Watchdog Video Tip of the Day: How to sell your treasured heirlooms

Watchdog Video Tip of the Day: How to sell your treasured family heirlooms. 

Learn from Marina Trahan Martinez, The Dallas Morning News Watchdog Desk Administrator, how to be smart when selling sentimental keepsakes.

The Watchdog Video Tip of the Day, produced by DallasNews.com, is designed to solve a problem in less than a minute. 

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

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Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation won a 2013 writing award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists

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Are you tired of fighting the bank, the credit card company, the electric company and the phone company? They can be worse than scammers the way they treat customers. A popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded, the book won two national book awards for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber

AVAILABLE IN HARDCOVER, CD AUDIO BOOK, ON ITUNES (AUDIO), KINDLE AND IPAD.

Marina

Texas Education Agency announces new investigative unit to probe troubled school districts

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams has announced a new investigative unit to make sure the more than 1,000 Texas school districts follow the rules. The state auditor’s office had scolded TEA for not investigating cheating allegations in the El Paso school district.

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No surprise there. TEA has had a philosophy of allowing school districts to police themselves. The new investigative unit would handle complaints of wrongdoing, something state education regulators don’t like to do.

Watchdog Nation promises to watch the new unit’s work very carefully. We congratulate Commissioner Williams for making the move.

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation won a 2013 writing award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Visit Watchdog Nation Headquarters

facebook icon 1

Like Watchdog Nation on Facebook

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Watch Watchdog Nation on YouTube

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Twitter @DaveLieber

Are you tired of fighting the bank, the credit card company, the electric company and the phone company? They can be worse than scammers the way they treat customers. A popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded, the book won two national book awards for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber

AVAILABLE IN HARDCOVER, CD AUDIO BOOK, ON ITUNES (AUDIO), KINDLE AND IPAD.

Chasing after bad appliance repair techs is a lonely job

Repair

I have a problem with appliance repairmen who take the money and run. I like to chase these guys across Texas.

As readers of The Dallas Morning News Dave Lieber Watchdog column first learned, something about a guy showing up at your house to fix a refrigerator or dryer, taking money for a service call along with a deposit for parts and then not returning bugs the life out of me.

Several years ago, customer Barry Boardman wanted help getting his $175 deposit back. Took me five minutes to learn his repairman had a prior conviction for theft in Dallas County. Showed Boardman his repairman’s police mug shot. Ouch.

Before that, I hunted for Brian Littlefield, a longtime repairman who skipped out on a legal secretary with a broken icebox. Always the same with these guys. “Oh, you need me back. Sure, I’ll be right over.” But nothing. Then they never return your call.

For that guy, I placed a public call to my Watchdog Nation Posse. (If you’re reading this, you’re a member!) Help me find Littlefield, I asked. People told me how Littlefield pulled the same stunt on them. Turns out he had nine judgments against him. He filed four bankruptcies. All those unfinished bankruptcies helped him avoid eight apartment evictions. Then somebody — I’ll never say who — told me he was hiding out in East Texas.

When I reached Littlefield by phone, he explained it wasn’t his fault that he skipped out on customers. People are rude.

“They are yelling and screaming and being hostile on the answering machine. I have a policy: If someone is hostile, I will not call them back.”

“Why do you think they are hostile?” I asked him.

“I’m not sure.”

A few weeks ago, Gorgonio Pena of Carrollton told me about his refrigerator repair saga. Same old story.

Pena, a volunteer minister, takes his old motor home on the road and hosts Bible retreats. But he didn’t get to go anywhere this summer, not after he gave a repairman $200 to fix his motor home’s refrigerator. The repairman not only skipped town, the dude moved to Alaska. (I never heard that one before.) That was three months ago.

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Fortunately, the repairman was a subcontractor for Accurate Appliance Repair in Garland. The Watchdog contacted company owner Ella Watson.

After she heard from me, Watson wrote Pena a note: “I truly apologize about the issue with your part. I have tried and tried and will continue to try to locate this part for you again. Before David left for Alaska, he told me he would get the part by the weekend. …

“I will have your part next day aired at my expense and schedule a return to complete this repair. Again, I truly apologize for this terrible inconvenience. I am still working on this for you, sir. May God bless you and may He also help us get this issue resolved.”

Wow. You think Brian Littlefield or his brethren ever wrote a sweet note like that?

Watson presents the problem in a candid way. The appliance repair business, she said, attracts “shady characters.”

She owned a Rowlett appliance store for 20 years. Now she runs a repair business from her Garland home. She hires repairmen to work for her.

“I’m always having trouble finding good workers. Now that David went back to Alaska, I’m in the process of looking for somebody.”

With jobs scarce, new people come into the business. “Right now everybody in the world is doing it because they’re out of work,” she says. “It’s easy to con somebody. I hear people all the time say, ‘They took my money and changed their phone number.’”

Anyone can open a repair business by placing ads in the Yellow Pages or on Craigslist and by creating a website. That’s it. In Texas, appliance repair techs don’t get licensed (like plumbers) or registered (like heating/air conditioning techs). Appliance repair techs don’t take required continuing education classes or pass a criminal background check. That’s why it’s risky to hire someone based solely on their ad.

Watson says old machines are sometimes hard to fix, but customers are difficult to deal with, too. There are stories on the Internet about how she let a few customers down. She’s tired when she talks of it. She’s 59, a grandmother of nine. “This is a mean, ugly world,” she says.

I credit Pena with perseverance. He kept calling Watson. She kept putting him off. Enough of that. Finally, I convinced them both to call it a day.

Forget about the part. The deposit is lost. How about giving the man of God his refund? Watson said she would. Pena says he might buy a new refrigerator. The motor home minister wants to hit the road again. After all these months, the divine intervention needed to find that missing part isn’t working.

This first appeared in The Dallas Morning News Watchdog column. Staff writer Marina Trahan Martinez contributed to this report.

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IN THE KNOW / Hiring an appliance repair technician

• Consider getting bids. Ask if there’s a service charge for a call, and if that’s included in future repair costs. Ask friends and family for referrals of reputable techs.

• Check the company name through the Better Business Bureau website and also by doing an Internet search with the company’s name and the words “scam” and “ripoff.”

• Consider doing a background check on anyone that enters your home. Get a full name and date of birth to use on various Internet databases or public court records. Look for a criminal record.

• Get a written estimate that includes the length of any warranties. Does the paperwork include the repair tech’s name, phone and physical street address?

• Don’t pay for work not done. If a tech wants a down payment for a part, ask to see his driver’s license for backup. Copy the information, or better, take a photo.

• Trust your instincts. Does everything sound right?

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation won a 2013 writing award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Visit Watchdog Nation Headquarters

facebook icon 1

Like Watchdog Nation on Facebook

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Watch Watchdog Nation on YouTube

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Twitter @DaveLieber

Are you tired of fighting the bank, the credit card company, the electric company and the phone company? They can be worse than scammers the way they treat customers. A popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded, the book won two national book awards for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber

AVAILABLE IN HARDCOVER, CD AUDIO BOOK, ON ITUNES (AUDIO), KINDLE AND IPAD.

Watchdog Video Tip of the Day: How to file a complaint when airline mistreats you

Watchdog Video Tip of the Day: How to file a complaint against a U.S. airline.

An airline mistreats you. You go to the airline for help. But the airline isn’t interested in helping. So what do you do?

Learn with Dave Lieber, The Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist. He tells tells you where airline complaints are supposed to go.

The Watchdog Video Tip of the Day, produced by DallasNews.com, is designed to solve a problem in less than a minute. 

Source: Dallas Morning News

airline

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation won a 2013 writing award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Visit Watchdog Nation Headquarters

facebook icon 1

Like Watchdog Nation on Facebook

youtube icon 4

Watch Watchdog Nation on YouTube

twitter icon 3

Twitter @DaveLieber

Are you tired of fighting the bank, the credit card company, the electric company and the phone company? They can be worse than scammers the way they treat customers. A popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded, the book won two national book awards for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber

AVAILABLE IN HARDCOVER, CD AUDIO BOOK, ON ITUNES (AUDIO), KINDLE AND IPAD.

NEW JOB: Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber is back

[This is a second edited version of the original post.]

I am pleased to share with you my new job! I am the NEW Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News.

I write this today, Monday, May 20, 2013 — my first official day on the new job.

Thank God.

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Thrilled, not only for me and for my family but for the hundreds of newspaper readers I’ve heard from since my former paper laid me off after 20 years. People want a newspaper columnist fighting for them, righting wrongs, exposing illegal or immoral activities in business and government.

The editors of The Dallas Morning News know that.

Thank God.

With deep humility and high honor, I accept this chance to continue serving you. I am thrilled that I get to work with and learn from what is clearly the best newspaper staff west of the Mississippi.

All one has to do is look at the brilliant reporting and editing that have come out of 508 Young Street in Dallas these past several weeks to know that. Tough reporting about the explosion in West, Texas and also the murders of two prosecutors in Kaufman County. Fascinating coverage of City Hall, the suburbs, the Texas Legislature, the arts, business and sports. And a Pulitzer-prize-winning editorial page unmatched by the best of newspapers.

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I’ve always been inspired by one scene in my favorite movie, Citizen Kane. Charles Foster Kane is remaking the first edition of his new paper to share his Declaration of Principles with readers. It’s Hollywood’s vision of what a newspaper should be, but these principles ring true for me.

“I will provide the people of this city with a daily paper that will tell all the news honestly. I will also provide them with a fighting and tireless champion of their rights as citizens and as human beings.”

Watch that scene here:

After 38 years as a daily newspaperman, when I walked out of my former employer’s front door for the last time, I believed my journalism days were over. I intended to become a professional speaker and help hundreds, if not thousands.

Now, at the oldest continuously operated newspaper in the great state of Texas, I can do a lot more than that.

I can help millions.

Thank God.

P.S. The NEW Watchdog column will appear Fridays and Sundays in The Dallas Morning News and on DallasNews.com. (First column scheduled for Friday, May 31, 2013.)

Note: Please, if you could, share this link with your friends. And thanks for sticking with me — Dave.

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NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 20, 2013

The Dallas Morning News Hires Veteran Watchdog Consumer Columnist Dave Lieber

(DALLAS) – The Dallas Morning News has hired Dave Lieber as its new consumer columnist. Known largely for his twice weekly ‘Watchdog’ column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for the past 20 years, he will bring his brand of investigative energy and what he has dubbed “Watchdog Nation common sense” to a twice-a-week column, “The Watchdog.”

Aside from creating his WatchdogNation.com consumer rights movement, Dave also created his all-volunteer charity, Summer Santa, which provides assistance for impoverished children in North Texas.

“Dave has one of the most trusted voices in North Texas and our newsroom is honored to have him here,” said Bob Mong, editor of The Dallas Morning News. “For 20 years, people in Tarrant County knew they had an advocate, someone in their corner to help them solve problems with business or government. We’re lucky to have him, and we think readers across the region will feel likewise.”

Lieber won the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award in 2002 from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, for work that “best exemplifies the high ideals of the beloved philosopher-humorist who used his platform for the benefit of his fellow human beings.” Lieber is also a sought-after speaker, appearing in front of more than 100 audiences each year.

“Although I was at the Star-Telegram, I have always admired the newsroom, reputation and writers of the Morning News,” said Lieber. “Bob [Mong] shared with me the paper’s dedication to consumer support and advocacy, which is why I’m thrilled ‘The Watchdog’ has a new home up the road on I-30.”

The Morning News, named Texas’ best newspaper by the Associated Press Managing Editors, continues to enhance its award-winning newsroom. Last year it added Mitchell Schnurman as a business columnist. Earlier this year it hired Mark Lamster, a new architecture critic.

Lieber’s inaugural column with the Morning News will be published on Friday, May 31. His column will run every Friday and Sunday. 

 About The Dallas Morning News

Established in 1885, The Dallas Morning News (dallasnews.com) is Texas’ leading newspaper and the 12th largest newspaper in the U.S., based in the nation’s ninth largest city. Its portfolio of print and online products reaches an average daily audience of more than 1.1 million.

The newspaper has received nine Pulitzer Prizes since 1986, as well as numerous other industry awards recognizing the quality of its investigative and feature journalism, design and photojournalism.

In 2010, The News received the Pulitzer Prize for an editorial series highlighting the economic disparity between the northern half and southern half of Dallas.

In 2003, the paper launched the leading Spanish-language daily in North Texas, Al Dia and the nation’s first editorial blog. In 2007, the paper established one of the country’s first consumer-generated community news sites, neighborsgo.com.

The Dallas Morning News is the flagship newspaper subsidiary of A. H. Belo Corporation

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