Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Originally published in the Observer Eccentric Newspapers

In my many years of writing this column and my almost 30 years of doing a radio show I have seldom been in tears doing my enjoyable work. Last Saturday I received an on air phone call from Doctor Sase who lives in Ann Arbor. He described the following scenario. “We received a call from an Air Duct Cleaning Company who said they could clean our air ducts for a special price. We were taken by their phone call and committed to have them do the job. They came to our home and quoted a price of $800.00 to do the job and after I explained that it was too costly they did the work for $600.00. After they were finished we have been seeing moths flying all around the different rooms. It appears that we have been scammed by a very unethical air duct cleaning company and can you help us.”  He went on to tell me that he is 90 years old and suffered a stroke some months ago. His wife is 88 years of age and they live in a modest home of 1200 square feet. Suddenly he burst out crying while talking to me and that is all it took to get me in the same frame of mind. Now, isn’t this enough to give you a picture of what happened to this good man and his wife?

I have written in the past about crooked air duct cleaners and how it is a national concern and how all consumers should be aware of whom the bad guys are. Here is a typical story that is not going to end until I get myself involved. I have already made arrangements for a reputable company to go to Doctor Sasses’ home and give me a detailed report on the quality of the work performed by the bad guy. Once I get this report I am going to visit the Doctor and take him to his District Court and help him file a small claims case so he can get his money back. As you can tell, I haven’t mentioned this bad guy’s company name and all I know right now is that he is located in Livonia. It might be possible that he reads this column and I want him to know that I’m coming after him. Once I prove in a court of law that he ripped off this particular consumer and senior citizen I am going to write the second chapter of this story. I am also going to contact some friends in the television industry and don’t be surprised if you learn more about this company from watching the nightly news.

Now let me give our readers a sort of refresher course on some of my past years. Today I am a senior citizen, retired on fixed income but I used to be one hell of a consumer advocate. I used to work for Esther Shapiro, the retired director of Detroit Consumer Affairs and she was about as tough as they come when it comes to dealing with unethical business dealings. I spent years working as a fraud investigator with Attorney Generals Frank Kelly and Jennifer Granholm and I helped put some nasty people on hold. The television industry used me many times to help them set up sting operations which helped consumers become more aware and educated on how some services are too good to be true. In this State of Michigan, consumer protection is almost a thing of the past. There are no more consumer protection agencies which help people with problems like the one described above. You have to fend for yourself and God help you if you happen to be old and not as sharp as you once were. In the old days it wouldn't take this long to solve a problem like a rip-off company so described. I would just pick up the consumer and drive over to the crooks business office, explain what the problem was, introduce myself and get the distraught homeowners money returned on the spot. Maybe the guy who is now in trouble is reading this column and if so he can send a check for $600.00 to Doctor Sase in Ann Arbor. He can do it now or do it later. Stay tuned. 

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