Erika Kullberg

smart shopping

[Terms and conditions] exist to protect customers, but if you as a customer aren’t aware of them, it does you no good.

[Terms and conditions] exist to protect customers, but if you as a customer aren’t aware of them, it does you no good.

Published: Dec 08, 2022 4 min read

Bumped from your flight? Erika Kullberg wants to help you get a refund. Tear in your new Nike sneakers? She wants to score you a new pair. Free refills at Starbucks? She wants to show you how.

While most of us skip right past the lengthy terms and conditions that accompany everything we buy, Kullberg’s superpower is reading the fine print — and she’s not keeping what she finds a secret.

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Instead, the lawyer-turned-financial-influencer is broadcasting advice to millions of followers across TikTok, YouTube and other social media sites that helps people save money by making the most of consumer protection laws and corporate terms and conditions.

Her quick videos provide upbeat (never rude) scripts that show her viewers exactly what to say to a fictional customer service representative to secure that elusive refund, discount or perk. She often turns to her viewers with a conspiratorial “Shh! They don’t know I know this hack!” before confidently telling the rep that, actually, she’s read the terms and knows what she’s entitled to.

When the rep relents and asks, “Who taught you that?”, Kullberg cheerfully replies: “Erika did! She’s a lawyer and reads the fine print so I don’t have to.”

On her website, the Georgetown Law grad says she discovered her passion for personal finance after racking up more than $200,000 in student loan debt and realizing she needed to take drastic action to reduce it. She paid off those loans in less than two years; she explains in detail how she did it on her YouTube channel.

Kullberg ultimately left a lucrative corporate law job to start her own company — a startup called Plug and Law aimed at entrepreneurs and small business owners — and began posting on social media around the same time, as she told Good Day Atlanta earlier this year. And people listened: Her TikTok about how to get compensated by an airline has been viewed over 51 million times. One about a little-known Nike policy has been seen some 75 million times.

“Company terms (like the Nike warranty) exist to protect customers, but if you as a customer aren’t aware of them, it does you no good,” she told Buzzfeed in 2021.

Of course, it’s not just about free sneakers and coffee and travel vouchers. Kullberg also posts clear guidance for other scenarios, too, like what to do when your credit card is stolen, how to protect yourself financially when you get married, and the difference between a 401(k) and a Roth IRA.

As Kullberg’s popularity has grown, she’s found new ways to reach her audience. Her podcast, Erika Taught Me, launched this fall — and it goes far beyond shopping hacks. On the show, Kullberg chats with a new guest each week under the premise that everybody has something to teach. She’s interviewed Drybar founder Alli Webb about building her business and traded airline tips with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, for instance.

“My goal is to help others get smarter with their finances,” she said in a video introducing the show. “I want us to learn how we can improve our lives and better position ourselves for success — however you define that.”