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6 years later, student finally can thank man who donated computer

Jasmine Gonzalez 2012 graduate PomonCollege.

Jasmine Gonzalez, 2012 graduate of Pomona College.

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THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU

$1,231,768

Updated: July 1, 2012 12:32PM



Longtime Fixer column readers might recall the story of Jasmine Gonzalez, the teenager who stood overnight in a freezing “door buster” line on Thanksgiving — only to go home in tears.

That column ran in 2006, which Jasmine was a junior at Walter Payton College Prep and an active member of the debate team. She really needed a laptop computer. She had worked all summer to save money. And she was willing to huddle in the dark for 10 hours outside a North Side Best Buy store with her mom, Johanna, to get one on sale for $249.

Before the doors opened, however, some rude people ahead of them let a bunch of people cut in line. By the time Jasmine got to the front, the person just ahead of her had gotten the last computer at the sale price.

Best Buy wouldn’t help with this, despite The Fixer’s pleas, so we wrote a column about what happened.

To our surprise, several readers responded, including one who at the time was the vice chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade.

This anonymous man said he had two kids of his own in college and two in high school and knew how important a good computer is. He went out and bought Jasmine a much nicer laptop than the door buster model, and The Fixer got to deliver it to her at school.

Well, last week, The Fixer heard from Jasmine’s mom again. Jasmine, now 22, just graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., where she studied on a full, four-year scholarship through the Posse Foundation. (Not surprising, as Jasmine was president of her senior class at Payton.)

During college, Jasmine interned at “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Penguin Group and at Disneynature, where she worked on the recently released movie “Chimpanzee.”

“She doesn’t stay still,” Johanna told us, laughing.

(A funny note: Johanna said that this past Thanksgiving, a cousin asked Jasmine to stand in line all night at a Best Buy to get a sale-price camera … and despite what happened before, she did it!)

But the best part of the story is that on Monday, Jasmine starts her first full-time job, at Disney Animation.

Johanna asked us if the anonymous donor would agree to make himself known, so she could thank him for his contribution. We connected the two of them via email, and convinced Bob Corvino, now managing director at Cornerstone Investment Management in Hinsdale, to go public. Bob told The Fixer he never wanted any credit for himself, but he was thrilled to hear about Jasmine’s success.

“I would just say to Jasmine, later in life if you have the chance to pass it along, you can,” Bob said.

Amen to that. And good luck to Jasmine.

COSTLY LESSON: A consumer’s tale of woe

Does anyone else remember the days when you could switch an airplane flight at the last moment without spending your life savings?

Once, The Fixer accidentally showed up at the wrong airport and magically got on another plane, no problem. (This was pre-9/11, when they also had in-flight meals with silverware and generous luggage allowances.)

We get lots of letters here at Fixer HQ from people who believe — not unreasonably — that the old rules should still apply when it comes to changing plane tickets. C.A. of Park Ridge is one reader who recently learned the hard way that those good old days are no more.

C.A. had bought plane tickets for herself and her son to visit her daughter in college in another state. As luck would have it, shortly before the trip both kids got sick. The son couldn’t travel and the daughter wanted mom to come sooner, because she needed to have hospital tests performed and didn’t want to go alone.

C.A. called the airline to change her flight and cancel her son’s ticket.

The airline said sure — if you pay an additional $1,000.

C.A. didn’t want to spend that much, so she called another airline and bought a one-way ticket for herself for $348. She took her daughter to the hospital and stayed with her for the tests. She figured she’d use the return flight from her original ticket to get home.

But when she inquired, “They told me they canceled my return flight,” C.A. wrote The Fixer. “I explained to them that I needed that flight to return home, and they said for $1,200 they could reinstate my flight.”

With the hospital bill, there was no way she could fork over another $1,200. So she went to a different airline and got another one-way flight for $578.

As for her original ticket purchase, she was told she could still use it, but she’ll have to pay $300 in change fees per ticket.

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 it to szimmermann@suntimes.com with Costly Lessons in the subject line. And don’t worry — with Costly Lessons, we leave out last names to prevent further embarrassment.

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.



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