Before you buy your next holiday gift, book a flight, or purchase tickets to a holiday event, Tod Marks says check out Consumer Reports' "Naughty and Nice" list.
Tod says, "Consumer Reports is out with a collection of company policies we like or loathe, depending on how consumer-friendly they are. Our list was put together with input from reporters and editors at Consumer Reports, along with our Facebook fans, and our sister site, the Consumerist."
Return policies, not surprisingly, factor in heavily. Outdoor store R-E-I made the "Nice" list with its super-friendly return policies.
Tod explains, "They'll accept any item for any reason at any time. And it doesn't matter if you bought it online or at a store or even at their outlet. You can send it back or bring it back, no matter where you bought it."
But Game Stop is on the "Naughty" list with its laundry list of return conditions and this proclamation: "We reserve the right to refuse any return." American Apparel is naughty, too.
Tod says, "They have two different return policies, one for in-store customers, another for those who buy online."
And watch out for RadioShack, which admits it sometimes charges online and in-store customers different prices.
And while Southwest made Consumer Reports' 'Nice' list last year, it's now landed in 'Naughty' territory, along with AirTran, which charges $6 to $20 dollars to reserve a seat when you book.
Tod explains, "Now with Southwest, they don't have assigned seats. But for ten dollars more than the price of your ticket, you can board early and snag a better seat. The basic cost of a ticket just doesn't buy you very much these days."
Looking to buy tickets for a play or concert? Live Nation made it onto Consumer Reports' 'Nice' list. The online ticket service gives you three days to cancel a ticket order and get a refund. And if better seats become available after you've made your purchase, you can exchange your tickets at many venues.