Consumer questions: Online bargains, quality

Online bargains and product quality?

Question: "I'm 13 years old and I live in San Francisco and I've been looking around for video cameras with good sound quality and good video quality. And there was this one camera that I was looking at and I found it on two different Web sites, and one price was around $1,600, and another price was only $600. So, how do I know if the Web site with the camera that is $600 isn't trying to cheat me?"

Answer: Here is how they pull that off. You are actually buying the camera that they show you -- they are not cheating you there -- but they are cheating you on everything that surrounds the camera (i.e. battery, lens, case, microphone, etc.). So when you send away for it, you may think you're getting all of those additional items at the $600 price, but you're not. Instead, you're getting just the camera itself with no accessories.

Credit card late charges

Question: "If you are a day late with a credit card payment, they charge you finance charges, late charges, for two months after. Why are they allowed to continue charging finance charges for two months after you've paid your bill? And why, when they hold your money, they don't pay you anything for it? They are allowed to hold your money for two to three months?"

Answer: Because the credit card companies have essentially bribed Congress over the last few years by doing plenty of lobbying and throwing around lots of money. It is unbelievable that double-month billing is even legal. This has become so outrageous that the feds are looking it.

Homeowner's insurance

Question: "I have a homeowner's association and they paid for my fire and structure insurance, and then I accidently paid for different coverage. Basically it's the same thing for less, 10-year. What recourse do I have collecting from my old insurance?"

Answer: Call your agent or insurance company and explain that you have overpaid for 10 years, but you want to keep them around as a secondary insurance policy. Then ask them what kind of deal can they cut you for all the money you have overpaid, and how much will they give you back in order to keep you as a customer.

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

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