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Scammed. How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals

  • ID: 2214864
  • Book
  • January 2012
  • Region: Global
  • 240 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Most of us wouldn′t buy that bridge in Brooklyn that some guy wants to sell us. We wouldn′t wire money to people who send us an e–mail that promises to shower us with millions once they save a Nigerian diplomat. Used car salespersons? Not our friends. We′re savvy customers who can spot a fast one, right?

Maybe not. As longtime journalist and customer advocate Christopher Elliott reveals in Scammed, sometimes today′s con–jobs arrive via poorly spelled spam or fast–talking hustlers, and sometimes they come from well–dressed MBAs, intricate legal contracts, or management–approved corporate policies. Scammed shows how many businesses manipulate and mislead in order to not give you what you paid them for. You′ll discover how you can protect yourself from this unfair behavior. If you feel doomed to suffer hidden fees, escape clauses, and shoddy products, Scammed gives you the tools to fight back, make yourself heard, and have your complaints resolved on the double.

Learn the latest techniques businesses use to give you a bad deal, as well as their most effective countermeasures. Scammed pulls back the curtain on:

  • How companies shape online perception, including "reputation management," "sock puppet" reviews, content mills, and "black–hat" search engine techniques
  • Typical hidden clauses in end–user software licenses, credit card contracts, and other customer agreements
  • The behavioral science behind sophisticated customer manipulation, and how to recognize and correct for it
  • How to find good, fair–dealing companies and guard against bad ones
  • Real–life stories of customers successfully fighting bad deals, and how they did it
  • Effective techniques for communicating with companies and accelerating their response to your problem
  • And more

Shady dealers expect you to resign yourself to getting burned. Restore your power as a customer, make better choices, demand what you pay for, and hold onto your money with Christopher Elliott′s winning advice. Don′t get scammed; get Scammed, and get wise!

Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
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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

Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
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Christopher Elliott
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown