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

39 – Got a Gripe?

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Jamie Lettis and Dani Dredger -; Edgar Dworsky -; and Checkbook subscribers

Companies always say their top priority is customer service, but all too often they fall short of that goal. What bugs you as a consumer? Is it the fine print in advertisements? Fake discounts? Maybe problems making returns or repair people who can’t make the fix?

Something a little different in this episode. We’ll hear from a few members of the Checkbook team and several subscribers who have gripes they want to share.

Do you have a gripe about something in the marketplace? Tell us about it. Be advised: We can’t solve individual problems, but we may ask you to join us on a future episode.

Additional Resources:

How to Complain and Get Results

Support our podcast:

4 weeks ago

38 – Travel Tips from a Travel Expert

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Christopher Elliott - Syndicated Travel Columnist

Demand for plane tickets, hotel rooms, vacation rentals, and other travel services is up—way up. If your summer getaway involves flights, brace yourself for problems; like last year, planes will be packed, and the system will be stretched to its limits.

In this episode, advice from someone who loves to travel—and makes his living doing it. Christopher Elliott writes the syndicated “On Travel” and “The Travel Troubleshooter” columns. We caught up with him in New Zealand.

Additional Resources:

60 Strategies for Finding the Best Travel Deals and Avoiding Trouble

Do You Need Travel Insurance? (Spoiler: For Most Trips, Probably Not)

Why Use a Travel Agent?

1 month ago

37 – Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Home Warranty

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

Home warranty companies promise to save you thousands of dollars if you need an expensive repair. But Checkbook found these plans are terrible deals for most homeowners. Warranty companies are the subject of thousands of complaints to consumer agencies. After paying $400 to $1,000 for the coverage, consumers find that home warranty contracts often have numerous fine-print exclusions that stick them with much of the costs for product repairs or replacements. Plus, you don’t get to decide who does the work—and the best repair services usually refuse to work for home warranty companies.

Additional Resources:

Home Warranties Are Lousy Deals

2 months ago

36 – Dark Patterns: Sales Tactics Designed to Deceive

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Sam Levine - Federal Trade Commission

Some companies try to boost business by doing things that are meant to mislead and manipulate customers. These include pre-checked boxes that obligate you to more than you bargained for, hard-to-find disclosures, and confusing cancellation policies. These practices are called “dark patterns,” and as more commerce moves online, they’re growing in scale and sophistication.

The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on illegal dark patterns, but because the problem is so widespread, you need to know what to look for to protect yourself. In this episode, Sam Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, talks to us about some of the most common dark patterns.

Additional Resources:

Consumerpedia Episode 31: ⁠Watch Out for These Common Fraud Tricks & Traps

2 months ago

35 – Aging in Place

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Kevin Brasler - Checkbook's Executive Editor; Tom Minty - Northwest Universal Design Council

For most aging adults, there really is no place like home. Surveys done by AAPR consistently find that nearly 80% of those 50 and older prefer to age in place rather than move in with relatives or into senior communities.

The aging-in-place movement can help you stay safe and comfortable in your home as you grow older. But it’s something you’ll need to plan for, the sooner, the better.

In this episode, learn what’s important when remodeling or retrofitting your house, as well an option that’s growing in popularity across the country: Neighborhood-focused networks, or “villages,” that offer social, medical, and household resources.

⁠Read Checkbook’s full report on aging in place.

3 months ago

34 – How to Be a Smarter Consumer

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Kevin Brasler (; Edgar Dworsky (; Amy Nofziger (AARP Fraud Watch Network); John Breyault, (; and Kimberly Palmer (NerdWallet)

It takes some extra effort to be a good consumer; to make sure you’re getting a good price on quality merchandise, to find top-notch service providers, and to protect yourself from liars and cheats who want to rip you off or steal your identity. But the time it takes to do it right is nothing compared to the hassles of dealing with problems that can result from making poor choices.

To celebrate National Consumer Protection Week (March 5 – 11, 2023), we’ve assembled a group of experts and asked them to share some important consumer advice.

3 months ago

33 – Auto Insurance Based on How You Drive in Real Time. Good Choice or Not?

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Michael DeLong - Advocacy Associate at the Consumer Federation of America

Auto insurance companies base their premiums on a host of factors, such as the vehicle, driving record, and, in most states, your age, gender, marital status, and credit history. Some also offer discounts if you agree to install telematic technology on your car, which monitors when and where you drive—and how safe or reckless you drive to get there. Is it worth giving up your privacy to see your insurance bill drop by as much as 30 or 40%?

In this episode, we talk to Michael DeLong, an advocacy associate with the Consumer Federation of America, about telematic data collection: How it works, how it can get things wrong, and whether you should even consider trading your privacy for lower insurance rates.

4 months ago

32 – Grocery Delivery Services

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

If you find going to the grocery store a hassle, having your avocados, Doritos, and whatnot delivered is a convenient and time-saving option. And these services are a great help to those who can’t get to local markets due to physical impairments or a lack of transportation.

But you’re going to pay to have someone gather your groceries and bring them to you.  At some stores, extra costs for delivery are only a few dollars per order; at others you’ll pay a sizable fee to skip the store.

In this episode, we discuss the pros, cons, and costs of having someone else do your shopping. How much do prices vary? Which services rate the best with Checkbook subscribers? Plus, tips to help you get the best prices should you decide to shop this way.

Read Checkbook’s full report on grocery stores and delivery services, including undercover price comparisons and unbiased ratings for quality.

4 months 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.

5 months 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.

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.