Ask Finney: Feeling price gouged, new airline business model, criminal records

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 7 On Your Side's Consumer Expert Michael Finney answers your consumer questions.

Question 1:

Jan from Santa Rosa asked: We were charged $512 for one hour's work by a plumber. I feel we were price gouged. Can I get a refund?

Answer 1:
It depends. There are no rules around what a plumber can charge for a repair. However, they are supposed to give you an estimate and you have to agree to it before the work begins. Did that happen? If so, it is going to be hard to get a refund. If it did not happen, you can file with the Contractors State License Board, and they will look into the charges. One final thought is if it is an emergency repair on weekends or at night, you will be charged a premium. If you live out in the country, it will cost you more because they have to drive further to your location.

Question 2:

Mandy sent us a tweet about United Basic Economy saying, "paid hundreds for a ticket with United Basic Economy. You must pay to reserve seats? No carry-on bags? And, you board last?"

Answer 2:

Yup, this is the new airline business model. Consumers were lining-up to give their money to economy airlines that charge the same way, so the big airlines are joining in. It is a pain, but United makes all of this clear on its website. The airline is nothing if not transparent. Bottom line is there is no free lunch or free carry-ons anymore.

Question 3:
Eduardo asked: My friend told me he Googled my name and noticed a criminal record under my name in Contra Costa County, but I don't have one. How can I clear this?

Answer 3:
There are a lot of people with the same name, it does not mean it is you. Also, some companies try to trick you online, so you will buy their service and look up your name. I would not worry about it, but if you care enough, can check with the California Department of Justice. It is free. Eduardo, good luck.
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