Drive, he said — before dangling phony check as bait
Updated: May 8, 2012 4:07PM
Dear Fixer: I applied on Craigslist for a driving job and received an offer from a Phil Meyer who told me he was coming to Chicago with his wife and two sons on a six-month sabbatical. He emailed me and we corresponded a few times and I told him how much I wanted per hour, which came out to $600 per week.
Today, I received an envelope with a check for $2,100, which I deposited in my bank account. I became leery as to why a stranger would send another stranger that amount of money. He told me to put the check in my account and when the check cleared, I was to contact his real estate agent and give them the other portion of the money after I’ve taken out my $600.
I am convinced something is not right. I checked online at the university where he’s supposed to be teaching, but I can’t find any evidence of this individual anywhere. What should I do?
Dear Thomas: Your intuition is right — this has “scam” written all over it. This con artist — most likely working overseas with accomplices in the United States — is counting on your bank to make the funds “available” right away, before it becomes apparent that the check is a fake. By then, he hopes you will already have sent $1,500 to the supposed real estate agent, who, we assume, is in on the scam.
We’ve advised you to complain to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Illinois Attorney General and the Chicago office of the FBI. You’ve also notified your bank. You were smart to not fall for this.
Dear Fixer: In January I purchased a GE range hood from Sears. It was installed on Jan. 25.
Unfortunately, in the course of removing the old hood and installing the new one, the independent installer cracked the surface of my glass cooktop, which was also purchased from Sears barely two years ago. I noticed the crack only after the installer had finished and departed, but I immediately called to report the damage.
On Feb. 1, two men came to my house
and took pictures of the damaged stovetop. They said I would hear back in “a few days” and that they would initiate the claim that very day. The next day, I got a claim number from Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Sears’ third-party insurance administrator.
After that, there were some delays while the claims person faxed and re-faxed paperwork to the other parties.
Meanwhile, since the manufacturer’s warning on my cooktop strictly prohibits cooking on the appliance if there is any damage, I was forced to purchase an electric skillet and hot plate in order to prepare meals.
On March 8, I finally got an answer. The claims person from Sedgwick told me the installer had reviewed the photos and had said the stovetop was covered in dirt and debris — which, quite frankly, was laughable and obviously a desperate ploy to get out of replacing the damaged cooktop. Even if this were true, in the wildest stretch of the imagination, what has the presence of dirt and debris got to do with the crack in the stove’s glass surface?
I haven’t had any luck resolving this.
Every phone call is met with more misinformation, resistance and false pledges of
quick resolution. Three months into this ordeal, I am relegated to cooking on a skillet and hot plate like some transient railcar jumper.
Fixer, can you fix this one?
Dear Shirley: You told us there was a thick towel over the glass cooktop on that fateful day, but apparently even that wasn’t enough to protect the glass from this mishap. Just after the guy left, when you were cleaning up the area, you noticed a 4½-inch crack arcing over the left corner of the stovetop.
It seems obvious what happened, and
the good news is once we got this into the right hands at Sears, it was obvious to them, too.
Sears contacted their insurance company and immediately ordered you a new cooktop. They sent a different installation company to your house to do the work. And they will send you a check for the $319 you spent on the electric burner and skillet. Sears will then attempt to recoup the costs from the independent installer — but lucky for you, you won’t have to get involved with that.
With contractors, as with blind dates, it’s best to have as much information as possible.
Is this someone I can trust? What’s his relationship record? If I go with this person, will my heart — and wallet — be happy?
Ellen wishes she would have checked out her contractor more thoroughly.
She told The Fixer she made a down payment of 50 percent on a $7,900 fence to keep her dogs in her yard, but when the job was finished, her 6-pound Yorkie could easily walk right through all the gaps. Only later did Ellen notice other consumer complaints online.
Ellen wishes she would have done more research upfront, because consumer complaints can be quite decentralized.
Some consumers gripe to every official agency and informal website they can find; others go to only one or two. Some complaints are more believable than others.
But when it comes to hiring a contractor, you can never have “TMI” — too much information. Better to know beforehand what you’re getting into.
Getting the runaround about a
consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer
where you’ll find a simple form to fill out.