When Rebecca Harris' husband was off flying bomber missions during World War II, he asked his mother to send a handmade quilt back home to Harris. That way, while he was away fighting for America, she could feel his love wrapped around her.
After 60 years of marriage, her husband passed away, and the Grand Prairie widow treasured the warmth and memories embodied in that quilt more than ever.
Then the dry cleaner lost it.
A friend who deals in antiques valued the quilt at close to $1,000. The dry cleaner offered $100. Harris declined.
"I know this is hard to read," she wrote me. "I am 88 years old and can no longer type. Do you write columns like this? Any help you can give me will be appreciated. Wrote to the Better Business Bureau, and the cleaners ignored their letter."
I spoke with Theresa Worthy, manager of Reino Cleaners, and she said she understands the quilt's sentimental value and did everything she could to find it. The problem is that the quilt was dropped off at another branch and never made it to the one where the items are cleaned, she said.
Dry cleaners follow guidelines on the value of lost items, she said. At her store, Worthy has a sign explaining that payments for lost items will be no more than 10 times the cost of the cleaning.
Coincidentally, The Watchdog had recently visited the Fort Worth Quilt Guild for a fun nighttime talk. I called my quilter friends and told them the situation. Guild members create "Hugs Quilts" and give them to people who need a hug -- when they've lost a loved one or there's an illness. And now one goes to someone who lost a quilt at the dry cleaner.
Recently, guild officers Janie Mooneyham, Peggie Herring, Bev Ramsey and Grace Stroud visited Harris in Grand Prairie. "I do need a hug," Harris told them.
The new quilt is topped off with the image of an angel. Harris is touched by the offering. "I feel like queen for a day," she says.
Thank you, Fort Worth Quilt Guild.
These days, the language on credit card marketing material is something to watch oh-so-closely. Ask Sartin of Fort Worth. She read the marketing material with her new Discover card: "Unlimited Cashback Bonus gives you cash rewards on every purchase."
Note that this sentence is carefully constructed with words that make you feel all mushy inside. Unlimited. Cashback. Bonus. Gives You. Cash Rewards. Every Purchase.
When Sartin had to pay $8,000 for her son's funeral, she pulled out her Discover card thinking she could get, you know, an unlimited cash-back bonus or at least the 5 percent she saw listed elsewhere in the brochure. Here's what she got: 0.25 percent on the first $3,000 of annual expenses and then 1 percent on all purchases thereafter. She complained.
A Discover spokeswoman explained, "Our 5 percent cash-back bonus has always been for select merchant categories that rotate on a quarterly basis. It has never been for all purchases."
A list of qualifying merchants is available online, in direct mailings and at call centers.
As a gesture of appeasement, Discover gave Sartin $100. But she is still upset.
My suggestion: Don't just read the slogans with the beautiful words. Read the fine print. Call the call centers and grill the reps on the rules. All of us learn these lessons the hard way.
Update on the elderly residents at Claremont Apartments, situated beside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. As previously reported, the residents printed their first monthly newsletter last year. In response, management placed strict guidelines on distribution and hinted at retaliation. The volunteers weren't sure what to do and contacted The Watchdog.
Happy to report that these newspapermen and women on Social Security are continuing to publish monthly editions despite their initial fears. They sell ads. Their Super Bowl coverage was superb. They even exposed a safety violation involving exit doors that was quickly corrected.
Yes, these seniors are practicing their cherished freedom of the press.
Tim Durkin found a website that allows you to remove your name and address from marketing lists. If you opt out and continue to receive unwanted mail, the website helps you complain to the Federal Trade Commission. Visit CatalogChoice.org.
Marvin Chosky says the way to get a company's attention is to answer its e-mail, phone and letter surveys. Give the worst scores, then sign your name and list your phone number.
Finally, The Watchdog shared how reader Jacqueline Killebrew of Fort Worth did an Internet search for the highest DirecTV executive she could find. She located the president of customer service and sent an e-mail. Her problem was quickly fixed.
Now another reader, Barbara Maness, tells me that she did the same thing and got her problem fixed within hours, too.
Let's keep the chain going. Got a DirecTV problem? Do an Internet search for the phrase "Ellen Filipiak DirecTV email."
And Ellen Filipiak, wherever you are, thank you for answering your e-mails.
The Watchdog column appears Fridays and Sundays.
Dave Lieber, 817-390-7043