Mad about travel? Then you probably shouldn’t read this

Smit/Shutterstock
Smit/Shutterstock
It’s the time of year when the days get shorter and my mood grows darker.

And I’ll be honest: that government shutdown, the legislative gridlock and the shoot-out at the Capitol aren’t exactly the kind of pick-me-ups I was looking for.

It’s probably not the best occasion to write a mission statement, but who cares?

(Admit it, you’re not reading this post because you give a hoot about my purpose in life — you’re glued to it for the angry comments that are certain to follow. Scroll down a little and feel the flames, my friends.)
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The one thing every good customer forgets? You’ll never guess

Petr Kopka/Shutterstock
Petr Kopka/Shutterstock
You’re a smart consumer. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.

You look for bargains, you read the fine print, you know how to navigate your way around the branches of a phone tree.

But aren’t you forgetting something?

Most enlightened consumers fail to do one thing with alarming consistency: they don’t review their credit card purchases in a timely manner – or at all. No one knows exactly how frequently (or infrequently) American consumers review their credit card statements, but based on my own dealings with customers who are disputing a card purchase, I can tell you, it’s not often enough.
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Please help me write your mission statement

Mypotick/Shutterstock
Mypotick/Shutterstock

I’ve often said that this is your site. I advocate for you, and people like you, every day. But what, exactly, am I fighting for? I’m planning to add a mission statement to this site to make sure everyone understands your causes. Here’s a first draft. Any thoughts?

Here’s what we’re fighting for:

Consumer empowerment. I believe that by working within the system, responsible consumers can ask for and receive a just and fair resolution to any service problem. When they don’t, the problem needs to be exposed, not in order to embarrass a company, but so that the system can be fixed.

Fair, honest prices. The rate you see should be the rate you pay. You have the right to know what’s included — and not included — when an offer is initially made. If there are any mandatory fees, they should be included right up front, as part of the price. Optional fees should be clearly shown at the start of the transaction. Anything else is lying.
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Ridiculous or not? Oops, I forgot to check my credit card statement

It happens all the time.

I get a plea for help from someone like Eugene Teow, who appeared to have been scammed on a recent trip to Australia. In his case, it looked as if Hertz had indiscriminately sucked $3,857 from his bank account for damaging a rental car — money to which it wasn’t entitled.

But then, when I ask the company about the overcharge, it turns out that the only problem was that the customer had failed to check his credit card statement. Because if he hadn’t, he’d know the money — or at least most of it — had been returned.

Reviewing your credit card statement is the first step anyone must take when they’re looking for a refund. Because some of the time, they’ll find the money has been quietly put back into their account without notification.
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