belt problems among many others. Most notable perhaps was one of the top-of-the-line vehicles in GM’s line. The 2015 Cadillac Escalade was recalled (not even halfway through 2014) for improperly installed airbags. Apparently these are not just old problems GM is being forced to resolve.

Based on graphics like this, it’s easy to see GM’s recalls as a major red flag. After all, when a company has more than a decade’s worth of vehicles recalled, it makes you wonder if anything they built was up to standards.

GM claims that they have implemented new quality controls and that they are “aggressively reviewing product issues and will not hesitate to conduct a recall if it is determined to be the right thing for customers.”

If you’re a gambler, you might wager that GM has turned over a new leaf when it hired 35 new product investigators and began issuing recalls. This might be the start of a new breed of GM vehicles born from the ashes of 29 million recalled ones.

But if you’re not willing to wager your money and possibly your safety on GM’s apparently higher levels of new quality controls, you are certainly not alone.

 

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This year’s survey has evolved from 2013 with 2 new questions added & 3 removed.

As with the 2013 survey, the focus of this year’s survey is on consumers in the North American market. BrightLocal contacted its Local Consumer Panel which consists of just under 5,000 individual consumers, and received 2,104 entries with 90% of respondents coming from the US and 10% from Canada. The survey was conducted over 6 weeks in May-June 2014.

Consumption of online reviews
1. How many times have you used the internet to find a local business in the last 12 months?

1

Key Findings:

To find businesses on both PC & mobile consumers are becoming more comfortable using the internet. There are more and better services for locating businesses which make it faster and easier for consumers. They start to use it with increasing regularity as it is habit forming.

2. Select the Business Types you have searched for via the internet in the last 12 months? (select as many as you like)

Key Findings:

- More people are searching for more types of businesses in 2014 vs 2013
- Doctor / Dentist – 38% (up from 35% in 2013)
- Restaurant / Cafe – 58% of consumers searched for places to eat (down from 67% in 2013)
- Clothes Shop – 34% (up from 28% in 2013)
- General shop – 36% (up from 35% in 2013)

3. Do you read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business?

Key Findings:

Almost 9 out of 10 consumers have looked at reviews in the last 12 months to help them make a decision on a local business. It is interesting that 4 out of 10 consumers do so as a regular action.

- 39% read reviews on a regular basis (vs. 32% in 2013)
- 88% have read reviews to find out the quality of a local business (vs. 85% in 2013)
- Only 12% do not read reviews (vs. 15% in 2013)

4. Which of these business types have you read online customer reviews for? (select as many as you like)

*% figures displayed are 2014 results

Key Findings:

- Hotel / B&B – 35% (up from 27%)
- Restaurant / Cafe – 56% (down from 61%)
- Hair / Beauty Salon – 31% up from 17%)
- Doctor / Dentist – 35% (up from 32%)

How many different business types do consumers read reviews for?

types-of-biz1

Key Findings:

- Consumers read reviews for 3.3 different types of businesses vs. 2.7 types in 2013

Trust & influence
5. How many online reviews do you need to read before you feel that you can trust that business?

5

 Key Findings:

- 7% of consumers say they read 20+ reviews (vs. 2% in 2013)
- 67% of consumers say they read up to 6 reviews (vs. 77% in 2013)
- 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews (vs. 92% in 2013)

6. What average star rating is too LOW for you to consider using a local business?

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 Key Findings:

- 27% of users will use a local business if it has a 2 star rating
- 92% of users will use a local business if it has a 4 star rating
- only 13% of users will use a local business if it has a 1 star rating
- 72% of consumers will use a local business if it has a 3 star rating

7. How do online customer reviews affect your opinion of a local business?

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 Key Findings:

We can see that positive reviews have a great effect on the perceived trustworthiness of a local business.

So it’s clear that local businesses cannot afford to let their online reputation slip as it will directly impact customer revenue and acquisition.

8. Do you trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations?

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Key Findings:

- 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs. 79% in 2013)
- Only 13% said they do not trust reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs. 21% in 2013)

9. When you read positive reviews of a business, what is the next step you generally take?

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Key Findings:

- 72% of consumers will take some sort of action after reading a positive review
- 57% of consumers will visit a local business website after reading a positive review

Reputation traits
10. For which of these local business types does ‘Reputation’ matter the most when choosing a business? (select up to 3)

Key Findings:

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Key Findings:

Local businesses which offer a service to affect our health, well-being / safety, or comfort, are those which we feel reputation is most important for. It is businesses that offer a leisure service for which this matters least.

11. Which of the following ‘Reputation-traits’ is MOST important to you when selecting a local business to use? (select 1 answer)

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Key Findings:

- 27% say reliability is the most important reputation trait for a local business (down from 28%)
- Expertise (21%) & professionalism (18%) are also important factors

Incentive to recommend
12. In the last 12 months have you recommended a local business to people you know by any of the following methods? (select as many answers as you want)

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Key Findings:

-  37% have used Facebook, 12% Twitter & 10% Google+ to make local business recommendations
- 61% have recommended a local business to someone they know by word of mouth (vs. 72% in 2013)

13. Which of these factors would make you more likely to recommend a local business to people you know?

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Key Findings:

- 68% say that they would be more likely to recommend a local business if it was reliable & professional (vs. 68% in 2013)
- A further 9% of consumers would recommend a local business if asked to (vs. 12% in 2013)
- 44% said that being ‘friendly’ & ‘welcoming’ was important (vs. 46% in 2013)

This survey is provided by the BrightLocal.

 

Jewelry reviews on Pissed Consumer

Kay Jewelers Unethical Company

Kay Jewelers – Review about Diamond Ring Upgrade

Kay Jewelers – Horrible Ring!!!

If you head to the mall, you’ll find a slew of jewelry stores –one on every corner it seems. These stores often have millions of dollars in sales every year, and it is fun to window shop as you stroll from one spot in the mall to another. But before you head into the nearest jewelry store to buy a new engagement ring or have a piece of jewelry repaired, it’s important to know just what you’re dealing with. In most cases, it’s not jewelry experts – it’s just sales staff.

Selling Versus Knowing

That’s not to discredit sales associates. Knowing how to make and close a sale is a very lucrative skill, especially in a high dollar jewelry store. What’s important to note, however, is that knowing how to find the customer a ring that’s pretty isn’t the same as knowing the actual make-up of the diamond in the ring.

If you like the look of a particular ring in the case at the jewelry store, there is absolutely no reason to not get it. A great deal of jewelry sales have to do with what you like and what “speaks” to you in the store. But certain expectations you’d normally have in a jewelry store may be false if you’re just dealing with sales people.

For example, if you ask about the authenticity of the diamond in your ring, and the sales associate makes a vague comment rather than actually addressing your question, you might be in trouble. A true expert jeweler knows how to inspect, clean, repair and certify stones. A sales person just knows how to seal the deal and collect your money.

Dealing with the Experts

Going to a professional jeweler for an engagement ring or jewelry repair can be more expensive than heading to the jewelry store around the corner or next to your favorite shop. But, on the positive side, when you’re working with a real jeweler, you can benefit from his or her expertise.

You won’t be sold a cheap diamond with an inflated price. You won’t be sold a diamond on a payment plan with so many loopholes you’ll never be able to handle the payments. You certainly won’t be told that a diamond is chipped when it’s really just a part of the stone itself.

Finally, dealing with a respected jeweler may help you prevent the fraud and deception that has been known to happen in stores where high volume is necessary. If the store is designed to sell, sell, sell, they won’t mind terribly if things happen unethically so long as the bottom line is there.

While this can happen at any store, some jewelry store chains have ethical issues right on up the food chain to the corporate offices – at least according to their former managers.

If you’re looking for a deal on a diamond, buy pre-owned. If you’re looking for confidence in your purchase, be sure to stick with a real jewelry expert.

Customer service reviews on Pissed Consumer

Sonic – Review about Wrong Order

Sonic – Review about Rude Employee from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

When you order fast food, you aren’t expecting premier service, but it’s reasonable to expect your carhop or server to be polite and pleasant. In return, you are polite and everyone gets along just fine without sniping at each other or being ugly. Of course sometimes thing go terribly wrong, and you wind up with an ugly situation on your hands – your server is rude and unpleasant. What do you do now?

Kill Them with Kindness

When someone is in a bad mood, they are looking to take it out on someone else. If you fight anger with anger, you’re actually giving the rude employee what she wants. It’s far better to act as though she has been the most pleasant associate you’ve dealt with all day. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, act as though it’s all a big misunderstanding on your part. You may shock the employee into behaving appropriately. Or at the very least you’ll feel a bit superior since you were able to keep your cool at least.

Just Walk Away

Sometimes you really just want a chocolate and banana milkshake, but the server isn’t getting it. You’re trying to ask a question and it’s like talking to a brick wall. Your server can’t seem to understand and you can’t get through to her. Tensions are rising and both of you are getting irritated. Suddenly instead of asking politely for a milkshake you’re about to lose your cool and the server actually does lose hers. Things are getting ugly fast and you still haven’t ordered your milkshake.

At this point it might be better to just drive away. If you’re inside the store, just walk away. There are other restaurants that serve milkshakes and driving an extra few minutes is worth it to keep your cool and avoid an ugly confrontation in the middle of the store.

Get the Manager Involved

Some things are just over the top – so far over the top there’s nothing you can do but call a manager over. For example, if a fast food employee throws ice in your car or yells at your daughter over music in the car, you’re done. This is a point when it’s absolutely necessary to call the manager on duty over immediately, explain the situation and look for an immediate solution.

In some cases, it may be that the manager has to handle the situation after you leave. In others, he or she may be able to make things right immediately. Often it just depends on what the situation actually is. Of course, getting the manager involved when things aren’t over the top can backfire on you. Be sure that the server is the real problem – sometimes we can be overly sensitive or allow our bad mood to taint an experience. You could be interfering in someone’s job, so be sure you’re ready to take on that responsibility.

Dating reviews on Pissed Consumer

AdultFriendFinder – Cam and Instant Messenger Problems

AdultFriendFinder – Removed for a supposed TOS violation

AdultFriendFinder – Dont Pay! FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD

AdultFriendFinder – Was banned from site!

Adult Friend Finder, a website dedicated to finding others interested in a one-day or longer romance, may not be for everyone, but there are many who enjoy the convenience the website provides. Well, they’d enjoy the convenience if they could actually use the website, that is.

Unfortunate Updates

Recently the website, Adultfriendfinder.com, updated its system. The website interface changed and many long term members have been having trouble even using the basic functions of the website. Ever since the update, many members have had trouble logging into the website. One minute the login information works correctly, but the next it doesn’t.

Even if you’re able to log into the website, you may have some trouble with the website functions. For example, some people have had some trouble using their webcams. The webcam is a critical part of the website’s usefulness, so not being able to use a camera that you’ve used for years can be a major problem.

So far there aren’t any developments on the site to alleviate the frustration that long term users are experiencing. Of course, if you’re a new user you might have some other problems with the site that are a bit more expensive.

A Big Rip-off?

Old users are frustrated with the new website design on Adultfriendfinder.com, but new users don’t know any better to even worry about how the site used to function and what might not be as user-friendly now. Instead, they are lucky to even keep an account.

Quite a few new users on Adult Friend Finder have set up new accounts and then tried to log in. Many only used the website for an hour or two and then discovered they were banned. They had their login privileges revoked and only learn about the problem when they can’t get back into the website.

While this would be frustrating in any form or fashion, what really puts this over the top is that most of these new users have paid for their new account only to be banned from the site. Naturally there is no refund offered. The website keeps the money. The user gets nothing but frustrated.

There are a lot of former users ready to do battle against Adultfriendfinder.com. They feel as though the website actually stole their money by shutting down their accounts. When the users tried to follow up on why the user account was banned, the website’s customer service department was “unable to comment” on how the user actually broke the terms of service.

It sounds as though Adultfriendfinder.com has some issues to sort through in the very near future or they may just find themselves without any customers at all.

Finance reviews on Pissed Consumer

US CASH ADVANCE – A loan I never took out

US CASH ADVANCE – Almost scamed

US CASH ADVANCE – BIG SCAM ON US BY MIDDLE EASTERNERS

US CASH ADVANCE – I had went on line to apply for an payday loan that was never deposited into my account

There is a pocket of our society that has little flexibility when it comes to getting cash on hand. Sure we should all be saving our money for a rainy day, but when you live paycheck to paycheck that can be very hard to do. Banks won’t always lend out small amounts of money without excellent credit and credit cards can be hard to come by for the same reason.

So what do you do when you need cash and can’t borrow it from friends or family?

Many people try payday loans, but the risk is very high.

Getting Scammed by Payday Loans

Generally, payday loans don’t work if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck. If your budget is tight, getting a loan with a high amount of interest means you won’t be able to pay back the loan and pay your bills at the same time. While it’s tempting to get a $1,000 loan quickly, how are you going to pay back $1, 200 to the loan company and pay your $1,000 mortgage?

Unfortunately most payday loans are not illegal, but they might very well be – they prey on those who are desperate for cash. So desperate in fact, they are will to fall behind in rent or car payments or even forgo healthy meals just to get payments in on time.

Payday loans in general are a bad idea, but then some companies go too far – and actually take illegal steps.

Illegal Loans Online

It’s convenient to do things online. You shop online, you bank online, so why wouldn’t you look for a good loan online?

In short, because there are plenty of companies hoping to scam you when you do.

When you walk into a bank in your neighborhood, you know the bank is real and it likely has funds – especially if it’s been there for years. When you set up a loan online, especially one that includes your bank account number and personal information, you’re not always dealing with a reputable company.

In fact, sometimes you’re not dealing with a company at all.

Illegal companies take your information and create problems for you, problems of the long-term variety. The company may or may not actually give you money, but whether or not you actually got funds from them, they are going to do their best to get funds from you.

They will call relentlessly at all hours. They will call your work. They will call your friends and family. They will call your boss. They will hound you multiple times within the hour.

They don’t play by the rules set up by the FTC because they aren’t a real company – they are crooks hoping you’ll send over some money to make them shut up!

Don’t.

If you start getting harassing calls about a loan – especially one you never took out – ignore the calls. Let your friends and family what is happening and refuse to answer. If you do answer they will only harass you more.

The FTC is aware of most scam already, but go ahead and report the new one that’s targeting you so that the government can build its case and shut that nonsense down.

And in the meantime, skip payday loans all together next time. Consider holding a garage sale or selling things you don’t need in order to make extra money in your next emergency.

3 Ways to Lose Your Cool at the Home Improvement Store

Home Depot – Paint not kept in stock.

Home Depot – Harassed by a vendor

Home Depot Return Policy.

There’s nothing like a trip to the local home improvement store to really get your blood boiling. You wouldn’t think there would be so many issues when you go to buy paint or lumber, but somehow there are always issues – and many of them tend to be a miscommunication or accident. Regardless, there are plenty of chances to get your blood boiling in a short amount of time.

Take the Wrong Basket

It’s easy to do – you park your basket next to someone else’s and then walk away with the wrong basket when you move on down the aisle. Usually, this is a mild irritation for you and the person who was left with your real basket, but it’s easy to solve. You bring the cart back, apologize and everyone goes on their way.

The only time this doesn’t work is when you don’t take another customer’s basket. If you goof and take a basket filled with new merchandise from an employee vendor, things may not go quite so smoothly. This happened to one man who was practically chased from the store as the vendor whose basket he accidentally started to take chased him calling him a thief all the way through the parking lot.

Don’t Get Enough Paint

Sometimes you need two gallons of paint. But you don’t realize it until you get home and use up the first gallon. You’re more than halfway through your painting job and you don’t have enough paint to finish the job.

Off to the hardware store you go to buy more!

But when you get there, nobody seems to appreciate that you’re in a bit of a hurry. You have to wait almost twenty minutes for your turn to catch the employee’s eye. When you do finally order your paint, the employee hums and hahs for a while before letting you know that they are currently sold out of that kind of paint and you’ll have to come back later in the week to get what you need.

There’s nothing like a half-finished paint job to really get under your skin.

Forget Your Receipt

You need your receipt in almost every store today if you hope to return items without a hassle. Of course, some stores will accept a few items without a receipt, but all you’ll get is a store credit. It’s important to note that the store isn’t under any obligation to take your return without a receipt. That’s usually printed on their return policy, but sometimes you lose your receipt and you have to hope for the best.

When you head into the store with hundreds of dollars in merchandise, you shouldn’t be shocked if the company decides that you’ve returned too many things. It’s one thing to return a few things once or twice per year, but bringing back dozens of items every month or two without a receipt is enough to get you flagged in the system.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and that includes returns. Return too much and you won’t be allowed to return anything again – at least not without your receipt.

3 Warning Signs of Illegal Business Practices

Megawhite is an illegal teeth whitening company

Megawhite – Do not go near with a barge pole

Megawhite is illegal

Megawhite is a rip off

While it would be nice to say that nobody wants to be in trouble with the law, that’s probably not entirely true. It is true that most of us want to stay well away from legal trouble, especially the type that includes large fines and jail time. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t know we’re doing things wrong until it’s too late. If only we had seen the warning signs that something was very wrong.

You Have to Do the Dirty Work

In the case of one allegedly illegal business, the parent company will sell franchise owners a tooth whitening business, but they won’t actually perform any tooth whitening themselves. The unlucky franchise owners soon figured out why this was when they were notified that what they were doing was illegal and were told legally to cease and desist. It’s funny how the parent company has thus far avoided trouble for selling businesses to others, but others certainly get in trouble for putting that business to work.

The Law is Brushed Aside

In the case of the frustrated franchise owners, when they received notice about the illegality of their newly bought business, they immediately called the parent company’s support line. Rather than offering them counsel, the representatives from the parent company actually laughed one concerned patron off the phone and told another that the General Dental Council isn’t “serious” when they send out the letters warning businesses of illegal practices. Fortunately, according to their online reviews, the franchise owner took the letter seriously since the GDC has been prosecuting others for illegal tooth whitening procedures.

Others Complain of the Scam

You might think to check out review websites before you buy a new phone or a new dishwasher, but why would you ignore online reviews when you’re getting ready to buy a new business? If the franchise owners had checked online, they would have known that the there were already many complaints about the company in question calling it shady, leaning toward completely illegal and totally unethical. Instead, each of the would-be business owners is now facing possibly legal action and, at the very least, they are out about $2,000.

Starting a new business is exciting, and when you’re ready for a change it’s easy to get pulled into the excitement generated by others in the industry. It’s important to approach new business ideas with a steady head, however. In alleged scams like the ones franchise owners are complaining about, the new owners were apparently sold a bad deal. They paid thousands for a product they claim didn’t really work, and they wound up facing legal action for all of their trouble.

Hopefully the next time these individuals seek out new business opportunities they will do a bit more due diligence. No business owner likes to waste money, and certainly no business owners wants to face a $5,000 fine and possible prison time for trying to do right by their customers.

Cafes and Restaurants reviews on Pissed Consumer

Golden Corral – change prices on holidays

Golden Corral – FATHER’S DAY DISASTER IN CHATTANOOGA, TN

Golden Corral – Severe Food Poisoning

Everyone likes to treat their mom or dad to a special meal on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. But there are some places Pissed Consumer users aren’t going to go when they are looking for a celebration. One restaurant under fire from our users? Golden Corral.

This all-you-can-eat buffet join might seem like the perfect spot for a fun family gathering on a Sunday afternoon. But there’s something many frustrated customers want you to know – it will cost you quite a bit more to have your fun on a holiday then it does any other Sunday of the year.

Concerns About Price Gouging

You can’t really fault a restaurant for trying to make some extra money when the opportunity arises. Restaurants are in the money-making business after all. But typically, restaurants might offer a Father’s Day special to encourage customers to spend a bit more to make the holiday meal special. That leaves the standard fare at the regular price if you’re more interested in getting something off the menu.

According to multiple reviews on Pissed Consumer, Golden Corral opted out of the specials and extras this year. Instead, the restaurant actually raised prices just for the day. This Father’s Day, some frustrated customers found out the hard way that sometimes your special meal costs more than you might expect. The price may not have doubled, but when you’re taking a large family out for a big meal together, adding two or three dollars onto every meal can add up very quickly!

Unfortunately, this wasn’t just the price for those looking to treat a mom or dad to dinner. The inflated prices were present for every person in the restaurant, even the truck driver who eats in the same restaurant weekly without any parents at all.

Unprepared and Unprofessional

Worse, even if you wound up paying the extra money to eat in the restaurant, you may not have enjoyed your meal. Complaints point to some restaurants that were not staffed adequately for the number of customers they had. Food was not fresh or prepared correctly. Staff members rushed from one area to another without following health and safety guidelines.

In the stories the irate customers left for others, they complained about being left standing for an hour waiting on a table. They said that customer service wasn’t exactly over the top. Rude managers, dirty employees, a lack of fresh food and long wait times certainly don’t sound like the sort of thing someone is willing to pay extra for on a holiday.

It’s no surprise that quite a few customers have complained already and pledge that they will not be returning to the restaurant this year or any time in the future for a holiday. These former customers feel that if you’re going to spend almost $16 per person on food, you might as well go somewhere you can actually get a good value for your money and enjoy the overall experience as well.

Health and Beauty Reviews on Pissed Consumer

Scentsy Consultant NO MORE!!!

Scentsy car freshner ruined 2 covers on my dashboard

Scentsy Bars Melting In transit

Scentsy – melted candles

Scentsy circle damage

Fresh scents around your home are one of the things that make it unique and welcoming. There are countless ways to freshen the air in your home or office – plug in air fresheners, burning candles, melting wax, or simply spraying a fragrance. One of the most popular companies specializing in air freshening products today is Scentsy, a direct-sales company. But while you may know someone who sells Scentsy, there are some frustrated sellers and customers who think you don’t know all that you should about the company and its products.

1. The fragrance wax melts….everywhere.

The way most Scentsy products work is simply. You melt the scented wax in a warmer and the smell freshens the air. The wax is sold and delivered in packages set up as a series of cubes. To use a particular scent, you break off a cube, melt it and enjoy the fresh scent.

The process is simple. In fact, it’s so simple that sometimes the process starts without you according to Pissed Consumer Twil. She claims the Scentsy cubes are very susceptible to heat. In fact, they melt almost immediately on the burner. So that means that it doesn’t always take a warmer to warm them up.

Twil is among other customers who complain during the summer months that their Scentsy products are melting without them! When customers open up the package of Scentsy items they have ordered (and paid quite a bit for), they find a mess of melted wax that is almost completely unusable. It’s not hard to see why some faithful customers are thinking about holding off on new orders until the cooler months of the year.

2. The Scentsy car freshener changes more than your car’s air quality.

The car fresheners that have come free with certain orders or have been ordered in their own right have been causing some problems for certain Scentsy clients. The air fresheners are shaped as a ring designed to be hung in your vehicle. In fact, there is small print on the package reminding you that the product must be hung up!

Why do they insist on hanging the product? Because it will melt your car otherwise – at least this was the experience of one Pissed Consumer reviewer! As she found out, if you place the air freshener on your dash rather than suspending it, the oils and chemicals in the fragrance circle will actually soften and eat away at your car’s dashboard.

Another frustrated customer actually followed the instructions and hung hers only to find the string broken, the melted circle on the dash and a big problem in a car that was not even a year old.

3. Scentsy sellers have problems, too.

It’s perfectly natural to get frustrated when you’re trying to get an order in and your Scentsy seller is delayed. You’ve spent your money and now you want your product! It’s easy to blame your representative for problems like this, but bear in mind that sometimes they have problems, too – with delivery.

According to an anonymous Scentsy seller, the company has been known to let items and sometimes full orders fall through the cracks. You can imagine the frustration the seller feels when a thousand dollar order vanishes in the system and never gets filled.

According to another anonymous reviewer, sometimes these sellers are involved in turf wars, feuds over locations and sponsors and even occasionally a friendship or business relationship will be damaged by orders that aren’t filled in a timely manner. Of course, for as many frustrated users, there are many others who praise the company and the products. Like many things, sometimes experiences vary by user!