Fearless Consumer

Hang tag blues: How mom and dad got towed
Published on May 19th, 2005
0 comments   Mother's Day for William Harris and his family was anything but serene. On the other hand, since they celebrated it in Charlottesville, perhaps they should have expected to be towed: Getting...
Web of defeat: Five times is not a charm
Published on May 12th, 2005
0 comments James Anderson is nothing if not persistent: He's gone through five Web TV units in five years, and he's getting ready for his sixth. Actually, he wanted to stop at five of the devices (which allow...
Web of defeat: Five times is not a charm
Published on May 11th, 2005
0 comments 252"> The HooK: THE FEARLESS CONSUMER– Web of defeat: Five times is not a charm // >> classifieds  >> personals  >> advertise  >>...
Towing angst? Then don't steal parking space
Published on May 5th, 2005
0 comments "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." Allegedly, this is what older criminals tell their juniors. It's also my advice to people who ignore No Parking signs and then squawk when they get...
$500 lesson: Damager must see damage
Published on Apr 28th, 2005
0 comments When Deborah Gilfillan did a "360" on Earlysville Road one day last January, she was lucky to emerge uninjured. The shoulder banks away sharply, but her car didn't slide down it. By her account, the...
Liver shiver: Drug study's side effects scary
Published on Apr 21st, 2005
0 comments   One of the lesser-known benefits of living near the UVA medical center is the chance to enroll in research studies: If you're willing to take some risks, you may get access to a new and more...
Fluid exchange: What happened when the cap was off?
Published on Apr 7th, 2005
0 comments   "I'm a single woman," Jean DePiro says, "who knows jack-squat about cars." Through unhappy experience, however, she's learning more– and blames Speedee Oil Change & Tune-Up on Emmet...
Off key: Paying to haul a U-Haul
Published on Mar 31st, 2005
0 comments When Demetris Shabazz left Zion Crossroads Self Storage, she says, she was shaking her head in amazement. What might have been a simple transaction– renting a U-Haul truck– had taken a...
Spilt grease: Customer lathered over oil change
Published on Mar 17th, 2005
0 comments Daniel Van Orman got his oil changed at SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-up on Seminole Trail on February 26, then left for a weekend on the Outer Banks. The next day, he claims, he realized that "oil...
Sooty snafu: Opting for quick over careful
Published on Mar 10th, 2005
0 comments When Betty Mundie discovered in early December that her gas water heater was leaking, she moved fast to replace the aging appliance that occupied a utility closet at the top of the stairs. Fitch...
Towed to court: Lethal's busy... with the judge
Published on Mar 3rd, 2005
0 comments Should we call Court TV? If Michael Jackson's trial is over by June 6, they might be ready for a change of pace– and what a diverting change of pace Charlottesville circuit court has on tap:...
Lethal brew: The beer went down the mountain
Published on Feb 24th, 2005
0 comments For about a year, I'd heard talk of an incident involving a tractor-trailer and Lethal Wrecker. One rumor falsely asserted that Lethal Wrecker had charged a bundle because it righted an overturned...
Norcrossed: Feud erupts at hip urban flat
Published on Feb 10th, 2005
0 comments It may be time to update the website for Norcross Station, the historic warehouse on Fourth Street SE that's been converted to upscale apartments. Specifically, owner Enterprise Properties might be...
No ringy-dingy: Sprint tries to right wrongs
Published on Feb 3rd, 2005
0 comments Like many companies, Sprint tries hard to get customers to use its website. The current cyberspace special, for instance, offers one month of DSL service free for ordering online; it was that kind of...
Dogfight: Boarding bill raises tempers
Published on Jan 20th, 2005
0 comments   Puppies held hostage! That was the message fairly shrieking from my voice mail one afternoon last month. Alan Cone was calling, his children were allegedly crying in the background, and he was...
Brass action: City joins fight against Lethal
Published on Jan 13th, 2005
0 comments City to Lethal: Three strikes, and you're out. Actually, many citizens have cried foul over the local wrecker service, but the City's only counting strikes called by an umpire– in this case,...
Towing the line: Tenants and naughty parkers fill year
Published on Dec 23rd, 2004
0 comments Beginning in October, consumers complained so continuously about landlords and local wrecker services that I worried I'd never write about anything else. Imagine my relief, then, when a couple of...
Sacrificial jam: Heater trapped under stairs
Published on Dec 16th, 2004
0 comments "If you think I'll be buying another Whirlpool appliance," Marlene Condon says, "you're crazy." Perhaps when she's recovered from fatigue, she'll change her mind. Or maybe not. Condon bought a...
Card trick: Paying for nothing at all
Published on Dec 9th, 2004
0 comments Harper Girvin's quest for release from long-distance bills has been a bit arduous. First, over a year ago he and his wife– self-described "practitioners of frugality"– decided to stop...
Not Lethal: Another tower tests fee max
Published on Dec 2nd, 2004
0 comments Talk about an expensive evening: Dinner out, then $130 for towing. That's what happened to Fax Ayres and his wife after she parked their van, around 8pm on November 22, in the lot that faces Lee Park...
Taking the heat: The dark side of moonlighting
Published on Nov 25th, 2004
0 comments Martha Bryant now rues the day she believed that she could save money by hiring a moonlighter. If you've thought the same, this column's for you. First, a definition. I'll use the term "moonlighter"...
Double trouble: Reporter's call irks landlord
Published on Nov 11th, 2004
0 comments Stop the press! Turns out I misinterpreted one section of the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) when I quoted it two weeks ago. So let's begin by setting the record straight. That...
Suing Lethal: Judge OKs wrecker slap
Published on Nov 4th, 2004
0 comments Lethal Wrecker is amassing quite a record in Charlottesville General District Court. Last week, for the third time in a row, the local towing service was successfully sued by an irate towee for...
No walk-thru: Around the apt. in 80 days
Published on Oct 28th, 2004
0 comments "Dear Friend," Katie McCarthy's letter begins. "Help! Justice." Continuing in that breathless tone, McCarthy goes on to summarize a dispute with her former landlords, Ernestine and Frederic...
Brushed off: Color this tenant angry
Published on Oct 14th, 2004
0 comments The end of a lease can be as fraught with recrimination as the end of a marriage– and the rental ruckus we'll be considering this week, appropriately enough, centers on a marriage.  ...
Drained in Nelson: Motel dip grabs a VW Golf
Published on Oct 7th, 2004
0 comments "It's like Mayberry," Tim Carr says. He's describing nearby Lovingston, where he recently had just the kind of experience Andy and Barney might have been called in to mediate. If they had, of course...
Moldy hold: Unit no match for wetness
Published on Sep 30th, 2004
0 comments Some lessons are more expensive than others, as Kimberly Kelly can tell you from personal experience. She's lost, by her estimate, $23,000 in household goods. That would be hard on anyone, but some...
Trans-Atlantic fight: The container wouldn't move
Published on Sep 23rd, 2004
0 comments Sara Maad will long remember this name: Dolphin International Shipping. But she wishes she could forget it. Maad's husband, Amol Sasane, moved to England last month to begin a new job (Maad, who is...
THE FEARLESS CONSUMER- Draft dodging: When the Progress grabs...
Published on Sep 16th, 2004
0 comments "As an EZ Pay subscriber," the August 23 letter from Daily Progress publisher Lawrence McConnell began, "you are one of our most valued customers." This came as a surprise to the letter's recipients...
Faulty fabric: From Foxfield to Fabricare
Published on Sep 9th, 2004
0 comments "I would have received better treatment at WalMart than I received at this expensive boutique." That's Alison Mankie's view of her recent experience with an upscale dress shop on Elliewood Avenue....