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Mar 8, 2013

If you have the stomach for a cruise, it’s a discount carnival

NEW YORK (Reuters) – In the wake of the terrible tale of the stricken Carnival Triumph – and a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ship hit with norovirus in the news Friday – the cruise industry is delivering deep discounts and lots of extras. Potential travelers, with images of crippled ships and sickened passengers fresh in their minds, have a few things to consider before they jump at deals.

But even some of those who were on the ill-fated Triumph are having a hard time not cashing in. Travel agent and cruise blogger Jill Noble, 43, was aboard the Triumph and had an awful time. That didn’t stop her from taking the free cruise and $500 credit she got for her ordeal and applying it toward a cruise she had previously booked. She also renegotiated the overall price based on a huge fare discount in Carnival’s latest sale, which she says had price drops of up to $400 per cabin when the norm in a sale is $200-$250.

Mar 8, 2013
Mar 8, 2013

Book now, before your hotel rewards disappear

March 8 (Reuters) – If you’ve been hoarding hotel rewards
points for your next vacation, you could be in for a jolt when
you try to book your free room. Most of the major hotel chains
have either devalued their points already or will soon.

“This is the worst year I’ve seen for this,” says Brian
Kelly, of, a website that monitors loyalty
programs. “It has been a really bad year for hotel points.”

Mar 7, 2013
Mar 6, 2013
Feb 27, 2013

Why retailers are pinning hopes on Pinterest

NEW YORK, Feb 27 (Reuters) – After a tough day at work as a
publicist in Minneapolis, Becca Bijoch would often indulge in a
little retail therapy. She usually headed out to the stores as
she did not care much for online shopping.

That changed last year when the 26-year-old joined
Pinterest, a photo-sharing website that allows users to “pin”
images to online bulletin boards based on their interests and to
follow others. Bijoch says she has found all sorts of things
that she bought after seeing them on Pinterest, from great
kitchen tools on to clothes at

Feb 22, 2013

Are the new dispute-resolution sites on your side?

NEW YORK (Reuters) – When Madison Mabin never received some shirts she had ordered online, she called and emailed the company’s customer service department multiple times, but to no avail.

Since the 22-year-old Rockford, Michigan, resident was not getting anywhere on her own, she posted a complaint on a new dispute-resolution website called Scambook. The difference was immediate.

Feb 1, 2013

Sending electronic money to friends catching on

NEW YORK, Feb 1 (Reuters) – J.P. Pagoadacruz was sitting in
a restaurant with friends one night when he realized he had
forgotten his wallet. What might have been an embarrassment
turned out to be no problem, though, because he had remembered
to bring his phone. In a matter of seconds, he transferred money
to a friend, using an app for a payment service called Venmo.

The 30-year-old office manager of a San Francisco hotel is
part of a growing number of people who use a person-to-person
payment system to transfer money directly from their bank
accounts to those of friends and other individuals using mobile
phones, computers and tablets.

Jan 17, 2013

Social media dispute resolution stumps some companies

By Mitch Lipka

(Reuters) – If HBO cuts out on you in the middle of the latest “Girls” episode, and you have Charter Communications Inc as your cable provider, don’t try tweeting your dismay to their customer service department. Nobody will hear your lament.

Charter, the fourth largest cable provider in the U.S. with 5.2 million customers across 25 states, closed up its social-media based customer service team in December. “Umatter2Charter,” as it was known, had been taking customer complaints over Twitter and Facebook and trying to resolve them, but the company says it is now done with working out customer service issues in social media forums.

Jan 9, 2013

Time to buy stamps, TVs and life insurance

NEW YORK (Reuters) – If you use a lot of postage stamps, now is a good time to stock up.

At the end of January, the cost of a stamp will rise another penny. If you buy a so-called Forever stamp for 45 cents today, it will work just as well as the one you will pay 46 cents for starting on January 27. Consider buying enough to last a year or more and you’ll not only save a few dollars, but a few trips to the post office, too.

    • About Mitch

      "Mitch Lipka is editor of and is a veteran consumer columnist, editor and reporter. Most recently, he led a 10-person consumer reporting team at AOL’s personal finance channel, He received the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer writing on the web and is the 2011 Best Friend honoree from Kids in Danger for his work covering child product safety. Mitch has been a reporter and editor for more than 25 years and has worked for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Consumer Reports. The opinions expressed here are his own."
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