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Suits & Settlements

Keep posted on the lastest class action suits involving companies and settlements they've reached. Meanwhile, if you're headed to small claims court to take on a company, remember these tips:

• Small claims court works best when two parties have an honest disagreement. It doesn't work as well if your adversary deliberately set out to cheat you.

• Before you file a case, send a letter by certified mail to the other party. Write this letter in a friendly tone, because a judge eventually may read it.

• You sue in the county in which your adversary lives, or if it's a business, the county in which it is located. You'll pay a filing fee - generally less than $100 - that you may recover if the judge rules in your favor.

• If the judge finds in your favor, be prepared for the hard part - collecting on your judgment. A judgment means you have a license to search for money. You can garnish the person's checking account or paycheck, put a lien on the person's house, and seize cars or other assets.

• If someone is unemployed or self-employed, or skips town, you may find your judgment is worthless.

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Threatened with legal action? Could be a scammer

Debt collectors are falsely claiming to represent law firms and threatening you with legal action and even jail time if you don't pay. A debt collection firm in Glendale, Calif., has been fined for sending unlawful text messages to alleged debtors. But that's not all. They're also doing another big ...

Get more consumer advice on and The Clark Howard Show.

Cell phone companies rip you off with 3rd party billing

Cell phone companies have been engaging in a practice that's been ripping you off! It's happening most often to those who have an add-a-phone service (where you add a friend or family member to your plan.) The industry is making huge money doing 3rd-party billing for "services" that other companies ...

New York state to ban free speech on the Internet?

A bill in New York state is seeking to ban free speech on the Internet unless you fully disclose your real identity, according to The idea behind this bill is that you would not be able to legally post to a site based in New York, nor would you ...

Overseas refund a scam? Maybe not...

Overseas refund a scam? Maybe not...

You get mail saying the big banks have a refund for you because you used a credit card overseas during your travels at some point. Sounds like a scam...but is it?

New website to resolve consumer complaints

Using the Internet to air consumer gripes is an effective tool, but one that's still in the early stages of chaos. Recently there was action taken against the student loan lender Sallie Mae**. When borrowers hit financial troubles and were unable to pay, Sallie Mae was granting temporary deferrments, but ...

Supreme Court rules in favor of mandatory arbitration

In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of mandatory arbitration when you do business with a company. This particular case concerns a subsidiary of a large bank that was doing a con job on those with damaged credit. The subsidiary would send mailers telling subprime customers ...

Honda learns a hard lesson about customer service

Amid all the ballyhoo about the class action lawsuit (and subsequent small claims court suit) against Honda, there's a simple story of a company that didn't take care of its customers and now has to face the repercussions. I used to own a 2003 Honda Civic hybrid and averaged 43 ...

Customers in California sue retailers over zip code harvesting

"Excuse me, may I have your zip code?" We've all had the question at the checkout register. It seems innocent, but could there be something more behind it than a retailer collecting basic demographic data to figure out if they need to open up a store in a new area? ...

How and When to Settle Consumer Complaints

Having a problem at a restaurant or a hotel? Clark tells you the best way to get real resolution.

Bottled water industry sues filtration companies

During his daily broadcasts, Clark usually drinks more than a liter of water. Is he shelling out the big bucks for expensive bottled water? No way! He's using a refillable container for tap water. Too often, people won't drink tap water because they believe it's dangerous for your health. That ...

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