Archive for October, 2010

Institute of Interfaith Dialog
October 29, 2010

I spent Thursday night at the Hilton Americas emceeing the Institute of Interfaith Dialog’s (yes, spelled with no “ue”) 8th Annual Friendship & Dialog Dinner. The Institute’s goal is to eliminate or reduce false stereotypes, prejudices and unjustified fears between different cultures and religions.

Dr. David Capes & Rabbi Stuart Federow host “A Show of Faith” every Sunday from 7 to 9pm on 1070 KNTH. If you’ve never tuned in, you should check it out.

Alexis Seitz of Kleb Intermediate was one of the winners of “The Art of Friendship Contest.” All of the artwork illustrated each student’s ideas of “peace and friendship.”

Johnstan Middle School’s Kaleigh Berger won for her artwork titled “United Over the World” seen below.


They’re Heeeeerreeeee
October 29, 2010

My Smart Meter has officially arrived.

I was lucky enough to be standing outside watering when the contractor turned down my street with a truckbed full of Smart meters yesterday. I asked him if he minded if I took some video of him installing mine. And for safety’s sake, I snapped a picture of my analog meter reading just seconds before he popped that old meter off and put the new one on. I’ll let you know what my next bill looks like.

In case you’ve missed our stories on the new Smart Meters, you can check them all out here.

Operation Price Check #12
October 27, 2010

Do you check your receipt before you leave the grocery store? I’ve been doing it (almost obsessively) since December 13th and letting you know each time I am overcharged or undercharged. When I am charged too much for an item, I ask Kroger for a full refund of that item. It’s Kroger’s policy.

Out of 83 grocery shopping trips since Dec. 13, 2009, I have been overcharged 21 times. I was undercharged 6 times.

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.  In December, I will donate all of the money I was refunded to the Houston Food Bank.

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

To date, I’ve been refunded $142.61 after I was overcharged a total of $60.43.

Here’s the breakdown:

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.

5/3/10   No errors

5/9/10   No errors

5/14/10 $4.10   $4.10

5/18/10  $2.67  $3.97

5/22/10  No errors

5/23/10  No errors

5/25/10  No errors

5/31/10  $4.56  $6.06

6/6/10  No errors

6/7/10  No errors

6/20/10 No errors

6/22/10  No errors

6/24/10  No errors

6/27/10 No errors

6/29/10 No errors

6/30/10 No errors

7/2/10    No errors

7/5/10   $11.18  $11.18

7/13/10 No errors

7/16/10 No errors

7/18/10 No errors

7/19/10 No errors

7/21/10 No errors

7/27/10 No errors

7/31/10  No errors

8/1/10 No errors

8/3/10 No errors

8/4/10 No errors

8/7/10 No errors

8/8/10 No errors

8/14/10 No errors

8/18/10 No errors

8/23/10 No errors

8/25/10 No errors

8/27/10 No errors

8/27/10 No errors

9/4/10 No errors

9/8/10 $12.35  $4.42

9/12/10 No errors

9/18/10 No errors

9/19/10 No errors

9/20/10 No errors

9/26/10 $6.12   .87   2 minutes

10/2/10 No errors

10/3/10 No errors

10/11/10 $3.49   .99

10/13/10 No errors

10/17/10 $6.78   $1.28

10/24/10 No errors

10/25/10 $4.29  .79     .56

I’ve got your Answers right here.
October 21, 2010

Viewer NG emailed:

 What do you do if your loved one got food poisoned by a food at a deli
or a restaurant?

My 14 year old son got food poisoned by a sandwich from XXXHe was sick for 2 days.  Vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.  He was miserable.  But Amy, I can’t prove the sandwich was contaminated.  It’s my instinct and I believe mother’s instinct is usually right.

I will not go back to the XXX ever again.   But, if they are  not preparing food properly, there will be another victim. Is there anything I can do? 


I am sorry this happened to your son.
If your concern is making sure no one else gets sick, I suggest you file
a complaint with the Health Department.
You can make that complaint online at this link.

 Gail emailed:

I have begun receiving calls at my work number from a man with a very thick Indian accent from this number:209-623-4683.  He tells me that he a case has been filed against me with his law firm in California and that officers are going to come and arrest me. I am pretty sure this is a scam, but would like some help in busting these predators.


CBS also did a more detailed story about the group last year.

The CBS story gives this advice:
If you get one of these phone calls DO NOT provide any verifying information. Either hang up or demand that the debt collector send verification of the debt in writing. Then:

* IMMEDIATELY put a fraud alert on your credit file with all of the major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Because the scammers have consumer Social Security numbers, your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft is through the roof.

* You will automatically get a copy of your credit report when you issue the fraud alert. Be sure to read it carefully and identify any item that’s not yours.

* If there are numerous new accounts or “hard” inquiries-those are where you have supposedly requested credit-file a police report. (Soft inquiries are when a creditor has requested general information about you to provide a pre-approved offer of credit. They are nothing to worry about.)

Also report the fraud to your local Better Business Bureau and to the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Viewer RS emailed:
For nearly 2 -3 months I’ve been battling this company that I purchased a text book from. I received the text book and it was the incorrect one. I emailed the site and it took nearly 2 to 3 weeks to get a response. In the response I was told that I would receive a full refund plus shipping when the book was returned. That was 9/13, to date I have yet to receive a response from them…I don’t even know if they received the book. I have been emailing them every day and have not received a response. They don’t have a listed phone number. I do not know what to do!!! Please advise the next steps I should take. Your help is greatly appreciated!!!!
Answer: Stop calling and emailing and send a certified letter. Explain everything in the letter (when you ordered the book, that they sent you the wring one, the emailed response telling you to return it for a refund, and now- your unsuccessful attempts to reach anyone or get your refund). 
You should write that you plan to  take them to small claims court and report them to the Texas Attorney General if they do not send you a refund within 30 days. 
The other thing to consider is how you paid for the item. If you used your credit card, you should dispute the charge with your credit card company to get your money back that way.  

What Do Hotels Do With all those Bottles?
October 12, 2010

On a recent vacation to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I was impressed by the Ritz-Carlton labeled water bottles housekeeping replenished in our room everyday.  But after the first day, I was also curious about what they did with all the plastic bottles they cleared out of the guest rooms. Do hotels recycle? Turns out, very few of them do. And a quick call to the Ritz-Carlton in San Juan confirmed they, in fact, do not.

And something else bothered me. I loved how housekeeping folded the toilet paper ends into neat little triangles everytime they cleaned the room; but why did they keep changing out the half-used roll with a new one? What do they do with all those half-used rolls of toilet paper? Do they send them to Motel 8 down the street?

Before Housekeeping

After Housekeeping