BROOKS: Sorry, but you can’t take GEG with you

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I love Spokane’s airport! However, when we leave GEG (that’s airport lingo for Spokane International Airport), we become subject to the vicissitudes of other, not so friendly airport environs.

Here are a few tips:

1. If you want your bag to be one of the first bags available at the baggage claim area, and suffering from as little damage as possible, ask airport staff for a “fragile” sticker for your luggage. Typically, bags with a “fragile” sticker go into the plane last (so they are not crushed by the other bags), and therefore come off the plane first and likely available on the luggage conveyor first! It doesn’t always work that way, but it usually does.

2. It turns out that almost all airports are prepared to assist travelers needing wheelchairs. Either at curbside or at the terminal ticket counter, tell them you need a wheelchair or the assistance of a “pusher” for your own chair. The airline or Skycap service will whisk you through security and directly to the gate for departure. Even if you’re not wheelchair-bound, it’s a great and speedy way from curb to gate. Prior to my mom passing away last year at 93, she wasn’t confined to a chair, but it sure made her air travel easier than standing in line or walking long distances to the gate. Don’t forget to tip the person pushing you to the gate. I usually tip between $5 and $10. It’s worth every penny!

3. Please don’t bring your oversized luggage on the plane if it doesn’t fit the FAA requirements for carry-on bags. There’s nothing that shows a traveller to be more inconsiderate than trying to shove a large piece of luggage into a space designed for a small piece of luggage. (P.S. — It ‘s only cute to you when your 4-year-old wanders down the aisle of a plane pulling an “ice princess”-themed bag at the speed of a slow snail. It impedes boarding and is unsafe for all, including the child.)

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GOFUNDME or COMESCAMME: Unfortunately, another good internet concept has been subverted by our enemies, the crooks and scammers. In the past, before internet, a few incredibly dishonest, twisted and morally bankrupt individuals would hold themselves out as someone in need of charity for a child with a disease or condition, or a cute pet in need of medical treatment. Often these people using their children or pets to scam people were found out.

In today’s world of world-wide internet and websites like GoFundMe, false, tear-jerking stories are shoved in our face almost every time you visit. DON’T FALL FOR SCAMS LIKE THIS! If you are personally aware of someone needing financial help, give them what you can afford directly — and may you be blessed for your charity. Just don’t be scammed by online crooks using the internet to show you pictures and tell you stories specifically designed to capture your heart.

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WE’RE COMING TO TAKE YOU AWAY: Your panic is the tool of the scammers and crooks. Your emotional and psychological upset is fertile ground for them to reap thousands of dollars from you and your family.

All the basic scams are either based upon upsetting “the mark” — you the target — or playing off your greed, the expectation of getting something for nothing. The call from the “IRS” is such a feeble ruse that 98 percent of us laugh in their faces when they call. Unfortunately, all the bad guys need to do to make a living is for the remaining 2 percent to be afraid and run to the store to buy gift cards, iTunes cards or money orders and send them off to the crooks for payment of imaginary debts.

If you get an upsetting call, do these two things: 1. Stop and sit down, take a deep breath and 2. Call a friend or relative — or as a last resort, call your friend Bill Brooks. You can call me 24/7, 365 days a year. If I can’t talk at the moment, leave me a message and your telephone number. I promise to call you back.

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IT’S BACK: The seven- or eight-page letter from a secret society promises the secrets to untold wealth and fame. The letter is “personalized.” In fact it’s so bad it’s almost a bad joke. The senders of this letter insert what their computer reads as your first name, throughout the letter, to make it look like they know you. If you’re known as “T. Boone Pickens,” the letter will start by addressing you as “Dear T:”

If you get this letter, throw it in the trash. Dave, a dear friend of mine, just to see what the scam was, sent back the return envelope to the scammers. What he received was an invoice for almost $500 and some worthless “secrets.” REMEMBER: IN THE TRASH!

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SMOKERS BEWARE: Some hotels and motels have discovered a new source of revenue. Most hotels have a policy about no smoking in rooms, unless the room is specifically designated as a “smoking room.” The penalties for violating the “no smoking” rules can be pricy, up to $500 per infraction.

Now it seems that some innkeepers have hit upon a new way to make a buck. One consumer, a smoker, was very careful not to smoke in the room, but went out to a common area to light up. He was also, legally, enjoying a beer. So as to be a good citizen (with a bad habit ­— smoking), he made it a practice to clean up after himself.

The next day, after he checked out, the room attendant found his beer bottle, empty in the room trash except for a cigarette butt that was visible through the amber glass of the empty beer bottle. She reported it to management. Management tacked on a $350 charge for violating the no-smoking policy, claiming the room needed special cleaning to eliminate the smell of cigarette smoke.

The consumer discovered the extra “cleaning charge” a couple of weeks after his stay while reviewing his monthly credit card charges. Also, a note to those who think these policies don’t apply to “wacky weed” or vaping — they do! Be careful when lighting up. It could be VERY expensive.

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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 brookshomes@gmail.com (#GoGetEmBillBrooks) 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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