Last week I got a glimpse at GoodGuide, a new product recommendation service that rates products as safe, healthy, and green based on their ingredients, manufacturing, and distribution. It's part of a new class of services that are bringing data transparency that can save money, lives, and the environment, not necessarily in that order.
BillShrink.com recently launched a recommendation service that focuses on unpacking the complexity and cost of cell phone plans. The free service analyzes wireless phone bills and rate plans from the major carriers, and then monitors usage and makes recommendations for saving money. Another company, Validas has a similar, though fee-based, service and claims to save customers more than 20 percent on average.
This week, BillShrink is adding credit cards to its service offering.
"No more smoke and mirrors. All fees, risk, and reward will be out in the open on BillShrink.com so people can find the best match for individual needs and feel secure that they're making financial decisions that will actually help build them credit," company CEO Peter Pham said in a statement.
BillShrink monitors plans, promotions, rewards programs, and other data points for people, making new recommendations that could save them money. Given the dismal state of the economy and the lack of transparency in many consumer services, BillShrink, Validas, and GoodGuide are tapping a real need.
Pham said that BillShrink could extend its personalized recommendation engine to other domains, such as car insurance and mortgages, where the choices are also confusing and complex, and results can change on a daily or monthly basis. Perhaps these new data transparency services will help prevent some of the obfuscation by service providers and reduce poor decision-making by consumers.