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:
6 days 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?

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

3 weeks 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.⁠

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

1 month 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.

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

2 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.

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

3 months ago

53 – Smart Toys: The Privacy & Security Risks

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Teresa Murray - Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG; R.J. Cross - Director of PIRG’s Don’t Sell My Data Campaign

Smart toys are cool. With their onboard cameras, microphones, and sensors… plus the ability to pair with other devices or connect to the internet, they can do some amazing things. They can also collect data on your child—including pictures and what they say—and send that information back to the toy company. So, parents need to think carefully about whether to buy these toys. And if so, how to make sure they’re used safely by their children.

In this episode, we’ll look at the privacy and security risks created by this data collection and sharing, and how parents can mitigate that risk. We’ll also give you a checklist of things to look for before buying smart toys, and what to do once you get them home.

3 months ago

52 – Shop Safely Online This Holiday Season

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): John Breyault - A Vice President at the National Consumers League; Melissa Lanning Trumpower - Executive Director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust

While convenient, online shopping can be risky. E-commerce creates all sorts of new opportunities for cyber criminals to do their dirty work, so you need to be careful. U.S. consumers reported losing $358 million to online scams last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In this episode, we talk to John Breyault, a vice president at the National Consumers League, and Melissa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, about how to spot the tricks con artists use to fool you and how you can protect yourself. Also, the smart way to pay when shopping online, and how to fight back against porch pirates.

Additional Resources:

⁠Tips for reducing your risk of fraud this holiday shopping season⁠

⁠BBB Scam Tracker⁠ is a free tool anyone can use to report suspected scams. Your reports warn others so they can avoid similar cons.

Fraud victims can report scams to the ⁠National Consumers League’s Fraud.org website⁠. This information is shared with a network of 100 law enforcement partners across the U.S. and Canada.

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

3 months ago

51 – How to Hire a Reliable Roofer

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

Roofing work is expensive. If you hire the wrong contractor, you can overspend by thousands of dollars and still get terrible work done. It takes time to find a good roofer who will do the job for the best price—you don’t just hire the first company that gives you an estimate.

In this episode, we’ll explain how to find a reliable roofing company, how to review proposals for that job, and how to compare warranties. Plus, ways to avoid getting ripped off by a shady contractor.

⁠Read Checkbook’s full report on roofers, including unbiased ratings and price comparisons⁠.

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

4 months ago

50 – Finding a Credit Card That’s Right for You

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Sara Rathner - Credit Cards Expert at NerdWallet; Ted Rossman - Senior Industry Analyst at Bankrate.com

The market is flooded with credit card offers, and some of the signup bonuses are mighty appealing. But slow down—applying for a credit card is something that shouldn’t be rushed. You need to cut through the marketing hype and understand all the terms, conditions, and fees. If you’re not careful, you could choose a card that hurts your financial well-being.

In this episode: How to shop for a credit card—things you should do before you apply for any card, and what to look for when comparing offers. Plus: Is a rewards card really right for you? And how a balance transfer card might help you pay down a large balance on another card.

Additional Resources:

Dealing with Debt

How to Pick the Right Credit Card

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

4 months ago

49 – Shop Like a Pro

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Jamie Lettis - Checkbook Associate Editor

Whether you enjoy shopping or just grin and bear it, there are things you can do to score the best prices and make the process easier.

In this episode, we explain how to ignore the flood of marketing hype and avoid the fake sales designed to mislead you. Also, where to find hidden discounts and cash-back offers, and the potential downsides of using buy now, pay later.

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

5 months ago

48 – How will Scammers Use AI?

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Chester Wisniewski – Field Chief Technology Officer for Applied Research at Sophos; Lorrie Cranor – Director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University; Brett Johnson – A Cyber Security Consultant and Former Identity Thief

Artificial intelligence has been around for decades, but the world changed in November with the introduction of ChatGPT, the AI app that lets anyone harness the power of this amazing supercomputing technology—including criminals.

In this episode, a look at how fraudsters might be able to use AI to their benefit. Will it change the types of scams they create or simply make it easier for them to fool us? Can AI companies make it harder for crooks to use their technology against us? Can the good guys use AI to fight fraud more effectively?

Special guests: Chester Wisniewski, Field Chief Technology Officer for Applied Research at Sophos, the global digital security company. Lorrie Cranor, Director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Brett Johnson, a convicted cyber-criminal who stole millions, and now works as a digital security consultant.

Additional Resources:

Identity and Cyber Theft: How to Protect Yourself

Cyber Crime: A Former Cyber Crook Explains How to Protect Yourself

Stop, Thief! How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Support our podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/consumerpedia/support

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 Checkbook.org, and publisher of ConsumerMan.com.

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.