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Are You A Savvy Consumer?

February 16, 2011

At GAI (www.gunwel.com) we meet with people all the time that have been ripped off for thousands of dollars. To avoid being a target, be the hunter, not the hunted. Ignore any company that pursues you too aggressively – the contractor who knocks on your door claiming to be working on other houses in the nieghborhhood…the broker who cold-calls you with must-own stocks…the carpet cleaner who sends you a coupon offering steep discounts. Always conduct your own research first, then hire someone who you have sought out. Here are some true/false statements to test your consumer knowledge.

  • When you buy a new car, federal law allows you three days to change your mind and return it. FALSE; all car sales are final. Consumers frequently make this mistake because they believe automobiles fall under the Federal Trade Commission’s “cooling-off rule.” The regulation allows you 72 hours to cancel the purchase of a product – but only if it was sold to you at your home or away from the seller’s normal place of business.
  • If your home-improvement contractor rips you off or does shoddy work, some states will pay you back. TRUE; many states have “construction recovery” or “contractor’s guaranty” funds that reimburse consumers for as much as $50,000.
  • If you receive unsolicited merchandise in the mail, you are legally obligated to send back the product or pay for it. FALSE; Federal law makes it illegal for companies to send you something that you didn’t order and then bill you for it. You are allowed to keep the item as a gift, give it away or throw it out.
  • A coupon to clean four rooms of carpeting for $29.95 is a good deal. FALSE; basically these come-ons always are followed by hefty “up charges.” Typically, you will be charged extra for pretreatment solutions, deodorizers and protective spray…moving furniture…and cleaning carpets in closets.
  • You chances of winning a publisher’s sweepstakes increase if you buy a magazine. FALSE; Nuff Said.

I stopped on that last one as it is just too ridiculous. I have always thought that those publisher clearing house folks are the least eco-friendly companies around just because of the amount of trees they must use to send out those, continual, large size envelopes. At Gunwel Tax & Bookkeeping we are a paperless office. We are proud of that fact, and I save money on the amount of filing cabinets I no longer need to buy (and, of course, pass the savings on to you). Give us a call at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit as we are always ready to dispel those myths. And we want to help you with all things financial. See you soon!

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