Monday, January 2, 2012
Help Me Howard: Top 7 Problems in 2011
A few things you can't overcome- death and taxes. But one you can beat- problems. It's inevitable that you will have them in 2012 but we know one way you can win. Keep an eye on Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser, who shows us how to get ready for those inevitable problems in the next year.
WSVN -- Howard Finkelstein: "Hello everybody, I'm the attorney Howard Finkelstein and the fellow by my side, the reporter Patrick Fraser."
Patrick Fraser: "Happy new year and Howard, if I had to use one word to describe what people who contacted us are having to do, it's fight."
Howard Finkelstein: "Each year we list the top seven problems, but this past year they were impossible to rank. So lets just go with 7 battles people are faced last year and you may have to confront this year."
Patrick Fraser: "Beginning with personal problems. From a woman who says she was tricked into paying union dues, to a family fighting a neighbor who is tormenting them. Howard simply put, sometimes the best person to battle a problem is yourself."
Howard Finkelstein: "Every situation is different but if you think you are right, do not give up. Go up the chain of command and be persistent."
Patrick Fraser: "Another thing people have problems with- pets."
Howard Finkelstein: "For example, one family was furious that a kennel lost their dog. And then there are the animal lovers who drive their neighbors up the wall with dogs that bark morning, noon and night."
Patrick Fraser: "Another fight South Floridians have are with utilities. From the people who got a water bill triple or quadruple their normal bill, to the unlucky residents who got a nice new smart meter from FPL that caught on fire and destroyed their appliances, to the cellphone users- like the guy who got a $201,000 cellphone bill for one month. Howard how can you fight a public utility?"
Howard Finkelstein: "Some water companies and the power companies are regulated by the Florida Public Service Commission- complain to them. If you have a phone or cable problem, contact the FCC."
Patrick Fraser: "Another big headache for South Floridians- cars. Whether its financing, used cars that break down the minute you leave the lot, or repair shops that don't repair. Got an easy answer?"
Howard Finkelstein: "So often we hear from people who read the contract after they signed it. Take your time, understand what you are reading and if someone promises you something, make them put it in writing and then sign it."
Patrick Fraser: "Another problem that seems to get worse as people's situations get worse- fighting government agencies. From the funeral procession that got ticketed for running a red light as police blocked the intersection and waved them through, to the fellow who Broward County came after years after he got a speeding ticket. Howard, the economy has made it tougher on people and I am convinced it's making government agencies tougher to deal with."
Howard Finkelstein: "Because they are strapped for cash and are trying to generate it. If you have a problem and the bureaucrats won't help, call your elected official. It's their job to make the bureaucrats do their job."
Patrick Fraser: "Next up- businesses. As the economy struggles, businesses struggle. Many succeed by better customer service but not all of them. There was the guy who was sold a phony Gibson guitar by a pawn shop, the banks that cash stolen checks and then blame their customer. The list goes on and on."
Howard Finkelstein: "A couple of things- work with businesses that have been around or come highly recommended. Also, pay with a credit card because that gives you extra protection if something goes wrong."
Patrick Fraser: "And we saved this for last, or first because it's where you spend the majority of our time- your home. People battling their associations, fighting with their landlords or their tenants. You come home to relax, but it can get stressful."
Howard Finkelstein: "There are good and bad associations, good landlords and of course bad ones. So read your lease or condo documents, go to the meetings, be active. It's easier to head off a problem before it happens."
Patrick Fraser: "The past year has been tough for so many people, but I truly think either its getting better or we are all getting better at fighting the problem."
Howard Finkelstein: "Of course you will still have problems in 2012 you can't resolve. It's why we are here."
Patrick Fraser: "We want to help, so please get in contact with us and happy new year."
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com