Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Fake Sales: When a Sale Isn’t a Sale

American Consumers love a sale, and retailers know it.  Shoppers love to think that they’re getting a great deal on a product…and retailers are more than happy to tell them what they want to hear, even if it means stretching the truth to make a point.  Fake Sales….they’re everywhere.  Who’s doing it?   Well, it’s easier to identify the retailers that don’t do the take sales.

Fake Sales - The Consumer Team Investigates

Fake Sales – The Consumer Team Investigates

Big retailers love fake sales.   T.J. Maxx and Marshalls were the subject of a Class Action lawsuit charging that the retailer tricked customers into thinking that they were getting a super discounted value because the ‘compare at’ prices on merchandise were so much higher than the sale price.  Kohl’s and Jos. A. Bank have been taken to task for their sales practices.  Even Hobby Lobby, the squeaky clean retailer out of Oklahoma City, has been called out for fake sales.  In fact, in a settlement with the New York Attorney General, Hobby Lobby agreed to pay civil penalties.

To illustrate how much consumer love a sale, let’s consider the case of J.C. Penny.   Several years ago, J.C. Penny decided to abandon sales in favor of an everyday low price strategy.   From a transparency standpoint, everyday low pricing is a more credible way to price products.    However, the customers didn’t like honesty and Penny’s sales tanked.  J.C. Penny ultimately returned to ‘door buster sales’ and their business has improved.   Consumers love sales!

Some lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups believe more laws are needed to protect us from fake sales.   Just put the hammer down on the retailers and they’ll behave, right?   I think we need less government regulation and more consumers that are smart enough to recognize a bad deal.  Being smart starts with understanding the fact that sales are rarely sales….they’re retail promotions designed to drive revenue.  Once you get over the fact that sales aren’t real, then you can start getting good deals.   Then you can start voting with your feet.

The fastest way to identify the lowest price on a product is the online bots that compares prices. Websites such as Bizrate, DealTime, MySimon, Price Grabber and Shopping.com are ‘one stop’ sites for price comparison.  Based on the information you enter into the site, it will search the web for the best deals.

Consumer Team's Pete Thomson: "More than regulations, we need informed consumers to vote with their feet."

Consumer Team’s Pete Thomson on Fake Sales: “Instead of more regulations, we need informed consumers to vote with their feet.”

If you’re in a store, use a scanner app like Red Laser or Scan Life to scan bar codes and find lower prices. Many retailers are price matching if you can show proof of a cheaper price at a competitor.

Consumer Reports recommends using Groupon and Living Social for their discounts and daily deals. Personally, I prefer the bots over the daily deal sites which seem to always send me offers I will never need, such as half-price deals on a Brazilian Bikini Wax.   Some consumers are reporting that Google Daily Deals is a good resource.

Sales aren’t going anywhere.   After all, the American consumer loves and expects them.  But for discerning and educated consumers who understand the marketplace, information is power.  With all the resources available to accurately find the lowest price, sales aren’t needed to get a good deal.

I welcome your comments on this topic.  Email me at pete at myconsumerteam dot com. Below are links to several sources we consulted for this blog post.

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/07/31/this-retail-trick-might-have-claimed-another-victi.aspx

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/06/don-t-be-taken-in-by-fake-sales/index.htm

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/retail-stores/buying-guide.htm

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/04/advertising-tactics-that-bug-americans-the-most/index.htm

Editor’s Note:  The Consumer Team with Pete Thomson is broadcast Saturdays from 6-8 PM Central on CBS Radio’s 1080 KRLD in Dallas, Texas.

Consumer Team Radio: Celebrating Our Consumer Freedom

As we celebrate our Nation’s 238th Birthday, it’s a good time to ponder and appreciate the freedoms we have here in America.   In spite of the tremendous challenges that our country faces, freedom still rings in 2014.   Yet, with freedom, comes great responsibility.  As consumers, we need to be ever vigilant.  Being aware of consumer trends, research and scams isn’t just a hobby for the wise coupon cutting penny-pinchers.   Being plugged in is essential to consumer success.

The Consumer Team:  Celebrate Your Consumer Freedom

The Consumer Team: Celebrate Your Consumer Freedom

In America, the same freedom that we enjoy as consumers is also given to business.   Companies have the freedom to produce, market and sell the products that they choose, and that includes the merchandise of low quality.  Welcome to the consumer marketplace where we have the responsibility of choice.   And, as much as I despise the scammers in our midst, including many who need to be prosecuted and put out of business, I think we need to be very careful not to remove the freedoms of the marketplace.   And free consumers we must maintain the power to choose how we spend our money.

I’m troubled as I watch government agencies like The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, FDA, FTC and host of others take away freedoms that should remain in the marketplace.   And while I support some of the CFPB’s work, I believe we need to be very careful of not over-regulating the consumer marketplace.   With regulation comes less freedom and generally higher consumer costs.   We, the people and not the US government, should decide whether or not a company is successful.  It’s called voting with our wallet.

Over the next few days, maybe as you’re scanning the shelves at the grocery store or marveling at all the high tech toys at Best Buy or on Amazon, take a moment and appreciate the fact that all these products, all this ingenuity (both good and bad) is a result of freedom in America.   And remember that, in your life as both a citizen and a consumer, your vigilance is what keeps freedom alive.

Happy Fourth of July from all of us on The Consumer Team.

 

Pete Thomson

Founder – The Consumer Team

Saturdays – 5 to 7PM (Central) on 1080 KRLD

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.

Consumer Team: Getting a Second Opinion Vital

(DALLAS, TX)      According to The Consumer Team radio program, consumers who fail to get a second opinion on consumer purchases are leaving themselves much more likely to getting a bad deal.   Pete Thomson, host of The Consumer Team radio program, says that second opinions are vital to consumer success.  Thomson said, “Getting second opinion is a foundation part of getting a good deal.  A second opinion can be getting multiple bids on a home repair project or just researching the best paper towels to buy online.   And, as we talk about on The Consumer Team, there are situations that warrant getting more than a second opinion.”

Pete Thomson - The Consumer Team

Thomson, a consumer advocacy journalist and talk show host , says that there are several areas that consumers should keep in mind when getting a second bid or opinion.  Thomson added, “The more expensive or important the purchase, the most appropriate it is to get multiple bids, even beyond a second opinion.   Friends and neighbors can be a good source of references but it’s important that you determine whether the friend is giving you a reference based on experience rather than friendship.   So, for example, I would be careful of hiring a contractor because they’re related to a friend or neighbor.   Rather, I’d be more comfortable with a reference that’s based on quality of work.”

Even when getting multiple bids, consumers can still be tricked into making a bad decision, according to Thomson.   He continued, “Consumers have to be very careful when getting references.   It’s relatively easy for a contractor to set up several people who will give glowing reports to consumers.  We recommend asking for references that have jobs in progress.   We believe you’re more likely to get honest feedback that way.”   Beyond references, Thomson suggests doing thorough research on the internet.    Thomson added, “When using the web it’s important to look for a trend.   We’re finding more and more scam sites that are listing negative comments about small business people as way to get the business to pay for their service of removing the negative comments.   On the other hand, we see increasing numbers of reviews and comments that are planted by a business.  What we believe is most important is the overall trend of comments on the web.”

The downside to getting multiple opinions can be the time involved.    According to Thomson, that’s one of the reasons he started doing consumer advocacy talk radio radio over 10 years ago.   The Consumer Team radio program, which airs Saturdays from 5-7PM (Central) on KRLD Radio, features sponsors that are ‘Consumer Team certified’.   Thomson said the sponsors of  The Consumer Team are thoroughly vetted prior to being allowed on the air.   Thomson said, “We realize that our listeners put a great deal of trust in our recommendations.   All of our local experts are checked out before they’re added to The Consumer Team.   We still recommend that consumers get multiple opinions.  Still it’s nice and time saving to know that one of the sources you’re talking to has been checked out and vetted ahead of time.”

The Consumer Team is broadcast from 5-7PM Saturdays on 1080 KRLD in Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas.  KRLD is the leading news station in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market.   The Consumer Team features consumer tips, information and research designed to help listeners in the DFW Metroplex and beyond make better consumer and shopping decisions.   From major purchases to everyday shopping in-store or online, Thomson calls The Consumer Team the ‘voice of the consumer.’  Pete Thomson has been working in the area of consumer advocacy for over 10 years.  He founded The Consumer Team with a mission to help Dallas and Ft. Worth consumers save time, money and grief in the consumer lives.  Thomson is also president/CEO of McQ Media, a Dallas based marketing and advertising firm.

To learn more about The Consumer Team and to listen live go to http://www.myconsumerteam.com   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media Inc, Dallas, Texas.

 

 

The Big Scam: Scambook.com & Clean Your PC Programs

(DALLAS, TX)     Consumer Team host Pete Thomson calls the internet a modern day version of the “wild, wild west”.   According to Thomson, “It’s like Dodge City in the 1800s.  Every day the medicine wagon rolls into town with a different deal, and every one of them are guaranteed to make you rich, debt free and with a full head of hair to boot.  The modern day internet scammer makes Mr. Haney (from the Green Acres TV sitcom) look like Andrew Carnegie”   It’s so bad, according to Thomson, that The Consumer Team radio program is be dedicating airtime to exposing what he calls, The Big Scam.

The Consumer Team is Exposing 'The Big Scam'

Pete Thomson is a veteran consumer advocacy journalist.   He’s hosted consumer radio programs for over a decade.  His current program, The Consumer Team, is heard Saturdays on KRLD Radio, Dallas, Texas.   Thomson says he’s been critical of scams for years but that the proliferation of internet-based hoaxes has motivated him to increase his program’s focus on bad consumer deals.  Thomson added, “I grew up in Charles City, Iowa in the 1960s.  Back then, life and especially your consumer life, was pretty simple.  You shopped locally, knew all the retailers and when something broke the business owner made things right.   Now, and largely because of the web, the scammers can hide behind websites that look honest and upstanding on the surface.  Dig a little deeper and the evil starts to show.”

On recent Consumer Team broadcasts, Thomson cited several web-based business models that he thinks are questionable.   Thomson voiced concern about the many services offering to clean up and speed up personal computers.  Thomson said, “A good number of these companies are a fraud.  We interviewed Andrew Cunningham with www.arstechnica.com, a leading tech website.  His recent article confirmed our suspicions that many of the companies advertising to improve PC speed and remove malware are ineffective or even malware themselves.”   Thomson added that many of these scam offers are targeting older consumers through talk radio and late night television.   Click here to read Cunningham’s article from arstechnia.com

The Consumer Team is also critical of a consumer gripe site called Scambook.com   Thomson called Scambook’s business model ‘very troubling.’  He added, “On the surface Scambook.com looks like the good guys.  They’re giving disgruntled consumers a forum to complain about bad deals from retailers.  However, dig a little deeper and you discover that Scambook is really a business that’s built to profit from requiring businesses to pay high fees in order to get negative consumer comments removed from the Scambook.com website.   Even more suspicious looking is the fact that one of Scambook’s founders is an attorney who works in class action lawsuits.”     For more information on Scambook’s business model and the mounting number of complaints being made about the business, Thomson recommends watching a recent investigative report from WMAQ-TV, Chicago.   Thomson said, “The WMAQ piece was well done.  It shines a light on these guys and exposes the truth.”   Thomson added that there are numerous sites devoted to exposing Scambook’s business practices.

So what is Thomson asking consumers to do?    Thomson commented, “The first thing all of us need to do is dig deeper on any business we’re about to do business with.  Slick websites and award-winning commercials can make any company look legitimate.  Consumers can avoid so much heartache and pain in their consumer life by slowing down and doing their research.   Information is power, especially when you’re trying to stay ahead of the scams.  I invite everyone to use our website as a resource.  And if that doesn’t work, email me.  The Consumer Team is here to help the consumer.”

The Consumer Team is broadcast from 5-7PM Saturdays on 1080 KRLD in Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas.  KRLD is the leading news station in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market.   The Consumer Team features consumer tips, information and research designed to help listeners in the DFW Metroplex and beyond make better consumer and shopping decisions.   Pete Thomson has been working in the area of consumer advocacy for over 10 years.  He founded The Consumer Team with a mission to help Dallas and Ft. Worth consumers save time, money and grief in the consumer lives.  Thomson is also president/CEO of McQ Media, a Dallas based marketing and advertising firm.

To learn more about The Consumer Team and to listen live go to http://www.myconsumerteam.com   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media Inc, Dallas, Texas.

Consumer Team Radio: Saving You Money in 2013

(DALLAS, TX)   Pete Thomson, executive producer and host of The Consumer Team talk radio program, today announced a major program theme for The Consumer Team for 2013.   Thomson stated, “The Consumer Team has always been committed to helping our listeners get the most out of their consumer lives.  However, and in response to the extraordinary times that consumers face, in 2013 we’re redoubling our efforts to help save the consumer money.”

Thomson cited two areas of focus for The Consumer Team.   “First, we’ll help consumers with everyday savings.  These are purchases that we make every month such as groceries, cell phones, clothing and other consumables.  The other area we will cover is actually the one I’m most concerned about and that’s consumer rip-offs.  The bad guys are out there in every industry and the larger the price tag, the bigger the opportunity for a rip-off.   Home repair, mortgages, car sales and service are just a few of the categories where the consumer can overspend by many thousand dollars.  In 2013, The Consumer Team will expose these areas and educate the our listeners.  In addition we’ll continue to give our listeners regular guidance on personal finance and retirement planning”

Each week, according to Thomson, experts from business will be joining The Consumer Team to offer the latest information and guidance for listeners.  Thomson stated, “Information is power.  Each week on The Consumer Team we’ll be joined by the most respected authorities in business categories who will keep our listeners educated and informed and aware of the scams.”

The Consumer Team is broadcast from 5-7PM Saturdays on 1080 KRLD in Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas.  KRLD is the leading news station in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market.   The Consumer Team features consumer tips, information and research designed to help listeners in the DFW Metroplex and beyond make better consumer and shopping decisions.   Pete Thomson has been working in the area of consumer advocacy for over 10 years.  He founded The Consumer Team with a mission to help Dallas and Ft. Worth consumers save time, money and grief in the consumer lives.  Thomson is also president/CEO of McQ Media, a Dallas based marketing and advertising firm.

To learn more about The Consumer Team and to listen live go to http://www.myconsumerteam.com   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media Inc, Dallas, Texas.

New Holiday Shopping Tips For 2012

The Consumer Team talk radio program will be featuring holiday shopping tips every week through Christmas.   The Consumer Team airs Saturdays from 5-7PM Central on KRLD CBS Radio in Dallas, Texas.   According to Pete Thomson, host of The Consumer Team, the holiday shopping programs will address some of the most important consumer issues surrounding holiday gift shopping.   Thomson said, “Consumers do the majority of their annual spending in November and December.  This year I’m very pleased with the topics we’re addressing on The Consumer Team.  Many of the shopping tips are totally new concepts that haven’t been widely talked about in the media.  From Black Friday to Cyber-Monday on through New Years, we’ll be sharing a ton of new and useful shopping tips and strategies.”

The Consumer Team Holiday Shopping Specials will address opportunities to save money, time and grief in both online and in-store shopping.   Thomson stated, “There are two distinctive shopping worlds emerging….online and in-store.  And, as our holiday shopping features will show, there are specific strategies to be used in each venue.   For internet shopping, we’ll be reporting on several new and useful shopping websites and apps that have the potential to save consumers a lot of money through discounts and special promotions.   Several of the websites and apps we’ll be discussing were not even on people’s radar last year.   As for the in-store shopping experience, there are new tips and tricks that we’ll feature that will prepare Consumer Team listeners to get very good deals and discounts at retail locations.”

The Consumer Team radio program regularly features consumer experts from Consumer Reports Magazine and Shop Smart Magazine.    Thomson said, “When it comes to consumer research and ratings, there is no better or more credible source that Consumer’s Union, Consumer Reports Magazine and Shop Smart Magazine.   I’m thrilled whenever we can get one of their writers for an interview.”

Pete Thomson has worked in consumer advocacy journalism and broadcasting for over 10 years.  Based in Dallas-Ft. Worth, The Consumer Team is one of the most listened to consumer advocacy radio programs in the US.

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

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

Two of the biggest shopping days of the year are just days away.   Black Friday and Cyber Monday, immediately following Thanksgiving, represent the kick off to the Holiday shopping season.  Over the next several weeks, The Consumer Team talk radio program will be featuring segments focused on helping shoppers get maximum savings  and discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.   The Consumer Team is broadcast Saturdays, 5-7PM Central, on KRLD Radio, Dallas, Texas.

Jody Rohlena, Senior Editor with Shop Smart Magazine, will join Consumer Team host Pete Thomson for the special shopping segments.   According to Pete Thomson, the interviews will be very informative.  Thomson commented, “Jody Rohlena is the smartest shopper I’ve ever met.  Jody has some very original and valuable shopping tips for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

Thomson added, “Sometimes the whole holiday shopping experience can be very overwhelming to consumers.  There are so many sales and promotions that the consumer can easily lose focus.  Jody Rohlena and her team at Shop Smart Magazine have done a superb job of helping us sort this process out. Our listeners will come away with specific ways to save money, get big discounts and get those great deals that seem to only happen on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

Thomson called Consumer Reports the gold standard of consumer reporting.  He added, “It’s an honor whenever we can get one of their writers for an interview.   I buy everything they publish and can say conservatively that their information has saved me many thousands of dollars as a consumer.”

Black Friday has developed a reputation for being the day that hard-core shoppers who often sleep overnight at a mall or store parking lot to get access to deeply discounted merchandise.  Thomson said, “You don’t have to sleep overnight at the mall to get good deals and huge discounts on Black Friday.  Regular people who don’t want to deal with the beat-down of the crowds will get a lot from our segments.”   And as for the professional shoppers?  Thomson said, “I can’t give it away but we’ll have some tips for them too.”

Cyber Monday, the biggest day of the year for online shopping, has received increased attention in recent years as more shoppers have opted for the convenience of shopping from their personal computers.  Thomson said, ” The power that the cyber consumer has at their finger tips for making smart shopping decisions is incredible.  We’ll be talking about several Apps that will make the Cyber Monday and holiday online shopping process much easier.”

The Consumer Team’s flagship station is 1080 KRLD Radio, one of Dallas/Ft. Worth’s most listened to news stations.  For more information on The Consumer Team radio program and to listen live online, go to http://www.myconsumerteam.com   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, Texas.

 

 

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