Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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Slam the door on these scams

by TERRI DICKERSON/CDA Press Consumer Gal
| November 25, 2021 1:00 AM

A Rathdrum reader called to warn us about door knockers in the area near Ramsey and Lancaster roads. In his case, a person allegedly working for a paving company offered to lay asphalt for a steep discount because he had leftover material from another job.

The price quoted was about one-third the going rate for such work. The homeowner did contract for services, which included a warranty, but the homeowner was sorely disappointed with the quality of the work.

Unfortunately, not only was the work subpar, but the final price for the job was about three times what was originally quoted.

In the end, the homeowner was stuck paying the bill and will now have to hire, and pay, a reputable company to come back and do the job properly.

Generally speaking, it's a good idea to avoid door knockers. Anytime someone shows up at your property unsolicited, peddling a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Often the door knocker will use high-pressure tactics to get you to make a decision on the spot. It's better to get two or three estimates for a job to make sure you know what's being offered and how much it will cost.

If an estimate comes in quite a bit lower than the others, ask more probing questions to find out why this business can offer the work at such a steep discount. Chances are they're cutting corners so the end product may not be what is expected.

If the company representative is hard to get hold of, any problems that do occur will be difficult to remedy.

Bottom line: Avoid doing business with those who come knocking on your door unsolicited.

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Chip shortages and new vehicles

Last week I warned readers about buying cars and recreational vehicles; most have to be ordered now due to the chip shortage.

I recently learned of another complication in the purchase process readers should be aware of.

It appears that the chip shortage will be around for a while because auto manufacturers are now deleting select features on cars so they can cut down on the number of chips each vehicle needs. While I don’t know for certain if all brands are doing this, I did learn that several have deleted features.

What's worse is that buyers are offered a credit for the deleted item but the credit seems to be much less than the option. For example, BMW has deleted the touch feature on the 'infotainment' screens and offered a $500 credit, as one can still work the screen using manual controls. However, if you wanted to replace the feature it would cost you more than $500, and that's assuming you could find the chips.

A major manufacturer is reportedly disabling the heated seat feature in many of its vehicles to reduce the number of chips. At the moment, auto manufacturers are selling everything they build at top dollar and now they're deleting features and giving a meager allowance.

So what can consumers do? Knowing that a key functionality may get deleted makes it especially important to have a refundable deposit and a solid contract in place, which hopefully addresses possible deletions when placing your order for a new vehicle.

However, since deletions may be a more recent trend, it might not be addressed in the purchase contract so a refundable deposit is essential.

Of all the features I have heard were deleted, none were safety-related but more related to comfort and ease. But if somebody is spending nearly $100k on a new car, BMW X7 for example, one would expect all the bells and whistles.

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Online shopping tips

Not only is shopping online convenient, but it can also be a great way to find the best price before purchasing that item or gift.

One way to “shop” online is to keep items in your wish list or your online shopping cart. By doing this you're letting the online retailer know you're interested in that item, but you aren’t quite ready to buy yet.

Their job is to entice you to buy now so they will likely offer you a discount coupon or promo code to seal the deal.

Usually, we use our email as part of our login, so check your email account to see if you got any offers from that retailer for the item you're interested in.

Often retailers will reward shoppers who sign up for loyalty club memberships by offering exclusive deals, especially to shoppers who sign up for email notices. It might be worth setting up a separate email for these types of accounts since it won’t take long to get bombarded with email offers if you sign up for multiple loyalty clubs.

If you aren’t offered free shipping, it could save you money to choose free in-store pickup. If the item is in stock at your local store, it's typically available for pick up the same day. It might make sense to shop online due to more availability of an item.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at (208) 274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist, a veterans advocate and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.