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News from the Reference Desk

Chicago Consumers’ CHECKBOOK now with remote access

You can now access Chicago Consumers’ Checkbook from computers outside the Library if you have an MPPL card. You’ll need to register the first time you use it, but this will give you the privilege to submit reviews for all kinds of local services. It’s kind of like Yelp or Amazon, but you don’t have to write clever reviews, just concise.

The popular Chicago Consumers’ Checkbook contains articles and ratings on a wide variety of local service firms, professionals, and stores. Includes ratings for insurance companies, plumbers, heating and air conditioning contractors, auto repair shops, dentists, doctors and more. The Chicago Consumers’ CHECKBOOK online database also includes their national online Guide to Top Doctors, which lists 20,000 of the top-rated physicians in 35 specialties across the country, as well as their Guide to Hospitals which provides detailed information and ratings of more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide.

Steven Browne, Reference Librarian

By Patricia Smolin on October 28, 2013 Categories: Consumer

Choosing Wisely: American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM)

Choosing Wisely is a composite of U.S. specialty societies which represent more than 500,000 physicians.

They worked to develop lists of “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” in recognition of the importance of physician and patient conversations to improve care and eliminate unnecessary tests and procedures. Here are practical treatment guidelines, and suggested patient/advocate questions to ask in easy to understand language.

 

By Patricia Smolin on August 28, 2013 Categories: Consumer, Health

Consumer Action Handbook

The Consumer Action Handbook is published each year by the Federal Citizen Information Center at the General Services Administration. Inside, you’ll find helpful tips about preventing identity theft, understanding credit, filing a consumer complaint and many other useful topics. MPPL has two copies in English and one in Spanish in our collection. You may also view the entire Handbook online or in PDF format.

Topics include: Banking, Employment, Health Care, Housing, Identify Theft, and other consumer interests.

By Patricia Smolin on April 16, 2013 Categories: Consumer, Economic

Furnace and Central A/C Reviews

A pricey appliance purchase deserves some consumer research and a furnace investment is no exception. Consumer Reports hasn’t reviewed individial models since 2000, but it does provide descriptions of the top sellers.

Another site, FurnaceCompare gives details of brand models and customer feedback in very organized listings.

The most recent reviews of central a/c brands are noted in the Consumer Reports May 2012 issue.                                                                                              

And the Library’s access to ChicagoCheckbook is also useful when learning more about heating/cooling contractors. Please let us know if you need help using this or any of our subscription databases.

 

By Patricia Smolin on October 23, 2012 Categories: Consumer

Boosting Customer Service

Some new titles in the Library’s collection were recently highlighted at a Jump Start Your Business session, a series of business programs offered by the Library and Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce.

@ Your Service : How to Attract New Customers, Increase Sales, and Grow Your Business Using Simple Customer Service Techniques / Frank Eliason. (658.812 ELI) 2012

Scammed : How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World Of Schemes, Swindles, And Shady Deals / Christopher Elliott. (332.024 ELL) 2012

Customer Service Management Training 101 : Quick and Easy Techniques That Get Great Results / Renee Evenson. (658.3124 EVE) 2012

The Apple Experience : Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty / Carmine Gallo. (658.812 GAL)

Winning The Customer : Turn Consumers Into Fans and Get Them to Spend More / Lou Imbriano, Elizabeth King. (658.802 IMB) 2012

Uplifting Service : The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet / Ron Kaufman. (658.812 KAU) 2012

The Loyalty Leap : Turning Customer Information into Customer Intimacy / Bryan Pearson. (658.8343 PEA) 2012

Who’s your Gladys? : How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan / Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest. (658.812 SUT) 2009

What’s Your Problem? / Jon Yates. (381.34 YAT) 2011

By Patricia Smolin on September 20, 2012 Categories: Business, Consumer

What’s FRED?

What is FRED? Short for Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED is an online database consisting of more than 55,000 economic data time series from 45 national, international, public, and private sources.

FRED, created in 1990 and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, combines data with a tools that help us understand and display economic data.

The categories that can be searched include: Money, Banking & Finance; Population, Employment & Labor Markets; Production & Business Activity; Price Indexes; International and Regional Data.

By Patricia Smolin on September 13, 2012 Categories: Consumer, Economic, Finance

Selected Mobile Wireless Service Providers

The FCC produced its annual Mobile Wireless Competition Report last year, graphing various statistics regarding mobile wireless service providers and national usage.  Among the mass amounts of data collected, this analysis produces measurement of price level and usage trends, types of mobile devices, operating systems, and applications purchased and used by consumers.

By Patricia Smolin on September 10, 2012 Categories: Consumer, Technology

Searching for Medicare Costs?

Need to find specifics for premium types, costs, and services?  A detailed chart is available at http://www.medicare.gov/cost/

By Patricia Smolin on August 9, 2012 Categories: Consumer, Health, Seniors

Summer Driving

The U.S. Department of Energy has a site for fuel economy information which many drivers may find helpful in saving money, finding the right car, and checking EPA ratings. Please take a look at www.fueleconomy.gov.

By Patricia Smolin on June 15, 2012 Categories: Auto, Consumer, Environment

Social Security Benefit Estimates Now Available Online

Because of budgetary constraints, in 2011 the Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped sending estimated Social Security benefit statements on paper. For a number of years these statements had been sent to all workers age 25 and older and not currently receiving Social Security benefits. In addition to listing a worker’s lifetime earnings record (the basis for Social Security benefits), the statements contained estimated benefits for retirement, disability, and surviving family members.

This month (May, 2012), the SSA unveiled a program to provide the same information electronically, on the SSA website. Any individual who wishes to sign up must be at least age 18 and have a valid Social Security number, e-mail address, and United States mailing address. Create an account at www.ssa.gov/mystatement.

The new electronic version of the benefit estimate statement provides the same information as the paper statement, a worker’s lifetime earnings record and estimated benefits for retirement, disability, and surviving family members. At the same time, the government has resumed mailing paper estimated benefit statements to workers age 60 and older who are not currently receiving Social Security benefits.

By Patricia Smolin on May 31, 2012 Categories: Consumer, Seniors