Friends and foes of Sears assault Bill’s eyes, ears

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We have a GREAT consumer community here. By the end of the day Monday, I had received more than 30 calls from consumers telling me about their experiences with Sears warranty services, some very good, and some very bad. Many consumers who were happy with Sears provided me with various telephone contact numbers that they had found helpful. In no particular order, here are some of the more popular numbers: 509-260-3588, 800-469-4663, 877-496-8746, 559-490-7570, 208-512-9898, (HOME) 4-MY Home®.

Late in the day, I received a call from a person who represented herself as an employee of our local Sears store. She accused me of “bashing Sears by writing inaccurate things in your column about Sears.” I asked her to enumerate the inaccuracies — she could not. I asked her to give me just one example — she could not. She admitted that she had not read the column.

Very shortly after, she hung up on me.

LESSON: Before making accusations, please know the facts. Before criticizing a writer — read the column. I thought about putting the call up on the website but decided not to embarrass her any further.

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WHACK-A-MOLE: Taking out robo-callers is like the kids game Whack-A-Mole. As soon as the authorities take out one, another pops up.

One faithful reader, a retired law enforcement officer, told me about a phone he purchased at a local big box store (also available from Amazon), the Panasonic KX-TG785SK Phone with Answering Machine that also has a “call block” button. He reports that when you get a garbage call, all you have to do is hit the “call block” button and that number is immediately and permanently blocked from your phone. Sounds too good to be true, but I have already ordered one. I’ll let you know how well it works. He says it’s knocked the number of nuisance calls down to almost zero.

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DUE DILIGENCE: It’s not just about real estate. As I get older, I find that many of the conversations I have with people my age (I am collecting Social Security payments) involve aches and pains and various medical conditions.

The other day, a reader of this column called with a very timely warning — “Pay attention to your medical treatment.” His situation involved a relatively minor and common abdominal, in-patient surgery. It seems the surgeon nicked a small duct and as a precaution, placed a temporary stent (A stent is a tiny tube that your doctor can insert into a blocked passageway to keep it open) in the duct so it would continue to function normally.

Upon release from the hospital, as good medical practice dictates, the patient is given a stack of papers that would choke a horse, almost all of which were in the smallest print imaginable. Unlike most of us, including me, he read every word.

In one small, out-of-the-way section, it mentioned the placement of the stent, and that it was temporary, and would need to be removed. Everyone forgot to call the patient to schedule the removal. Turns out, not having the stent removed would cause some severe medical problems.

LESSON: Read ALL of of your paperwork. Ask questions until you have no more, and pay attention to how you feel. And for heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to call your health care provider.

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CLASS ACTION SCAMS: A number of our neighbors are receiving letters informing them that they have been awarded a cash settlement in an unnamed class action lawsuit. The letter goes on to provide a computer link and a telephone number to contact the “court” to arrange to collect your portion of the class action settlement.

You guessed it: All the “court” needs is your credit card number, expiration date, and three- or four-digit security number to process a small “administrative fee.” I do have to report that some class action settlement letters are legitimate. On the other hand, if the settlement is for a good or service you’ve never bought or used, or if the letter is addressed “to whom it may concern” or if they want your financial information, for any reason, it’s more than likely a SCAM.

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EDUCATING BILL: When I started writing this column for the Coeur d’Alene Press, most of the calls were about people who got scammed and needed my help. Lately, many calls have come from readers who have caught scammers or who were reporting scams to me so I could warn my readers, your friends and neighbors, about various nefarious schemes to separate them from their hard-earned bread. Yesterday, I fielded more than three dozen calls, 14 emails, one fax, and three text messages. I was busy but thankful for the kind comments and useful information.

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STOP LIGHT REMOVAL: Bosanko and US 95. A number of consumers have expressed concerns and had questions about the possible stop light removal at the intersection of Bosanko and US 95. The removal is tentatively scheduled for not earlier than 2019. Below is the contact information for the project and the name of the person to contact to comment on the project:

1. By filling out the online comment form at: US-95 N Corridor Access Improvements Project site map & information (there will be a hyperlink at the website address mentioned).

2. By emailing: CarrieAnn.Hewitt@itd.idaho.gov

3. By writing to: CarrieAnn Hewitt, PE, 600 W. Prairie Ave., Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815. Must be postmarked by Feb. 15, 2018. If you have any other questions, feel free to call or email me.

(Thanks to CarrieAnn for her complete and rapid response on this matter.)

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REMEMBER BILL BROOKS: “He’s On Your Side”

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I have many more tips and interesting cases that I’m working on. Call me at 208-699-0506, or email me at BillBrooksAdvocate@gmail.com or fax me at 866-362-9266. (#GOGETEMBILL BROOKS) You can follow me at www.billbrooksconsumeradvocate.com. I am available to speak about consumerism to schools, and local and civic groups. Bill Brooks is a consumer advocate and the broker and owner of Bill Brooks Real Estate in Coeur d’Alene.

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