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As much as we might be blinded to this fact by outsourcing trends and late-night comedy skits, CS reps are people, too.

By Karen Datko Sep 8, 2010 9:37AM

This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner site Wise Bread.

 

Bad customer-service experiences have become part of our collective narrative about modern life. Unmotivated CS reps, enraged callers, outsourced call centers on the other side of the globe are all part of our consumer assumptions the moment we pick up that phone with a sigh and mutter under our breath, "Once more into the breach." 

But with a little experience and some ground rules, I think that call to a customer-service center can be much more productive, if not outright pleasant. In various stages of my life I've sat on each end of that phone line and can offer eight strategies to stack the odds of success in your favor:

 

In the 1960s, everyone saved green stamps for future rewards. But are today's impatient consumers willing to wait?

By Teresa Mears Sep 7, 2010 2:39PM

In another example of "What's old is new again," Albertsons grocery stores are returning to a classic loyalty program: stamps customers can redeem for cookware.

As other stores offer coupons on cell phones and other high-tech loyalty programs, Albertsons is hoping that its retro promotion will bring back the incredible loyalty customers once had for S&H green stamps.

 

The Internet is smoking with discussion about whether to end all government interventions and let nature take its course.

By Karen Datko Sep 7, 2010 1:42PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

After trying every stimulus and lever known to economists to rescue the housing market -- and failing -- the country should just let go and allow housing prices to fall as far as they will.

That's what a handful of housing and economic experts told The New York Times in a Sunday article, "Housing woes bring a new cry: Let the market fall." The Internet is now smoking with discussion about it.

 

Yes, I challenge incorrect prices. I do it to stay within my budget, not to ruin your day.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 7, 2010 11:03AM

I'm the grocery store customer who challenges the scanner. Yes, it slows things up a little. But I'm not going to pay $2.89 a pound just because someone forgot to tell the computer that hams are on sale this week.


That's me. And you? You might be the person behind me, grinding her teeth in frustration because I won't accept anything other than the advertised price.


My apologies if your checkout is delayed by 60 seconds. But that $1.90-per-pound savings times 8 pounds represents almost $16. My budget won't let me back down.

 

The silver lining of living paycheck to paycheck? Better sales.

By Karen Datko Sep 7, 2010 9:53AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.

 

More consumers are living hand-to-mouth these days, a change that has prompted manufacturers and retailers to shift the timing of monthly sales and promotions.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 77% of workers say they are living paycheck to paycheck; in other words, their income and expenses leave them little or no savings to fall back on and no opportunities to put aside more. Last year, 60% said they were in such a situation.

 

Not surprisingly, a freshly deposited paycheck triggers our impulse to spend.

 

A talker always has excuses for not getting things done: He doesn't have time, he doesn't have the skills, the odds are stacked against him.

By Karen Datko Sep 7, 2010 8:39AM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.

 

It's a Sunday morning and I should be editing articles in advance of my upcoming vacation. Instead, I just got done playing another game of Starcraft II. Since the game was released on July 27, I've played many games of Starcraft II.

 

In fact, I've played at least 150 games of Starcraft II. (I know this because the game keeps track of your record. I played 50 training matches, and have since won 47 and lost 42 against human opponents, putting me near the top of my division in the Silver League. Plus I've played some single-player games.)

How much time has playing 150 games of Starcraft II sucked from my life? At about 30 minutes per game, it's safe to say I've spent about 80 hours over the past month -- or about 20 hours per week -- building virtual armies and blowing stuff up.

 

Now, on the surface, there's nothing wrong with me having a little fun. I've been waiting for this game for almost 12 years. Plus, I've been working hard for the past two years, and I've been stressed because of it. I deserve some time off, and have intentionally been downshifting to a simpler life, one that gives me time for computer games.

 

However, having said that, in this case there's a problem.

 

Free genealogy research, a half-price chicken dinner and free meals for kids are among this week's specials.

By Teresa Mears Sep 3, 2010 1:43PM

It's Labor Day weekend, a time to do anything but work.

 

For some people, that means shopping. U.S. News & World Report has done a guide to the best Labor Day sales. (Thanks to Leah at Suddenly Frugal for the tip.)

 

For others, Labor Day means a potluck dinner, picnic or barbecue. Today only, Sept. 3, you can get grass-fed beef for $3.99 a pound at Whole Foods. Boston Market is offering a Family Meal or Market Feast for 50% off, Labor Day only, with this coupon.

 

The FTC is toying with the idea of a do-not-call list for computer users. But some experts doubt it will work as well.

By Stacy Johnson Sep 3, 2010 12:06PM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.

 

You've probably heard of the national Do-Not-Call List. And perhaps you're one of the 145 million Americans who have signed up for the federal government's registry since it started in 2003. If so, telemarketers can't dial your phone number without facing hefty fines (up to $16,000 per violation) for ignoring your wishes.

 

Now the same agency that created Do-Not-Call is mulling over a similar plan called "Do-Not-Track." The Federal Trade Commission wants to do for computers what it's already done so well for telephones. But despite its past success, tech experts are skeptical -- mostly because computers are so much more complicated than phones.

 

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