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:
2 weeks ago

31 – Watch Out for These Common Fraud Tricks & Traps

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Sam Levine - Director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection

Americans lose billions of dollars each year to fraud. Anyone, even a savvy consumer, can get swindled by professional con artists. The best way to fight back is to understand the tricks fraudsters use to manipulate you.

In this episode, Sam Levine, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explains how dishonest businesses and scammers try to lie, cheat, and mislead you. Plus we cover what the FTC is doing to crack down on these fraudulent business practices.

4 weeks ago

30 – HVAC: Finding Good Contractors & Choosing New Equipment

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

Keeping your house comfortable requires the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems to be properly installed and maintained. And when they need repairs or new equipment, you want a company you can trust to do quality work at a fair price.

In this episode, we’ll go over the things you should know about your HVAC before having work done, plus what you can do to maintain your system. And we’ll answer the question: Is it time to consider getting a heat pump?

Read Checkbook’s full report on HVAC systems, including contractor ratings and equipment price comparisons.

1 month ago

29 – Home Security: Installers, Equipment, & DIY

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

It seems like every big company—from Google and Amazon to telephone and cable TV operators—now sells home security services and equipment.

Rather than spend thousands of dollars to have a security company install a system, you can do it yourself for a couple of hundred dollars and monitor things on your smartphone. But does any of this tech do any good?

In this episode, we’ll look at the pros and cons of professional systems vs. inexpensive DIY options, and run down some free security practices that will make your house less attractive to burglars.

Read Checkbook’s full report on home security strategies, including ratings of installers.

2 months ago

28 – Being a Better Consumer of Social Media

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Bob Costas - Emmy-Award Winning Sportscaster and Journalist

Social media was designed to bring us together, but it often fosters scams, spreads misinformation, and amplifies hate. The problem isn’t going to go away, so we need to become better consumers of what shows up on our feeds.

In this episode, Emmy-award winning sportscaster and journalist Bob Costas talks about social media responsibility. Bob tackled the subject head-on in a recent episode of his HBO show, “Back On The Record,” discussing the highly-publicized case of Brooklyn Nets all-star guard Kyrie Irving, who recently shared a link to an antisemitic movie.

Additional Resources:

Facebook Privacy Settings Checkup

2 months ago

27 – Checkbook’s Top Holiday Shopping Tips

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

The holiday shopping season is in full swing—and you need a plan. The super shoppers at Checkbook.org are here to help.

With inflation driving up prices, it’s more important than ever to be a savvy holiday shopper. The National Retail Federation expects the average shopper to spend about $833 on gifts and other holiday items this year, up a few dollars from last year.

Read our full report on holiday shopping tips.

Additional Resources:

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Often a Debt Trap

Sale Prices Are Rarely Real Deals

3 months ago

26 – Sale Prices Are Rarely Real Deals

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

Consumers’ Checkbook’s researchers spent 33 weeks tracking sale prices at 25 major retailers and found that most stores’ discount claims aren’t really discounts at all. And the shady sales practice is worse than ever before. Checkbook discovered that most stores’ sale prices—even those that advertise big savings—are bogus discounts, with retailers offering the same “sale price” more than half the time.

In this episode, we’ll tell you which stores ran sales that were USUALLY or OFTEN misleading, as well as the few that had sales that were only SOMETIMES misleading. Plus, tips on how to find the real deals that will save you money.

Read our full report for detailed results about your favorite stores.

3 months ago

25 – Dealing with Debt

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Bruce McClary - Senior Vice President at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling

To deal with record inflation, many Americans are making ends meet by piling up record amounts of credit card debt.  A trained credit counselor can help you pay down that debt, even if it seems insurmountable, and learn how to have a successful financial future.

In this episode, you’ll hear a real-life success story. Cara, who lives near Boston, was drowning in credit card debt five years ago. Today she is debt-free and has good credit.

We’ll also talk to Bruce McClary, a senior vice president at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people deal with debt and better manage their finances. Find out how the counseling process works, and why some of the advice provided by for-profit debt relief companies can make your situation worse.

Additional Resources:

To find a nonprofit credit counseling agency, visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or call 800-388-2227.

4 months ago

24 – Finding an Auto Body Shop That Will Do a Bang-Up Job

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

The best body shops not only do great work but employ staff who can explain and justify exactly what needs to be done. An articulate representative at the body shop will be the key to getting all the work you need performed and paid for by your insurance company.

In this episode, we’ll walk you through the collision repair process from the estimate to the guarantee. We’ll also explain the differences between the three types of parts that might be used, and how to deal with the insurance company—especially if the shop wants to do one thing and they want to do something else.

Read Checkbook’s full report on auto body shops including ratings and undercover price research.

4 months ago

23 – Frequently Frustrated Flyers: How to Fix a Broken Airline Industry

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Bill McGee - Senior Fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project

U.S. airlines are failing their customers by prioritizing profits over realistic schedules, resulting in too many cancellations and long delays, according to consumer advocates. They say more could and should be done to protect passengers.

In this episode, we explain what domestic airlines are required to do when your flight is delayed or canceled (spoiler: not much). We also discuss how the Department of Transportation has failed to effectively oversee the airlines, and what consumer advocates want done to protect the flying public.

Our special guest, Bill McGee, is an award-winning travel journalist, and author of the book, Attention All Passengers. Currently, he’s senior fellow for aviation and travel at the American Economic Liberties Project, a nonprofit that works to fight monopolistic practices in the U.S. economy.

Additional resources:

Consumer Advocates Want the Department of Transportation to Fix Our Broken Airline System

New Proposed Rules Would Require Airlines to Disclose ‘True Cost’ of Tickets, Including Fees

5 months ago

22 – How to Find a Top Doc

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

Physicians are at the center of your healthcare experiences. They set up diagnostic procedures, devise treatment plans, guide you through care decisions, prescribe medications, authorize hospital admissions, refer to other physicians and other providers…and much more.

In this episode, we talk about how to find good doctors and the best medical facilities near you, how to take charge of your medical care, and what Checkbook has learned by analyzing data on tens of thousands of doctors across the country.

Additional Resource:

How to Find the Best Doctors

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.