The Fearless Consumer

Lemon aid: Can Toyota stop the bucking?
Published on May 1st, 2003
0 comments Ads for Brown Toyota end with a woman crooning, "You'll love the service." Henry Pritchard begs to disagree. Pritchard's parents, Henry Sr. and Viola, bought a 2003 Toyota Camry from Brown at the end...
Lethal incident: Why would he say he paid?
Published on Apr 24th, 2003
0 comments Sharon Ragland stared in amazement: A Lethal Wrecker truck was backing straight into her friend's car. It was 4am on Sunday, March 30, and Ragland and her boyfriend, Anthony Barnett, were in the...
Touchy: Shell carwash up to scratch?
Published on Apr 17th, 2003
0 comments Around 7pm on January 31, Roy Van Doorn pulled his 1999 BMW 323i into the car wash at the Preston Avenue Shell. When he left it was dark, and he didn't notice "deep scratches" on the hood until the...
All's well... Checks clear, covers arrive
Published on Apr 10th, 2003
0 comments Last fall I wrote about a landscaper at Lake Monticello, Steve Adkins, who does business as Lakeview Landscaping ["Mulch ado: Don't pay in advance," October 24, 2002]. Adkins had charged a customer I...
Markup madness: Boston taxes still chafe
Published on Apr 3rd, 2003
0 comments Thinking of renting a car while traveling? You may want to bring a glossary– and some very deep pockets. In what some veteran travelers might consider an understatement, the Federal Trade...
Oily treatment? Bring your own towel to Shell
Published on Mar 27th, 2003
0 comments When Susan Steedman pulled into the Preston Avenue Shell on the morning of February 24, she wasn't in a mood to suffer frustration lightly. First, it was freezing cold. Second, she'd taken her son to...
Monologue dialogue: No refunds at pricey show
Published on Mar 13th, 2003
0 comments Via Mayer and her neighbors have been unhappy with the post office for a number of years– due to allegedly haphazard delivery of mail– and she hoped I might be able to do something to...
Hostage fabric: Owner given the slip
Published on Mar 6th, 2003
0 comments When Ann Clark decided to have slipcovers made for her new leather couch, she headed up 29 North to Fabrics Unlimited and began looking for material. She also asked the staff whom they'd recommend to...
Losing Face: 'Model search' hits the Doubletree
Published on Feb 27th, 2003
0 comments Yet another "modeling agency" came to town last month, offering entrée to a world of fashion and travel and high pay. If you attended but went away skeptical, good. If you attended and stayed to sign...
Fly away: Nordin ruins hypnotic picnic
Published on Feb 20th, 2003
0 comments Meet the Porter brothers: Patrick, Michael, and David. They're all certified hypnotherapists, and they're passionate about their ability to help people overcome bad habits through hypnosis. More...
Over-Exposured: My quest for truth at Northern
Published on Feb 13th, 2003
0 comments I seem to be heading for an extended relationship– in print, that is– with Robert Weitzner. First I wrote about him in his role as a landlord ["Weitzner Properties: All three refunds...
Gripping story: Case of the hugging handyman
Published on Feb 6th, 2003
0 comments "I thought it was cute," the woman explained. "Then it got oppressive." She was describing a neighbor's unusual approach to doing odd jobs around her house: He charged much less than the going rate...
Disappearing hypnotist: The $59.08-a-pound diet
Published on Jan 30th, 2003
0 comments When Terry Fry signed a one-year contract with a local hypnosis center, she had no idea how expensive losing 25 pounds could be. Fry had been seeing ads for Positive Changes Hypnosis in the Daily...
Outstanding Exposure? Rave reviews prove elusive
Published on Jan 16th, 2003
0 comments Northern Exposure is one of my favorite restaurants in Charlottesville: I like the food, the West Main Street location, and the gorgeous mural by Eli Frantzen. I also like the giant, black-and-white...
Elephants marching? Capshaw digs have folks hearing things
Published on Dec 18th, 2002
0 comments "Enter a place where lifestyle takes on a new dimension... eclectic, exciting, and original. Unique surroundings with distinctive advantages are yours to experience at Riverbend Apartment Homes."...
Cut off: Sprint can't get its dates straight
Published on Nov 28th, 2002
0 comments "Until two weeks ago, the most annoying thing about Sprint was the fact that I would be charged $3 per phone call into Customer Solutions." By the time Dayna Brazille emailed me to say that, she had...
So long, Joe: Selman dies in a prison hospital
Published on Nov 21st, 2002
0 comments Joe Selman died a lonely death last month, a long way from home and in pain– not just from the melanoma that killed him, but also because of his surroundings: He died in a federal prison...
Slow dig: When the Leyland cypress didn't show
Published on Nov 14th, 2002
0 comments  Michael Vlasis, owner of Mulch Monkeys in Palmyra, was distressed when he saw my recent column on a Lake Monticello landscaper who'd collected a customer's $320 deposit but declined to deliver...
Rain and smoke: Major allegations about Minor's houses
Published on Nov 7th, 2002
0 comments Last week I wrote about some unhappy students who, upon moving out of a house they'd rented on Rugby Road, not only lost their $1,375 deposit, but also got stuck with a bill for another $1,100. The...
World-class rough? Students painted into a corner
Published on Oct 31st, 2002
0 comments  The house at 910 Rugby Road may have been lovely in its day, but it isn't any more. For many years now, it's been rented to students. Students, because they're usually young and transient, can...
Mulch lesson: Don't pay in advance
Published on Oct 24th, 2002
0 comments "In early August," the email began, "I ordered two loads of mulch (one red, one black) from a landscaping company at Lake Monticello." As conflicts go, you may be thinking, this one starts on a...
Cold comfort: Tenants fume over doused pilot
Published on Oct 17th, 2002
0 comments "I am writing to complain about Wade Apartments," Cedar Riener's email began. "I wish it was a single incident that could be resolved quickly, but it seems to be a pattern (or policy) of neglect,...
Tow row: Dude, where's my car?
Published on Oct 10th, 2002
0 comments Early last summer, when the transmission in Michael Shifflett's 1979 Chrysler LeBaron gave out, he had it towed to Quality Transmission at Pantops Shopping Center. He claims that he had already...
It's in the mail: But you'd never know it
Published on Oct 3rd, 2002
0 comments  "On August 26," Rey Barry's email began, "I sent a registered and insured letter from Charlottesville to California. The letter contained nearly $2,000 in postal money orders." There was a bar...
Weitzner Properties: All three refunds-- MIA
Published on Sep 26th, 2002
0 comments Few business transactions are as arbitrary as The Return of the Security Deposit. In theory, it's supposed to cover damages and outstanding fees, but in practice, many landlords, knowing that renters...
Circus of the scars: Injuries follow Sterling & Reid
Published on Sep 19th, 2002
0 comments The Hook published pictures of a fantastically kitschy circus in the Photophile section of the August 29 edition along with some fairly laudatory pronouncements– "When the Sterling & Reid...
Devilish dilemma: Pick up what you pay for
Published on Sep 12th, 2002
0 comments When Needful Things, the used-furniture and collectibles shop on West Main Street, opened in the mid-'90s, I was charmed by the name. I knew it came from a Stephen King book about a similar shop that...
Unsolved mystery: $132 deposit for a land line?
Published on Sep 5th, 2002
0 comments The letter from Sprint arrived in Francesca Fornari's life when her stress was already sky-high. She'd just moved to Charlottesville, was about to start law school, and suddenly had the feeling that...
Off Target: Target scares off a guest
Published on Aug 22nd, 2002
0 comments For all you upscale shoppers out there, add this to your list of Why It'll Be Cool When Target Comes to Town: They call customers "guests." The concept is so elegant, I half expect to see shopping...
Brave new world: Pay with your fingerprint?
Published on Aug 8th, 2002
0 comments I've been pretty cranky lately while wheeling my cart through the aisles of Giant, Kroger, Harris Teeter, and CVS. That's because ever since I stopped using their insidious "shopper's cards" ever...