ATLANTA -- Consumer Reports has released their annual "Naughty or Nice" list of the best - and worst - consumer-oriented companies in the nation.
The "not so nice" companies were hit for having hidden or tricky fees, hard to find terms in fine print and what they called "unfriendly practices." On the "nice list," companies were touted for having outstanding customer service.
On the "Naughty List" -
New Jersey-based electronics retailer Abe's of Maine has a long list of things that are exceptions to their "30 day money back guarantee" that they only tell you in the fine print on the page.
Auto-maker BMW, which has pulled spare tires from new cars, pointing out that the vehicles come with run-flat tires. What they don't make clear up front is that if you have a blowout or a rip in a sidewall, you'll have to call a tow truck. Other car makers are starting to get these same types of run-flat tires. Check your trunk when you buy a new car.
Online-only retailer CompUSA has started putting so-called "freebies" in consumers' online shopping carts. The catch? The "free" items are usually limited time subscriptions that force shoppers to pay for extended subscriptions in the event they don't cancel before the "free" period wears off.
When booking flights on Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, beware of claims to "flex your fare" - or to be make your flight refundable - for "only" three times many super-save fares.
Apparel giant Forever 21 has different return policies for online versus in-store purchases. If you return an online order in one of their retail stores, you can only exchange the item or get store credit. If you mail the item back to the retailer, you'll get a refund in the form of real money.
Spirit Airlines, long the object of many travelers' ire, has just jacked up their overhead bin carry-on bag fee to $100. That's right, it'll cost you $100 if you want to put a bag in the overhead. It's still free if you can cram it under the seat in front of you, though.
Ticketmaster is now charging consumers $2.50 to print out their own tickets at home. How can you get around that? Let Ticketmaster send the tickets to you in the mail. Your extra cost then? Free. The catch? They say it'll take 10-to-14 days to send it to you.
Online electronics seller Tiger Direct has gone over the top in the eyes of some on restocking fees, saying that if products aren't 100 percent complete in the same condition and packaging as it was shipped in, you may be subject to a restocking fee of up to 25 percent, "at Tiger Direct's sole discretion."
Time Warner Cable says they're about to start charging customers $3.95 a month to lease a cable modem. How to get around that one? Buy your own and install it.
Vonage has added an additional $1 to the "Regulatory, Compliance and Intellectual Property Fee" they have been charging consumers. The total on that fee goes up to $2.99 per month.
On the "Nice" side of the ledger, you'll find companies like -
Drury Hotels, which has as its motto, "The extras aren't extra." Some of their extras include hot breakfast in the morning, hot food in the evening, soft drinks and popcorn in the lobby and wireless high-speed internet throughout the property.
Buy a new appliance from The Home Depot, and their delivery crew will uncrate, setup, level and test your new product, plus they'll haul the old one away without any extra charge.
Honda has started adding rear-view cameras as standard equipment on most of their cars and trucks, including their best-selling Civic and Accord models.
Kohl's has implemented a "no questions asked, hassle-free" return policy on all purchases, with no time limit.
Likewise, Nordstrom has a similar policy: free shipping, free returns on orders of any size.
Housewares maker Oxo also has a no-exceptions pledge: if you're not satisfied, for any reason, return it for replacement or refund.
PNC Bank not only has a basic checking account for free, you don't have to keep a minimum balance to keep the account for free.
Safeway supermarkets says they will always have "fresh and delicious" produce all the time, and if you're not satisfied with your produce, they've got a refund or replacement pledge.
Red Wing shoes has a 30-day comfort guarantee. If your shoes are uncomfortable for any reason, you can return them for refund or exchange, no questions asked.
Finally Publix still stands behind their pricing, and their policy is posted in the store where you can see it: "Our Publix checkout promise guarantees that if during checkout, the scanned price of an item (excluding alcohol and tobacco products) exceeds the shelf price or advertised price, we will give the customer one of that item free. The remaining items will be charged at the lower price."