Advertisement
Smart Buying

Fix-It Services Help Consumers Fight Back

But you may do better on your own.

When it comes to wrangling a refund for a delayed flight or an unjust bill, many consumers would rather let the occasional error slide than wade through pages of fine print to figure out their entitlement. So services that promise to recoup your money may sound tempting, especially when there is no initial fee and all you have to lose is a cut of your refund -- which you may not have asked for in the first place.

A sampling of these start-ups includes Fixed, an app that contests parking tickets; 71lbs, which collects refunds for late package deliveries; and AirHelp, which claims compensation for delayed or canceled flights to or from Europe.

Advertisement - Article continues below

These are recent iterations of an old idea, says Susan Grant, of the Consumer Federation of America. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these sorts of businesses -- as long as they don’t charge upfront (a sign of a scam). But disgruntled consumers may do better on their own.

Start your dispute with the business itself. Use a social-media platform, or send a complaint letter. Make it clear you’ll notify a consumer agency if you don’t hear back promptly. Then explore one of many free services that don’t skim from your payment, such as local Better Business Bureaus, consumer protection agencies or trade associations that handle disputes. You can find them in the Consumer Action Handbook, available at USA.gov.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

If you do resort to a fix-it service, clarify how your personal information will be used, and exactly what you are signing away if a power of attorney is required. Be wary of services that imply you’ll never succeed without extensive experience. Says Lois Greisman, of the Federal Trade Commission, “Consumers can be enormously effective when dealing with a legitimate company.”

Advertisement

Most Popular

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)

Between due dates for IRA or HSA contributions, paying estimated taxes and other deadlines, there's more to do by July 15 than just filing your federa…
July 10, 2020
65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On
stocks

65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On

These 65 Dividend Aristocrats are an elite group of dividend stocks that have reliably increased their annual payouts every year for at least a quarte…
July 8, 2020
Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider
credit & debt

Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider

Your credit score is a key indicator of your financial well-being and of the risk you pose to lenders. How good is yours?
July 10, 2020

Recommended

Sales Tax Holidays in 2020
state tax

Sales Tax Holidays in 2020

Sixteen states are having sales tax holidays this year. If you plan your shopping around these tax-free periods, you can save big on back-to-school cl…
July 1, 2020
For Financially Responsible Kids, Do NOT Do These 3 Things
family savings

For Financially Responsible Kids, Do NOT Do These 3 Things

The key to putting your kids on the right financial path can be boiled down into one sentence.
July 1, 2020
10 Tax Breaks for the Middle Class
tax deductions

10 Tax Breaks for the Middle Class

Tax breaks aren't just for the rich. There are plenty of them that are only available to middle- and low-income Americans.
June 30, 2020
13 Luxury Goods That Are Cheaper at Costco
spending

13 Luxury Goods That Are Cheaper at Costco

You could be missing out on huge savings: Costco sells a limited selection of luxury goods at discounted prices, both in-store and online.
June 27, 2020