By Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist
Which consumer happenings cheered you this week and which ones made you want to scream or weep?
Here are my best and worst consumer experiences this week:
My best: Getting the right curtain hook
The single end hook on my dining room curtains, which are pleated with four-prong curtain hooks, was missing. I pinned the curtain with a safety pin, but noticed my temporary repair was beginning to tear the curtain.
I’ve put off getting a hook because I didn’t know where I could buy just the end hook.
When I was near the Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts this week, I thought I’d stop by and see what I could find.
Sure enough, I found a package of curtain hooks with four single-prong hooks and 10 four-prong hooks. The cost was $2.39.
I only hesitated a minute. Buying 13 more hooks more than I needed, but saving an expensive drape was certainly worth it.
My worst: Being completely ripped off by Verizon Wireless
For four years, I used my Verizon Wireless cellphone with few problems. When my cellphone quit working, I signed up for a second two-year plan. I didn’t buy insurance because I had a four-year record of no problems.
A few weeks after committing to the new contract, I put my pants in the washing machine – with the cellphone in the pocket. Although I pulled the cellphone out two minutes later, it was too late.
The phone I had was an LG Octane. I selected it because it’s one of Verizon’s best for low radiation emissions. You can find these ratings on the website of the Environmental Working Group.
Replacing the phone with another LG Octane would cost me $250 plus tax.
I tried everything I could think of find a cheaper solution to my problem:
- Look for a certified, pre-owned phone. That didn’t work. Verizon only had 61 models available. Few were non-droid or non-android phones. Nome had low radiation emission levels.
- Check out Sprint. If I paid Verizon $175 to get out of my contract, I could sign up with Sprint. Same problem. Sprint doesn’t have any of the more basic models with low levels of radiation.
- Look for a Verizon phone on Craigslist. I didn’t think that if I found one, it would be in good working condition.
- Look for a coupon. Verizon doesn’t offer any coupons for its phones. Neither does anyone else.
- Add another line to my plan. This is what the last Verizon clerk I talked to suggested. If I added another person, I could get a free phone. However, instead of paying $30 a month, I’d be paying $60. Another unworkable idea.
I went in this evening and paid $275 for another phone. I also signed up to pay $6 a month for insurance. I learned when I went to the Best Buy wireless store that Verizon charges a $50 deductible fee when you use the insurance to get a new phone.
So, as a customer of Verizon, I’ve been significantly ripped off. Making consumers sign a two-year contract with a $175 cancelation fee is outrageous. Charging $250 for a cellphone is doubly outrageous.
Verizon is just another rich American company that takes advantage of consumers and squeezes out every dollar it can from them.