Here are some of the stories we have had in our weekly Tidbits. To read our current edition simply click on the tab above for Read Online.
Hawkeye Publishing L.L.C. 319-360-3936
THINGS THEY DON’T TELL YOU
A lot of companies aren’t always forthcoming when it comes to
revealing important information. Knowledge is power, and consumers
should learn all they can before doing business with:
- The hospital. Hospital bills are confusing, to say the least. Double-billing or charging for services never rendered happens more often that you think. A simple clerical error, such as transposing digits in a billing code, can result in a male being charged for a C-section that he obviously never received. Always ask for an itemized bill, and review it carefully. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask. Most hospitals have web pages on-line with employee directories – this is a good place to get names and phone numbers to aid in your quest.
- The fitness club. The gym is filled with perspiring people working out in close proximity to one another. It’s a breeding ground for germs, and a great place to catch anything from athlete’s foot to strep throat. Wiping down equipment with a towel removes sweat, but not bacteria. Carry disinfectant wipes with you, and wipe your hands with them after you touch any piece of equipment, including things like dumbbells and medicine balls. Wear flip-flops in the shower and locker room, and never sit down nude on any exposed surface.
- The gas station. No matter how high gas prices get, your local station owner isn’t raking in the big bucks; he makes an average of 10 to 15 cents profit per gallon. That’s why most service stations also serve as convenience stores; they have a 30% profit margin on items like soda pop and bottled water. (You’ll pay about the same price for a 20-ounce bottle of cola at the service station that you would for a 2-liter bottle of the same product at the supermarket.) However, there are bargains to be found at the gas station as well: High-volume items like candy bars or milk may be deeply discounted compared to other points of sale.
- The butcher shop. Labels that say “all natural” and “free range” are virtually meaningless, and are often just a way to add to the price of the product. “Natural” simply means that the manufacturer did not add any artificial color or flavor to the meat while processing it; it doesn’t reveal what the animal was actually fed or how it was raised when it was alive. Like-wise, according to the USDA, to qualify as “free range,” a fowl has to have some access to the outdoors. There is no specified amount of outdoor time required, however.
- Your college-age children. Many universities offer “study abroad” programs, which many students interpret as “all party, all the time!” In many countries, the legal drinking age is under 21, so it’s very tempting for students to start testing the waters while overseas. Parents know that while lectures probably won’t help, a straightforward discussion about the very real dangers of over-imbibing might make a teenager think twice. For example, remind him that if he gets sick or in trouble in a foreign land, you won’t be nearby to rescue him, and what with language barriers and payment concerns, medical treatment could end up being delayed until it’s too late.
- The car rental company. Auto rental agencies count on you being in a hurry and returning your car at the last minute, before you’ve had time to stop and fill up the gas tank. When that happens, they fill it for you, but they might charge more than $5 per gallon for the convenience. Likewise, you’ll find that gas stations that are located near airports (which are where the majority of car rentals take place) also have higher per-gallon prices. You may be able to save some money by taking the time to find a neighborhood gas station and topping off the tank before returning your rental car.