Fearless Consumer

<I>Majeur</I> hassle? Stuff takes long way home
Published on Sep 2nd, 2004
0 comments What gets to Denver from Charlottesville only after stopping in New York, Pennsylvania, and Utah? A moving van, of course. There's nothing wrong with that itinerary, unless everything you own is in...
Renter beware: Devilish details lurk in leases
Published on Aug 26th, 2004
0 comments If you're a UVA student who's also a renter, I want you to ponder this statement long and hard; you may never again encounter such a whopping understatement: "Landlords vary greatly in competence and...
Getting a fix: Circuit City, meet Covey's
Published on Aug 19th, 2004
0 comments Michael Pitt was not happy. Sure, the CD player was working again, but at what cost? They'd owned it for only nine months, and for three of those months it had either been broken or, apparently, lost...
Fleaced? Renters itchy for deposit return
Published on Jul 29th, 2004
0 comments At first sight, the stone cottage at the end of Maywood Lane looks like something out of a fairy tale. As you walk down the path, you can almost forget the row of dilapidated houses, long since...
Lethal tale: Jetta owner takes lumps
Published on Jul 22nd, 2004
0 comments "I moved to the country because of Lethal." With that dramatic opener, Robert Parolisi proceeded to detail his history with Lethal Wrecker. Parolisi had lived at The Meadows– the large...
Snap happy: Want a refund? Take a picture
Published on Jul 15th, 2004
0 comments It's hard to be philosophical about having to pay for damage you didn't cause, even when, like Hannah Phelps, you're a philosopher in training. Perhaps I should say, "especially when you're a...
$3,200 surprise: Couple get fired by architect
Published on Jul 8th, 2004
0 comments If Ron and Sharon Soltau could summarize their complaint on a t-shirt, it would be this: "We spent $3,200 on an architect, and all we got were some plans for a house we couldn't imagine building."...
Uneasy rider: Watch your loan papers
Published on Jul 1st, 2004
0 comments If you see a truck with "If you want a bum deal, go to the Auto Superstore" written on the back, that's Tim Goolsby at the wheel. He bought the truck– a Chevy 1500 LS 4 x 4– this past...
Gouge-athon: Lethal's pricing illegal
Published on Jun 24th, 2004
0 comments It's rare that a customer who argues with Lethal Wrecker wins, but in Charlottesville General District Court on June 8, the controversial company was declared the loser– twice. In short order,...
Dog days: When Max went under the knife
Published on Jun 17th, 2004
0 comments Tammy White's dalmation clearly wasn't well: His nose was hot, he had a slight fever, and except when he got up to urinate– which he did frequently– he just lay around. That was on Sunday...
Mystery mulch: Gardening amid debris
Published on Jun 10th, 2004
0 comments It's too bad Virginia Paul isn't an archeologist; if she were, she might be excited about the changing nature of her front yard. Just the other day, for instance, she found a decorative piece of...
Not buddies: AOL reneges on payback pledge
Published on Jun 3rd, 2004
0 comments Remember John Cole, the guy who tried AOL's "free" 50-day trial for two days? Even though he claims he was assured his account had been cancelled and he would not be charged anything, he ended up...
Bridal despair: Has she really lost $500?
Published on May 20th, 2004
0 comments A deposit– even a small one– can be frustrating to lose. But when the deposit in question is $500, emotions tend to run a bit hotter than frustration. Even so, this week's contretemps is...
Interest-ing: Eddie Bauer bill triples
Published on May 6th, 2004
0 comments If you apply for an Eddie Bauer credit card today, you'll see no mention of First Consumers National Bank, or FCNB, on the application. Unfortunately, Merry Hanson wasn't so lucky when she got her...
Showdown: Judge satisfies both sides
Published on Apr 29th, 2004
0 comments "My lawyer," Wallace Gibson declared, "is going to have him for lunch." Gibson, who is a local property manager, was predicting that when she and former tenant Andrew Logan squared off in...
Missing rugs: Eways slips away
Published on Apr 22nd, 2004
0 comments "They must have known they were in trouble," Marie Deans said when I told her Eways Carpet One had closed its doors. I'd been thinking the same thing– in fact, when she called, I'd been...
Dressing debacle: Spill at Northern drenches diners
Published on Apr 15th, 2004
0 comments When I asked Ron Reeve how his lunch with a job candidate had gone, his answer startled me. "I had a pink shirt on, right?" He was now sporting a yellow shirt. This was not a good sign. Reeve and two...
A, B, C, MS: Rx hard to transfer
Published on Apr 8th, 2004
0 comments If you felt the earth move in January, it may have been UVA employees getting acclimated to a change in their prescription-drug coverage. Take the case of Lisa Miller, who has multiple sclerosis (MS...
In the zone: Shrink your phone bill
Published on Apr 1st, 2004
0 comments Funny how things work: If Xiaopu Liu's phone hadn't conked out, she wouldn't have gone in search of a neighbor's phone. And if she hadn't taken her Sprint bill with her when she went in search of...
Lethal rules: Bring cash when arguing
Published on Mar 25th, 2004
0 comments "I just had a harrowing ordeal with Lethal Wrecking!" begins Barbara Hatcher's email. I've written about Lethal a few times– four, to be exact. What's different this time is that the towee is a...
Front row: Landlord-tenant sparks fly
Published on Mar 11th, 2004
0 comments If you've got the afternoon of April 16 free, you might want to take in the showdown that's slated for Charlottesville General District Court at 2pm. The players, Andrew Logan and Wallace Gibson,...
Pulled rug: Heirloom and $$ missing
Published on Mar 4th, 2004
0 comments "I am writing," Marie Deans' letter began, "in hopes that you can help me recover a rug from Eways that has great sentimental value for me. The rug was handmade for me by my great-aunt in the 1940s...
Let me go!: How many "final" bills?
Published on Feb 26th, 2004
0 comments Here's a handy device I'll bet Edward Nemergut wishes he'd been using last November, when he claims he called Sprint to cancel one part of his service: a telephone tape recorder. Although I haven't...
Verdict: The engine was not defective
Published on Feb 19th, 2004
0 comments If you've been awaiting the autopsy report on the replacement engine William Mason bought from Advance Auto Parts, the results are now in– but first, let me bring any newcomers up to speed....
Whose phault?: When paving plan gets icy
Published on Feb 12th, 2004
0 comments Looking for a place to skate this winter? Try Virginia Arts on Stewart Street: According to owner Paul Brier, you may find "a solid sheet of ice" in the middle of his parking lot. Brier didn't set...
Pricey ride? Renter disputes mileage charges
Published on Feb 5th, 2004
0 comments When Kurt Kroboth needed to rent a car for a two-day trip to Maryland and Norfolk, he decided against using any of the rental-car companies located at the airport and instead called Dennis Rental...
Cubs fan calls: 'Attack dog' gets results
Published on Jan 29th, 2004
0 comments Leo Daugherty seems to have a low batting average on Internet shopping. Two years ago, I reported on his frustrating attempt to buy three bluegrass CDs online ["Promises, promises," March 28, 2002],...
Doubled bed: Springing the money took time
Published on Jan 22nd, 2004
0 comments When Stephen Ward and his wife bought their first bed, they never dreamed that it would be grounds for a prolonged battle. Yet battle they did, with both the business that sold it (Mattress Masters)...
Bean brouhaha: Drunk or mistreated?
Published on Jan 15th, 2004
0 comments How I wish I could have been dining at the Baja Bean on the evening of December 28– or, even better, walking around with a video camera. So far I've heard two disparate versions of what...
Sound and fury: The 2003 Consumer 'awards'
Published on Dec 25th, 2003
0 comments Some embattled business owners and readers made 2003 a noisy year for this column, so herewith, three prizes: Business owner most in need of customer-service training  Stumped? Here's a hint: I...