Consumerpedia

Podcast

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.

Listen on:
4 days ago

16 – Dealing with Death: Planning and Paying for a Funeral

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Joshua Slocum - Funeral Consumers Alliance Executive Director; Kevin Brasler - Checkbook's Executive Editor

Grieving for a loved one is acutely difficult just after the loss, and it’s not a time when you want to sit across the desk from a salesperson in a high-pressure, time-sensitive situation. You’re vulnerable to making hasty, costly decisions that might not make sense if you’d just had a little more time.

Funeral homes provide important services, but they are businesses with a goal of maximizing each sale. They make money by selling products and services, some of which you and your family may not want, need, or be able to afford.

In this episode, we review the many choices you have when a loved one dies, what funeral homes are required to disclose, and the marketing tricks some use to push unnecessary or high-end products. Plus, we explain why it’s important to pre-plan your funeral.

Special Guests: Joshua Slocum, executive director of the nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance, and Kevin Brasler, executive editor of Checkbook.org.

Read Checkbook’s full report on funeral homes including ratings and undercover price research, plus advice and resources to help plan a funeral.

3 weeks ago

15 – Those &#@X%*! Robocalls: Can’t Anything Be Done to Stop Them?

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Aaron Foss - Nomorobo President and Founder; Amy Nofziger - AARP Fraud Watch Network Director of Victim Support

For years, we’ve been promised that new technology would stop those annoying robocalls. But the phones keep ringing—and now, we’re being flooded with spam texts. Fraudsters use these bogus calls and texts to steal our money and personal information.

In this episode, we talk how to spot a robocall scam, how con artists use them to trick you, and ways to protect yourself.

Special Guests: Aaron Foss, president and founder of Nomorobo, one of the oldest call-blocking services, and Amy Nofziger, director of victim support, AARP Fraud Watch Network.

Additional resources:

FCC: Stop Unwanted Robocalls and Texts

CNET: Are Spam Calls Actually Getting Worse? There Are a Few Things You Can Do About It

PC MAG: How to Block Robocalls and Spam Calls

1 month ago

14 – Growing Concerns: How to Buy Plants and Get Good Lawn Care

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

Even the greenest thumbs need help sometimes—and a lot of it—with where to buy plants, how to keep the lawn lush, and how to keep the landscape in shape. The best-run garden centers, landscape contractors, and lawn-care services have the answers.

In this episode: How to find great lawn-care services, and what to consider when hiring a landscaper. Plus, for DIYers, how garden centers rate for price and quality.

Here are more resources on lawn care services, landscapers, and garden centers. Checkbook’s ratings find that the quality of the work—and the prices charged for essentially the same services—vary greatly.

2 months ago

13 – Thinking About Buying an Electric Vehicle? Here’s What You Need to Know

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Paul Eisenstein - Automotive Journalist and Publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com; Mike Monticello - Manager of Road Tests & Reviews at Consumer Reports Auto

Higher gas prices have a lot of people thinking about making the switch to electric vehicles, and automakers are racing to provide customers with options—sedans, sports cars, SUVs, and trucks.

In this episode, we look at where things stand right now, what’s coming down the road, and things to consider before buying a plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicle.

Special Guests: Paul Eisenstein, Automotive Journalist and Publisher of thedetroitbureau.com, and Mike Monticello, Manager of Road Tests & Reviews at Consumer Reports Autos

Additional resources:

How to Decide If a Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, or Fully Electric Car Is Right for You

Most & Least Satisfying Electric Vehicles and Hybrids

With Chevrolet’s Under-$30,000 Equinox EV, Battery-Electric Vehicles Go Mainstream

How Much Do Cold Temperatures Affect an Electric Vehicle’s Driving Range?

2 months ago

12 – How to Find the Best Vet for Your Pets

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

Just like humans, pets get hurt or sick and need routine healthcare. While most vets get high marks for competency and caring, Checkbook’s undercover shoppers found huge differences in prices for the same procedures.

In this episode we share tips to help you choose—and deal with—a veterinarian who will provide the care, service, and reasonable charges you want. We also discuss the pros and cons of pet insurance, and what to look for if you decide to buy a policy.

Read Checkbook’s full report on vets, plus our in-depth investigation into pet insurance.

2 months ago

11 – Stop, Thief! How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Eva Velasquez - President and CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center

Identity theft is a serious and growing crime—and we’re all at risk. The losses are staggering: By one estimate, identity theft victims in the U.S. lost $56 billion in 2020. Last year, the FTC received more reports about identity theft than any other type of complaint.

Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center, explains how criminals get your personal information, how they use it, and how to fight back.

Additional resources:

Identity and Cyber Theft: How to Protect Yourself (including links for freezing your credit files)

Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Annual Data Breach Report Sets New Record for Number of Compromises

FTC Identity Theft Homepage

3 months ago

10 – Here Comes the Sun? This May Be the Best Time to Go Solar

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

Solar-energy technology continues to advance in ways that can greatly benefit homeowners. Solar panels sold today cost less than those available just five or six years ago, plus they produce more electricity. These efficiency gains mean most families can install fairly small projects to cover all their electricity needs. However, solar projects still come with hefty upfront price tags.

In this episode, we’ll discuss the options and look at how much you can really save by going solar. Plus, we have tips on how to find a good installer and ways to pay for a solar project.

Read Checkbook’s full report on solar energy contractors, plus see our ratings.

3 months ago

9 – To Your Credit: Understanding How Credit Scores Work

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Liz Weston - Personal Financial Columnist for NerdWallet

Good credit is important. Bad credit can make it difficult—or more expensive—to get a loan or credit card, rent an apartment, or get cell phone service. Surveys show few people truly understand how the system works: What makes their credit scores go up, and what causes them to plunge. In this episode we’ll demystify the process, and separate credit facts from credit myths.

Special Guest: Liz Weston, a personal financial columnist for NerdWallet, and author of the best-selling book “Your Credit Score.”

Additional resources:

Credit Myths Persist, Even After Pandemic Forces a Closer Look at Finances

New Government Report: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion Rarely Act on Complaints About Credit File Errors

How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam and What You Can Do to Improve Your Credit Scores

Buy Now, Pay Later Spending Traps

4 months ago

8 – Saving Energy at Home

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

Our homes rely more than ever on energy for heating, cooling, lighting, hot water, and to power all our gadgets. Most of our abodes still unnecessarily waste lots of energy, contributing to pollution and climate change while sucking away our money.

In this episode, we look at some simple repairs and improvements that will yield big energy savings for most families, plus projects with bigger upfront price tags that still make sense from a cost-benefit standpoint.

For more tips, read our article 32 Ways to Save Energy at Home.

4 months ago

7 – 65 Things You (Probably) Shouldn’t Pay For

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

We all spend money on stuff we don’t need, from top-of-the-line appliances with features we’ll never use to designer clothing we’ll rarely wear. But there’s a big difference between splurging on luxuries and throwing away money on products and services that are worthless or unnecessary—or that you could get for free. Here are some of them and why they’re a waste of money.

Read our complete list of 65 Things You (Probably) Shouldn’t Pay For on Checkbook.org.

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 the Consumer Reporter at NW Newsradio in Seattle, publisher of ConsumerMan, and a contributing editor at Checkbook.org.

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 graduate of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.