"Where's The Honesty?"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013

What can make 2013 a better year? How about honesty? We deal with more dishonesty than ever before in our daily lives. It seems our ways of doing things have changed so much we can hardly believe anything we see or hear.

Today’s mechanics working in various fields often work for a low wage plus commission. An example is a factory-authorized auto service mechanic. If you take your vehicle to a dealer you expect honest service. It may cost a little more at a dealer’s factory service garage than elsewhere, but you believe it will be worth it for honest service. This will not likely be the case, especially if your vehicle computer has an indicator light lit.

Many such indicators are pre-set to light at specific mileage points and not be a problem. Unfortunately, when you take your vehicle to a factory service dealer for service, they will change and charge for parts and labor that is not needed.

Customer gouging can also be encountered in super markets. Rip-offs are seldom the result of the grocer unless it’s in weight on a scale and even then its likely unintentional. Many grocery items that present dishonestly are delivered to the store that way because the problem is in the packaging. If you pick up a box of cereal that is so tall it barely fits on the shelf, it probably is not nearly full. Read the fine print, it will say; “Product may have settled during handling.”

Don’t you think if a box were filled in the first place, there would be no room for settling? At least not half a box full! Try this, remove the bag full from the box — you will often find the bag is full to the seal. There was no “settling” just a smaller bag, completely full in a bigger box. Potato chips are somewhat the same with the small print on the side. The chips are not crushed so they didn’t settle; the bag was just filled with air and than sealed.

Three different canned fish producers agreed to pay a total of $3.3 million to settle claims against them saying they had put less fish in their cans than the labels stated.

I called a name brand company complaining about hard chunks in a can of fruit. They sent a postage-paid envelope for me to mail the pieces to their lab. After receiving them they sent a couple coupons to replace the cans with the questionable contents. I used the coupons recently to purchase the same brand at a different store — and yes, they still have the hard chunks.

In another case, a can of green beans was said to contain a specific amount – 4.5 ounces of cut beans in an 8-ounce can. That left 3.5 ounces of water, so there was only 1 ounce more beans than water. As I investigated, I discovered the net weight marked on a package is the weight of the entire contents, including water (and perhaps the container). Vacuum packed products actually contain less water and more products.

Clothing often varies in size. If you think a large cotton T-shirt made by company A would be the same size as a large cotton T-shirt made by company B you will be mistaken. Both companies may be name brand manufacturers, but the shirts are often totally different in size – before washing and shrinking them.

Utilities, especially phone companies, are the worst for dishonesty. If you call and order a specific service and ask what the total cost will be, what they quote and what you are billed do not resemble one another. They never quote the six to eight additional charges added on that at times almost double your bill.

Most of my readers know that shopping online or in response to TV ads can be very expensive. Even if you purchase right now, and get two of the items for the price of one — after the shipping and handling are added you get nothing free. I often wonder how many people have to handle a product because it can’t ship for a week — unless you care to pay additional shipping and handling.

The very latest rip-off is businesses that are adding a charge for taking your credit card. As I see it, those businesses have to pay a fee to the card company — but that is not new and should that not be part of the cost of doing business? It always was for me.

Gasoline purchases often can be a rip-off. You go to one station and the price posted may be 3 to 5 cents a gallon different than the same brand a mile down the same road.

I’ve seen a fuel tanker truck drop at two different brand stations and the stations will post prices as much as 10 to 20 cents different. Another gas price trick is a big sign out front with the price in really big numbers. You don’t even notice the word “cash” in minute letters on the bottom corner of the sign.

The “New World” pricing has me worried. If you buy something with a lifetime warranty — do you have to wear a bullet-proof vest to report a problem with it?




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