The following are some suggestions that may prove to be of value to you:
● Many persons who buy things by mail complain that they never receive the items for which they paid. So if you buy by mail, deal with a reputable organization. Also, keep copies of all correspondence, as well as a record of your order. Pay by check or money order, not cash.
● When buying in stores, shop with care. For instance, if you are buying meat or produce that must be weighed, stand where you can watch both the scale and the clerk’s hands. This will often exert a strong influence toward honesty on the person doing the weighing.
● If you are paying for many items, let the cashier see you count the number of items you have purchased. He will be doubly alert not to make a mistake. Count your change before leaving the cashier. Shortchanging is one of the commonest ways to cheat customers, accidentally or deliberately.
● If you want a piece of top-quality beef and want it ground, buy the meat and have it ground where the grinder is in full view. The butcher that takes the steak into a windowless refrigerator might bring you in return a cheaper grade of meat.
● When it comes to repair work, it pays to deal with a firm or person that has a good reputation. Also, get an advance estimate on what is needed and have it put in writing for you. This estimate should include the statement that no additional charges will be made without your prior consent.
● Do not put much reliance on verbal promises where major work, such as home repairs and improvements, is to be done. Get competitive bids and insist that any contract contain a description of the repairs or improvements and the total cost of the work. Also, never sign a completion certificate until the work is actually finished the way the contract calls for.
● Be very cautious about signing anything. It can legally obligate you. Read carefully before you sign. If the language in a contract gets complicated and you start wondering what it means, consult someone who knows. Another thing to watch for are blank spaces in a contract, or illegible writing or figures that can be doctored up later. Keep a copy of all signed documents in your personal file.
● Many persons experience a financial tragedy because of failure to read the fine print carefully. Beware of anyone who explains, “Pay no attention to that clause because we never enforce it,” or, “This clause doesn’t apply to you.” Do not accept such explanations. Have the contract changed before you sign it.
● With major purchases, ask questions to find out about any hidden costs. Find out whether you must pay additional fees for delivery, installation, service, and so forth. When credit is involved, be sure you know what the total cost will be. If you rent an apartment, ask about painting, repairs and utilities. But do not leave any promises in verbal form.
● Salesmen often make guarantees of a verbal nature, but these are almost never accepted in a court of law. Some say, “If anything is unsatisfactory, a refund will be promptly given.” A refund in money is something seldom, if ever, given.
● If credit cards are used, make sure that all receipts you sign are clear as to total price and cannot readily be fraudulently changed. If you lose one, report it immediately—you will be held responsible until you do. Save all your receipts and compare them carefully with your monthly statements.
● When paying for services in a hospital or elsewhere, to avoid possible future complications, many persons find it advisable to ask for a receipt marked, not just “Paid,” but, “Paid in full.”
In these days of rising prices and increasing dishonesty, it pays to be alert, if you would safeguard yourself against being cheated.