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Battling the Government Beast

In a number of jurisdictions around the country, local boards or councils have tried to raise money by obscenely increasing fines. In a local county, they actually increased the fine for a Parking Ticket from $25 to $300, and started aggressively enforcing. Local businesses took a hit, as a lot fewer people decided to visit the restaurants and shops in the area, and the local citizenry started raising hell.

So how do you fight back against the machine? Here is one guy’s solution.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2016 in American Greed, Domestic terrorism

 

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Couple Gets $2.2 Million Cell Phone Bill From Verizon

Sometime in the late 90’s, telecommunications providers went the way of the Mafia. They went from being honest purveyors of a product into being Scam Artists. Whatever the advertised price was bore no relationship to what you would be charged after they locked you into a contract. This was true not only for cell phone providers but cable TV an internet providers.

It would indeed be funny…If it wasn’t a standard business practice for much of the industry. And after the hit you with that $300-400-500 “surprise”, or that $60 a month contract that escalates to $120..00 in a few months with multiple dubious add-ons —  their collection methods would make a Mafia leg breaker blanch. They typically want $450 even to cancel the contract, They farm the bill out to multiple “Collection Agencies”, with little or no coordination, which frequently “forget” to inform the Credit Bureaus – and other collection agencies that you have indeed paid the bill.So it is not infrequent that folks are still getting “kneecapped” by the second and third nebulous “collection agency”, over a year after paying off the bill.

Cell phone bill tops $2 million: Verizon blames ‘programming error’

Your phone bill may seem high, but Ken Slusher’s bill must top them all.

When he checked his Verizon account balance last week, the Damascus man tells KPTV-TV the total topped $2.2 million. Slusher tells the TV station he’s received a series of erroneous bills since he and his girlfriend opened a Verizon account in November.

They initially expected a bill for $120 but were instead billed for $698, then received another bill for $9. He’s in the process of buying a house and is worried the bizarre bill may interfere with the deal.

They did their best to argue it down, got a second bill for $9, and canceled the service altogether in December. They returned the phones to a local Verizon store in January. But while customer service reps have said they agree there’s been a mistake, collection agencies have come calling. Slusher says his bank now won’t sign off on a mortgage he and his girlfriend need to buy their dream house for their kids. Verizon issued a statement Wednesday noting that a “programming error in an automated voice response system” caused the ridiculous figure, but said it was being resolved, reports the Oregonian

“We have apologized to an Oregon customer for a programming error in an automated voice response system that caused him to receive an incorrect message that he owed $2 million on his bill,” Verizon said in a written statement Wednesday. “We are correcting the error now and have resolved the issue to the customer’s satisfaction.”

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Domestic terrorism

 

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Scamming the Black Poor and Sick – Lead Paint Settlement Scam

Children poisoned by lead paint exposure suffer lifelong difficulties.

For decades, we’ve known that exposure to high levels of lead can damage the nervous system in children, causing problems that range from hearing loss and seizures to unconsciousness and death. More recent research has demonstrated a link between even relatively low levels of exposure and a variety of subtle cognitive problems including learning disabilities and decreased intelligence.

Children are more sensitive to the harmful effects of lead than adults, because more of the lead they swallow gets into their bloodstream. Children also are at greater risk because they often play on the floor or ground, where lead-contaminated dust or soil is found. And they are much more likely than adults to put this material in their mouths.

This one oddly has a connection to Freddy Gray…

Structured Settlement companies have targeted Baltimore – some of them are crooks.

 

How companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks

The letter arrived in April, a mishmash of strange numbers and words. This at first did not alarm Rose. Most letters are that way for her — frustrating puzzles she can’t solve. Rose, who can scarcely read or write, calls herself a “lead kid.” Her childhood home, where lead paint chips blanketed her bedsheets like snowflakes, “affected me really bad,” she says. “In everything I do.”

She says she can’t work a professional job. She can’t live alone. And, she says, she surely couldn’t understand this letter.

So on that April day, the 20-year-old says, she asked her mom to give it a look. Her mother glanced at the words, then back at her daughter. “What does this mean all of your payments were sold to a third party?” her mother recalls saying.

The distraught woman said the letter, written by her insurance company, referred to Rose’s lead checks. The family had settled a lead-paint lawsuit against one Baltimore slumlord in 2007, granting Rose a monthly check of nearly $1,000, with yearly increases. Those payments were guaranteed for 35 years.

“It’s been sold?” Rose asked, memories soon flashing.

She remembered a nice, white man. He had called her one day on the telephone months after she’d squeaked through high school with a “one-point something” grade-point average. His name was Brendan, though she said he never mentioned his last name. He told her she could make some fast money. He told her he worked for a local company named Access Funding. He talked to her as a friend.

Rose, who court records say suffers from “irreversible brain damage,” didn’t have a lot of friends. She didn’t trust many people. Growing up off North Avenue in West Baltimore, she said she’s seen people killed.

But Brendan was different. He bought her a fancy meal at Longhorn Steakhouse, she said, and guaranteed a vacation for the family. He seemed like a gentleman, someone she said she could trust.

One day soon after, a notary arrived at her house and slid her a 12-page “purchase” agreement. Rose was alone. But she wasn’t worried. She said she spoke to a lawyer named Charles E. Smith on the phone about the contract. She felt confident in what it stated. She was selling some checks in the distant future for some quick money, right?

The reality, however, was substantially different. Rose sold everything to Access Funding — 420 monthly lead checks between 2017 and 2052. They amounted to a total of nearly $574,000 and had a present value of roughly $338,000.

In return, Access Funding paid her less than $63,000…

But to critics, Access Funding is part of an industry that profits off the poor and disabled. And Baltimore has become a prime target. It’s here that one teen — diagnosed with “mild mental retardation,” court records show — sold her payments through 2030 in four deals and is now homeless. It’s here that companies blanket certain neighborhoods in advertisements, searching for a potentially lucrative type of inhabitant, whose stories recall the legacy of Freddie Gray.

Before his April death after being severely injured in police custody, before this hollowed-out city plunged into rioting, the life of Freddie Gray was a case study in the effect of lead paint on poor blacks. The lead poisoning Gray suffered as a child may have contributed to his difficulties with learning, truancy and arrests — all of it culminating in a 2008 lead-paint lawsuit and a windfall of cash locked inside a structured settlement. By late 2013, Gray was striking deals with Access Funding…More here…

When my mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the scam artists seemed to know to call her. These guys prey on the weak, sick, and uneducated…

Too bad they almost never go to jail.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2015 in American Greed

 

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Time to Occupy the Airports?

One of the things driving consumer and American anger about the current economy and corporate practices is that we have gone from a society where “the price on the sticker is the price” to adopting business practices which consistently and intentionally lie to the consumer about the price – incorporating numerous hidden charges.

Think about it. You walk into a store, pick up a bottle of dish soap – and the price on the sticker is $3.29. When you get to the register to pay, the price isn’t $3.29, or even $3.29 plus the local 5% sales tax – but the store has tacked on a $1.00 “shelf restocking fee” and a $0.50 “parking space fee”, and a $0.25 “cash register fee”…

Would you be a bit pissed off?

Yet that exactly is standard business practice at the big banks, in the cell phone and internet industry…and now the airlines.

The bait and switch really went mass scale in the telecom industry starting in the 90’s with the mass emergence of cell phones. Indeed, outside of banking fees levied on consumers, the telecom industry is probably the most dishonest business in America in terms of lying to the consumer, and covering up hidden charges. The only thing you can be certain of in dealing with a cell phone provider, is the advertised $99 a month subscription fee is a lie. You will always wind up paying, sometimes much, much, more.

The compact between the consumer and corporations in America isn’t broken just in terms of jobs – it’s a break down of basic honesty.

Flying anymore has become a hidden game of “gotcha”. This summer, when flights were shut down at Miami due to the fire at the fuel facility, I had a major go-round with the counter folks over paying a baggage fee. That airline did not charge baggage fees on international flights. It seems though, by having the misfortune of getting stuck in Miami Airport overnight, because flights couldn’t leave – the international portion of my flight was a day later than the domestic portion…

And thus I “owed” the Airline $150 in baggage fees to fly from my home airport in the US to Miami… And spend the night on the floor in my business suit.

This one is the horrifying story of a woman trapped in an airport for 8 days by hidden fees. Now – airports are specifically designed to be uncomfortable places to camp out in – to prevent the homeless from using them. The downside of that is if passengers are stranded, you are screwed in terms of finding any reasonable place to sleep or rest. Don’t even bother to ask the logical question of how the homeless could get through airport security with a shopping cart and no ticket…

It’s just one of those clues that haven’t occurred to airport managers and engineers yet.

Terri Weissinger Trapped In Airport For Eight Grueling Days Due To Hidden Fees

No matter how many 10-minute massage parlors and Wolfgang Puck vending machines they install to entertain weary travelers, getting stranded in an airport for even a few hours is rarely a pleasant experience.

For Terri Weissinger, who was trapped in San Francisco International Airport for over a week, it was nothing short of a nightmare.

With only $30 to her name, the Sonoma native was virtually broke and looking to start afresh in Idaho. She booked a ticket from San Francisco to the Gem State on the travel website Orbitz but, because she purchased her ticket before a new federal law went into effect requiring ticket brokers to disclose all hidden fees, Wessinger was unaware of the extra $60 U.S. Airways would charge at the airport to check her two bags.

Weissinger offered to pay the fee once she got to her destination or leave one of her bags behind; however, U.S. Airways personnel refused, citing airline policy for denying her former request and airport security regulations for denying the latter.

While attempting to resolve her situation, Weissinger missed her plane—thereby racking up another $150 in fees.

Weissinger ended up spending eight stressful days living in the terminal and sleeping in an out-of-the-way stairwell. She was treated for anxiety at the airport medical clinic. When she attempted to plead with airport authorities for help, she was threatened with arrest on vagrancy charges.

“[It’s] ridiculous,” said Wessinger to ABC 7. “I couldn’t believe it sometimes, you know, it’s just incredibly ridiculous situation to be in.”

Out of options, Weissinger saw a listing for the nearby Airport Church of Christ in a phone book and placed a call. Moved by her situation, the church quickly raised the necessary $210 to get Weissinger out of her predicament and on her way.

When ABC 7 asked U.S. Airways about Weiddinger’s situation, the airline responded: “We have apologized to Ms. Weissinger for her experience, but unfortunately are unable to offer a refund. When you purchase a non-refundable ticket, you accept the terms and conditions. If a passenger cannot travel with their bags, they need to make other arrangements.”

Airline fees have spiraled in recent years as sites like Orbitz and Travelocity have allowed customers to instantly compare ticket prices between competing airlines. The easy access to this information has pushed airlines to offer cheaper ticket prices up front, ensuring their results appear closer to the top of any given search. As a result, they are relying more heavily on additional fees popping up later in the ticketing process to make up a larger portion of their revenue.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Domestic terrorism

 

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Take Back the Land

Recently departed Jazz Musician Gill Scott Heron’s seminal piece was a song called “Winter in America”. I think Gill Scott saw the destruction of the American Dream years before it reached the crisis point.

Something is really, really wrong here – and other than a few intrepid groups like “Take Back the Land” – there doesn’t seem to be anyone in power doing a damn thing about it.

The right wing in this country is spending a lot of time defending the banks, the major corporations, and the rich by foisting one Trojan Horse issue after another upon the public airwaves.

A $15 a year tax break isn’t going to save you from being foreclosed on your house.

Protesters ‘Liberate’ Foreclosed Homes

protesters foreclosuresWhen Virginia Henry bought her boarded-up and abandoned Rochester, N.Y., home in December 2007, she saw potential where others were blind to it. The house, a short sale, became her home to live in and care for, she said. She plopped down her $20,000 and filed her paperwork for a loan program that would pay the balance — $43,000 — to rehabilitate the property.

But what followed was a series of unanswered calls and letters to Bank of America, Henry says, eventually culminating in her arrest Friday for a charge of trespassing on her own front lawn. The arrest, like much of this story, is the source of a dispute. Henry asserts police officers shoved her to the ground during the arrest, police claim she fainted from the intense heat. She has a court date for the trespassing charge July 28.

The facts of the short sale are also at issue. The bank has told Henry that the short sale never closed and that the house at 5 Appleton St. — with all her worldly possessions trapped inside — is no longer hers. A Bank of America spokeswoman, Jumana Bauwens, said she would investigate the claims.

“This is my home,” Henry told AOL Real Estate in a phone interview after the arrest. “How can I be trespassing in my own home?”

Protesters Step In
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A Fool and His Money – Scam

This one has to be one for the books! Look at the two Blue Ray disc players below –

The difference?

$3,000.00.

The one on the top is made by Lexicon and costs $3,500.00. The one on the bottom is sold by Oppo and retails for $500.00.

The real difference – nada, zero, zilch… zip. Unless you count paying $3,000.00 for for the spiffy white aluminum cabinet worth $3,000.00.

Blu-ray Maker Re-Boxes $500 Player, Charges $3,500

Above you see two Blu-ray players. On the bottom is the Oppo BDP-83, a $500 machine. On top is the Lexicon BD-30, which will set you back $3,500. Can you spot the difference, apart from the price?

It’s a trick question. There is no difference, at least not on the inside. In a daring matryoshka-like move, it appears that Lexicon simply bought a batch of Oppos and put them in new cases. Lest you think we are being picky here, or that Lexicon somehow took the guts of the Oppo and redesigned the surrounding circuitry, let us clarify. If you open up the $3,500 Lexicon, you will find an entire Oppo Blu-ray player inside, intact, with its original chassis.

These were the findings of Audioholics, the “Online A/V Magazine”. Suspicions were raised after spotting the Lexicon at the 2009 CEDIA Expo in Atlanta: “Looking at the player, its button layout and, most importantly, it’s [sic] rear panel, showed us that this product had the exact same layout as the Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player” writes Audioholics’ Clint DeBoer. Clint called one in for review, and here’s what he found:

When we received the player the first thing we did was open it up to get a look at the inside. Imagine my surprise when I found that not only did the Lexicon share the same boards and transport as the Oppo – it was in fact AN OPPO BDP-83 PLAYER, CHASSIS AND ALL, SHOVED INSIDE AN ALUMINUM LEXICON WRAPPER.

Oops. Audioholics didn’t bother to actually review the machine, as the Oppo had already been tested. The reviewers did, however, run some audio analyses to check out the one real difference between the two players: the more expensive Lexicon has THX certification.

The test shed more light on the THX certification process than on the players themselves. The units tested almost identically, no different than had they been two examples of the same model (which, really, they are). So that’s what an extra $3,000 buys you: a THX label and a new, aluminum faceplate.

Now, I admit I’m an audiophile who thinks Bose went out of the audio business shortly after producing the classic 901 Speakers 30 years ago, and that the vastly overpriced crap they foist off on the public nowadays is a function of the fact modern humans have their eardrums surgically removed by IPods…but damn!

Be careful out there folks, America if full a fraudsters.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2010 in Nawwwwww!, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Really Cheaper to Keep Her!

It seems that the cell phone companies have hired the same customer relations and marketing people as the Banks. Recently Verizon announced it was raising its early termination fees to $350.

Google and T-Mobile Collect Early Termination Fees from a Dissatisfied Customer as Verizon gives tips

Not wanting to be outdone, Google in announcing their new IPhone “Killer” the Nexus I, announced that consumers who cancelled would not only subject to T-Mobile’s outrageous $200 early termination fee – they would have to pay Google $350 for the privilege of trying out their phone…

And finding it didn’t work as advertised.

Considering the early reviews of Google’s phone are pretty bad – that amounts to crime and punishment…

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2010 in General

 

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