Great Scott! Get off my lawn!
Updated: June 11, 2012 5:34PM
Dear Fixer: My complaint is with Scotts Lawn Service. I was a first-time Scotts customer in 2011 and paid about $760 in advance for the entire year’s application.
During that year, I expressed to both the technician and the local manager that I was dissatisfied with some of the results. A reapplication was made, but the affected area was only made worse: the grass was totally burned.
We decided we would complain no more and when the current year’s treatment was completed, we would seek another provider.
Early this spring, a Scotts technician apparently stealthily entered our premises without my knowledge or permission. The only evidence was a flag placed in the front lawn. Missing were the usual flag in the back yard and the telltale odor, so the actual application of any product is suspect. I was home and neither saw nor heard the technician or his truck; I only noticed the flag when I went to get the mail about 11 a.m.
I immediately called the Scotts office in Elgin and advised them that we had not renewed for 2012.
They insisted that it was their custom to continue such “contracts” forever unless canceled by the homeowner. I have repeatedly requested a copy of any contract that I may have signed. Now they are sending me “past due” notices, with late fees added ($81.90 plus $7.50 late fee), and calling me saying I owe them for the unauthorized application.
Scotts called again recently, and I repeated my request for a copy of any document indicating that I had committed to ongoing lawn service, but they admitted that no such contract exists. It’s just their standard practice.
How can I get Scotts off my back?
Dear Shell: The question isn’t just how to get them off your back, but also off your lawn.
You never signed any contract, having ordered service last year over the phone. We saw some fine print on your invoice from Scotts that read: “For your convenience, service continues from season to season.” Apparently, that means they’ll come back (and bill you) every year for the foreseeable future.
That seems weird to us, but then again The Fixer has almost no lawn and no need for a lawn service. We do know that there’s a boatload of complaints online about Scotts’ automatic renewals.
Regina Carter, Scotts’ local customer service and administration manager, said the auto-renewal “affords a measure of predictability for our customers.” (And a measure of predictable money for Scotts, we assume.)
Carter did agree to cancel your service and she waived the $89.40 in charges, so now we’ll consider this fixed.
Dear Fixer: I injured myself early this year — I ruptured my Achilles tendon and had to have surgery to repair it. As luck would have it, I re-ruptured it 28 days later and had to have the same surgery to repair it.
I have Loyola University Health System as my network of choice and was glad to know they had acquired Gottlieb Memorial Hospital because it’s closer to my house than their main facility in Maywood.
I had both surgeries at Gottlieb. During my follow-up visits, I was told that I would have to undergo physical therapy.
My doctor’s nurse told me I could go to Gottlieb for the physical therapy. My primary doctor issued a referral and she entered it into Loyola’s electronic records system.
When I arrived at Gottlieb, they asked if I had obtained a referral and I said yes. Later, at my second visit, they told me my referral was not good at Gottlieb.
I was surprised since I had my two surgeries at Gottlieb and my insurance covered those. I am being stiffed with a bill of almost $1,000 for the physical therapy.
If you’re lost, Fixer, so am I. This is crazy.
Gilbert Villegas Jr.
Dear Gilbert: This did seem odd, given that Gottlieb’s own logo has that beautiful “1870” Loyola crest identifying it with the university’s brand. The good news is that once we brought it to their attention, the folks at Loyola fixed this quickly. They found the referrals and processed your claims, and everything will be covered under your health plan. Loyola spokeswoman Stasia Thompson apologized for the mix-up and said she hopes you’re feeling better soon.
K. was test-driving a used car when she and the salesman heard something strange.
“I noticed a rattling sound coming from the front passenger side,” K. wrote The Fixer.
It had been raining for several days prior, so the sales guy said not to worry; the rattling was just the brakes squeaking because they were wet.
“I assumed the salesperson knew what he was talking about and purchased the vehicle. Well, three days later (and no rain) the car was still noisy,” K. wrote.
The dealership serviced it at no charge to K., and for a week or two, the car was fine.
But then the noise returned with a vengeance.
Sadly, the manufacturer wouldn’t do anything to help K., since the car was not new. She was at the mercy of the dealer, who after numerous attempts couldn’t seem to make the noise stop. It’s too late for K., but not too late for anyone else who’s planning to purchase a used car. Have your own independent mechanic check out any used car you’re considering. If the mechanic finds a small thing wrong, you can use it to negotiate a better price. And if he finds a big thing wrong, you still have time to walk away.