7 Tips to Be a Smarter ConsumerDon't get fleeced at the mattress store, repair shop, gym, and more with this top shopping advice from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.
1. What an Appliance Salesperson May Not Tell You
Delivery and installation could almost double the cost of a new appliance. Charges vary from free to nominal ($20) to $150-plus. Extras add up, such as delivery to an apartment above the second floor ($50), or connecting a water line to a fridge (about $130). One store charges $170 to set up a dishwasher, $10 to take away the old one, and $35 if a community restricts delivery hours - and additional $215. Ask about all fees before you buy.
Related: Answers to Your Most Common Product Questions
2. What the Hotel-Reservation Website May Not Tell You
The advertised "best" rate isn't necessarily as low as the hotel will go. Hotels often don't want competitors to know their rock-bottom rates. Once you've found a place to stay, call and ask, "Do you have any discounts or promotions (kids stay for free, or extra nights for longer stays) if I book directly with you?" Or try getaroom.com, whose call center will do the work for you (for free), usually netting you a savings of 10 to 20 perfect off the hotel's lowest published rate.
3. What the Infomercial Operator May Not Tell You
If you accept the "free" bonus item, you have to pay for its shipping and handling. The Easy Feet, for instance, is $15 plus $8 for shipping - and get another free. What wasn't clear in the phone call: We'd have to cough up another $8 for the free product's delivery. A better deal: Look for "seen on TV" products at drugstores, home stores, and big-box stores.
Related: Don't Be a Fool: 6 Rules for Being a Smart Shopper
4. What Your Car Mechanic May Not Tell You
A number of parts in a car shouldn't ever need maintenance. Brake-Fluid and fuel-system flushes are most likely unnecessary. Unless someone tampers with the brake-fluid system by opening it up, it should be good for the life of the car (or at least 100,000 miles). Gas filters are built to last just as long. If a mechanic suggests these fixes with no good reason, get a second opinion.
5. What Your Gym May Not Tell You
Gym membership rates are negotiable. So negotiate - ask if they can beat a competitor's offer. Know a member? There may be a referral deal. Joining as a couple? Request a two-for-one discount. Also, ask about extras (say, a free training session, a bonus month, or free guest passes). It's fine to walk away - they may call you with a better offer.
Related: What's On Sale Now
6. What the Mattress Salesman May Not Tell You
More coils don't always mean a better mattress. Thanks to improved construction and cushioning materials, today even mattresses with fewer coils can provide the support you need. Lie on each mattress for at least 15 minutes to see if it's a feet: The meaning of terms like "plush" or "firm" can very from brand to brand. And while many stores offer comfort guarantees, any additional delivery and return fees may be on you.
7. What Your Grocer May Not Tell You
A store can reserve the right to refuse any coupon at its discretion. You may be able to use high-dollar savings coupons only with the manager's approval, there may be limits on redeeming identical coupons, and separate branches of a chain may have differing policies.
More from Good Housekeeping:
- 11 Great Budget Buys for Your Home
- How to Shop and Dress Slimmer
- 37 Household Items That Do Double Duty