A look back at 2013: Did Help Squad help?


Send your letters, your complaints, your injustices and your story ideas to and we will be happy to help you.

It’s been almost four months since we launched Help Squad. During that time, we read your letters, we made calls for you and we sat on hold.

We played phone tag with business owners. We sometimes had to call them 15 times before we got a return call. But, we never gave up.

There were times people got angry with us or hung up on us. There were some things we couldn’t solve, and there were injustices, but as frustrating as it was, we always managed to offer some kind of advice, whether it was money saving tips or referrals to people or organizations that might be able to help.

Then there were the moments of glory, the times we got tangible results, and the cases where we received sincere apologies and a strong assurance that the problem we were working on would be taken care of. And it was.

So, as the year ends, we thought it would be interesting to summarize how Help Squad did in 2013. In other words, here’s what we fixed and here’s what we didn’t fix.


Our successes:

1. We got a WeDeal user $30 back from a deal gone bad, and also scored her an additional $30 credit.

2. A Sun-Times Media Local customer with billing problems ended up with 16 complimentary issues of our paper.

3. A Barnes and Noble customer received an owed $213.43 credit for a Nook she had previously returned.

4. United Airlines issued a $39 credit to a passenger who paid for Economy Plus but sat in coach.

5. A television repair shop owner returned a deposit of $39.95 to someone whose television they claim was unfixable.

6. We were relentless in getting a landscaper to have a glass door which they broke repaired.

7. A woman who was unhappy with her eyeglasses reached a resolution with Pearl Vision, and was able to exchange her current lenses, even after 12 months.


Our unsolved cases

1.A Nicor Gas customer was grossly over billed. After getting nowhere with Nicor, we referred the customer to the Citizens Utility Board, a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of residential utility customers across the state.

2.Our biggest disappointment: a woman whose bathroom was torn up by Servpro for an estimate her insurance company, Allstate, requested and subsequently left that way. Allstate took the position that the problem wasn’t covered under the policy. Servpro blamed Allstate, saying the company authorized them to rip up the bathroom. We referred the homeowner to Prairie State Legal Services, which offers free legal representation to residents in Lake County who can’t otherwise obtain an attorney for a civil legal issue.


Our tips

Part of Help Squad’s mission is to help our readers save money. So, often times we seek the help of experts to give us tips we think can help stretch your dollar further and/or help you make smart consumer decisions.

In 2013 we offered:

1. Tips for buying or selling your home

2. How to find the right e-reader

3. Ways to lengthen the life of your television

4. Different snow removal options and costs

5. Year end financial tips

6. How to find the perfect Christmas Tree

7. What to look for when buying new eyeglasses

8. Our favorite, tips on how much to tip.

In honor of the New Year, we couldn’t resist offering you a tip that might come in handy.


With the help of Northfield-based wine expert and author, Melanie Wagner, here are three champagnes with different price points, that are all as wonderful as we hope the new year will be! These are all available at Binny’s.

1. Cristalino Extra Dry, From Spain, this has rich, smoky notes with pear, almond and lemon flavors. Light and tangy. $6.99

2. Nina Franco Prosecco Rustica, an Italian sparkling wine with white peaches, smoke and flowers in its taste. Has a rich textured finish. $11.99

3. J Cuvee 20, From Sonoma, this is a crisp yet creamy pear, green apple and spice flavored champagne. $26.99


Happy New Year and thank you for your letters, your support and most of all, your readership. We look forward to HELPing you in 2014!

Read More Local Voices


Send your letters, your complaints, your injustices and your story ideas to and we will be happy to help you.


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