Stanley Steemer van, yellow van

Why did Stanley Steemer charge me $1,408 and damage my wall, too?

The coupon offer from Stanley Steemer was attractive: $160 to clean up to eight furnace air ducts. Roberta Cirino thought she was doing a smart thing by responding to the mailing from the well-known cleaning service company. However, what happened next is a homeowner’s nightmare. The job came complete with a shockingly high final invoice and repair bills to fix the damage the Stanley Steemer crew did to her wall.

To add insult to injury, the owner of the franchised location responded to Cirino’s complaints about this “hatchet job” with indifference.

Now Cirino is asking Consumer Rescue to help right this wrong. She would like Stanley Steemer to adjust her bill and pay for the damage to her wall.

That seems like a more than reasonable request. So why hasn’t the company already agreed to correct the problem?

Vantage Travel ship called Ocean Explorer.

Vantage Travel assets sold to Pacific Travel Partners. What will customers get?

The remnants of Vantage Deluxe World Travel have been sold to Pacific Travel Partners, a subsidiary of Aurora Expeditions, for $2 million. 

Pacific Travel Partners will operate the new company as Vantage Explorations.

This outcome has surprised many following the Vantage Travel bankruptcy proceedings since late June, as competing bidder United Travel was widely expected to emerge as the winner. 

And there were more surprises when the purchase agreement details were revealed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on August 9. For Vantage customers, who are collectively owed $108 million, the offer from Pacific Travel Partners is considerably better than the initial sale proposal from United Travel.  

Now that the assets of Vantage Travel have been sold to Pacific Travel Partners, here’s what customers should know.

Zelle scams often start with a phone call, This is an iphone on a tablet.

Zelle scams are on the rise. Could you fall for this one?

All types of Zelle scams are reported to the Consumer Rescue advocacy team every week. Blindsided victims reach out to us, minutes too late – after they’ve sent their cash to cunning thieves through the instant money transfer app. 

And although Zelle scams are a common theme with consumers who fill out our help form, it’s rare to hear from the thieves themselves. In fact, it’s unheard of. 

That is, until this week. That’s when a criminal called me posing as a Bank of America executive. He tried his best to scam me into using Zelle to fix a problem he said the bank had detected.

Vantage Travel is bankrupt, Vantage Ocean Explorer and Odyssey are tied up side by side in France.

Vantage Travel is bankrupt. Here’s what customers need to know

Vantage Deluxe World Travel finally pulled the plug on itself and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 29. This move was no surprise to anyone following the troubling situation at the once well-respected tour operator. 

What did come as a surprise was the true debt the company amassed before increasing negative publicity about its operations forced it to shut down. The legal team of Vantage Travel revealed that shocking figure in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proposal.

All told, Vantage Travel owes customers, vendors, contractors, and other creditors over 170 million dollars.

Old style telephone to illustrate an article about Medicare Advantage calls.

Why does my Medicare Advantage plan keep calling me to schedule a home visit?

My sister-in-law recently asked me why her Medicare Advantage plan was repeatedly leaving voicemails asking her to set up a home visit. The messages offer to pay her $50 to do so. The money was tempting but she had concerns about the legitimacy of the calls.

She’s not the only one getting such requests. A Consumer Rescue reader submitted a similar question, asking if Medicare rules require her to agree to a visit.

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, chances are you’ve gotten or will get such a call. That has to make one wonder why the plans are willing to pay people to make the calls. Also, why are they so persistent, and why are they willing to pay you for the visits?

An advertisement for a long term rental on TripAdvisor turns out to be a scam.

I lost $1,721 in the “TripAdvisor” long term rental scam!

TripAdvisor is not in the business of long term rentals, so if you come across one on the site, it’s surely a scam. But first-time apartment hunter, Haley Cline was unaware of this fact.

When a friendly “TripAdvisor-approved owner” emailed her about a spectacularly discounted year-long rental, no alarm bells went off. The scam only came into focus after Cline sent her initial $1,721 deposit via Bitcoin to the online predator.

A thief stealing from an unsuspecting internet user

This is how a Craigslist thief easily stole his Target gift card

Tony Tucker has a sad tale to tell. A Craigslist thief stole his Target gift card. Now he’s empty-handed, and he wants to know if we can convince Target to return the lost $284. 

Tucker’s story is a reminder that there are multiple ways that thieves can steal gift cards, and these scammers are often one step ahead of the average consumer in their methods.

However, in this case, it seems that Tucker did something so ill-advised that the outcome was almost certainly guaranteed.

Elderly couple sitting in a field, must you join Medicare at age 65?

Reader question: Am I required to join Medicare when I turn 65?

There’s a lot of confusion about whether you are required to join Medicare when you turn 65.  Unfortunately, depending on who you ask, the answer you get may be wrong.

Recently, my wife and I had lunch with some long-time friends. He’s retired and enrolled in Medicare. She will soon turn 65 but does not plan to retire for at least another two years. The health insurance coverage she has through her work is fine.

She told us that she had attended a retirement planning session offered at her workplace, where the presenter said you must enroll in Medicare at age 65. She wanted to know if that was true. I told her that if the presenter actually said that, then she received some bad information.

Then just last week, an acquaintance asked me that same question.

So the purpose of this article is to give you the real answer, which is:  “It depends.”

A shopper making retail returns, warning about The Retail Equation

How does The Retail Equation protect merchants from shoppers who love to make returns?

When Mahitha Saldana headed to CVS to make some returns, he wasn’t expecting any problems. So it came as a shock when the cashier firmly refused to accept the items. When he asked for an explanation, she referred him to something called The Retail Equation.

Like Mahitha, you may have never heard of The Retail Equation. But if you frequently make retail returns, your name and information about your shopping patterns may already be stored in this nationwide database.