Try as I might, I can't persuade a Fort Worth grandmother to buy a second DVD player for her granddaughter. Karen Turrentine wants no part of it.
Last month, she bought one at Walmart in White Settlement. She wanted to test it, so she hooked it up to her TV.
"I saw there was a DVD in there. When I got it out, the title was Porn Stars, Volume 10. What in the world? Is this a joke?
"My husband told me to turn it on and see. I put it in, and it was like no advertisement, no cartoons, no previews. It happened instantly. I hit play, and it showed a woman with her body parts flying around, and there was one with a man and a woman. Oh, my God, this thing was real! If I had given that to my granddaughter. ...
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"We bought it off the shelf. It was taped like it was new."
Getting a refund from Walmart wasn't easy, she said. She made many calls. No one apologized.
Walmart, as is its usual practice, did not respond to my request for comment.
I'm trying to convince Turrentine that it's OK to try again with a DVD player, but she doesn't believe me. Who can blame her?
U.S. Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell answered my recent open letter asking him to reconsider the policy of not informing the public when mail is stolen from blue collection boxes outside post offices. The Watchdog has pushed for a change so victims can learn that their mail was stolen and quickly act to prevent identity theft. Tarrant County has the most blue mailbox thefts in the nation, my research shows.
A top aide for Cottrell writes that the policy stands. "Crime prevention countermeasures employed by the Inspection Service for collection box thefts are law enforcement sensitive, and for obvious reasons, are not released to the general public."
Obvious reasons? Bunk.
Why should it fall to The Watchdog to tell customers who used the blue box outside the Bedford post office on Harwood Road on the night of July 23 and July 24 that their mail was stolen? Shouldn't the government protect the victims?
Thanks to a reader tip for alerting me. I confirmed it with a Bedford postal employee, who told me: "The door was ripped wide open. It looked like they used a crowbar on it."
"Wow, they're not telling anyone," he said. "They need to tell people. We all think the same thing. We live here. We use the mailboxes. We're regular customers besides employees.
"If you learn the specifics about your mail being stolen, people can get in front of identity theft and stop it before it happens."
Duh, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, duh.
Don't go the distance
The Watchdog depends on readers to help supply further information on subjects I cover. So thanks to Heath Parker for discovering another alternative to handling AT&T's recent decision to start charging a minimum fee to customers who don't have long-distance service but still occasionally make long-distance calls.
"Instead of trying to switch companies for something I don't use, I just had them deactivate long-distance service on my phone altogether," he explains. "That way, I don't have to worry about the next company doing the same thing to me somewhere down the line."
Can long-distance service be canceled? "That's correct," an AT&T spokeswoman says. "You can choose another long-distance provider, or you can eliminate long-distance from your phone."
And you can still use it for free on your cellphone if your plan allows.
Can you spare $3.50?
A man approached me in front of a Beach Street shopping center and told me he needed money to buy gas. A few days later, a woman stopped me somewhere else with the same question. Sandra Fann told me a similar story.
Watchdog tip: Need money for gas? Don't we all? It's probably not true. If you have a sudden urge to give money to a person in need, remember the Salvation Army.
We'll get right on that
Watchdog shout-out: If you call Charter Communications to complain about cables that are poorly strung or exposed aboveground wire connections, a customer service rep probably won't do anything about it.
Rebecca Fenley tried for five weeks to get the company to fix a low-hanging wire. Bill Buehler tried for eight years to get aboveground exposed wire connections fixed.
Both contacted The Watchdog.
Fixed and fixed.
Thanks, Charter. Better late than never.
Sunday: More pay raises at Fort Worth City Hall
The Watchdog column appears Fridays and Sundays.
Dave Lieber, 817-390-7043