Complaint sagas

No grace period to pay health care premiums

Monday, August 17th, 2009

It’s no surprise that Greg Lee isn’t the only unemployed Minnesotan to be caught off guard by a COBRA health coverage cancellation notice. His predicament, featured in my Sunday column , arose after a minor accounting error on his part. Lee’s coverage was administered through Igoe Administrative Services, a San Diego-based company that handles COBRA for his previous employer LA Fitness. For the last month, he had been trying to get Igoe to reinstate his coverage. But it turns out that Lee might have had more luck if he knew that there was a federal government department tasked with handling these types of situations. (more…)

Could wasps solve the problem of the flies?

Monday, August 10th, 2009

In the Sunday Whistleblower column, I wrote about the frustrations of two rural Scott County residents whose homes have been bombarded by flies from the neighboring feedlot. The flies leave behind trails of excrement on the siding and windows of Richard Theis and Wiley Vogt’s homes.

Scott County got involved in the dispute because the feedlot operator, Roger Breeggemann, had up to 90 head of cattle on a 10-acre property that legally could only hold eight. County officials worked out a solution with Breeggemann, which required him to lease additional land and spray Theis and Vogt’s homes with a product to keep the flies away. Both Theis and Vogt said they were concerned about an insecticide being sprayed on their homes. (more…)

Mold chases a couple from their Golden Valley condo

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

My Sunday column explored the ordeal of Denise Martineau and Mark Bufkin, a couple who gave up on their condo in the Villa on Bassett Creek after a tussle with their homeowner’s association. It will be interesting to see whether the new owner, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (a state agency), does any mold remediation before putting it on the market again.

Minneapolis man tried to pay with a perfectly good check, but the big computer said no

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Tom Campbell, 57, is a retired bus mechanic who lives in Minneapolis. To get control of his spending, Campbell decided to put away the credit card and take out his long-neglected checkbook. He recently paid a visit to Southtown Center in Bloomington to buy a wedding present, an $80 place setting. When he wrote out his check at a prominent retailer, the clerk put it through the little scanning device linked to the vast computers of a company called Certegy. The machine spit the check out. Rejected.

Situations like that always make me feel nervous. The few times in my life that a clerk has rejected my method of payment, I expected to leave the store in handcuffs.

Campbell knew he had enough money in the bank. So he went to another retailer where the bride and groom were also registered. Once again, the machine refused his check. He tried to get the clerk to explain what was going on, but it was clear she didn’t know. He talked to someone on the phone at Certegy, who said he could fill out an application. Finally he paid by credit card, and called Whistleblower.