Dear Consumer Ed: After taking an online survey, I received an offer for a mystery shopper job. I completed a brief online training and I was sent a check for $1,300 to start work. The first job was to evaluate a wire transfer service by sending a $1,000 money transfer and then answering some questions about the experience. They said I could keep the remaining $300 as my fee. They even said I should wait a week before making the transfer to allow the check to clear first, but it still sounds fishy to me. What do you think?
Dear Consumer Ed: I prefer to pay for my purchases by check, but it seems there are very few stores and gas stations in Georgia that accept checks. Are there any regulations that require Georgia retailers to accept payment via check?
Dear Consumer Ed: My phone company has offered to give me a lower rate on my phone service if I switch to something called VOIP. What in the world is that? Will my phone work if the power goes out?
Dear Consumer Ed: The power was out in my apartment for a week as the result of a bad storm. I could not stay there because it was too cold. Shouldn’t the apartment complex prorate my rent?
Dear Consumer Ed: I stayed at a hotel in Georgia that required that I provide them with my driver’s license and debit card. It made me feel uncomfortable because I’m concerned my information will be compromised. The manager said they will keep a copy of my license and debit card for three months and then shred them. Is that legal? If it is, it shouldn’t be.
Dear Consumer Ed: My roof was damaged during a recent storm. A roofer came to my door and, after looking at my roof, offered to replace it for $20,000. He said the company would pay my insurance deductible if I agreed to let them put a sign in my yard with their company name on it. The price seems high, but they said my insurance would cover all of it. Do you think this is on the level?
Dear Consumer Ed: I live in Tennessee and my daughter is a Georgia resident. If we buy a used car from a dealer in Tennessee for my daughter to use in Georgia, will we have to pay taxes in both states?
Dear Consumer Ed: I recently underwent outpatient surgery. The doctor’s office told me that my out-of-pocket costs would be $525. I paid the money and had the procedure. A month later I received two bills: one for $150 for the anesthesiologist and one for $110 for the surgeon. I don’t think I should have to pay these bills because I was told ahead of time that I only owed $525. However, I am concerned that if I don’t pay these bills, it will hurt my credit rating. What should I do?
Dear Consumer Ed: I see a number of gas stations that offer a lower price if you use cash instead of a credit or debit card. At one station the cash price was $2.30 but the credit price was $3.20, although the only place that was displayed was on the pump itself. A 90 cent price differential seems out of bounds to me. Are there any limits as to how much more a station is allowed to charge for using a credit card vs. cash? Also, are gas stations required to display the credit card price so that it is easily readable when you are driving by?
You may have already heard about the computer technical support scam where someone impersonating a Microsoft technician calls and says there's something wrong with your computer and that they can fix it for a payment of a few hundred dollars.