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Here are the things that drive customers batty.

By Credit.com 10 hours ago
This post comes from Christine DiGangi at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyA dissatisfied customer typically is not a quiet one: Venting to friends, launching a social media assault on the offending service provider and exchanging tense words with customer service representatives are among Americans' favorite ways of dealing with bad experiences. You can also reach out to agencies dedicated to resolving consumer issues, and because of those complaints, the Consumer Federation of America has a good idea of what bothers people most.


Angry businessman © Imagesource/CorbisToday, with the North American Consumer Protection Investigators, the CFA released its most recent edition of the top consumer complaints. The rankings are based on 268,380 complaints received in 2013 by 40 agencies in 23 states that responded to the national organizations' survey. The top issues remained the same as they were in 2012: issues with automobiles and associated services; home improvement and construction; and consumer credit and debt.


Consumers' biggest complaints

In their report, CFA and NACPI noted mostly the same local agencies responded to this and last year's survey, but some did not, and a few new ones reported 2013 complaints. As a result, the rankings are only a snapshot of top complaints to participating agencies, and shifts in rankings from previous years aren't necessarily indicative of an increase or decrease in problems within certain industries.


Here are the most common complaints among the thousands included in the report:

 

Most credit cards offer insurance protection if you use them to rent a car. But some have better coverage than others.

By MSN Money Partner 10 hours ago

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyYou are standing at the desk of the car rental company and the agent asks, "Do you want the collision damage waivers?"


Customers Checking in Car Rental Agency © Lawrence Manning, CorbisUh … .


The moment of confusion

For a lot of us, this is a moment of confusion. Of course you don't want it. It's one more expense. In fact, the price of these damage "waivers" can nearly double the cost of your vehicle rental. (Supplemental insurance coverage offered by rental car companies is called a waiver because, when you pay for it, the company agrees to waive its right to collect for damages from you.)


But should you purchase the rental car waivers anyway, just to be safe?

 

You probably don't need it. The chances are good that you're already covered -- very likely by your credit card, and probably by your personal auto insurance, too.


What you may not know, however, is that some credit cards' rental car coverage is better than others.

 

A new report shows the program's fiscal health is getting better but issues persist.

By MSN Money Partner 13 hours ago

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyGood news for Medicare.


The program's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund has enough money to fund the program through 2030, according to a new report from the program's board of trustees (.pdf file). That's four Pills © SuperStockyears later than last year's estimate, and 13 years later than was forecast the year before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, NPR said.

"Medicare is considerably stronger than it was just four years ago," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Monday. She noted that slower growth of the program’s spending will very likely mean that the Medicare Part B premium charged to beneficiaries -- currently -- remains the same for the third year in a row. "That's a growth rate of zero percent," she noted.

The trustees cited slower growth in health care spending and expected savings from Obamacare for extending the solvency of the hospital trust fund. Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said in a press release that the trustees' report effectively demonstrates that Medicare is a healthy, viable program. She added:

It continues to be an efficient, cost-effective program that Americans can count on for future generations. It should be protected as one of our great success stories.

Despite Medicare's slightly healthier financial outlook, the program is still financially unsustainable over the long run.

 

The new study is based on the review of credit files from TransUnion. Does the large number surprise you?

By MSN Money Partner 14 hours ago

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyDo you have delinquent debt? Apparently, you're part of a very large group.


Worried Man © CorbisA new study (.pdf file) by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, and Encore Capital Group's Consumer Credit Research Institute found that last year more than 35 percent of U.S. adults with credit files -- or 77 million Americans -- had bills that were unpaid for so long that they were considered "in collections."


What does that mean? CNN Money explains:

Once it is categorized as in collections, … it can follow one of three courses, according to the Urban Institute report. The creditor can charge it off and sell it to a debt buyer, put the account into default, or seek to collect what's owed through an in-house department or a third-party debt collector.

The Urban Institute used 2013 data from credit bureau TransUnion to measure Americans' past-due, non-mortgage debt. In the 7,000 credit files studied, that debt ranged from as little as $25 to a jaw-dropping $125,000. The average non-mortgage debt in collections was $5,178. The median was $1,350.

 

Name-brand items often aren't worth the extra cost. Here's a list of items you should always buy generic, along with a few exceptions to the rule.

By MSN Money Partner 16 hours ago

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWhat does your loyalty to brand-name products stem from? Do you think the items are truly superior in quality, or have you been won over by fancy marketing campaigns?


Either way, it's likely you're spending more than you need to just for a label. A new study "estimates Americans are wasting about $44 billion a year on name brands, when they could be buying the exact same products if they switched to cheaper store brands," CNN Money said.

 

When our furry feline friends aren't feeling fine, our finances often take a hit as well.

By Credit.com 17 hours ago
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyCats are generally low-maintenance: feed them, pet them (when they want you to!), and clean their litter boxes, and they are often happy.


Hannah an d Rusty Photo credit: Gusstavo Vasquez/courtesy Credit.comBut like any pet, they can get sick or suffer accidents that can quickly result in large medical bills that could put your credit in jeopardy.


Here are three stories of owners who put their own credit at risk to care for the felines they love.

 

Homeowners associations ban them and environmentalists love them. All that aside, though, a clothesline saves you money.

By MSN Money Partner Tue 1:27 PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyClotheslines. Ugly nuisance or thrifty household friend? You'll find strong opinions on both sides of the question.


Clothes on a clothesline © Tetra Images / Alamy

Many homeowners associations across the country ban clotheslines as unsightly. They raise a number of objections, as the American Bar Association's ABA Journal explains:

(C)oncern that publicly airing clean laundry attached with clothespins to a rope or wire was unsightly, or obstructed views, or even created a safety risk (strangulation is sometimes cited) led a number of condominium associations and rental property managers to ban clotheslines.

Right-to-dry movement

This being America, a movement has sprung up for -- yes -- the right to dry your clothes outdoors. The "right-to-dry" movement points out that clotheslines save households money and have the added virtue of reducing the 32 million metric tons of carbon put into the atmosphere by clothes dryers each year.


Six states — Maryland, Maine, Florida, Colorado, Vermont and Hawaii -- have passed laws to overturn HOA clothesline bans, according to Sightline, a nonprofit organization that researches environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest. Another 13 states protect the use of "solar devices" or "solar energy systems," which includes laundry dried by the sun.


What's at stake, budget-wise?

Aesthetic arguments hinge on taste, but what's less open to disagreement is the fact that an electric dryer is one of your home's biggest energy users.

 

Credit cards are convenient and offer protection against theft and loss -- and, of course, some offer miles and other rewards. Not everyone is enamored with plastic, though.

By Credit.com Tue 1:13 PM
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyIt's easy for people to see the benefits of using a credit card. They offer the convenience of carrying around cash, while having protections against loss and theft. And rewards credit card holders can earn valuable points, miles or cash back when they use their cards to make ordinary purchases.


Worried man © CorbisFor merchants, credit cards offer a quick and easy way for customers to pay for their goods, and credit card payments are less vulnerable to fraud and theft than cash or checks. Furthermore, credit cards make it easier for customers to finance their purchases, which can increase sales.


Nevertheless, there are some people who simply hate credit cards.

 

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