From auto repair shops to doctors to plumbers to vets, you can count on Checkbook to help you find the best service—and avoid the worst. Our podcast features advice from experts that empowers consumers to save money and make smarter choices.

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2 weeks ago

63 – The Car Show 2024

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Mike Quincy - Consumer Reports auto tester and writer; Keith Barry - Consumer Reports veteran auto reporter

The car market has nearly recovered from the pandemic. Dealers have good supply of both new and used vehicles, and that’s pushing down prices: The average new-car buyer paid $47,000 in March, according to Kelley Blue Book. That’s a two-year low, but still nearly 16% higher than in March 2021. With more cars on the lot, some dealers and manufacturers are offering bigger incentives.

In this episode, the latest new-vehicle reliability ratings from Consumer Reports, the right way to take a test drive, and how to get the best deal on that new car. Plus, should you use a buying service to simplify the process?

Additional Resources:

From Checkbook:

Car Buying Strategies

Crash Course on Auto Insurance

From Consumer Reports:

CR’s Best Cars of the Year: 10 Top Picks of 2024

Who Makes the Most Reliable New Cars?

Four of the Five Least Expensive Car Brands to Maintain Are American

7 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Car

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4 weeks ago

62 – The Travel Show 2024

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Haley Berg - Lead Economist at; Christopher Elliott - Travel Expert, author of the “On Travel” column

It’s going to be a busy summer for travel, especially for those headed abroad. It’s late in the booking season, but some deals may still be available.

In this episode, we’ll look at what you can expect to pay for airfare, hotel rooms, and rental cars. Plus, tips from travel experts Haley Berg of and Christopher Elliott of the “On Travel” column on how to deal with crowds and other peak-season hassles.

Other Consumerpedia travel episodes:

⁠17 – Travel Tips: How to Find the Best Deals on Airfare⁠

⁠41 – Hotel Intel: Finding the Best Rates⁠

⁠60 – How to Avoid a Big Cell Phone Bill When Traveling Abroad⁠

Additional Resource:

⁠Elliott Advocacy⁠ is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t.

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1 month ago

61 – Medical Data Breaches Hit Record High

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Eva Velasquez - President and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center; James Lee - Chief Operating Officer at the Identity Theft Resource Center

Data breaches are now an annoyingly normal part of life: You change your stolen passwords, cancel your compromised credit cards. But it can be a significantly more serious problem when hackers get your medical data. Last year, about 1 in 3 Americans had their medical records breached, according to the federal government.

In this episode, we’ll look at how hackers are getting their hands on this highly sensitive personal information, what they’re able to do with it, and how you can protect yourself.


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2 months ago

60 – Avoid a Big Cell Phone Bill When Traveling Abroad

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Kevin Brasler - Checkbook's Executive Editor; Dani Dredger - Checkbook Senior Manager of Digital Marketing

Travel outside the U.S. and you’ll need to make sure your cell phone works wherever you’re headed. With a little advance planning, you can also lower the cost of using your phone on that trip—in some cases, by $100 a line a week or more.

In this episode, what the major phone companies charge to use their roaming services when you’re in a foreign country, and how to pay less by switching to a local wireless carrier at your destination. Plus, the pros and cons of turning off your cell service and relying on Wi-Fi.

Read Checkbook’s full report on how to save money while using a phone internationally.

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2 months ago

59 – Saving Money at the Supermarket

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Abha Bhattarai - Washington Post Reporter; Edgar Dworsky - Publisher,; Jamie Lettis - Checkbook Associate Editor

Feeding the family has never been more expensive. Supermarket prices have been going up for four years now, running well ahead of the overall inflation rate. And while increases are slowing, no one expects the cost of food to drop back to where it was before the pandemic.

In this episode, why everything is so pricey, the tricks food manufacturers use to disguise their price hikes—shrinkflation and skimpflation—and how to get the most for your money when you go to the supermarket.

⁠Read Checkbook’s full report on grocery stores and delivery services⁠.

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3 months ago

58 – Misleading Marketing That Gets You to Buy Now and Pay More

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Kevin Brasler - Checkbook's Executive Editor

You can save a ton of money by comparison shopping.

Checkbook’s surveys consistently find huge price differences—sometimes more than twice as much—from company to company for the exact same product or service. And businesses can get away with this because they know most customers won’t bother to shop around.

Sometimes consumers don’t compare prices because they’re in a rush or they don’t want to scour the internet for the best deal. But we often find buyers don’t compare prices because they’ve been duped into thinking they already have.

In this episode, some of the common manipulative marketing techniques sellers use to convince you to pay up and pay too much.

Read Checkbook’s full report on the 30 Tricks Sellers Use to Manipulate You.

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3 months ago

57 – What Ever Happened to Customer Service?

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Jon Picoult - Founder of Watermark Consulting and author of "From Impressed to Obsessed"; Forrest Morgeson - Associate Professor of Marketing at Michigan State University, Director of Research Emeritus at the American Customer Satisfaction Index

Are you frustrated with the way companies treat you? If so, you’re not alone: Surveys find that many consumers are fed up with long waits on the phone, customer service agents who can’t solve their problems, unintelligible billing statements, poorly designed websites, and inexperienced or indifferent sales staff.

In this episode: Why do so many companies see customer service as a costly problem, rather than a way to retain their customers? Why is it so difficult, if not impossible, to resolve issues via phone? Is there anything you can do to get your problems solved after the sale?

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4 months ago

56 – A Crash Course on Auto Insurance

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Kevin Brasler - Checkbook's Executive Editor

Most drivers find a policy, pay the premium, and never think about it again. Big mistake! Checkbook shoppers find huge price differences from company to company. Most drivers  will save $500 to $1,000 a year by shopping around and switching if they find a better deal.

In this episode: Which insurance companies have the best prices? Which ones provide the best customer service? Do price comparison websites work? Plus, why do many insurance companies use credit scores to set their rates?

⁠Read Checkbook’s full report on auto insurance.⁠

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4 months ago

55 – Your Right to Repair Products You Buy

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Nathan Proctor - Senior Director of the Right to Repair campaign at U.S. PIRG; Elizabeth Chamberlain - Director of Sustainability at iFixit

Manufacturers often make it difficult or impossible to fix their products when they break, or even take them to an independent repair shop of your choosing. Consumer advocates say these repair restrictions limit competition, drive up the cost of repairs, and add to the growing problem of e-waste.

In this episode, a look at the broken repair system and what’s being done to fix it. Plus, make your voice heard as part of the petition to the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here to sign.

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5 months ago

54 – How to Shop for a Gym Membership

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Kevin Brasler - Checkbook's Executive Editor

You don’t necessarily have to join a gym to get more exercise—there are scads of other workout options, many of which are free. If you decide that joining a club is the best choice for you, shop around and avoid making any long-term financial commitments. The fitness industry thrives on good intentions, but most consumers who join gyms stop using them regularly after only a few weeks or months, yet they continue paying their dues.

In this episode: Tips on how to find the best gym or fitness center, how to avoid the common marketing tricks and traps used by salespeople, and what to look for when reviewing membership contracts.

Read Checkbook’s full report on gyms and fitness centers⁠.

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Meet The Host

Herb Weisbaum

Herb Weisbaum is one of America’s top consumer experts. He’s been protecting people across the country for more than 40 years. 

Herb is a contributing editor at, and publisher of

During his distinguished career, Herb has covered the consumer beat for NBC News Digital, NBC’s TODAY Show and CBS News.

A five-time Emmy-award winner, Herb’s dedication to protecting consumers has been honored by the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, United Press International, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Herb is a graduate of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.