DealNews is dedicated to helping its readers better their
shopping experiences. This page is a reference to consumer resources
both provided by us and found elsewhere.
DealNews' complaint database
DealNews maintains a complaint database to track trends
in complaints for possible future alerts to our readers.
State Attorneys General
If you have a complaint or are seeking information
before you buy, consider contacting the state attorney general's
office of the company in question. State attorneys general track
consumer complaints and usually make that information available
to the public. We have a mostly complete list of the web sites
of state attorneys general below. The National
Association of Attorneys General offers additional information.
The Better Business Bureau
A popular alternative to state attorneys general, the BBB is among
the oldest and most inclusive consumer information and reconciliation
services in the United States. The BBB maintains limited online
information on companies, and you can file a complaint online.
The BBB requires that merchants pay to become members.
In addition to other Macintosh web sites, several services
provide critical consumer information. Some of the most popular
are Consumer Reports,
Consumer World, the
Federal Trade Commission, ScamBusters,
and The U.S. Consumer Gateway.
maintains several lists of consumer information sites. Please
note that some services require merchants to pay a fee to participate
or require you to pay to use fully. BizRate
offers consumer ratings of companies but focuses more on providing advertisements
from those same companies.
These are answers to the most frequently asked consumer questions
that readers pose to us.
What's "cash discounting"?
Credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, and American
Express, charge merchants a percentage for any transaction. Most
vendors roll that cost into their prices, as they do their phone
bills or employee salaries. However, to advertise lower prices,
some businesses offer "cash discounting," or pricing
without those percentages added. Payment via credit card is then
more expensive, the percentage varying by merchant and by card
Corporations, government agencies, and schools who pay cash
benefit from these savings. But for everyday consumers, cash discounted
prices are confusing and misleading. So while DealNews publishes
cash discounted prices, we always note the credit card price too.
If a published price has no surcharge, please assume that the
price is credit card-friendly.
DealNews advises that all mail-order purchases by consumers
be made via credit card. Cash purchases offer little consumer
protection in the event of a conflict with a merchant. DealNews
accounts for credit card surcharges when evaluating price lows.
What's a restocking fee?
A restocking fee is the percentage a merchant charges
when a customer returns an item, usually 15 percent. Many merchants
charge no restocking fee. Of those who do, none we've seen says
it charges a restocking fee on defective merchandise. Reader experience
says otherwise: restocking fees draw more complaints
than almost any other policy, and some companies are more chronic
than others. Always be sure to ask if a restocking fee exists
What do you mean by "the lowest price we've seen"?
Just because we've found a price to be very low, we
can't guarantee that it isn't lower elsewhere. That's why we always
say, "the lowest price we've seen." Rest assured
that when DealNews evaluates a "low price," it
adds all known charges -- particularly
credit card surcharges -- except shipping
into the equation. We usually exclude shipping because of its
high variability, but we regularly note how shipping costs can
degrade an otherwise "best" value.