Consolidated Credit Recommends: Consumer Reports Naughty & Nice

Santa isn’t the only one with a “who’s naughty and who’s nice” list. For the fourth straight year, the nonprofit magazine Consumer Reports has released its annual Naughty & Nice list for 2013.

But unlike Santa, this isn’t a list of people – it’s a list of companies and their policies. From airlines to department stores to smartphone providers, Consumer Reports has studied the fine print these companies hit us with. This often results in hidden fees and poor customer service.

“It’s a hectic time of year when consumers are shopping freely for goods and services,” says senior editor Tod Marks. “They’re vulnerable to sales pitches. The Naughty & Nice list is our way of encouraging Americans to be critical consumers. We want them to know they have choices.”

Here are a couple of examples…

NAUGHTY

Amazon. “The world’s 11th largest retailer recently raise the requirement for free Super Saver shipping on eligible items by $10, to $35.”

United Airlines. “One practice travelers can usually count on when flying with commercial airlines is pre-boarding for families with young kids. Not at United. Families with infants or with children who are under the age of 4 may board the aircraft when their group number is called.”

NICE

Lands’ End. “The catalog merchant has an unconditional Guaranteed. Period. policy that entitles customers to return for refund or exchange any product at any time, for any reason. That largesse extends even to personalized items that have been hemmed or monogrammed.”

Walmart. “The mega merchant brought back its layaway program, but with a consumer-friendly twist: It eliminated the administrative fee typically required to open an account.”

For general holiday shopping advice, consult Consolidated Credit’s four-part Holiday Survival Guide.