Consumer Confidential With David Lazarus
Deciphering the secret language of phone bills

Your phone bill can't leave you scratching your head. So says Uncle Sam.

According to the Federal Communications Commission's truth-in-billing rules, all phone bills must feature "clear, non-misleading, plain language describing services for which you are being billed."

So how come phone customers often can't figure out what they're being charged for?

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Here's why drugmakers are held in low esteem

Are you befuddled by the cost of prescription drugs? There may be a legitimate reason.

"It's certainly not an efficient market," Jason Doctor, an associate professor of pharmaceutical and health economics at USC, said about prescription drug prices.

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When your TV can spy on you.

We've heard a lot of gee-whiz talk in recent months about "smart homes" and "smart appliances" — promises from the tech industry that Internet-connected devices will make our lives infinitely better and more convenient.

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Boycott Amazon? It's not an easy choice

There are plenty of examples of consumers flexing their economic muscle in response to what they see as businesses behaving badly.

Take the boycott of California grapes in the 1960s over mistreatment of farmworkers. Or the boycott of Chick-fil-A in 2012 over the fast-food chain's opposition to same-sex marriage.

So what, if anything, should be done about

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Do we need to put front license plates on cars?

Shayla says she was recently ticketed for not having a license plate on the front of her car, only the back.

"But what if you were issued only one?" she asks.

Short answer: Then it's your responsibility to get that second one.

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AT&T making it even harder for you to protect your privacy

In completing his company's $49-billion acquisition of DirecTV last month, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said it was "all about giving customers more choices."

He meant entertainment and service choices, but he could just as easily have been referring to the myriad of decisions customers will encounter if they seek to protect their privacy.

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