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Jewish World Review June 22, 2000 /19 Sivan, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Consumer Reports


Pie story hard to swallow


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- DEAR BRUCE: After enjoying a rather pleasant meal in a local cafe, you can imagine how surprised I was when I bit into a piece of blueberry pie and found a pebble. Unfortunately I was biting down pretty hard and broke off a perfectly good tooth.

When I showed the pebble to the owner, he was very sympathetic but said that there was nothing that he could do, that he had purchased the pie from a bakery.

When I contacted the bakery, they said that there was nothing that they could do since I couldn't prove that the pebble was in the pie. It is true I was dining alone, and no one was a witness, except the waiter when I called it to his attention.

What can I do? -- O.S., via e-mail

Dear O.S.: I am afraid that you are stuck for the cost of a new cap. You must understand that restaurants and food manufacturers are bombarded with charges of foreign material in their products. More often than not, there is absolutely no way it can be proved, or for that matter, disproved. You can understand why they would be reluctant to pay a claim.

In the case of packaged products, they will offer you coupons for money off your next purchases. You may say that you don't want to buy those products again, but unless you can demonstrate credibly that the product was contaminated, there is very little that you can do. Given the propensity for false claims, you can understand why they are so reluctant to honor your claim.

DEAR BRUCE: My wife bought a car in April of this year and financed it through a major credit company. In May she made her first payment on the loan. Fifteen days later she received a check in the mail from the company for $56 and the attached stub stating that she had overpaid this amount on the loan, which was now paid in full.

She called them and said that this must be a mistake, that she owed about $11,000. They said there was no mistake and would be sending the title to us. Two other calls to other individuals said the same thing. We don't want something that is not ours. -- S.D., via e-mail

DEAR S.D.: What a problem to have! I am not sure that there is much more that you can do. Diogenes certainly has found an honest man and woman. You have contacted them three times. I would send them a letter, keeping a copy for yourself. If they continue to insist that it is paid for in full, then you might want to try the following: Every month, make a car payment to an escrow account of your own in your name.

You know what the money is for, and the likelihood is that sooner or later they will catch on, and you will have all of the paper backed up and the money to make good.

Congratulations on your honesty. It is refreshing. DEAR BRUCE: I am looking at buying a service inventory business. They use software machines to inventory both small and large retail businesses. The owner is asking $32,500 for this home-based business, which grossed $64,000. I want to stay in my regular job until at least the end of the year. Do you think that I could handle this with some help from my wife or a hired hand, or should I just wait? -- D.B., via e-mail

DEAR D.B.: First of all, you may not have the opportunity to wait. If there is another offer for the business, she will probably take it. I am assuming that this is a one-person business, and after expenses, she probably netted somewhere between $40,000 to $50,000 a year. If this is the case and the seller has contracts to perform these services, I think the price is fair.

As to trying to run the company and keep your present job, that might be a difficult thing to do. However, if your wife is going to work in the business full time for the rest of the year, you could keep the enterprise going until you are ready to enter it full time. I have no problem with that at all. It sounds like it might be a nice little retirement.



Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).

Up

06/21/00: Insuring an older car
06/19/00: Take the money and run!
06/16/00: Utility company incursion
06/15/00: Insurance settlement is no bargain
06/13/00: A straightforward form of bankruptcy
06/08/00: In the computer's clutches
06/07/00: The trouble with tenants
06/05/00: Do I really need title insurance?
06/01/00: The truth about nursing home insurance
05/30/00: Keep mother-daughter loan simple
05/25/00: CDs for security, not investment
05/24/00: Battling with collection agency
05/22/00: Are callable CDs a waste of time?
05/18/00: Building a college fund
05/16/00: Even death brings no relief
05/15/00: House is 'worth' what's offered
05/12/00: Borrow from Mom and Dad?
05/11/00: Your heirs, your choice
05/09/00: Mutual-fund investigations
05/05/00: Credit cards vs. debit cards
05/04/00: Lawyer are good for something
05/03/00: The binding nature of contracts
05/02/00: You know you are in trouble when ...
05/01/00: Can primary residence be rented out?
04/28/00: A full refund after five years?
04/25/00: Get a homeowner's title policy!
04/24/00: Beware of errors in your favor
04/18/00: $10,000 limit on gifts
04/17/00: Invest or repay student loans?
04/13/00: Beware of Internet auctions
04/11/00: Six percent is a pittance
04/10/00: Married couples should share windfall
04/07/00: How not to blow an inheritance
04/06/00: Get genetic screening for Tay-Sachs
04/05/00: Beating the look-back period
04/04/00: Providing for retirement
04/03/00: Readers disagree on time shares
03/30/00: The road back to good credit
03/29/00: Pre-tax dollars in IRA taxed later
03/27/00: Gambling on business ventures
03/22/00: Old cars as hobby, not investment
03/20/00: Tax on foreign gifts?
03/16/00: How to buy government bonds
03/13/00: Buying treasury instruments
03/09/00: Subcontractors must pay S.S.
03/08/00: Real-estate lawyers are essential
03/07/00: Don't expect compensation for ideas
03/06/00: Too rich for a Roth IRA?
03/01/00: Is time-sharing a scam?
02/29/00: Paying for nursing-home care
02/28/00: Rely on a real-estate lawyer
02/23/00: Keeping child's money safe from divorce
02/16/00: Just how important is a 401(k)?
02/14/00: Shaky partnership buying house
02/11/00: Protection by residential zoning
02/09/00: Benefiting from a reverse mortgage
02/07/00: Ensure your insurability
02/04/00: Absurd community zoning laws
02/02/00: Money or securities?
02/01/00: Can we KO a custodian?
01/31/00: Why sell a home you love?
01/26/00: Everyone needs a will
01/25/00: Will splitting stocks affect rollover?
01/24/00: Should early retirees contribute to SEP?
01/21/00: Strategies for paying off debt
01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
01/14/00: Don't be a spendthrift!
01/13/00: Who gets the house?
01/11/00: It all depends on size of estate
01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
12/20/99: Capital gains tax sometimes best
12/17/99: Don't give up your nest egg
12/15/99: Small-claims court no panacea
12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
11/18/99: Students can work and learn
11/16/99: Value is what will sell
11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
11/08/99: Real life is tough luck
11/03/99: The right time to cash a savings bond
11/01/99: Slow road for savings accounts
10/29/99: What do you want from insurance?
10/27/99: You have a right to see your tax forms!
10/25/99: Why own a house at 65?
10/22/99: Online fine, but CDs?
10/20/99: Love, honor -- and separate credit
10/18/99: Find the value of your stocks
10/15/99: Property lien prevents trade
10/13/99: Clear up debt, only then tie the knot
10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
10/04/99: Should I stick with the company IRA?
10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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