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Verizon says the rules were clear, but the FCC is looking into the 'unpleasant surprises' that customers sometimes face.

By Teresa Mears May 12, 2010 3:52PM

When the St. Germains of Massachusetts got their cell phone bill, they thought surely there had been a mistake. The bill that month for the family, normally about $100, was more than $12,000. When Bob St. Germain called Verizon Wireless to inquire, he was told that the next month's bill would be nearly $6,000.

 

Verizon explained that when the family had renewed its two-year contract, a free data download promotion had ended. Not realizing the service had changed, Bryan St. Germain, then a college student, downloaded 816,000 kilobytes of data the first month and 375,000 the second. Thus, their total bill for two months was nearly $18,000.

 

I downloaded 1.19 million kilobytes last month. It cost $29.99. That's Verizon's monthly charge for an unlimited data plan for my smart phone. Two months would be $59.98.

 

We don't know what a data plan cost in 2006, but if it was free for two years, it must not have cost the company $12,000 a month. Even if the St. Germains were 100% at fault, should making a mistake with your cell phone plan cost more than a new car?

 

News reports about how Jim Kennedy survived on rewards points accumulated during his corporate life led to the new position.

By Karen Datko May 12, 2010 2:47PM

Remember the story of Jim Kennedy, an executive who lost his job and then his home, and used a huge stash of hotel and airline rewards points to move from hotel to hotel?

 

Occasionally he'd tap the extensive wine collection kept with other comforts of his former life in rented storage. Otherwise, life was bland.

He's been hired by a Web advertising firm called Netword after employees there read about his itinerant life and job search.

 

Your old broken chains and class rings could fetch a good price right now -- but don't ship them off in an envelope.

By Karen Datko May 12, 2010 1:04PM

Gold alert! Gold hit a new intraday record of $1,247.70 an ounce on Wednesday.

What does that mean for regular folks? For one, if you didn't sell off your unwanted gold jewelry last year, you might want to consider it now.

 

To get the best price, you have to do it the smart way.

 

Knowing what's in season helps you plan menus around fruits and veggies on sale.

By Karen Datko May 12, 2010 10:52AM

This post comes from Thursday Bram at partner blog Wise Bread.

 

Every blogger who writes about saving money, eating healthy or just plain cooking tasty meals tells readers to choose fruits and vegetables that are in season. I've had just one problem: I don't know what's "in season."

I vaguely know that apples are harvested in the fall, and I know that my third-grade class picked pumpkins the week before Halloween. Beyond that, I'm at a loss.

 

I've been searching for a simple page that I could add to my shopping list, or something equally convenient.

 

Backyard chefs have an array of choices now, which can make the selection even more difficult. Here are some tips.

By Stacy Johnson May 11, 2010 6:06PM

This post comes from partner site Money Talks News.

 

Nothing says "summer" like a cookout. In days past, the backyard grill was most likely a metal can on spindly legs containing kerosene-soaked charcoal, suitable only for cooking a few burgers and a couple of dogs. But these days a grill could just as easily be a $2,000 stainless steel behemoth capable of cooking half a side of beef in one area, vegetables in another, and sporting features like a warming tray, a steamer, infrared cooking, multiple controls, fuel and temperature gauges and lights.

 

Welcome to grills gone wild.

 

Gangs of thieves stage accidents, fake injuries and then collect millions in fraudulent insurance claims.

By Teresa Mears May 11, 2010 2:21PM

As of last fall, Jonathan Jones had been in 42 car accidents in nine years.

 

"Maybe I should have been more careful. Maybe . . . well, all right. I definitely should have been more careful," Jones said.

But a report on "Inside Edition" (you can watch it here) pegged Jones as a con man who stages auto accidents and makes fraudulent insurance claims. The "Inside Edition" report shows Jones’ white truck speeding to catch up with another car and then hitting it in a Wal-Mart parking lot in North Carolina. Then he accused the other driver of causing the crash.

 

Questionable insurance claims from such staged crashes are on the rise, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported this week, up 46% from 2007 to 2009.

 

Partly because of the recession, Americans are devoting the smallest percentage of their income to taxes in 60 years.

By Karen Datko May 11, 2010 1:27PM

We’re buckling under the burden of high taxes, people like to complain. But once again there’s proof that we’re not. Federal, state and local taxes last year sucked up the lowest percentage of personal income since Harry Truman was president, USA Today reports.

 

And we have the recession to thank.

 

American Airlines and Marriott end rewards partnership.

By Karen Datko May 11, 2010 9:34AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.

 

Travelers face divided loyalties to American Airlines and Marriott Hotels due to the brands’ pending loyalty split.

American quietly announced to its frequent fliers last month that effective July 1 they can no longer earn miles for stays at Marriott. Currently, Marriott Rewards members earn per-dollar rates of either five to 10 points in the hotel program or one to two miles, based on which chain they visit and the rewards option they select. Spokespeople for Marriott and American declined to elaborate on the reasoning behind the split, saying only that the two were unable to come to an agreement when negotiating renewal of the partnership.

 

Travel experts are more willing to speculate.

 

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