Hey, phone subsidies when you sign a new contract are great! If you don’t mind committing to a higher rate plan and don’t want to shell out for an unlocked phone, they’re a good way to get a nice handset. Do you know when they’re not so great, though? When scamsters convince unknowing people to sign contracts, then resell the phones, failing to cancel the contracts as they promised. [More]
It takes some doing to turn heads amid the media circus that is South by Southwest, but marketing firm BBH just that by transforming homeless guys into walking 4G WiFi hotspots. Promoters say the stunt is meant to bring the plight of the homeless to light, but there are also questions about whether or not the contractors are being exploited. [More]
We say it a lot around here these days: Times are tough. And they just got tougher for the homeless people in San Francisco who had relied on a local McDonald’s for their discount sustenance. A few weeks back, that particular Golden Arches — located in the city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood — jacked up the price on their former Dollar Menu items to $1.50, much to the consternation of the homeless. [More]
A few days ago, someone posted on reddit that he was divorced, unemployed, and now living out of his car. This prompted someone who’d already had the experience to post a list of tips for the (hopefully temporarily) homeless, including safe/legal places to park, strategies for staying clean, and how to maintain social connections. How does he know all this stuff? He lived out of his truck for over a year and saved his money to pay off $17k in debt. [More]
Sudden unemployment can really help you think creatively. The OC Register has a profile of a guy who lost his condo after being laid off from his 6-figure corporate development job — and is now living out of his leased BMW and a storage unit — and using his rewards points to survive. [More]
If you live anywhere in the NYC area, you’ve probably seen a “United Homeless Organization” table on the sidewalk, staffed by a volunteer who looks homeless himself. (If you don’t live here, imagine a year-round, homeless Salvation Army Santa.) If you thought the set-ups looked a little sketchy, you were right: the UHO is a “sham,” according to NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. [More]
Looking for the perfect gift for the little girl who has everything, from her own pet llama to dramatic ski and swim vacations? If the little girl happens to be Chrissa, a character in the American Girl doll series, a homeless friend may just be the perfect accessory. And if you’re a real little girl, wouldn’t you just love a homeless friend, too? Or, better yet, a homeless friend doll, for a mere $95?
Imagine coming home to find the sheriff on your doorstep with an eviction notice, and then being given 3 hours to get the hell off your property, which is no longer yours because your bank mistakenly sold it out from under you for about a third of its value. Oops! Although we initially assumed WaMu/Chase was behind all of it, NCB Miami reports that actually “a mistake in the Miami-Dade Clerk’s Office appears to be behind the mishap, which landed Ramirez homeless for more than 24 hours.”
Hospitals in Los Angeles and Orange counties submitted phony Medicare and Medi-Cal bills for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homeless patients—including drug addicts and the mentally ill—recruited from downtown’s Skid Row, state and federal authorities allege.
In February 2007, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles abandoned Gabino Olvera, a mentally ill paraplegic man, on the street: “[The hospital] took him across town in a van and left him in a soiled hospital gown without a wheelchair in the heart of the city’s homeless area.” Olvera, with the help of an advocacy organization called Public Counsel, is now suing them for neglect and elder abuse (although we’re not sure how the second one applies since he’s only 42). His case is “one of about 50 reported incidents in the past 12 months of sick, confused and homeless patients being left by ambulances” in downtown LA.
Blunt Money has opened up an interesting thread about giving (or not giving) to beggars. Some of the comments bring back memories:
• This MickyDee’s didn’t realize that giving away free wi-fi didn’t mean just selling more milkshakes to kids playing Super Yoshi’s Disco Poophouse against each other, it also attracted homeless bloggers. You can’t have your honey-slathered butter biscuit and eat it too. [The Homeless Guy] “McDonalds: The Evil Empire Strikes”
I’m an easy mark for panhandlers. One time, when visiting a friend in Chicago, I was waiting to meet her on a street corner when a single, fairly respectable hobo came up and asked for a dollar for some booze. This is the sort of honesty that speaks to me in a bum, so I gave it to him. Five minutes later, I was throwing all my bills into the air and weeping in despair as a cloud of homeless people swarmed about me, snatching the fluttering green pieces of paper from the air and shouting for more.
The schlock thickens in the case of a pair of twisted sisters-in-crime who befriended homeless men, took out insurance policies on them naming themselves as beneficiaries, and then ran the men over with cars for the insurance money.
A Double Indemnity for the skid row set, a pair of golden grannies have been arrested in a homeless life insurance scam nothing short of diabolical. You won’t wash the taste of this one out your mouth with a bottle of discount lighter fluid anytime soon.
This is only linked by the ostensibility of a magic conceptual rainbow to the sort of stories Consumerist usually posts about, but it is interesting enough that we’re going to post it anyway. City Pages has a fascinating Q&A with freeway exit ramp beggars, asking them the following questions: What’s the best job you ever had? What’s the worst job you ever had? What’s the last job you had? What’s your dream job?