Recently, I downloaded the Consumer Action Handbook, an interesting 178 page document produced by the U.S. government’s General Services Administration. It’s an excellent free resource for basic consumer information of all kinds, including a huge collection of contact information for consumer advocates and customer service departments.
I thought I’d give this free document a walk-through similar to one of my book reviews, but shorter since you can download it and read it for yourself for free.
What’s Inside The Consumer Action Handbook?
The handbook is actually composed of four separate parts, though the first one provided the most interesting reading by far. The actual readable content is only about sixty pages; the last one hundred pages or so is a list of addresses and contact information for various consumer advocates and corporate customer service departments.
Part I – Be A Savvy Consumer
I found this first section to be an enjoyable read. It’s about fifty pages in length and is tightly jammed with basic information on tons of different consumer issues. A brief rundown: general buying tips, banking, cars, credit, education, employment, food and nutrition, health care, housing, insurance, internet, investing, phones, identity protection, privacy protection, home shopping, telemarketing and junk mail, travel, television, utilities, and wills and funerals. Each subject has about three pages or so devoted to it in a highly compressed fashion.
I learned a lot of interesting things from this part of the document – one item in particular saved me money right after I read it. We were about to purchase house insurance at the time I downloaded this and I realized that we were indeed insuring the lot’s value as well. This saved us a nice little bit on our home insurance.
Part II – Filing A Complaint
Many people have little idea how to appropriately handle a bad product or service. There are many techniques and avenues available to consumers who have purchased defective products or been exposed to faulty services and this section effectively summarizes these in just a few pages. This is excellent reference material to read if you purchase a faulty product and don’t know where to go in order to get a replacement or to make others aware of the issue.
Part III – Key Consumer Information Resources and Part IV – Consumer Assistance Directory
The rest of the document is an extremely thorough collection of contact information for consumer assistance of all kinds. The PDF is updated regularly to keep these addresses current, which means that it may be worthwhile to re-download this PDF on occasion. At the very least, once you’ve identified a useful contact from this list, visit the web site of that organization.
Is It Worth Downloading?
It’s an interesting read. For me, some of the information was almost common sense, while other pieces were quite intriguing. I’ve downloaded it and saved it in my reference materials folder on my desktop because I can see myself utilizing the information in the future, if for no other reason than to get a good starting place when seeking out who to contact about a consumer issue. If that’s of interest to you, download it and save it; if it’s not, the document is at least worth a perusal.