Do you want to avoid being ripped off? Rip-Off Report is your best friend. This web site, claiming itself as a "worldwide consumer reporting Website and Publication, by consumers, for consumers, to file and document complaints about Companies or Individuals who ripoff consumers," already stores 115,749 rip-off reports entered by real consumers like you and me. And since its inception in 1999, this site has received more than 2.8 billion visits.
While you certainly don't have time to read all these hundreds of thousands of reports -- the number is still growing at more than 100 reports a day -- you can always search the archive if you get suspicious of a company. Tonight I search some names I mentioned in this blog with questionable practices. Unsurprisingly, for each of them I got dozens of rip-off reports from this site:
ABC Distributing: I reported back on August 22, 2004 that the practice of this company is fishy; it will not disclose the total shipping charge when it takes your order. 54 reports are found in rip-off report database.
First Premier Bank: My December 8, 2003 entry called it "a credit card too expensive to keep." 154 consumers said they've been ripped off.
Household Bank: The credit line increase fee caught my eye in March. I wrote "I am not saying this is a scam. This offer should be perfectly legal, but without doubt, this credit card will be costly to own." A search in the rip-off report database turned in 112 reports, many of them are about this credit line increase fee.
Not all rip-off reports suggest you are dealing with a bad apple. Reputable companies like Amazon.com also get their fair share of the complaints, so you probably need to look more than the number of rip-off complaints before you make a judgment on a particular merchant.
Nevertheless, I am pretty much convinced Rip-Off Report is THE resource for background checking fishy merchants. It made its way to my bookmark list today.