Consumer questions: Hotel rates, daycare

Can you negotiate hotel rates?

Question: "How do you negotiate or is it possible to negotiate hotel rates at hotels other than what they are posted or listed as?"

Answer: You can, but it's not as easy as it used to be because the Internet has taken away the really high prices and the really low prices are disappearing too. There are special rates that they're not going to post on the Internet or anywhere else, and they tend to be local rates.

How do you stop automated faxes?

Question: "How do I stop automated faxes when they are constantly coming in on a daily bases. There have phone numbers for you to call to stop it, but then it seems like another one picks up. Nothing ever stops, you keep getting these automated faxes and they keep wasting all your paper and you'd have to spend all this time on the phone calling all these numbers and it doesn't seem to help. So how do you stop something like that?"

Answer: Calling the number on the fax may be worse. When you call that number, they have proven to themselves that they can motivate you to make a phone call. The best solution is to turn off your fax machine for a while. Eventually, if it doesn't find your number, it will no longer think you're there. On a day to day basis however, it's virtually impossible to stop from receiving them.

Best daycare options?

Question: "What are the pros and cons doing a live-in au pair versus just hourly daycare?"

Answer: The au pair can often be cheaper because you're giving them a place to live and food, and so you take that into account. But keep in mind you will have a person who is living in your home all the time. Another option is to use family and pay them what you would pay your daycare, but use them for less hours.

For more of Michael Finney's consumer stories and advice, visit 7 On Your Side.

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