Archive for December, 2007

Happy New Year!
December 31, 2007

OK.. so what’s your resolution?

I’m quite proud of mine this year. It’s do-able and if I pull it off, it will make my life a whole lot less stressful. I am de-cluttering. Last week, I filled in for morning anchor Lauren Freeman while she was on vacation. Being inside the station gave me time to clear off my desk, sort through my files, toss old papers and recycle tapes that have accumulated on my desk. I wish I would’ve taken a picture before I started! I made significant progress.

Next up: I want to travel lighter!
This is what I look like everyday coming to and from work:

I carry a work bag, a lunch pack, my make-up bag and my purse. I look like a pack mule! And I’ve recently discovered, there are only about 3 small items I really need from that big red and white bag. If I could eliminate just that one, it would really be a load off!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Share them with me and I’ll post them here. Once they’re in black and white, you’ve got more incentive to stick to em, right?

Happy 2008!

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No stopping solicitors in Houston
December 24, 2007

Elizabeth Nguyen is fed up with the little fliers left on her door advertising services and products she’s simply not interested in buying.

She sent me this e-mail this morning:

“Is there a law that will stop solicitors from leaving leaflets/coupons/advertisements at my door? I have tried calling the business (Texas Pizza) and telling them to stop, but each time I call, I get the same excuses. They claim that it is out of their hands and that it is another company they hired to do it, that they have an agreement with the apartment complex, that I have to just deal with it and that it’s not a big deal.”

I did some checking and discovered people who live in Sugar Land have a better chance at stopping solicitors. Sugar Land beefed up its solicitation ordinance in 2005.

They even have a “No Solicitation” registry for home owners. All companies that solicit door to door in Sugar Land must have a permit and can not go to homes on the registry.

In Houston, the best Elizabeth and others can do is post a “No Soliciting” sign on your door. While it won’t necessarily stop all of the annoying fliers and coupons, it may help cut down on them.

Apartment Deposits
December 23, 2007

Hey there!

It’s Saturday night. I am filling in for Rachel tonight; and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to check in on the blog.

Just to follow up from my last post on Dec. 7th, Sears never responded to my e-mail asking about all of the complaints and concerns about its inaccurate or misleading ads.

But I’m going to move onto another common consumer question.
Tonight it comes from Olsen Veslasco. Here’s part of what he wrote:

“On October 28th I moved out from an apartment complex in the Heights.

Its been well over a month and I have yet to receive my security deposit refund, they are now claiming that they had to replace the carpet for the entire apartment, and various cleaning and repair charges to which they have no documentation to provide in proof of such replacement/repairs.

I spoke with them again this morning and they now state that it is “company policy” to replace the entire carpet?”

I consult with The People’s Lawyer, Richard Alderman on questions like these. He spells it out quite simply on his website.

The Texas Security Deposit Law requires a landlord to return a security deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out or give a written accounting as to why the deposit (or part thereof) is being kept. It is important to remember that you are only entitled to have your deposit returned to you if you complied with your lease, left a forwarding address, and left the apartment in good condition. For example, if you move before your lease is up, you may not be entitled to the return of the deposit. A landlord can also deduct the costs of cleaning the apartment if you left it damaged. No damages, however, may be deducted for ordinary wear and tear.

That would seem to say that if Alexan Heights chooses to make it their policy to replace the carpet between every tenant, regardless of the damage to the carpet, the tenant should not be responsible for that cost.

If a landlord wrongfully keeps your security deposit, you may be entitled to three times your deposit, plus $100 and any court costs or attorney’s fees you incur. But yes, it will take a trip to Small Claims Court to collect the money you are due!

Scuttlebutt over Sears Ads
December 7, 2007

I recently ran an “Ask Amy” segment about a man who saw this ad in the newspaper and drove down the Sears at Willowbrook Mall to buy the 42″ Magnavox LCD TV with 1080i resolution.

When Luckett got there, he says a manager told him their shipment of TV’s would arrive the following morning. The manager let Luckett pay the $799.99 so that he would be sure to get one of the TVs right off the truck.

But the next morning… still no TVs. The manager told Luckett the Willowbrook store would not be getting any of the advertised TVs, and instead offered him another brand, an Olevia with lower a resolution of 780p.

Here’s the statement a Sears spokesman sent us when we called the Corporate Office:

“Sears’ apologizes that some of our customers were unable to take advantage of the sale price on our Magnavox 42 LCD TV due to the success of the promotion. We sold through our inventory faster than we anticipated and directed the remaining inventory to markets with the greatest demand. We should point out that the ad does clearly state “while quantities last,” but as a service to our customers Sears offered to substitute an Olevia 42’ TV with similar features for the same price.”

End of story… or so I thought.

Then I got this e-mail from Simon Flores:
“I had the same experience with Sears with the same product. I believe they are lying to you. I went the morning of the sale when they opened. They had no TV’s on opening day. I asked to have one shipped from another Sears and was told they had sold out completely in the entire State of Texas. At 8am, when they opened? However they did have the same TV on display and it could be purchased for $1399.00. The dept. manager of the Pasadena store (Haydee or Haynee) said Sears made a mistake and that they would lose money selling that TV for the advertised price. They offered a lesser TV that was regularly priced $799.00. Not equal or greater value. This was a total scam.”
Wait! There’s more.

Pooja Soni from Findlay, Ohio e-mailed me next. Soni sent me this ad from the local paper there.

Soni said he actually bought the Sharp Aquos 46″ LCD TV with 1080p resolution as advertsied. When he got the TV home, he checked the box and noticed the model he received was a lower resolution of 720p.

Soni says he went back to the store. His concern was elevated to the corporate office, where he was finally told 3 days later that the ad was incorrect, a misprint. Sears told Soni he could return the TV and get his money back; but Sears would not honor the price as advertised.

So when is a store responsible for honoring its own ads? And is this false advertising? A BBB website explains it here:

“The laws on false advertising generally deal with “willful intents to deceive.” A single error, usually innocent and obvious, is clearly not a deliberate scam. You know that they really aren’t trying to sell a $4,000 HD TV for $40, right?

Usually a store which gets caught in a misprint must post a conspicuous sign, run a correction in their next ad, and not repeat the error. In addition, some stores WILL honor misprints if the damage isn’t too severe.

However….if a store always seems to make convenient “errors,” week after week, then we may have a real problem. In the past, some retailers have made constant so-called misprints just to sucker consumers into their stores, where they refuse to sell the advertised specials but try to sell you more expensive items. If we can prove this is deliberate, they may be pulling the old “bait and switch” – which definitely IS against the law!”

It’s Friday night folks, but I am sending these latest complaints to the Sears corporate office for an explanation. I will let you know what I hear next week.