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home : columnists and contributors : columnists and contributors February 6, 2016

3/12/2014 12:01:00 AM
Harbor Springs...Now and Then
Cynthia Morse Zumbaugh

Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware. I first heard that phrase when I was eleven or twelve and reading Gone With the Wind; Rhett suggested it, tongue in cheek, to Scarlett as a name for her store. It didn't resonate with me at the time because it wasn't something that we had to consider; none of the businesses that we used would have even thought about ripping off their neighbors. Rosie Rosenthal might try to talk you into clothes that didn't really fit you, but it was not done with malicious intent. Now, sadly, even in our little bit of heaven we need to be on our guard. Consider this more of an advice column that what I might normally offer.

A few years ago, the powers that be in Lansing passed a law that said individual items needn't be priced separately. I understand the purpose of the law, it is a major labor saving devise, but the other part of the law also states that the price must be visible on the shelf or wall or somewhere around the item. I find that even in stores that I frequent and really like, they don't bother to do the second part. You can either keep asking what the price is or get to the check out and take your chances that you can afford it; neither is an optimum way to shop.

I nag my husband constantly to watch as items are scanned and check your receipt. Rarely do I make it through a check out without catching at least one "mistake." I know, if you do, they are supposed to reimburse you for the price and a bonus, but that requires standing in yet another line for "customer service." Another trick that at least two stores that I know of play constantly is to leave up the signs advertising a sale after the sale is over. Technically, they are obligated to honor that price, but how many people do you think just pick up an item and take it to check out, thinking they are getting the sale price and then paying no further attention? I'll wager it is many more than you might think.

We had breakfast at a restaurant last weekend and I wasn't sure what I wanted to drink, so I was checking the menu only to find that they didn't include prices for any of their soft drinks. I asked the waitress and she didn't know, she had to go check. I find that curious. We were having dinner at another restaurant recently where we have eaten for years and I noticed on the bill that, after over twenty years, they no longer give free refills on soda. It might have been nice to be informed of that fact. Would I have paid $1.99 for eight ounces of flat Pepsi after the initial glass? I don't think so.

The other area where people need to be extra cautious is in hiring a contractor and I'm not just talking a builder. Masonry, painting, concrete, insulation, siding, roofing and many other jobs require a license. Ask to see a license and find out if they are insured; those questions could save you big time down the road. I have listened to stories that ranged from hiring a painting crew and paying half up front, only to have them disappear with no trace a couple days into the job to completely unsatisfactory work and obscene overcharging. If they are licensed, at least you can find some contact information for them and file a complaint if necessary; if they are not licensed, you can try turning it over to the District Attorney as it is a violation of the law. And always get a written estimate so you do have a leg to stand on when you are charged $1300 for 17 hours of painting (the story I heard most recently.)

On a happier note, Ray Kiogima came through his surgery well and is recuperating. Best wishes to Ray and to Jerry Mike Hoffman who is undergoing some major medical issues as well.

We'll start our birthday wishes this week with a Happy Birthday to Sonya Thompson on March 13 and Jenny Morse, Aveleigh Kughman, Jan Bishop and Deanna Shorter Llewellyn on the 14. On the 15th we send birthday greetings to Tracy Irish Texter and on Sunday, March 16 to Robyn Parsons Kloss and Pam Beck Lawless. Tuesday, March 18, we say Happy Birthday to Toni Fisher, Pat Kaniarz and Kim Bidstrup Williams. Finally, we round out our week on Wednesday, March 19 by sending birthday wishes to Justin Bassett, Jody Ewbank, Judy Bandemer Boyer, Joe Flynn and a Happy 102nd to Linnea Simonis.

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