Archive for April, 2009

Great Tastes of iFest
April 27, 2009

This year’s International Festival celebrated all things Irish… and that includes the food!

Saturday afternoon I got to stir up some “Mussels in Guinness” with professional chefs from HEB.

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Marathon Kids finish what they started
April 25, 2009

I woke up Saturday morning to join hundreds of Houston area students at Barnett Stadium for the Marathon Kids Final Mile Medal Celebration.

17,000 Houston area K-5th grade school children and parents have been running and walking 26.2 miles over the last six months.   Today was the final 2 laps to complete the marathon.
  
Districts invited to participate in the free program are Houston ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Clear Creek ISD, private schools and homeschoolers.  Next year Galveston ISD and a few other districts will be allowed into the free program. 

Harrisburg Rotary Club
April 23, 2009

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I had the pleasure of meeting with members of the Harrisburg Rotary Club on Tuesday.  The Club meets every week at Brady’s Landing near the Ship Channel.  They are a fun group. They start each meeting by singing. I couldn’t remember the last time I sang “God Bless America” or “Home on the Range.”

The meeting put me in a good mood. But it’s not just about camaraderie.  Last year they gave $20,000 in college scholarships to Milby High School students.

Can Department Store Collect Debt from 1996?
April 22, 2009

Erin emailed me today with a debt collection question. I thought others might benefit from the answer.

“I received a collection letter from an account for a department store that was opened in 1996, for a total amount of $983.00.  And they had three different payment options, including one w/ a 50% discount.  I am sure my ex-husband and I paid this off.  When I asked my ex-husband (he handled all of our finances while married), he does not remember if we did or did not and claims he has no documentation going back that far.  Can this be legit?  Can a store/collection agency open an account to collect debt that far back?  What rights do I have?”

Erin, first you need to find out if this is the actual department store trying to collect an old debt or a debt collector who has purchased the debt for pennies on the dollar from the store just hoping to make a buck.

Chances are it’s the latter.

Every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.

If the debt collector can not prove you owe the debt by presenting a statement of when you charged the amount and what you purchased, then you do not have to pay it. Most of the time when a store sells old debts it has given up on collecting to a debt collector, they do not pass along all of the statements and paperwork needed to prove you really owe that money.

The Federal Trade Commission has more information on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and your rights.

Consumer Takes Sears to Court over Black Friday Ad
April 20, 2009

I couldn’t believe what I read in the Consumerist earlier this month.

The article says a woman in St. Louis woke up at the crack of dawn the Friday after Thanksgiving to get an amazing deal Sears was advertising in its Black Friday ad. But when she got to the store, a salesman told her they had sold out of the Kenmore front-loading washer and dryer set on sale for just $599.sears-page-11

I found the ad scan still online.

Sears told customers they could still pay for the set, but it would take 30 days for delivery. Most customers took Sears up on the offer.  But 4 months later, customers were still waiting on their purchase.

Check out the email Evelyn Kane from Katy sent me on January 10, 2009:

“We purchased a Kenmore washer and dryer which was on sale the day after Thanksgiving.   A 12/15/08 delivery date was given at that time.  Sears called in early December and said the manufacturer couldn’t supply enough to meet demand and they needed to reschedule the delivery.  They would not offer a substitute washer and dryer.  The delivery was rescheduled for 2/28/09.  We have now received our credit card statement and have been charged for a washer and dryer that we won’t receive for a couple months (if we are lucky).  We are not going to pay for something this expensive before receiving it.  We have filed a complaint with Sears Customer Service, without any luck.  Sears has said they will not be responsible for interest charges.  If they re-ring the sale we won’t get the origninal sale price and the delivery date will be even later.   Even with supply problems, Sears still was advertising the same washer and dryer a week or two ago.  Is there anything you can do to help resolve this matter?”

At the time, I spoke with a consumer attorney who told me that since the Kanes could get a refund and be done with the hassle, they really didn’t suffer any damages.

Apparently a Judge in St. Louis disagreed.

When I checked back with the Kanes a couple of weeks ago, Evelyn told me Sears delivered the washer and dryer in late March!