New York City Phone Monopoly Bad for Consumers

In January of 1982 the US government mandated the breakup of AT &T Corporation to foster competition and give the consumer a fair break. While this has worked wonders for long distance calling costs, it has not done anything for the local markets like New York City where #Verizon (the local spinoff from the divestiture) owns all of the landlines.

Today if you live in New York City, as well as many other places in the country, you don’t have a choice as to who your phone carrier is. This means that the company that owns the lines in the ground has control over you, the customer. If you live in a large building there may be some choices because there is now fiber optic cable in the ground from more than one supplier and it is worthwhile to negotiate with a large building for many customers. If you are in a small building or own an individual home you have no choice but to go with a very expensive service from only one supplier.

The solution is simple. The government needs to require the sole suppliers like Verizon in New York City to lease their lines to competitors at a bulk discount rate. This would open up both local phone and Internet services to competition and in the long run reduce the cost to consumers. We need to stop these government created monopolies that are essentially bullying the consumer.

#Consumer #ConsumerAdvocate #Monopoly

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Easter Basket Rip Off

I find it fascinating to see the prices charged for pre-made Easter Baskets.   If you take a moment to investigate the contents and do some quick math, it is easy to see that the mark up is substantial.

The basket below is listed at 49.99.  It took me ten minutes of shopping around on the internet   to find these prices for the items listed in the basket:

1. Basket:     Michaels craft store $1.99

2. 12 oz jelly beans:     Local drug store and dollar store price $1.99

3. 8 oz. of bunny corn:     Local drug store and dollar store 99 cents

4. 10 oz. milk chocolate crisps:     Drug store $1.99

5. 8 oz spring marshmallow mix:     Grocery store $2.99

6  1 16 oz package of peeps:     Drug store 2 packs for $3.00 ( $1.50 )

7. 1 10 inch stuffed bunny:     Five Below  $3 to $5

 

basket

Total Merchandise in Basket $16.50

That leaves you paying $33.49 for someone to place these items into a basket for you  I estimate that would be  $33.49 for approximately 10 minutes of work.

I would much rather save $33.49 and put my own Easter Basket together.   If you have 3 kids to make baskets for, you could save $100.00.

Craft stores, Target and Walgreens make it very easy to make your own basket these days.  They sell the basket, a pre-made plastic sleeve to wrap the basket in and colored grass for the lining.

How to save on your weekly shopping

Buying groceries in our economy can be quite challenging. Taking some time to educate yourself on how to stretch a dollar will give you a better price for food for yourself and your family.

First off, when food shopping, check your local stores and comparison shop for the items on your list. You will quickly see that on a week to week basis some offer the exact same goods for less than their competitors. Additionally, if you sign up for the store’s free reward program, you will get additional savings on sale price items. When signing up, you may wish to decline giving the store your e-mail address for weekly email notifications. Some companies have taken e-mailing to the extreme and bombard your inbox on a daily basis with advertisements. If you do have to give your e-mail address, you can later "Unsubscribe", while still being able to use your rewards card.

Check your local newspaper for coupons. There was a time when only the thriftiest shopper would come in with a file folder filled with coupons. However, if you take a moment to look through your daily paper, you can easily save money by utilizing the weekly coupons in it. Think of it this way, taking one minute to cut a few coupons out can save you ten dollars at the register. Who wouldn’t want to be given ten dollars for two minutes of work?

There are also websites that offer consumers coupons on a daily or weekly basis. Among the best are:

1. Coupons.com: This site offers coupons for food, beverages, toys, household goods and other items.

2. Supermarket Guru: Gives you advice on specials in a variety of supermarkets in your area.

3. Living on a Dime

4. Smartsource.com

5. RetailmeNot.com

Additionally, chain stores like Walmart and Target are becoming major competitors for supermarket chains. They also offer organic products at competitive prices to your regular supermarkets or health food stores.

If you are looking to buy in bulk, we recommend Costco or BJs as a great option, offering not only raw food items, but cooked food, flowers, furniture, household items, clothing and jewelry at deep discounts.

Finally Dollar Stores are popping up all over the place. They are also a great option for the educated consumer. Plastic ware, items for students (notepads, pens, pencils) as well as bowls and holiday decorations can be found for just one dollar!! They also sell some food items although the quality of these goods has come into question over the past years, so buyer beware.

Beware of Credit Score Scams

Have you ever received an email with the subject line, of “Your TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian Scores May Have Changed”. “Your TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian Scores May Have Been Modified” or “Your Credit Score Has Changed”. These and other similar subject lines, offering you a free look at your credit scores are usually sent by professional scam artists. BEWARE!!

These scam artists sometimes will give you the scores and other times they will,( after you have given them the details of who you are including your personal data like your address and social security number ), tell you that you are not eligible for the free score but you can sign up for their monitoring service for a charge. They will ask you for a credit card number for a “refundable” $1.00 charge.

What happens next? After you are able to look at your credit scores, you receive a charge on your next credit card statement for a monitoring of your credit scores. You will need to go through significant trouble to get this charge reversed.

Also beware of those that advertise on TV like freecreditscore.com which only monitors Experian and not the other two major credit rating agencies, Equifax and TransUnion. If you are going to monitor your credit you need to look at all three services.

If you want to monitor your credit score the two services we recommend are IdentityGuard and PrivacyGuard. Both offer monitoring of all three credit bureaus as well as a 30 day trial. We like IdentityGuard best because it offers the most comprehensive and best overall service. Additionally, it has a 30 day really free trial and offers a 25% discount.

In today’s world it is important to protect your credit rating and your identity. You should pick the service that does the best job and not the scam artists who are just after your money and who operate from scare tactics.