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Insider Tips

How can we be of service? Let us count the ways. We actually mean service – unlike those who have promised it before and didn’t show up when it counted most. Consider these insider tips your key to consumer affairs.

Have an iPhone that needs repairing? Is your MacBook not working properly again? It’s almost expected that technology won’t go the distance, or that Apple parts will cost too much to get fixed. So we may as well buy a new one. It’s a mindset that has contributed to a stockpile of e-waste that is tipped to hit more than 70 million tonnes globally by 2030.

But what if you could repair your phone or other electronic devices yourself? Apple has introduced a Self Service Repair program, where you can order the parts to fix the issue yourself — or get a more experienced third party to do so.

If you hear the words “recall” and your car make and model in the same sentence, it can send you into a spin. That's probably because car recall is almost always associated with negative thoughts, such as danger, the potential for accidents, and maybe even expensive repairs.

But are car recalls always bad? Is there ever a good time for a manufacturer to announce a recall?

J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, "Not all who wander are lost." But if your wander is booked with Qantas, you could be. That is if your flight was cancelled and you opted for a travel credit instead of a refund.

Complaints about Qantas have been mounting on social media since Australia's borders reopened and people have been trying to use their flight credits. According to some reports, it has been almost impossible to get through to the airline, let alone redeem the credits.

If you live in a major city where tolls are part of your everyday commute, you probably don’t give them too much thought – until the next time you hear they’re going up again.

But if you don’t use them very often, or are visiting from out of town, it’s easy to get stung by tolls. Particularly if you don’t have an electronic tag or pass that makes it easy to pay as you drive over tolled roads.

Before you know it, that one unpaid trip on a toll road could add up to a lot of pain.

It’s that time of the year again. Your advice about the annual rise in your health insurance premiums has just arrived. But don’t just sigh and make a mental note of the extra dollars coming out in a few days. Take it as a sign - a sign to reexamine your policy and make sure it is working for you.

It’s not just about your age, but your stage in life. Are you thinking about having a baby? Do you need a lot of physio? Is your health deteriorating to the point you think you might be more likely than not to need to go to hospital within the next year?

You may not want to ditch your health insurance altogether, but by taking a closer look and thinking about what and where your policy delivers - or isn’t delivering - you could get a lot better value for money.

We’ve all dreamt of winning the lottery but you could already have a tidy sum — a small fortune, even - in your name and not know it.

According to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), there’s about $1.5 billion of unclaimed money just waiting to be returned to its rightful owners. This money may be tied up in forgotten bank accounts, life insurance policies, superannuation, or other financial accounts. If you think you may have some unclaimed cash, it’s worth doing a little digging.

“Their voice is not always as loudly heard in Washington as the voices of smaller and better-organized groups – nor is their point of view always defined and presented. But under our economic as well as our political form of democracy, we share an obligation to protect the common interest in every decision we make.”

John F. Kennedy was writing on March 15, 1962, on what is now known as World Consumer Rights Day, in a “special message to Congress on protecting the consumer interest”. But swap Sydney or Melbourne for Washington and the then US President’s words are just as true for Australian consumers in the 21st century. If not more so.

Buying a TV used to be straightforward. You'd simply pick a model with the largest screen that you could afford, and you’d be home on the couch with the remote in no time.

Now, there's a whole new vocabulary with bewildering terms like 8K, HDR and Quantum Dots. What does any of it mean? And how do you determine whether that $3000 television really is worth more than the one half its price?