Legal Rights
According to the Better Business Bureau, "Regardless of a store’s policy, if the goods you have purchased were misrepresented or are defective, you have every reason to expect the store to provide a suitable substitute or refund, or make proper repairs. The laws in all states require a store to make good in such cases." Certainly, Coupon Girl does not advocate abusing the goodwill of local retailers or national manufacturers.  But too often, products are poorly assembled with lifetimes far shorter than expected.  Save your receipts, take care of your belongings, and return items that fail to perform properly.
        The Power of Consumer Advocacy
Always fill out consumer surveys.  Plus take the time to pass along both positive and negative feedback to management.  As a result of my email suggestions, Campus Dining Manager Kathleen  Pennington responded: "Thanks for taking the time to write a note about your experiences with the Campus Express Club at Lucy's Juice and Vista Grande Restaurant. As a "thank you" I've added $2.75 to your Campus Express Club account, enough for a free blended drink at Lucy's Juice."
Insist that retailers fulfill their "lowest price" guarantees."  The Cal Poly El Corral Bookstore promises: "Should you find the exact same book (or book set) in stock at a lower price off campus in the county, we will beat the lower price or pay you $5 in store scrip."  By comparing prices, I not only earned that free $5 certificate but also caused four different textbook prices to be lowered for all students. 
Pay attention to store policies.  The drugstore chain Rite Aid posts signs that shoppers will receive any item for free if the marked price scans incorrectly at the cashier station.  Because this store rarely manages to adjust sales prices in a timely fashion, I receive a free something with almost every visit. 
Pursue special offers.  Wells Fargo Bank has a national policy that customers forced to wait more than five minutes in line receive a five dollar deposit to their account.  This promotion was announced in a brochure several years ago and remains in place, even though local branches never offer the credit no matter how long the teller lines grow.  Savvy customers should check the clock when standing in line and claim this bonus whenever the wait is excessive. 
Report defective items.  Imagine my horror on finding a small feather inside a bag of Doritos.  After calling the toll-free number on the packaging and sending the feathered proof to their laboratory, I received corporate apologies, an enormous gift basket, and enough free product coupons to last for years.  The Frito Lay company insists that the feather came from a cleaning duster on the assembly line and not from some poor chicken!
        Links & Resources 
The Better Business Bureau of Central California offers an online library of publications, updated scam alerts, and online complaint forms. Check out the New Year Resolutions for Consumers

Affiliated with television's consumer expert David Horowitz, the Consumer Broadcast Group invites online submissions of complaints for possible follow-up by their advocacy team. 

The Federal Consumer Information Center has gone online with full text versions of hundreds of the best government consumer publications. 

As the nation's oldest consumer organization, the nonprofit National Consumer League protects the economic and social interests of consumers and workers. 

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