“You’ve been hacked. But there’s hope. Let me explain.”
Writing a book is a very long journey. Re-writing a book, 10 years later, is an even longer journey. But that’s where I have arrived, and I invite you dear reader to come along with me. More than a decade ago, I started tracking “Gotchas” at the Red Tape Chronicles. Government Waste. Technology Run Amok. Corporate misbehavior. Outright fraud. That effort turned into a best-selling book, and then another. And then, an up-and-down decade that saw consumers make some gains, but also saw even more devious and systematic ripoffs and gotchas. So last year, I decided to re-issue Gotcha Capitalism, with all-new advice for 2018.
I’m very proud of how this new edition turned out, and I hope you’ll consider buying a copy. If you’ve ever considered supporting the work I do as an independent journalist, here’s the best way.
To entice you further, you can download a free excerpt of the book at my site GotchaCapitalism.net. Please click there to download a PDF for free.
And to whet your appetite just a little more, here’s the beginning:
You’ve been hacked. But there’s hope. Let me explain.
There’s an information war raging, and you are under attack. Worse yet, your adversary has enjoyed a decades-long head start. Corporations have scouted you like a Super Bowl opponent. They’ve studied film on you, poked and prodded you, run tests on you. They’ve used high-tech equipment to study your brains, so they can bypass your logic and speak directly to your emotional limbic system.
They’ve won many of the early battles in this war. They started small, tricking you by changing half-gallon boxes of ice cream into 56 ounce boxes. But that was child’s play. Now, they track your every computer click and notice you often fly to Florida in winter, so they charge you more for your plane ticket. They send you important notices in letters designed to be misplaced and discarded; they send email bills in the middle of the night so you miss them and they can charge a late fee. They know which colors make you buy, they know what music makes you leave, they recognize your cellphone when you walk by their stores.
They have supercomputers filled with decades of data, analyzed by thousands of PhDs, aim their vast digital arsenal at you, and squeeze every last penny out of you. They know when you are desperate, they know your weaknesses, and they are trained to exploit you. A math whiz who figures out that changing the color on a “buy now” button makes you spend one cent more every month will get a six-figure bonus. You get a monthly subscription to a travel club you didn’t even realize you had or pay a $35 overdraft fee because you didn’t realize you agreed to it. That’s Gotcha Capitalism.
There’s nothing to stop them. No law prevents them from charging you more for a toy because they spot you telling Facebook friends what your child wants for Christmas. Nothing stops them from making it impossible to file a lawsuit against them, even if they cheat you or steal from you. Even if one of their employees rapes you or someone you love.
You’ve been hacked. But there’s hope.
Corporations had a decades-long head start, but information wants to be free. And consumers are slowly catching on and catching up. I like to think I’ve played a small part in that.