John picked up a phone call that seemed to be from his wife, but discovered it was someone even more adept at nagging and less affected by indifference — a robocaller. He says he was the victim of caller ID-manipulating trickery by credit card marketers. [More]
Last April, Techdirt pointed out that a financial firm in Texas was trying to attach “private transfer fees” to homes, so that developers would get a little bit of each sale as it passed among owners in the years to come. It sounded crazy then–imagine having to pay royalties on clothes or furniture whenever you resold them–but the firm is aggressively expanding its plan and has signed up more than 5,000 developers across the country, reports the New York Times. If you buy a new house in the next decade, look for a “resale fee” covenant hidden in a separate document that might not be included in your closing papers or even require a signature. [More]
Ryan recently went to a clinic operated by Western Dental Centers, a franchise that operates in California, Arizona and Nevada, and now he regrets that decision. He writes that first he was forced to endure $800 worth of upsells while he was stuck in the chair, even though he was just going in for a cleaning. What happened with billing, though, was worse and may lead to lasting credit issues. [More]
It’s bad enough that banks have been negligent at implementing the government’s loan modification program, but now a BoA mortgage loan officer is being sued for making extra money illegally on struggling homeowners. According to the Boston Globe, a new lawsuit claims the employee was demanding as much as $1,500 from each borrower before offering help foreclosure help, and routing the funds through his own company, Foreclosure Alternatives. The lawsuit also alleges that the man falsely represented himself as an attorney for BoA. [More]
If you’re trying to pirate the Japanese erotic manga game Cross Days–and I don’t care what people say, I love that I live in a world where I can type that phrase–you should know that the game’s developers are wise to you, and they’re going to do their best to shame and embarrass you. [More]
My advice on mail-in-rebates is to ignore them when you’re trying to decide on a purchase. They take too long to receive, during which time you’ve paid a higher amount on the product. Even worse, it’s easy for a company to deny a claim and refuse to cooperate with you, and it’s hard for consumers to get misbehaving companies to play fairly. [More]
The Charter Communications CSR who spoke with Dustin has some pretty astounding news about what’s on the horizon for all of us. It looks like starting May 1st, cable companies will have total, FCC-sanctioned control over streaming video and will take down all competing services. [More]
The Fry’s store in Renton, Washington, just played a mean trick on at least half a dozen customers. This morning, Jeff successfully navigated through the crowd outside, the crowds inside, and no less than five different lines in order to purchase a 52″ TV. Everything went remarkably smoothly. Well, until the very end. [More]
Wachovia has a new financial product called Way2Save that automatically moves $1 from your checking account into a high interest personal savings account every time you make an electronic bill payment. Susan tried to maximize her contributions by making a lot of little bill payments, but Wachovia cut off access to her funds without notice and triggered an avalanche of penalty fees. Now she owes over $5,000 to her credit card companies, far more than she would likely have ever earned through Wachovia’s complicated savings program, and of course Wachovia is denying any responsibility.
When Patrick Dunn’s auto dealership in New Jersey went out of business a few months ago, something weird happened to “40 or 50” customers who had bought cars from him, writes Bob Braun at NJ.com. The company Dunn had taken out business loans with, Automotive Finance Corporation (AFC), went to Arkansas and asked for reposession of the cars in New Jersey. The Arkansas department of motor vehicles assumed AFC meant for unsold cars on the lot, so they granted the request—and now AFC says it owns titles to cars that people are already driving and paying for.
Cyberguy had a weird experience with a web hosting company earlier this week. He tried to contact their office of the president, but the person from the “office” who called him back turned out to be an outsourced CSR with no power to do anything other than apologize. Update: The web host company was GoDaddy, and they’ve responded. (The short answer is no they don’t outsource it.)
Don’t install the iPhone app iDrive Lite if you value the privacy of your contact list. Avi Muchnick, one of the developers behind the free, consumer-friendly online graphics suite Aviary, used iDrive to backup his Gmail contact list when switching to a new phone. The next day, he awoke to discover that iDrive’s parent company, Pro Softnet Corp, had spammed every single entry in his contact list without his permission.
If you live near Burke, Virginia, you might want to pay close attention when the contractor hired by Comcast comes to install your service. Rick runs a computer repair company and has twice run into the same problem with Comcast customers, where they can no longer access the Internet after an upgrade and are offered an off-the-books repair service.
Creative Labs has found a great new way to minimize the risk that a customer will actually benefit from a rebate offer. In Rick’s case, they sent him the rebate in the form of a $10 debit card that was supposed to be good until July 2009, but when he went to a Best Buy to use it last month, it was denied. The reason? He’d been charged a $3 “maintenance fee” every month since January.
Apparently the people at Integrity (!) Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Las Vegas don’t read our blog, or they would have seen this post last year. Then they would have known what a bad idea it is to trick people into thinking you’ve hit their vehicle just to get them to call you about a trade-in offer.
We’ve seen how available balances can disappear when lenders cut credit card limits, but SmartMoney points out that lenders can cut your limit below your current balance, causing all sorts of problems. They’ll send you a notice, of course, but you may not receive it for several weeks. Your best bet is to set up your own alert system. A web-based financial service (like Mint) will send you an email or SMS alert if your available balance drops below a specified threshold.