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FCC to consumers: Here, you take the keys!

It’s hard to believe that it’s actually illegal to take a smartphone to a new carrier, without getting your old carrier’s permission, even if you’ve already paid for the device in full. In fact, it’s so absurdly illegal that the maximum penalty is a $500,000 fine and up to five years…...

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A gut punch to cellphone scam artists

We hope this is the beginning of the end for the insidious “cramming” scam. The nation’s big four cellphone companies are voluntarily banning most premium texting services from their bills–charges that have been a major culprit in the scam. The agreement was pushed by 45 state attorneys general, including Illinois’…...

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New CUB Video: How a smart power strip takes the bite out of vampire power

Go into your TV room and take a look at your entertainment system, with its Octopus-like tangle of wires and digital displays. The DVD player and sound system may be silent, but they’re costing you money. In fact this “vampire power,” from electronics and appliances that are plugged in but…...

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Energy report: What’s your gas utility charging?

As we approach the heart of the winter heating season, here’s a summary of what Illinois’ major utilities are charging for natural gas right now, compared with last November: Ameren Zone 1 (Formerly AmerenCIPS): 53.482 cents per therm (November 2012: 64.76 cents per therm) Ameren Zone 2 (Formerly AmerenCILCO): 53.673 cents…...

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Five things to remember when buying a new cellphone

Two months ago I was debating whether or not to buy a new smartphone. My contract was over, my once powerful smartphone had lost its lightning speed, and I realized I was paying a premium monthly charge for a cellphone subsidy I had long since paid off. The internal debate raged…...

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Raking in profits, gunning for higher rates

Ameren and ComEd both turned in strong third quarter profits, which begs the question: Why do these companies need bloated rate hikes?  CUB today launched an email campaign to  oppose increases pushed by Ameren and ComEd. Ameren is proposing a natural gas rate hike of about $50 million, which the…...

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Three handy devices to cut your electric bill

For those willing to spend a little—but not a lot—to cut energy costs, these three devices fit the bill. Kill A Watt. Plug electronics and appliances into this handy device to instantly find out how much electricity they’re using—and how much money they’re costing you. Maybe the old, second refrigerator in your…...

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Exposed: Lies about your gas bill!

Over 30 years of consumer advocacy, CUB has heard a lot of misinformation about utility service–yep, some real doozies! As winter approaches, here’s our list of the top 5 myths about your gas bill. Myth No. 1: There’s nothing you can do to cut your energy bills. CUB’s free online tool,…...

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From the CUB files: Top 5 worst consumer horror stories

As CUB approaches its 30th anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of some of the worst consumer horror stories we’ve ever heard. What better way to celebrate Halloween? 1) The phone plan that ate my bank account! It sounds like the title of a 1950s creature feature, but, unfortunately, it’s reality for…...

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10 energy-saving tips for pet owners

Energy efficiency can be a major challenge for pet owners, who typically have a furry, feathery or scaly resident that never leaves the house. But you don’t have to choose between keeping your pet comfortable and minimizing your energy costs—these simple actions will help you achieve both. 1. Use a programmable thermostat. In…...

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