Every year at about this time, I get on my What's Your Problem? soapbox and deliver a batch of consumer resolutions.
To keep this annual tradition from becoming, ahem, stale, I asked friends of the Problem Solver's Facebook page to help out this year.
What follows are their suggestions on how to be a better consumer this year.
We start with Malissa Durkee Jones, who implores us to do a little research before we go shopping, to pay close attention to receipts, and to be a squeaky wheel.
"Don't overpay. Try to know your prices before you pay," Jones said. "If the total rings up more than you expected, don't be afraid to question what you have been charged."
Others, like Sharon Rudolph, advocate a common sense approach.
"I will not assume that printed policies (returns, cancellation of service, etc.) don't apply to me," Rudolph said.
While we should resolve to be on the lookout for scams, Anne-Marie Concepcion said we should also avoid getting duped online and helping to infect others via social media.
"Before commenting on Facebook or forwarding to all my friends in email, I will check the veracity of any story that smells the least bit hokey on Snopes.com," Concepcion said.
She said if she finds a hoax, she will alert others, or tell the sender it was fake.
After all, cleaning up the cyber-universe is our responsibility.
Reader Scott Slonski vowed to abide by what he calls the "three R's" this year: Research the quality and price of the product, Read reviews about the product, and check the Return policy before the transaction is completed.
Julie Smith vows to read all contracts and policies in full before signing anything.
"I will not trust the sales associate to give me the full story, ever," Smith said. "It's all about doing your due diligence."
Helene Cohen Smith said we should resolve to be more aggressive with customer service agents.
If you're talking to a company representative and they seem unwilling to help, calmly ask for the name and contact information of a supervisor, Smith said.
"I tell the representative I will not be calling to complain about them — however, I will tell their superior that the representative, when asked, confirmed that there was nothing more they could do," Smith said. "Most of the time the representatives take action to see if they can, indeed, do anything else."
There is one caveat, she said: "I don't ask for ridiculous exceptions — I know what's in the best interest of the company, and I know that executives will see the wisdom of my request."
Rhonda Whitecotton said people should resolve to write down times, dates and names when talking to customer service representatives and to get all promises in writing "or it doesn't mean squat."