Best New Consumer Service 2001 | Colorado Consumer Line | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
A joint venture of the Colorado Attorney General's Office and Better Business Bureaus of Colorado, the Colorado Consumer Line is designed to provide a quick response to consumer concerns. Callers have their choice of listening to recorded tips or live employees, who answer questions and take complaints in both English and Spanish. Talking to a real person has another benefit: Your complaint may be passed on to the AG's office for investigation or added to the Better Business Bureau's files on local scofflaws. So don't wait to be fleeced by some smooth operator: Get on the phone and talk to folks who know the score.

You're surfing the net at 3 a.m. Do you know where your cookies are? Richard Smith does, and he wants everybody to know how to lock their cupboards. As chief technology officer of the Privacy Foundation, it's Smith's job to uncover threats to online privacy and inform citizens of those threats; he's already made both Microsoft and RealNetworks rework software that secretly tracked user behavior. The Privacy Foundation and the Privacy Center, formed last July with funding from FirstData Corp., the Denver Foundation and longtime-cable-guy-turned-entrepreneur Peter Barton, are also contributing to the discussion and development of broader online ethics. So back off, hackers: The online sleuth is on the case.
If you've just had your third dot-com shot out from under you, there's a place you can go where everyone understands. Really. Everybody at a Pink Slip Party is looking for work, except for the companies and headhunters who are on hand to network with the recently axed of the high-tech world. This relaxed alternative to the cattle-call job fair is becoming increasingly popular as more area employers drop more human resources with less warning. One recent party at Brooklyn's drew about 275 job-seekers; there's another planned for April. Organizers at LH3, Inc., a PR/marketing firm, plan to continue the parties as long as there's a need. And with the economy tanking, it seems that people will be seeing pink for a while.
While you're waiting for the next Pink Slip Party, post your resumé on, a Boulder-based job site that specializes in tech types. The site charges a fee for employers to post jobs, but job-seekers pay nothing. There are usually about 52,000 resumés posted on the site, and they remain active for sixty days -- more than you can say about most nerds.

If you're paying for a service, why not use one that supports your views? What Working Assets did for long-distance and progressive causes, The EcoISP does for Internet access and environmental issues. Each month, 50 percent of a subscriber's net revenue is donated to the environmental cause of his choice -- and in case he has trouble picking an appropriately politically correct charity, the site provides direct links to such organizations as the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club.

This Boulder-based reverse-auction Web site lets buyers tell the world what they want, when they want it and how much they are willing to pay for it. When the bidding's done, the buyer receives contact information for the three lowest bids; the vendor with the lowest bid receives the buyer's information...and then let the negotiations begin. The brainwave of CU grad David Chuang, Fatty Tuna (named for Chuang's favorite type of sushi) has about 250 registered vendors and about 2,000 visitors a day. So start trolling with the tunas-- before you get eaten by the sharks.

You've been to the Mount Everest base camp and survived. But now you find yourself with a yak harness you no longer need, along with some miscellaneous sporting equipment. Or maybe you're planning to summit the world's highest peak and are curious about yak-related paraphernalia. Never fear: The Mountain Miser store in Englewood will get you together with about 300 like-minded souls for the area's most sporting swap meet. Every spring and fall, the shop provides space for sellers and buyers to come together, free of charge: You price it, you sell it. Rental gear from the shop and excess from local dealers is also available for sale. And while yak-related wares aren't guaranteed, you can always hope.

When your stuff is too old to use but too good to trash, call the Stuff Exchange. The volunteers manning the hotline and Web site will see that your gently used items get a good home, either with a school, nonprofit organization or individual in need. If you're with one of those good causes that needs old computers, furniture or business equipment, check the Exchange to see what's available; if you have stuff to pass on for posterity, e-mail your listing to the Web site.
Do you really think that old 386 in the basement is good for anything other than a boat anchor? Compute again, Intel-head, then contact Computers for Community. This nonprofit collects, refurbishes and distributes used computers to schools and nonprofits in the metro area. And they'll accept any computer equipment, working or not. But a $1 donation is requested for each monitor to cover the cost of recycling all those nasty components inside.

Admit it: You have a thing for cops. You've memorized every episode of CHiPs and frequently fantasize that you're cruising alongside Erik Estrada on your motorcycle. For real vroom service, accelerate over to an old house at the corner of First and Wadsworth in Lakewood, where the Colorado State Patrol Specialty Store is open for business five days a week. Outfit yourself in such CSP-logo wear as jackets, baseball caps, sweats and polo shirts. Arm yourself with the kind of pens, pencils and flashlights the real troopers use. And it would be a crime to forget the kiddies: Future juvenile delinquents will love the shop's stuffed animals and T-shirts.

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