Meet Mr. Consumer
Edgar Dworsky calls himself "Mr. Consumer" and by many measures, that's a pretty good assessment. The former consumer-affairs television reporter and consumer-protection official (first for Boston, then Massachusetts) currently monitors the world of consumer news and outrage through two informative Web sites: ConsumerWorld.org and Mouseprint.org.
Dworsky, 55, founded ConsumerWorld in 1996, the early days of the Internet, after he started to surf the Web and bookmarked any consumer-related item that caught his eye. "I had 600 links before I knew it, so I thought, 'Why not organize it and publish it.' " Today, the site has more than 2,000 links to news, product reviews, comparison shopping sites and government agencies. And income from the shopping links and other sites is now "enough to pay the mortgage but not enough to get rich," Dworsky says.
I caught up with Dworsky last week, just as he was poring over his credit report and credit score, something he now does regularly after The Boston Globe earlier this year inadvertently disclosed the financial records of about 240,000 subscribers on the back of slips used to label bundles of the Sunday Worcester newspaper. (See my earlier item about this.) Dworsky was one of the 240,000. But I suspect Dworsky needed no excuse to check his credit report. He's clearly meticulous about how he spends his money, going into detail about how he uses credit-cards to maximize his cash-back rewards.
ConsumerWorld is a one-person operation, with Dworsky running the site as well as two blogs. Mr. Consumer is the oldest, with almost daily postings of significant consumer news. "It's like pornography; I know a good consumer story when I see it," Dworsky said.
The newest blog is Mouseprint, launched just a few months ago to "expose the strings and catches in advertising fine print." As Dworsky said, "It's always irked me that marketers will give with the big print and taketh away with the small print." One example: Charles Schwab's "Just Say No Accounts" that offer no or low service fees and commissions as low as $9.95. The catch: "$9.95 trade pricing is for clients who have $1 million in qualifying household assets or trade at least 30 times a quarter."
"I'm literally trying to turn an advertisement on its head and make the footnote the headline," Dworsky said.
Do you have any favorite consumer Web sites? If so, please post them here or send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
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