GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn — Twin Cities’ Consumers’ Checkbook is out with its latest round of ratings for Sept. 2019. Executive editor Kevin Brasler stopped by KARE 11 News at 4 to deliver their findings on hotel booking sites, payment apps, and cashback portals.

Hotel-Booking Sites Use Misleading Language to Pressure Customers 

“Only one room left! Better book now!” It’s the oldest sales trick in the book. Tell customers demand is high and supply low, and if they don’t act quickly an offer will disappear. Checkbook’s researchers spent weeks searching hotel-booking websites and encountered such high-pressure sales tactics from many of the major players. Our investigation found most dire warnings about low availability were dishonest: There’s usually still plenty of room left at the inns. 

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Payment App Warning

Thanks to peer-to-peer payment services like PayPal, Zelle, and Venmo, there are more ways than ever to pay for stuff or send money quickly and easily. Consumers don’t even need conventional bank accounts—as long as they have an email address or cellphone number, they can dispatch or receive money. But scammers are increasingly exploiting these services, inducing consumers to use them to pay for bogus products and services advertised online and elsewhere. And if you accidentally send money to the wrong person or don’t get what you paid for, there’s often no recourse. We advise on how consumers can enjoy the convenience of these payment options while protecting themselves from fraud. 

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Cashback Portals Give Consumers an Easy Way to Save

Want some money for nothing?? Many online retailers pay referral commissions to businesses that send them customers. Online shopping portals, including BeFrugal.com, CouponCabin.com, MrRebates.com, and Rakuten.com, give their customers a cut of these commissions and pocket the rest. Our staff tried out major cash-back services over a few months when shopping at online retailers, including Old Navy, Madewell, Nordstrom Rack, J. Crew, Chewy, H&R Block, and more. We found it was easy to skim extra scratch on many of our purchases—so easy that we were sad we hadn’t been claiming these savings since these sites launched years ago. We have tips and resources to help consumers get started and maximize their savings.

Head to checkbook.org for one full month of free access to all Consumers Checkbook ratings and articles.