Ellen Roseman is well known as a consumer advocate, with an impressive pedigree in financial journalism. She writes regularly as a personal finance columnist for the Toronto Star, and maintains a popular blog at www.ellenroseman.com. Her first book, titled “Consumer Beware” was published in 1974, and now with the January, 2013 release of “Fight Back,” she has authored seven books over a remarkable span of almost forty years.
Fight Back does not disappoint. Ellen’s teachings focus on everyday areas of our lives which can cost us hundreds and even thousands of dollars, unless we are vigilant and willing to stand up for ourselves. The book is divided into seven parts; each part has several short chapters, and 81 discrete pieces of advice dispersed throughout the book.
- Part 1: Outsmarting the banks
- Part 2: Keeping your finances on track
- Part 3: Taming your telecom costs
- Part 4: Stretching your travel dollars
- Part 5: Fighting back against poor retail service
- Part 6: Protecting your big dollar purchases of cars and houses
- Part 7: Using your communication skills and the courts
Ellen herself wrote roughly 2/3 of the book, and enlisted the help of several other subject matter experts to contribute chapters for the remainder of the book. As the guest authors and Ellen are interspersed throughout each part, you might think this would create a bit of mishmash, but this is not the case, for Ellen and her editor have done a fine job of making the transitions seamless.
As a reader, you quickly come to care less about who actually wrote a particular piece, and just happy to have it all in one place; all vetted and approved by Ellen herself.
I know my family has experienced firsthand many of the issues discussed in the book. For example, How to avoid losing money on a gym membership; and How to fight back against car leasing charges; How to get the best value for your Telecom, cable and internet dollars (people are often shocked when I point out the cumulative total of how much they are spending on these “necessities.”)
Other chapters of note: How to fight back against the Canada Revenue Agency; How to avoid medical bills when crossing the border; How to get your money back when you pay with a credit card; and How to write the perfect complaint letter.
To this day, when I’m confronted with a testy situation where I feel I am being screwed (either unconsciously or with malice) I often find myself using the magic words “I wonder what Ellen Roseman will write about this…..”, and more often than not, the conversation turns in my favor. She is that powerful.
My biggest success was convincing a major car manufacturer to take our one year old car back and upgrade us to a brand new model, because of a litany of service issues right from the get go. (How many of you have returned a one year old car for a full refund?)
So yes, I am a big fan of Ellen Roseman, and I recommend you buy this book. Just as the Wealthy Barber struck a chord with people from all generations, this book has the potential to do the same. David Chilton himself says “A truly amazing reference.”
Ross Taylor is a full-time credit specialist and mortgage agent who blogs frequently at ASKROSS . He wrote three chapters for Fight Back on credit matters.