The Biz Buzz

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Category: Consumer Alert

Feb.
20th

Could Office Depot – OfficeMax merger affect South Sound?

The long-rumored merger of two major players in the office supplies business, Office Depot and OfficeMax, now appears to be moving forward after a premature release of the news of the merger, a retraction and then a reinstatement.

Office Depot had posted a news release that reported a $1.17 billion merger on its web site and then took that release down saying it was a mistakenly released draft.  Bankers and corporate lawyers were still putting the finishing flourishes on the deal. Then the company posted an official release about a $1.2 billion deal.

The two office supply merchants are tying

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Jan.
22nd

Third annual Tacoma Shift Happens, event to encourage spending on local business, set for next week

Tacoma Shift Happens, an initiative by business alliance GoLocal, plans to hold its third annual event Monday.

The Shift is an attempt to get people to move 10 percent of their spending from national chains to a locally owned businesses.

The public portion of the event begins at 4 p.m. with a vendor showcase of more than 100 local businesses, including artists and nonprofit organizations, plus a cash bar. That leads into the the main program at 6:15, where Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is scheduled to deliver a State of the City address.

Events earlier in the day, beginning

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Jan.
17th

Scams and fraud: State warns consumers about sending money by wire

No, your grandson has not been mugged in Costa Rica. No, you didn’t really win the Canadian Lottery. No, that guy on the other end of the phone has no right to threaten you.

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions is warning consumers this week to verify the identity of each and every person to whom they send money by wire transfer.

DFI has lately received numerous complaints from consumers who were fraudulently induced to send money to scammers via money transmitters including Western Union and MoneyGram. These companies, licensed by the state, have anti-fraud materials at each of

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Jan.
3rd

Click-KOMO dispute continues; Tacoma cable company may call for FCC scrutiny

The David-and-Goliath struggle between Tacoma’s Click Network and Fisher Communications continues, and Click customers remain without access to KOMO and ABC programming.

“There’s been no movement,” said Click spokeswoman Diane Lachel on Thursday. “We’re still in the same place.”

Six stations from the Fisher stable went dark for Click subscribers on New Year’s Day because negotiations had stalled concerning the fee Click pays for Fisher’s programming.

This coming weekend, Click subscribers can look forward to notices about what action they can take next, Lachel said.

“We’re working on our next steps,” she said. “You’ll see a call-to-action, a 30-second spot,

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Jan.
3rd

Justin Bieber gives name to high-fee pre-paid debit card: “He should be ashamed of himself.”

Justin Bieber should be ashamed of himself, and that’s the word from an actual government official, not just some random journalist who has written about the importance of financial literacy.

As he heads for the inevitable obscurity that befalls adolescent idols, former teen heartthrob Bieber is taking the plunge into hinky financial dealings.

Here comes the Justin Bieber pre-paid debit card.

As with all money matters, consumers should watch their step – especially if they are entering the nearly unregulated world of pre-paid cards.

Bieber’s card – a product of a California outfit called BillMyParents – carries some astounding fees.

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Nov.
14th

AT&T turns on LTE wireless network in Tacoma area

AT&T announced today it has turned on its 4G LTE network in the Tacoma area, two months after it became available in Seattle.

The expanded coverage is now available in Tacoma, Federal Way, Auburn, Lakewood, Puyallup and several other nearby cities, according to a news release.

LTE stands for “long term evolution” and is considered the gold standard for wireless speed. LTE users can stream, download and upload faster on LTE, as well as make better use of the latest gadgets. Read this Mashable piece for more detail about how LTE is different from other networks.

Over the past five years, AT&T invested more than $115 billion into

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Nov.
9th

Among the Sandyscams: Watch out for wet used cars

Just as Hurricane Katrina made its way to the South Sound, so the Jersey Shore might soon make an appearance, but not in a good way.

The Northwest Insurance Council is urging buyers to take precautions when buying a used vehicle in the coming months. “Although the East Coast is far from the Pacific Northwest, flood-damaged vehicles from Hurricane Sandy that should go to the junkyard will likely end up on local car lots to be sold by unaware car dealers to unsuspecting buyers,” The agency said in a release this week.

“If you buy a used vehicle and later

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Nov.
9th

Veterans Day scams – beware of solicitors and check their bona fides

It’s Veteran’s Day weekend, and the Better Business Bureau advises that you watch out for hucksters trying to take advantage.

“Not all donation requests come from non-profits,” the agency said this week in a release.

Consider Freedom United Sales LLC and Smartraiser LLC. The two enterprises are “ traveling the country requesting donations to send military care packages to U.S. soldiers serving overseas; in some cases, agents are selling magazine subscriptions in exchange for contributions. Yet, some consumers say representatives are falsely implying non-profit status while soliciting on doorsteps or at public venues.”

Washington require charitable organizations to register before

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