If you’ve ever felt royally ripped off by a big company chances are Bob Sullivan has some useful advice. Gotcha Capitalism chronicles the ways that big corporations from hotel chains and airlines to supermarkets and cell phone providers use hidden charges and fees in order to advertise lower prices than can realistically be offered. Sullivan, author of msnbc.com’s Red Tape Chronicles, provides clear and specific advice about what types of additional charges to watch out for as well as when and how to complain in order to maximize your chances of having extra charges waived or refunded.
Having worked in a customer service call center myself I greatly appreciated Sullivans’ advice to always, always be pleasant and courteous to the person who answers your call. ( I know from my own experience that the people who answer calls generally have some leeway in how they handle each request and people who asked nicely for help tended to get courtesy refunds from me; the one’s who were rude and unpleasant from the get go tended be the one’s who got read the part of the contract under which they owed the charges 😉 Sullivan also advises that complaints to hotel companies, supermarkets and Internet service providers were most likely to grant refund requests. Complaints to airlines, cell phone companies and cable television providers are much less likely to result in refunds or waived charges and complaining to these types of companies may be the least cost effective use of your time.
Overall, a very useful consumer guide. Recommended.