Read the Introduction to Elisabeth Leamy's The Savvy Consumer below:
gonna lie to you.
savvy consumer is hard work. But I would argue that being a lazy consumer
is even harder work. The proverb "a stitch in time saves nine"
was tailor-made for consumers. Since hardly anybody sews anymore, let
me explain what I mean. Getting a mechanic to check out a used car before
you buy it takes work. Getting that car towed off the freeway where
it has stalled; getting it fixed only to learn it's a salvage vehicle
that's actually two other cars welded together; getting a lawyer; suing
the used car dealer; selling the used car that you now know is worth
next to nothing; earning enough money to pay the lawyer; earning enough
money to buy another used car; hiring a mechanic now that you know better;
and buying your replacement car -now that's work!
exaggerating? Then I invite you to come answer my phone some time. I
could use the help. You see, I'm the consumer and investigative reporter
at a television station in Washington, DC*. I hear horror stories like
the one above all the time. In fact, years ago I was forced to install
a second phone line at my desk to take in all the hard luck stories.
If I answered all the calls live, I would never get any work done. All
day the tip line rings. Every morning my voicemail is full. There's
always a new scam, always a new story. I will never go out of business.
I would gladly retire if consumers suddenly wised up and learned how
to avoid scams and rip-offs.
your first lesson. To be a savvy consumer you need to be a hunter. Huh?
That's right, you need to be the hunter not the hunted. In other words,
avoid the telemarketer who calls with a vacation offer, the contractor
who goes door to door claiming to be working on other houses in the
neighborhood and the carpet cleaner who sends you a coupon offering
to clean five rooms for five bucks. Don't do business with the companies
that come looking for you. When you need something, conduct your own
search and do business with the companies you seek out.
give you the knowledge you need to save time and money as a consumer.
Don't think of it as drudgery. Actually, it's exciting! After all, one
way to make money is not to waste it. And putting a crooked business
in its place feels good. Very good. This is not a mind numbing 'A' through
'Z' guide listing every step you need to take. More like steps 'I' through
'Q' -your consumer intelligence quotient. For example, I'm not going
to tell you how to buy a used car. I'm going to tell you how not to
buy a used car. I'll get to the heart of the matter, warning you about
the very worst pitfalls and blunders.
read the book cover to cover and become one tough customer. Or you can
read chapters when you need them as you go about your life. Each chapter
covers a consumer category. Within that category topics are organized
alphabetically for easy reference. At the end of each subchapter, I
tell you the signs to look out for, the questions to ask, how to do
your homework and where to complain. I also list related subchapters,
with the really, really relevant ones in bold.
Click here to look at The Savvy Consumer's Table of Contents.
writing The Savvy Consumer, Elisabeth has gotten a new job as the Consumer
Correspondent for ABCs Good Morning America.
Copyright 2004 Elisabeth Leamy