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

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.

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

4 weeks ago

59 – Saving Money at the Supermarket

Host: Herb Weisbaum /
Guest(s): Abha Bhattarai - Washington Post Reporter; Edgar Dworsky - Publisher, ConsumerWorld.org; 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.

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

1 month 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.

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

2 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?

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

2 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.⁠

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

3 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.

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

3 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

4 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.

5 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

5 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

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.