Archive for May, 2010

My Free Kraft Sampler Pack Arrived!
May 19, 2010

Earlier this month I showed you how to use Facebook to get free stuff. I tried it out myself-  in the name of research (and to get free stuff!).  Yesterday, my Kraft sampler package arrived in the mail.  

All I had to do was *like* Kraft foods on their Facebook page. In return, they sent me this sampler pack worth about $8.00. There are 2 coupons  for free products (Oscar Mayer lunchmeat and a Mac & Cheese Explosion) and 4 individual size Sundried-tomato Wheat Thins.

Speaking of FB freebies… if you *like* KPRC’s page right now, you could win a free iPad.

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Save These Phone Numbers!
May 17, 2010

The following phone numbers and websites are resources I use daily to help consumers with all sorts of problems. Save them and use them!

To file a complaint about a business in our area:
Houston Better Business Bureau
(713)868-9500
http://www.bbbhou.org/

Need info. About your rights as a consumer? These folks will help you resolve issues with Texas businesses.
Contact the Texas Consumer Complaint Center
http://www.texasccc.com/

Texas Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
1-800-621-0508
http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/index.shtml

Need help settling a dispute with a business or contractor?
Harris County Dispute Resolution Center
(713) 755-8274

Was your car wrongfully towed? File for a tow hearing.
http://www.ccl.co.harris.tx.us/jp/tow/RequestTowHearing.pdf

Report Internet Crimes & Scams
www.ic3.gov

Texas Dept. of Insurance
Consumer Helpline
1-800-252-3439

Victim of ID Theft?
http://www.texasfightsidtheft.gov/
www.ftc.gov/idtheft

To file a complaint about your electric bill:
Texas Public Utility Commission
http://www.puc.state.tx.us/ocp/complaints/complain.cfm

Auto Dealers Complaints
http://www.txdmv.gov/vehicles/dealers/complaints.htm

http://web.occc.state.tx.us/pages/consumer/assistance/complaint.htm

Auto Mechanics/ Complaints about repairs/ bills
http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/car_repair.shtml

Resources for info. About your rights with Homeowner’s Associations:
http://pages.prodigy.net/hoadata/

Gas Station Pump Complaints
1-800-TELL-TDA

Problems with a Bank?
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
www.helpwithmybank.gov
1-800-613-6743

Apartment Complex Problems:
http://www.click2houston.com/investigates/11606548/detail.html
http://www.click2houston.com/investigates/15654882/detail.html

Need telemarketers to stop calling?
Texas Do Not Call Registry:
http://www.puc.state.tx.us/ocp/telephone/donotcall.cfm

Federal Do Not Call Registry:
http://www.ftc.gov/donotcall

Problems with Health Clubs/ Gyms that shut down unexpectedly:
Office of the Secretary of State
Statutory Documents Section
P.O. Box 12887
Austin, Texas 78711-2887
(512) 463-6906

To get medical help, call:

Gateway to Care (713) 783-4616

To report street or road problems, call 311 or go to https://webintake.houstontx.gov/web_intake/Controller

They Don’t Want Your Questions, Just Your Money
May 13, 2010

A Houston woman received this curious letter recently. Curious because she says she’s never done business with “United Online” or Juno. A quick search online turns up a ton of other consumers who also received similiar letters, with no explanation.  Each letter is an attempt to collect a relatively small amount of money, usually less than $20. Does the company just hope consumers will think it’s such a small amount, they’ll just send it in?

Of course, a call to the toll-free number only gets you a recorded message with instructions on how you can pay.

I have an email into the company, since this seems to be the only real way to make contact with a human at United Online.

If you receive one of these letters, but do not believe you owe the  money, here’s what you should do:

1) Send a letter back to the company (they do include a self-addressed postage-paid envelope) requesting proof that you owe the debt within 30 days. The proof should explain when you agreed to pay the amount and what you bought.

2) In that letter, cc: the California Attorney General and the Houston BBB (The Houston BBB will get it to the appropriate bureau.).

3) File a separate complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the California AG.

I will follow up and let you know if United Online ever gets back with me.

If you’re bored (and maybe a little irritated at the company), you can always stuff the self-addressed, postage-paid envelope with other junk mail you don’t want… and send it to United Online Collections Division.

The Best Time to Buy Anything
May 6, 2010

I read one of these lists in a magazine recently, but it didn’t explain the reasoning behind its recommendation to… say… wait until August to buy a new cell phone.

The list I found tonight is much better.

Just a few of the items mentioned…

  • Book your hotel stay on a Sunday for the best chance at getting a reduced rate.
  • May is the best time to buy matresses and box springs.
  • January is the best time to buy linens and bedding.

To read the full list of when to buy 75 products and why, click here.

And I can tell you from experience, gym memberships ARE cheaper in June.  Here’s the explanation from the folks at “Go Frugal:”

“New Years’ resolutions have gone out the window by June and gym rats are more interested in outdoor activity than exercising indoors. Membership representatives will leap at the chance to sign up new members, even if it means waiving initiation fees and giving away a free month.
Best time to buy a gym membership: June”

Operation Price Check #9
May 2, 2010

Out of 35 grocery shopping trips since Dec. 13, 2009, I have been overcharged 12 times. I was undercharged 4 times.  On 19 trips, I paid the exact price advertised on the store shelf.

If you’re just reading about “Operation Price Check” for the first time… check out the post from December 13th when I started the project. I’m doing this thing for a whole year. At the end, I’ll tell you how much I was overcharged and how much I got back for invoking Kroger’s policy of getting one item free for which I was overcharged. In December, I will donate all of that money to the Houston Food Bank.

Try out “Operation Price Check” at your house… and see how much you save at the grocery store.

Overcharged Refunded Time Wasted Undercharged

12/13/09      .10     $1.61          4 minutes

12/18/09       No errors

12/20/09     No errors

12/22/09     No errors

12/26/09     .19                                                    $1.65  (Didn’t request refund of $1.44).

12/30/09    .10  (Didn’t ask for a refund of $1.89.) .31 undercharged

1/1/10            No errors

1/9//10         No errors

1/10/10        $8.18   $27.47     >5 min.      .14 undercharged

1/12/10      No errors

1/13/10       $1.30    $3.29       2 min.

1/16/10        No errors

1/19/10      .20      .89        Less than a min.  Randall’s

1/23/10     .75      3.09         2 minutes

1/26/10    $7.52      $13.54     7 minutes

1/31/10                                      Undercharged $4.86

2/3/10                                       Undercharged .44

2/6/10     $5.30     $14.34       11 minutes

2/14/10   No errors

2/19/10 .98       2.79                 12 minutes

3/3/10   $.1.49   $8.98            4 minutes

3/7/10    No errors

3/14/10                         Undercharged $3.33

3/15/10 No errors

3/20/10   .10   (Didn’t ask for a refund of $1.39)

3/30/10  No errors

4/5/10     No errors

4/8/10     No errors

4/10/10  No errors

4/11/10  .30   (Didn’t ask for refund)

4/13/10   No errors

4/18/10  $2.27   $6.26    20 min.

4/22/10  No errors

4/28/10  No errors

5/2/10  $1.32  $2.90   9 min.