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 expose, 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.
Christopher Elliott is one of the nation's foremost consumer advocates. In his nearly two decades of fighting for consumers, he's proven himself as a fearless, fair, and effective mediator, going toe-to-toe with large corporations, litigious business owners, and government agencies.
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