What I Learned From My Free Consumer Action Handbook

by Matt B

Consumer Action HandbookA few weeks ago, I got my consumer action handbook free of charge courtesy of our friendly neighborhood U.S. Government. After it sat on my desk for a few days, I decided to see what it had to offer. I did not read it completely in depth, but I can tell you that it is a great resource for any consumers and I highly recommend that you order your copy before it’s too late.

While I did not really learn much from the book, there is a wealth of information contained within. Some of which I did not know. A bit of which actually surprised me. Here are the highlights:

Dealing With Debt:

-Within five days after a debt collector first contacts you, the collector must send you a notice that tells you the name of the creditor, how much you owe, and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.

I’m sure there are plenty of companies who do not follow this.

Home Improvement and Repairs:

-Get the names of suppliers and ask if your perspective contractor makes timely payments.

To tell you the truth, I would have never though of doing this, but their answer can tell you volumes about their reputation.

-Some state laws allow unpaid subcontractors and suppliers to put a lien on your home for bills the contractor failed to pay.

-With most home improvements, federal law gives you three business days to cancel without penalty.

This is actually true of many transaction types, not just home improvement related purchases. You can consult the handbook to find out more information about the “3-day, cooling off rule”.

Homeowner/Renter’s Insurance:

-Insure your house, NOT the land under it. After a disaster, the land is still there. If you don’t subcontract the value of the land when deciding how much homeowner’s insurance to buy, you will pay more than you should.


-Ask about cancellation policies. You may want to look into trip insurance for added protection. www.insuremytrip.com offers pricing and policy information on plans from different companies and describes the different forms of policies available.

-Selling more tickets than there are available seats on a flight is not illegal. Most airlines overbook their flights to compensate for “no-shows”. If there are more passengers than seats just before a plane is scheduled to depart, you can be “bumped” or left behind against your will.

While there are rules that protect you and assure you will get where you are going, the inconvenience is (unfortunately) perfectly legal.

Wills & Funerals:

-It is not necessary to notarize or record your will, but these can safeguard any claims that your will is invalid. To be valid, you must sign a will in the presence of at least two witnesses.

-The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket that you bought elsewhere.

-A funeral provider who offers cremations must make alternative containers available.

As I said, this book is a great resource for all consumers. You can get one by following this link. All you have to provide is your name and address and the book will arrive (free of charge) in about 2 weeks. The above information is just the tip of the iceberg. There is plenty of information and resources that you may need, whether you realize it or not. So just go get one already.

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November 11, 2009 at 5:26 am

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MBAbriefs December 10, 2009 at 10:15 am

This is an excellent post. I didn’t know this publication existed, and I wasn’t aware of the rules about funeral homes accepting your own casket or providing alternate containers. I also thought you had to have a will notarized and have been putting off making changes to mine. Keep up the good work!

– David

Ashley January 14, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I ordered one of these as well! Definitely a good and free resource that people should know about. I’ve found some gems of information in here myself.

Lillie February 19, 2010 at 10:51 am

This is an excellent resource and will definitely get a copy of it. It was interesting to learn that if you purchased a casket from someone else the funeral service can not refuse to use it. We had a discussion about this recently when someone mentioned that Wal-Mart would be offering caskets for sale. Now I know. Too bad Wal-Mart has discontinued its layaway plan.

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