The "debt-protection" and "credit-monitoring" products pitched as add-ons to cardholders at Citibank and its subsidiaries went by generic-sounding names - products all designed to sound good for you while plain-vanilla enough to draw minimal attention as they recurred month after month.
As an American transplant in Paris, Glenside's Rob Hower discovered the dirty, little not-really-a-secret of the U.S. broadband market: Most of us pay much more than consumers in the rest of the developed world for the high-speed data at the heart of so much 21st-century culture and commerce.
When T-Mobile launched its "Uncarrier" campaign two years ago, CEO John Legere's main target was "pain points" in the wireless industry, which caused lots of them. Large carriers such as Verizon and AT&T set the pattern, with contracts that left subscribers vulnerable to overages, international roaming fees, early-termination charges, and more.
If rules alone could have protected us from unwanted robocalls, the national Do Not Call list would have done the trick a decade ago. As anyone with a phone knows, that hasn't happened - or, more to the point, it worked for a while and then seemed to lose its bite.
Extra cash. Steady income no matter how long you live. No need to repay. Both explicitly and implicitly, reverse-mortgage pitches often make the equity-tapping loans sound like a risk-free answer for borrowers facing a shortfall in retirement income. But they have a failure rate of about 10 percent, far beyond those of convent
How long should American Airlines take to answer its phone when you want help - say, with something you rarely encounter, such as using frequent-flyer miles to book an overseas trip, or simply because you're unable to use its website?
What do people fear most, at least financially, on the eve of retirement? For the distressingly large fraction of Americans who will be chiefly reliant on Social Security, the answer is: How will I make ends meet? But for those lucky or diligent enough to have built sizable savings and investments, the answer is a variation on that theme: How will I avoid outlasting my money?
Jeff Gelles covers consumer and technology topics for the Inquirer and writes the weekly Consumer 14.0 and Tech Life columns for The Inquirer. He welcomes comments in this blog as well as calls and e-mails about consumers' concerns. Contact him at 215-854-2776 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeffgelles.