Monday, September 27, 2010
Help Me Howard: Almonds
We all have one thing in common: we eat. So what happens if you buy a product at the store that makes you sick or breaks a tooth? Who is responsible: you, the store or the manufacturer? Good question. Let's get the answer from Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- One look at Joan Adams and it's obvious: the camera loves her.
Joan Brown Adams: "I was Miss North Carolina."
From beauty queen to Cover Girl model, Joan was, is and will probably always be a model.
Joan Brown Adams: "That's how I paid for my roof: through modeling jobs."
Her looks are important, and to keep looking great, she takes good care of herself.
Joan Brown Adams: "Diet and exercise are extremely important. I find that nuts and fresh fruit, everything helps."
But it's some nuts she recently ate that are, well, driving her nuts.
Joan Brown Adams: "I bought the same almonds that I have been buying for years, raw almonds that are a staple of my diet, and stuck some in my mouth and started chewing away. It was just like eating rocks. It was just like crunching down on rocks. It was a surprise."
The almonds versus her teeth. Guess who won?
Joan Brown Adams: "I fractured three crowns. Not one, not two, but three crowns."
Joan immediately went back to the store with the rest of the almonds.
Joan Brown Adams: "I put a rubber band around the package so they wouldn't slip out. I put it in the manager's hand, and I said, 'This is what this did.'"
Then she went to the dentist, where the news was crushing.
Joan Brown Adams: "And here I am, stuck with three fractured crowns, a bill of almost $4,000, and that's not right."
The store did send her a letter telling her, "We apologize for any inconvenience or concern caused to you." That was followed by a letter from the nut company's attorney.
Joan Brown Adams: "He said to send him the bills, and I haven't heard anything."
Hadn't heard anything, and now the hard nuts have created another headache: how to get the $4,000 to fix her teeth.
Joan Brown Adams: "Because being a widow, I have a lot of expenses I have to cover. I have a home in the Grove and big property taxes and a lot of responsibility. It was awful. It was like a nightmare. I couldn't believe it."
Well Howard, it's inevitable that a food product might be defective. But is the manufacturer responsible or the customer who bit into the nuts?
Howard Finkelstein: "If the product is defective, the manufacturer is responsible. But you have to show the product is defective and caused the damage. In other words, the nuts may have been hard, but Joan would have to prove that her crowns were not defective and the nuts caused the damage."
When we spoke to the attorney for the nut company, he said the only way to determine what happened is to examine the nuts. But unfortunately for Joan, the store says they don't have them. The attorney says they want to be fair and will still investigate Joan's claim. Howard says, the lesson is clear.
Howard Finkelstein: "Never throw anything away. In this case, you keep the broken crowns and you keep the nuts, even if the store and the manufacturer wants them back."
It's a costly lesson for Joan, and one she can't afford.
Joan Brown Adams: "Alone and helpless and just frustrated and put in a very difficult position financially."
Patrick Fraser: "Now people always wonder if they can get money if they buy a bad product. Only if there is damage, such as breaking a tooth. But let's say you buy sour milk and drink it. You get a stomachache. That pain will pass, so you collect nothing, 'cause there is no permanent damage. And for you, that's a good thing."
Eaten up by painful troubles? Want it to be food for thought for Howard? Contact us, and let us chew on it. Hopefully we will prepare a tasty solution.