Archive for June, 2014

Consumer Team Radio: Vacation Rental Scams, Protecting Family Pictures & Avoiding Airline Baggage Fees

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TX)    The Consumer Team talk radio program is on-the-air!   On Saturday, June 28th from 5-7PM (Central) The Consumer Team with Pete Thomson will air on 1080 KRLD Radio.  On this weekend’s program:

The Consumer Team on 1080 KRLD Radio

The Consumer Team on 1080 KRLD Radio

Vacation Rental Scams:   Scammers are getting very creative as they steal money from unsuspecting people planning vacations.  Ernie Sprance will report on what you need to know before signing any rental agreement.

Protecting Family Pictures:   When it comes to backing up priceless family photos, there are so many options!   Listen and we’ll help you understand who offers the best back-ups for less.

Say “No” to Airline Baggage Fees:   Baggage fees are huge profit centers for just about every airline.  Learn how you can reduce and even avoid having to pay these fees.

For more information on The Consumer Team go to http://www.myconsumerteam.com.   To listen live, click here.  The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, Texas.

Consumer Team Radio: Best Time to Buy Products; Car Dealer Tricks & Tracking Teen Drivers

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TX)    Saturday, June 21, 2014, The Consumer Team will help you improve your consumer life.  Saturday’s program, broadcast from 5-7PM on 1080 KRLD Radio, will feature several informative feature segments:

The Consumer Team - Saturdays 5-7 PM on 1080 KRLD Radio

The Consumer Team – Saturdays 5-7 PM on 1080 KRLD Radio

When To Save On Purchases:   Mandy Walker with Consumer Reports will talk about when products go on sale.  From January through December, we’ll tell you when different products will be at their lowest prices.

Retirement Planning:  Don’t Go It Alone!   Jim Poe from Texas Retirement Specialists will be the guest for a discussion on why consumers do better when they work with a competent retirement planner.

Car Dealer Tricks:   We’ll talk with Richard Walsh of Auto Locators of Texas about the slick tactics that dealers use to confuse us and increase their profit from a sale.   As you’ll learn from Richard, you can take control of the transaction!

Tracking Teen Drivers:  Ernie Sprance will report on new technology that’s allowing parents to closely monitor their teenage drivers.   Speed, location and even mechanical issues can now be monitored with several cost effective high-tech tools.

To listen live, go to http://player.radio.com/listen/station/krld-newsradio-1080.   The Consumer Team with Pete Thomson is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, Texas.

Scam Advertisers: Are Broadcasters Responsible?

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TX)   Consumer Team host Pete Thomson recently wrote a blog challenging broadcasters to be more aggressive in screening advertisers for scam products and services.   Below is the body of Thomson’s blog post which appeared on http://www.mcqmedia.us.

Recently in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market, a high profile heating and air conditioning company filed for bankruptcy.  In the wake of their financial collapse are several radio stations holding unpaid invoices and thousands of consumers left with worthless maintenance agreements.   What makes this situation even more interesting is the nature of the the defunct company’s advertising offer.   They were pitching a scam.  “Call me today and I’ll give you $6,000 off my cost on a new system,” the owner of the company would say in his radio spots.   When he was really feeling philanthropic, he would throw in his labor for free.  And, every one of the company’s spots ended with the tag, “Honesty above reproach.”    For illustrative purposes and for the rest of this article, I’ll refer to this company as ‘Scam Heating & Air’.

Scam Advertisers - Are Broadcasters Responsible?

Scam Advertisers – Are Broadcasters Responsible?

In talking to several HVAC firms in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market, I’ve learned that a number of company owners contacted local radio station management regarding the lack of veracity in Scam Air’s on-air offer.  As one company owner put it, “There’s no way any dealer can honestly discount an HVAC system by $6,000.”   So even though station leadership possibly knew that the offer was a scam or a bait-and-switch, broadcasters continued to take Scam Air’s money, year-after-year.   As long as the check was clearing, broadcasters turned a blind eye to the Scam Air’s incredulous on-air offer.   In the interest of full transparency, I need to disclose that, for a short period of time, I allowed Scam Air to advertise on a station I managed.

So now, as the dust settles on this Scam Air’s demise, I’m betting that local broadcast management is asking themselves some tough questions.   Was the revenue that broadcasters received worth the damage done to thousands of their listeners?  Why was a spot advertiser airing fraudulent creative allowed to advertise for an extended period?   What could be done differently to prevent this from happening again?

Since broadcasting ‘sold out’ to the highest bidder in the deregulation of 1996, pressures on the sales division have increased exponentially.  Sales managers have to meet their quarterly numbers or they’ll be gone.    I know.  I was part of this machine for years.   And unless someone’s blatantly breaking the law with their business or their creative, pretty much anything goes on air.   And Scam Air’s just one example.   Broadcasters everywhere run copy for magic male enhancement pills or rare coin offers that are total scams.

Another example of a scam-running-rampant on television are the ‘clean up and speed up your PC programs’.  They’re on older skewing networks targeting unsophisticated computer users with offers of a miracle clean up of their computers.  According to ARS Technica, a leading technology website, a majority of these programs are a scam.  They often make routine cookie and temporary internet files look like viruses.  In some cases, the clean up programs are malware themselves.   Meanwhile television networks take the scam commercials without batting an eye.

As a broadcaster and agency owner, I’m troubled by our lack of standards of a number of levels.  By turning a blind eye to bad deals for consumers, we’re ultimately undermining our listener’s trust in our stations.   Longer term, our lack of standards and practices could make it easier for government regulation to creep further into our lives.   A chilling example of this is occurring in the financial world as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a product of the Dodd-Frank Act, is threatening to regulate financial planners.   All it takes is a couple of well orchestrated class action suits aimed at advertisers or even broadcasters themselves to make us a target of increased regulation.

A much easier and more pleasant road for broadcasters and agencies to follow would be one of self-regulation.  As an industry we need to look deeper in the business models of our advertisers.   Instead of looking for clients with big budgets, we need to look for clients who have a great value proposition for our listeners.   When listeners win, we win.   By the way, ferreting out scams is not a difficult process in many cases.  In both of the case studies I’ve cited above, routine investigations would have exposed the advertiser scam.

If you’re a broadcast sales seller or a manager, let me encourage you to pick your prospects and target accounts with care.   Can we catch every bad apple from hitting our airwaves?   Probably not.  And, ultimately consumers do have a responsibility to assume the ‘buyer beware’ posture when responding to any advertisement.   Still, if we search appropriately, there is an abundance of companies who can truly offer an outstanding product or service of value to our listeners and viewers.   Dig deeper in your prospecting efforts.  The effort will be well worth it.

Pete Thomson

CEO – McQ Media

Dallas, Texas

Editor’s Note:  Pete Thomson is veteran of broadcasting and media management.  He is President/CEO of McQ Media,  a full-service advertising and marketing firm in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.  Thomson describes McQ Media as a ’boutique’ firm, that only represents firms who are best-in-category.  McQ Media produces a consumer advocacy program called, The Consumer Team, which airs Saturdays 5-7PM on KRLD Radio.  Like McQ Media, The Consumer Team only features companies that are ‘best in category’ that also have a strong record of positive customer service.

 

 

 

Bed Bugs: Invasion USA

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH)    On Saturday June 14th, The Consumer Team talk radio program will air a special segment regarding the increase of bed bugs in cities across America.   Consumer Team host Pete Thomson said “From what we’re seeing, this problem is quickly becoming serious in many parts of the US.  And for cities with major airports, the spread of bed bugs can be fast and severe.”    Joining Thomson for the broadcast will be Patrick Prather, owner of Entex Pest Solutions.   Prather, an Entomologist and graduate of Texas A&M, is on the front lines of fighting the bed bug invasion.   A number of major cities in Texas have engaged Prather and his company to consult on solutions for city-wide pest issues.

Bed Bugs Invading America

Bed Bugs Invading America

Thomson said that awareness of the bed bug issue is low because of people generally don’t disclose having a problem with the insects.  He added, “Because bed bugs are associated with unclean, low-class hotel rooms, people are reluctant to admit they have a bed bug problem.   But as we’ll discuss on The Consumer Team, the bed bug invasion is effecting everyone.   They’re even found on cruise ships and in 4-star hotels.”

Thomson called Prather a very credible source for solutions to the bed bug problem.  Adding to Prather’s appeal, according to Thomson, is his background in natural pest control.  Thomson said, “Patrick is an expert in natural pest control.   Even though the bug issue is serious, most consumers would prefer not to be exposed to chemicals.   Patrick is known for his abilities in this area.”

Prather also owns Municipal Mosquito, a company that works with cities and counties on the control of mosquitoes.   Thomson added, “When cities are concerned about West Nile Virus, they turn to Municipal Mosquito.  They have the experience and background that cities need to safely and effectively control mosquitoes that can spread West Nile Virus.”

The Consumer Team is broadcast Saturdays from 5-7PM on CBS Radio’s KRLD in Dallas, Texas.  For more information and to listen live, go to http;//www.myconsumerteam.com   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, Texas.

Consumer Team Releases ‘Consumer Survival Kit’

Each week of my radio program, The Consumer Team, we present information designed to help people maximize their lives as a consumer.   Much of the information I present on The Consumer Team is based on both my experiences as well as information we’ve learned from the hundreds of interviews we’ve done with consumer experts over the years.   Below is a summary of some of the best tips that we’re calling ‘The Consumer Survival Kit.’

Pete Thomson – The Consumer Team

Get Multiple Quotes & Bids:   Never, ever, ever do business with the first sales person you meet for any major purchase.  I recommend getting at least 3 bids for any job.

Deep Discounts Often Signal a Scam:   Just like the old bromide goes, ‘It it seems too good to be true, it usually is.’    In your consumer life, beware of people offering an unbelievably low price.   Whether it’s $8,000 off MSRP on a car or 6K off the price of a central air conditioning unit, you’ve got to be suspicious of these offers.   When you’re confronted with these deals as a consumer, it’s a critical time to do research and ask for second and third opinions.   In most cases, the scam will be exposed quickly if you ask questions.

Get ‘Real’ References:   Instead of accepting the stock references that most companies use, ask for the names of 3-5 current customers who have jobs in progress.   You’re much more likely to get a ‘real’ reference this way.

Never Sign a Contract Under Duress:   The more pressure any sales person puts on you to ‘sign today or this special will disappear’, the faster you should run from this individual.   Good companies and reputable people don’t operate with pressure as a tactic.   Moreover, whenever you feel a need to speed up a consumer decision, it’s a good time to take a deep breath and slow down the process.

Don’t Give Out Personal Information:  Whether it’s a door-to-door salesman or a seemingly harmless internet-based consumer contest, don’t give out your personal information to anyone unless you’re going to do business with them.   And even then, be very protective with your personal information. Names, addresses and phone numbers are often sold to other parties who will harass you with offers and even steal your identity.   For sales people that I want to have contact with, I use a special G-Mail address that isn’t tied to my name.

Avoid Deposits and Advance Payments:   This is especially true for companies you hire for home repair and improvement.  Asking for a down payment can often be a sign of cash desperation.   Reputable companies have enough capital on hand to buy materials for a job.   If a down payment is required for a job, make sure that it is, in fact, a reasonable request (ask at least 3 other companies) and then only pay for a portion of the work in advance.

Do Your Research:  Although the web can be a rich resource for vetting your consumer decisions, you have to be very picky regarding sources.   And unfortunately, many sites that sales people give you to support their products or services, can be unreliable.  There are several sources that I’ve used for years that I’ve found to be reputable.   Consumer’s Union is the parent organization of Consumer Reports Magazine and Shop Smart Magazine.   Consumer’s Union is a very good source regarding consumer issues and policy.   And Both Consumer Reports and Shop Smart are vital tools for anyone who is serious about being an informed consumer.    I recommend subscribing to both of the publications.  Additionally, I recommend a subscription to The Consumer Reports website.  For just a few dollars a month, you get access to years worth or testing, research and other data.   Two other websites, http://www.consumeraffairs.com and http://www.consumerguide.com offer consumer information that can be useful.  The Consumer Team website, http://www.myconsumerteam.com is a collection of consumer information from trustworthy sources.   The Consumer Team website also gives you access to all the blogs we’ve written on a wide range of consumer issues.

I hope this information helps you in your life as a consumer.   For more consumer information, tips and research, listen to The Consumer Team, Saturdays from 5-7PM (Central) on 1080 KRLD Radio in Dallas, Texas.  The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media Inc, Dallas, Texas.

 

Pete Thomson

The Consumer Team

http://www.myconsumerteam.com

 

 

 

Consumer Team: Small is the New Big

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH)    Consumer Team talk radio host Pete Thomson says his list of “certified” businesses will always be a small list.   For The Consumer Team, he says, “small is the new big.”   Thomson added, “For The Consumer Team to endorse a business, there has to be a deep relationship.   We must understand the business on a number of levels.  This process doesn’t lend it self to building a large list of sponsors.  It’s a small list but a very good list.”

The Consumer Team Seal of Approval

The Consumer Team Seal of Approval

Thomson says The Consumer Team’s small size means quality for his listeners on KRLD Radio, Dallas, TX.   He’s also critical of consumer sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp that feature thousands of recommended businesses.   Thomson added, “The idea for Yelp and Angie’s List is great.  However the execution is pretty bad.  These sites and all the user review sites can be gamed or manipulated by businesses who pay reviewers to post bogus reviews.  And Angie’s List, which gives ratings preference to businesses who advertise, is not a good resource for objective information in their current design.”

When Thomson looks at adding a new sponsor for The Consumer Team he considers several key questions.   He added, “First we look at the quality of the service or product provided.  Once that question is answered, we then look at how the business sets pricing.  In this area we look for fairness and transparency.  Beyond pricing, we look for a business that has a heart for the consumer and will be there with best in class customer service.”

The Consumer Team’s slow, deliberate and thorough vetting process is what Thomson said will limit its long-term growth potential.   Thomson explained, “Because of the way we carefully select businesses to join The Consumer Team, we won’t be growing into a large, multi-market operation.   Doing so, would undermine the very quality that we’ve established in building our consumer advocacy initiative.  So for us, small is big.”

The Consumer Team is broadcast Saturdays from 5-7PM (Central) on 1080 KRLD Radio.   KRLD is the #1 rated news/talk station in Dallas-Ft. Worth with a weekly audience of over 500,000 persons.  For more information or to listen live, go to http://www.myconsumerteam.com.   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, Texas.

 

 

 

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The Consumer Team in on the air! Listen to host Pete Thomson, Saturday, 5-7PM Central on 1080 KRLD Radio.