T-Mobile phone saga continues — will new phone work this time?
By STEPHANIE ZIMMERMANN email@example.com April 21, 2012 11:32PM
THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU
Updated: May 24, 2012 8:21AM
A Fixer column update: Last month, we told you about Diane Hettwer of Tinley Park, who’d bought a T-Mobile phone at Wal-Mart and signed a two-year contract.
Diane wasn’t happy. The phone, she said, was a “dog.”
But since she was outside the 14-day return period, Wal-Mart couldn’t help. Diane went to a T-Mobile store, where she paid $20 and began her wait for a replacement phone, which then got lost in transit.
Diane, phone-less for weeks, pleaded for help.
Team Fixer got involved, and while the phone never did turn up, T-Mobile wound up sending Diane another Samsung Galaxy 4G phone.
Well, it turns out the saga wasn’t over.
The replacement phone was a refurbished model — which we and Diane knew. We hoped it’d be fine, but Diane said it started acting up, like having a slow search function and extended delays in receiving texts.
So, Team Fixer stepped in again, and now — fingers crossed! — the phone fiasco is finally fixed.
T-Mobile has agreed to send Diane a new phone. They’re also crediting her account $10 to offset the cost of sending back the dud.
Joe Kaminski, a Fixer reader in Streamwood, didn’t fall for this rip-off but he wanted to make sure none of you get sucked in.
A week or so ago, Joe’s girlfriend got a letter from an entity called “Local Records Office” that looked terribly official. The timing was interesting, as she had recently inherited some property. The envelope had a boxed warning on it reminding against tampering with the U.S. mail or risking a “$2,000 fine, 5 years imprisonment or both.”
Inside that serious-looking envelope was a document that upon first glance, might be mistaken for a government document. It had a detachable payment coupon and stated that Local Records Office would provide a copy of her property deed for $89.
Luckily, Joe and his girlfriend looked a little closer at the letter and saw these small words:
“Local Records Office is not affiliated with the county in which your deed is filed in, nor affiliated with any government agencies.” So in other words, Local Records Office is just some business that will charge you $89 for documents you could easily get yourself from the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
Joe is worried that other consumers might not examine the letter closely, which is why he alerted The Fixer.
“An elderly or unsophisticated consumer might construe this as an official document and send in the $89,” Joe warns.
We’ve found similar set-ups around the country with businesses calling themselves “Record Retrieval Department,” “National Record Service” or other official-sounding names. If you get one of these letters, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s from the county.
Fixer on the radio
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COSTLY LESSON: A
consumer’s tale of woe
Today’s Costly Lesson is a short-and-sweet reminder to beware of free gifts from credit card companies.
James of Chicago got an offer from his credit issuer that sounded quite generous: Four free magazine subscriptions. He signed up under the impression that they wouldn’t be renewed unless he said so.
So can you guess what happened after the free trial ended? Yep. Vogue, This Old House, Seventeen and Kiplinger’s kept right on coming, and James’ account got billed.
These auto-renewing subscriptions can be a pain to end, especially when they’re billed through a third-party magazine service with sketchy customer service. Next time you’re offered a freebie, make sure it won’t cost you in the end.
What is a Costly Lesson? It’s an UNFIXABLE problem that cost someone a lot of money but holds a valuable lesson for the rest of us. If you’ve got something to warn the rest of us about, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with Costly Lessons in the subject line. And don’t worry — for Costly Lessons, we leave out last names to prevent further embarrassment.
Contributing: Mike Nolan.
Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at suntimes.com/fixer , where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.