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The gratuity was mandatory for large parties, but what if the service stinks?

By Karen Datko Nov 20, 2009 2:38PM

Bizarre story of the week: Two restaurant patrons were arrested on a charge of theft when they refused to pay a $16 mandatory tip that was part of their bill.

 

College student Leslie Pope told a TV reporter that the service was so bad at the Bethlehem, Pa., establishment that she had to get the table’s silverware and napkins and walk to the bar to refill her soda. An hour after the group of eight ordered chicken fingers and other bar grub, the food arrived.

The menu says an 18% tip is included in the bill for parties of six or more. The tip on their bill amounted to $16.35 (inexplicably higher than 18%).

 

NBC Philadelphia reports:

After the $73 bill came, the group paid for food, drinks, and tax but refused to pay the tip. After explaining the bad service to the bartender in charge, Pope claimed he took their money and called police. The couple was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car. 
 

The Dough Roller explains why this approach to retirement savings works for him.

By Karen Datko Nov 20, 2009 12:35PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

Last week my family had dinner with good friends of ours. After dinner our conversation turned to investing. Our friends told us about a money manager they were going to use to manage a small portion of their investment portfolio. The wife was fed up with the buy-and-hold investment strategy, she told us, and was looking to become more aggressive with their investments. I cringed.

 

The money manager charges 2% of invested assets and regularly takes short positions (bets against the market). He is also partial to ProShares, a mutual fund that uses leverage to boost returns (and losses!), as if investing weren’t risky enough.

Anyway, the wife’s basic beef with long-term investing strategies was that the market over the past 10 years had failed to produce positive returns. In her view, the market goes up and down, but in the end, finishes right where it started. One might say the market is "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

 

Discount coffee and chocolate for shoppers, plus Quiznos coupons.

By Teresa Mears Nov 20, 2009 12:17PM

We don’t have too many new Friday food deals and freebies this week. Perhaps the restaurant management thinks we’re all too busy at home cooking. If you want to go out, do check your local restaurants for Thanksgiving deals.

Some of last week’s freebies and deals are still valid. If you’re traveling, don’t forget you can get free Wi-Fi at airports during the holidays. And, Bass Pro Shops and other chain stores have ongoing free craft workshops for kids.

 

Here are a few new food deals:

 

When times are tight, small luxuries feel -- or taste -- particularly swell.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 20, 2009 12:03PM

This week has been a series of minor irritants, including but not limited to constant rain, leaky apartment house windows, 52 pages of really dense course reading, a hot freelance deadline, and making the 50-minute trip to campus one day only to find that the class had been canceled. (It was pouring that day, too.)

Haunting just about every waking minute is the fact that the undergraduate thesis that's due in mid-December is nowhere close to being done.

Once my wet shoes squished across the threshold on Thursday evening I wanted to lie down and scream, as some of my relatives might say. Instead, I ordered takeout.

That is very unlike me. And you know what? It was sooo worth it.

 

They may be in short supply, but it's a frozen waffle, folks.

By Karen Datko Nov 19, 2009 7:35PM

The national shortage of Eggos has grabbed the blogosphere’s attention like few real crises in recent weeks. The most ridiculous thing we’ve read is this: People are selling Eggos on eBay.

 

Michelle Singletary, the engaging personal-finance columnist for The Washington Post, confirmed that fact after hearing rumblings on Twitter and Facebook. “One person is auctioning off a box of waffles for $49.99, another for $65. If you are a bargain shopper, you can grab a box of blueberry Eggo waffles from one seller for 99 cents,” Singletary wrote. So far no takers, suggesting that most people are still somewhat sane.

Singletary also said, “The ways people try to make money never cease to amaze me.” Amen.

 

The emotional side of our brain often gets us in a financial fix.

By Karen Datko Nov 19, 2009 5:18PM

You’re not stupid. So why do you do things like splurge on yourself to punish your spouse, drain your bank account to bail out spendthrift kids, or pay high interest on credit card debt when you have the savings to pay it off?

The brain is a funny thing, says a post at CBS MoneyWatch.com, and an oversized part of it is often getting the best of us and our money. Writer Kathy Kristof turned to psychologist Brad Klontz for some analysis. She writes:

A financial psychologist, Klontz says that when it comes to money smarts, size matters: The logical part of your brain is so much smaller than the emotional side that it’s like “a circus performer riding an elephant.” To make smart decisions about your finances, you need the logical side to dominate.

Her post describes nine dumb things we do with money when emotions get the best of us. Among them:

 

Retail theft rising, with more middle-class shoplifters, study finds.

By Teresa Mears Nov 19, 2009 2:18PM

It’s no surprise that, in this economy, shoplifting is up. Worldwide, retail theft grew 5.9% last year, accounting for about $208 per family.

 

A new Global Retail Theft Barometer study, produced by the Centre For Retail Research, found that the greatest increase in retail theft came in North America, where the rate grew 8.1%. (The highest rate of theft was in India.) The study’s authors attributed the increase in theft to the recession and also to stores cutting their security budgets. The survey covered July 2008 to June 2009.

 

Bruce Crumley, writing for Time magazine from Paris, talks about “one of the more surprising findings: A growing number of new shoplifters are outwardly reputable, middle-class people who are walking off with French cheeses, quality meats, cosmetics, mobile phones, clothing and other goodies that they feel they need to maintain a quality of life they can no longer afford.”

 

Here are steps you can follow if a merchant isn't treating you right.

By Karen Datko Nov 19, 2009 1:19PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

If you've gotten a raw deal from a retailer, the law is often on your side, but many consumers are unaware of those protections when trying to resolve disputes.

 

People often make the wrong assumptions about what the laws allow, or they rely on misinformation from friends, family or merchants.

"There are recourses available to consumers, but often people don't know about them," said Noreen Perrotta, finance editor of Consumer Reports Money Adviser. "From getting rain checks from your local supermarket when they are out of the spaghetti sauce they advertised as half off to doing a credit card chargeback after your refrigerator dies three months after the warranty expires, in many cases, consumers may have more rights than they think."

 

Here are some common scenarios and tips from Consumer Reports Money Adviser experts on how to get satisfaction:

 

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