consumer

It's been a while since most airlines started charging fees for checked baggage. The first time I flew since this started, I had forgotten about it and was a bit surprised when the kiosk prompted me for an extra $15. I had become used to the idea of checking luggage, since 9/11, as the security checks made it impossible to carry even a tube of toothpaste. The obvious response to that issue was, "just check it" and avoid the hassle of dragging bags through the airport in the first place. I think everyone else had the same idea, as I hardly remember seeing people with carry-on luggage.

Now things have changed. The Financial Crisis has caused many companies, including the airlines, to squeeze every dollar they can out of anywhere they can. The bag check fees are one way to do it, and like many people my initial reaction was "of course, they have to get as much money out of you as they can." But then I got on the plane, looked around, and realized that's only part of the story.

Lately there has been a lot of news surrounding the upcoming bandwidth auction for the 700MHz wireless spectrum. Once TV stations go all digital, they will vacate these very valuable frequencies. The big wireless companies are eager to get their hands on it (because 700MHz goes through walls nicely), but some unlikely companies, namely Google, have also expressed an interest.

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Recently I ran into an issue that I've run into before, but it's one of those things you forget about when you're not dealing with it all the time.

I purchased a new laptop (HP dv9000t) a few weeks ago, and had to update some of the drivers. I went to HP's web site, and found the page for my system. Their site is well organized, and it's pretty easy to find what you're looking for.

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With the recent news about the JetBlue Valentine's fiasco, I remembered that I had a similar experience a few years ago. It certainly wasn't as bad as sitting on a plane for 9 hours, but my experience made it clear to me that JetBlue is sorely lacking in their customer service.

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With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, I've been doing my share of shopping. No one really wants anything these days, so the default gift is a gift card.

Buying a gift card is simple enough, but lately stores have been adding a new twist to such a seemingly simple process -- the bonus "gift card". Basically, you buy a gift card for what must be the most popular amount of $50, and the cashier gives you the option to "buy one for $75 and get a $15 gift card for free," or something like that. That's hard to pass up... add a little more $$ and get free money? Sounds good! Except that it's a sham.