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Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals

Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals

Christopher Elliott

ISBN: 978-1-118-10800-0

Dec 2011

209 pages

In Stock

$24.95

Description

A leading consumer advocate reveals how to protect your money, time, and integrity from corrupt businesses

Once upon a time store prices were simple and fair, businesses stood behind their products with guarantees free of fine print and loopholes, and companies genuinely seemed to care about their valued customers—but those days are long gone. In this groundbreaking exposé, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot reveals the broken relationship between American consumers and businesses and explains how companies came to believe that fooling their customers was a viable, and profitable, business plan.

Scammed explores how companies control information to mislead, distort the truth, and even outright lie to their consumers.

  • Exposes the various ways companies have led their war against information—from seductive ads, disingenuous fine print, and unconventional promotions that involve seeding discussion forums and blogs with company-friendly comments
  • Offers consumers insider knowledge of the system, reasonable expectations, and a clear understanding of the games businesses play
  • Christopher Elliott is one of the nation's foremost consumer advocates

Protect yourself, your time, and your money from the predators of the consumer world. Armed with knowledge, readers will become far more discerning and every business's worst nightmare.

Prologue: Fenced In xi

Scammed—or Just a Bad Deal? xiv

Down That Road Lies Madness xvii

Introduction: You’re Not a Victim xxi

Confessions of a Heretic xxii

Preventive Medicine xxiv

How Businesses Are Scamming Us xxv

How We Are Letting Them xxvi

What to Do about It xxvii

The New Scams xxviii

Part 1 How They Scam Us 1

1. Reputation Management 3

Avoiding Sock Puppets 6

How Companies Manipulate Customers 8

How We Fall for It 10

""SocialSpark Loves Your Blog"" 12

Don't Fall for a Managed Reputation 13

2. I SEO You 17

A Scam That Wears Many Hats 19

The SEO Pitch 20

SEO Gone Wild 22

Above the Law? 25

3. Fooled You 27

But Everyone's Doing It 29

Little White Lies 33

Who's to Say What’s Bogus? 36

4. That's Not an Ad 39

How They Lie 42

Pay per Post 46

But Wait! There's More! 47

5. Lying about Your Rights 51

Oops, You've Already Signed It 54

Fine Print Gone Wild 56

Signing Away Other Rights 57

One Word at a Time 57

Part 2 How We Scam Ourselves 59

6. Our Own Damned Fault 61

Losing Your Mind 63

A Scam-or-Be-Scammed World? 65

There's Something in the VitaminWater 66

A Wayward Offer from DirecTV 67

That's Not the Spirit 68

Customer Confessions 70

7. Walled Gardens 73

If the Customer Is Always Right, Why Worry? 79

Trapped in the System of It All 79

Do You Suffer from Walled Garden Syndrome? 81

8. The Price of Loyalty 83

What Loyalty Programs Make Us Do 85

What Makes Loyalty Programs Dangerous 87

The Loyalty Effect 91

You're Complicit 92

Questions to Ask before You Buy 93

9. When the Watchdogs Sleep 95

Where Have the Watchdogs Gone? 98

When Dogs Follow the Wrong Scent . . . 100

Being a Discerning—and Demanding—Consumer 102

10. Tired, Confused, and Apathetic 105

Eyes Wide Shut 108

Decisions, Decisions 110

When You Don't Make a Decision . . . 111

Dereliction of Duty 112

Splitting the Difference 114

Part 3 How to Fix It 115

11. The Enlightened Consumer 117

A Thirst for Knowledge 118

Getting Inside the Mind of a Business 119

Corporatespeak 120

Getting Inside Your Head 124

What Smart Shoppers Don't Do 126

12. It's Dangerous Out There 129

How to Spot a Lowercase Scam 131

How to Spot an Uppercase Scam 135

How to Deflect a Clever Sales Pitch 137

Surviving a Scam 139

13. The I-Can't-Help-Desk 141

How to Escape from Call Center Hell 143

Should You Chat? 147

The Art of the Written Complaint 149

These Letters Go Straight to the Trash 150

Elements of a Winning Style 151

14. Turning a No into a Yes 155

You're Right 156

How to Turn a No Around 157

A Few Thoughts on the Art of Persuasion 161

Sue or Shame? 163

15. Act Now 167

Timing Is Everything 169

Fixing What's Wrong with Business 171

Fixing Ourselves 172

Who Wins? 174

Epilogue: Power in Your Pocket 175

Appendix 179

Who You Gonna Call? 179

How to Find a Manager in Person 180

How to Find a Manager by E-Mail 183

How to Find a Manager by Phone 184

How to Find a Manager through Social Media 186

Bibliography 191

Suggested Readings 205

Acknowledgments 207

About the Author 209