Consumer Confidential: David Lazarus

Recent columns by Times' business columnist David Lazarus.

9:31 PM EDT, September 16, 2013

David Lazarus: MetroPCS gouges customers with $3 fee to pay bill in store

One of the most dubious practices of the business world is making people pay to pay — charging customers money so they can give the company money.

8:44 PM EDT, September 12, 2013

David Lazarus: Is CVS rewards program complying with California law?

CVS Caremark insists that it's just complying with federal law by informing customers that their medical information could be "redisclosed" if they sign up for the company's prescription-drug reward program.

CBS and Time Warner win; viewers lose in cable dispute

6:48 PM EDT, September 5, 2013

David Lazarus: CBS and Time Warner win; viewers lose in cable dispute

So here's the final score: Time Warner Cable got some but not all of what it wanted. CBS got pretty much everything that it wanted.

Customer service at Six Flags Magic Mountain is off the rails

8:00 AM EDT, September 3, 2013

David Lazarus: Customer service at Six Flags Magic Mountain is off the rails

Katherine Gould recently enjoyed a thrilling ride on Magic Mountain's fast-zooming, forward-and-backward-rotating, face-down-plunging X2 roller coaster.

Cal made you a deal, and selling cars was never the same

11:41 PM EDT, September 9, 2013

David Lazarus: Cal made you a deal, and selling cars was never the same

For Patti Williams, it was all about the jingle.

Workers facing the thorny problems of healthcare and retirement

7:02 PM EDT, August 29, 2013

David Lazarus: Workers facing the thorny problems of healthcare and retirement

Like most employers, Trader Joe's is grappling with how to look after the well-being of its workers amid difficult financial circumstances.

8:39 PM EDT, August 26, 2013

David Lazarus: Call DirecTV, risk identity theft?

Here's a hard-and-fast rule: Don't give your Social Security number to anyone unless it's absolutely necessary.

7:33 PM EDT, August 19, 2013

David Lazarus: You can't bank on escaping debit card fee at BofA

It's always impressive when businesses go out of their way to mess with customers.

9:43 PM EDT, August 22, 2013

David Lazarus: Tired of cable TV disputes, bills? More are cutting the cord

A lot of people are sick of the money-grubbing spat between Time Warner Cable and CBS, which has resulted in CBS, Showtime and other channels being unavailable to the cable company's subscribers since Aug. 2.

8:54 PM EDT, August 15, 2013

David Lazarus: CVS thinks $50 is enough reward for giving up healthcare privacy

Since February, CVS Caremark has been pushing its pharmacists to enroll customers in a prescription-drug rewards program.

Anthem says: Here's your health insurance; oops, never mind

8:56 PM EDT, August 12, 2013

David Lazarus: Anthem says: Here's your health insurance; oops, never mind

Jennifer Frankenberg recently learned that she had been approved to receive much-needed health insurance from Anthem Blue Cross.

9:17 PM EDT, August 5, 2013

David Lazarus: When compassion for customers flies out the window

It never ceases to amaze me when large companies, which claim to put customers first, demonstrate their complete heartlessness.

7:13 PM EDT, August 8, 2013

David Lazarus: Not even death stops banks from deducting fees

Rocco Bersane died in March at the age of 56 after being hospitalized for a gallbladder infection and liver failure.

10:24 PM EDT, July 29, 2013

David Lazarus: L.A. plumbers turn family's pipe dream into reality

There are plenty of stories about plumbers or other tradespeople ripping people off.

Use a card, lose your privacy?

9:32 PM EDT, July 25, 2013

David Lazarus: Use a card, lose your privacy?

"Good news — you've been accepted!" the letter says. "Get up to 75% off when you use these free cards at your favorite pharmacy!"

Offers of free plane tickets carry a high price

9:43 PM EDT, August 1, 2013

David Lazarus: Offers of free plane tickets carry a high price

Dorene Butler received what looked like a check for $1,198 the other day, but it didn't pass the smell test.

10:15 PM EDT, July 18, 2013

David Lazarus: How about a compromise on bundling cable TV channels?

If you had asked me last week how I felt about people having to pay for dozens of TV channels they never watch, I'd have told you it's an unfair and archaic practice that should be done away with.

10:45 PM EDT, July 22, 2013

David Lazarus: Double whammy: Swapped-out drug, higher charge

Susan Segal normally spends about $30 for a three-month supply of a thyroid medication from CVS Caremark's mail-order pharmacy.

7:47 PM EDT, July 8, 2013

David Lazarus: When debt collector seeks payment, who has burden of proof?

The business world is fond of presenting consumers with Catch-22s. Richard Leza received a real beauty from a debt collector.

Telemarketers call in reinforcements as they ignore do-not-call list

11:22 PM EDT, July 15, 2013

David Lazarus: Telemarketers call in reinforcements as they ignore do-not-call list

Dan Yeh has been on the federal government's Do Not Call Registry for years. And for a while, it seemed like the leave-me-alone system worked just fine.

Summer is scam season

July 5, 2013

David Lazarus: Summer is scam season

Summer is here, people are traveling and scammers are turning up the heat.

When caller ID gets spoofed

9:47 PM EDT, June 20, 2013

David Lazarus: When caller ID gets spoofed

Ed Stoecker's brief, unintended and unhappy stint as a telemarketer occurred recently when he spent several days receiving angry calls from people who didn't appreciate his bothering them.

U.S. health system has flaws, but not in quality of care

July 2, 2013

David Lazarus: U.S. health system has flaws, but not in quality of care

The healthcare system, like the government, is easy to criticize until you need it. And then it's indispensable.

10:51 PM EDT, June 27, 2013

David Lazarus: Reused checking numbers give previous owners keys to your account

When you lick a problem, you expect it to stay licked. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

9:49 PM EDT, July 11, 2013

David Lazarus: It's time to focus on fixing the Affordable Care Act, not gutting it

The woman in the TV commercial is identified as Julie, a mother of two. She's sitting on a bench in a nice yard containing a kids' play structure. A little boy swings in the background.

A bill from the blue

June 25, 2013

David Lazarus: A bill from the blue

Flavio de Pecol hit the trifecta after taking his daughter to the emergency room for a horse-riding injury: hours of waiting, a 16-mile ambulance ride to a different facility and bills for more than $40,000.

June 14, 2013

David Lazarus: Carmakers quibble over the obvious: Hands-free is not risk-free

It's always amazing that we need academic studies to state the obvious, such as the one in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology a few years ago finding that people are happier during weekends.

Get a discount, then pay extra

June 4, 2013

David Lazarus: Get a discount, then pay extra

Sherry Tedeschi is an avid moviegoer, typically hitting a film a week, sometimes two or three.

Life insurers finally do the right thing on unclaimed death benefits

June 18, 2013

David Lazarus: Life insurers finally do the right thing on unclaimed death benefits

Desiree Tibbets' mother died in 1995. Her father passed away four years later.

9:44 PM EDT, June 6, 2013

David Lazarus: Spying on Verizon customers: Where's the outrage?

Verizon customers have every reason to be outraged that the federal government is spying on them.

9:14 PM EDT, May 27, 2013

David Lazarus: Is event ticket insurance just for chumps?

Glenn Egelko used Ticketmaster to buy tickets to a matchup this month at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena between the United States and Iranian wrestling teams.

At Aetna, another example of screwy medical pricing

May 31, 2013

David Lazarus: At Aetna, another example of screwy medical pricing

Consumers have been told by insurers again and again that if they want cheaper prices for prescription drugs, they need to order them in bulk from mail-order pharmacies. And typically, it works out that way.

If this health plan is 'socialism,' we need more of it

9:18 PM EDT, May 23, 2013

David Lazarus: If this health plan is 'socialism,' we need more of it

So this is what socialism looks like: Private companies competing for people's business in an open marketplace.

June 11, 2013

David Lazarus: Disparity in generic drug prices is a bitter pill to swallow

Generic prescription drugs have to meet exacting standards for ingredients and quality, which you'd think would make them uniformly priced at pharmacies.

 Travel nightmare: Dakar, Dhaka — what's the difference?

May 17, 2013

David Lazarus: Travel nightmare: Dakar, Dhaka — what's the difference?

Sandy Valdivieso and her husband intended to fly from Los Angeles to Dakar, Senegal. They ended up almost 7,000 miles off-course in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

May 14, 2013

David Lazarus: BofA cuts 2 million customers loose

It's long been a basic tenet of the business world: You give us more business, we'll reward your loyalty with better deals.

May 10, 2013

David Lazarus: Is $1,721.75 the bill you'd expect for treating a cut?

It was your basic, run-of-the-mill accident. Kim Haselhoff's 9-year-old son got nipped in the finger by one of the family dogs. It didn't seem too serious, but there was a bit of blood.

April 23, 2013

David Lazarus: Lazarus: A roadblock to collecting travel insurance benefits

Barbara Butkus bought an airline ticket in November to fly from Palm Springs to Washington, D.C., a month later for a family reunion.

BBB looks to regain trust with relaunch of Southland branch

7:15 PM EDT, May 2, 2013

David Lazarus: BBB looks to regain trust with relaunch of Southland branch

The Better Business Bureau wants you to know that it's cleaned up its act in Los Angeles.

May 7, 2013

David Lazarus: Give cable TV subscribers more freedom of choice

President Obama has nominated venture capitalist Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and the wireless industries, to serve as head of the Federal Communications Commission. "Tom knows this stuff inside and out," Obama said.

9:20 PM EDT, April 11, 2013

David Lazarus: CVS customers say unauthorized prescription refills still occur

Barbara De Maria received calls from her local CVS store in Glendale recently saying that her son's prescription had been automatically refilled, as per his instructions.

Tribes' payday loans under scrutiny

9:10 PM EDT, April 29, 2013

David Lazarus: Tribes' payday loans under scrutiny

A growing number of Indian tribes are getting into the payday loan business, saying they just want to raise revenue for their reservations while helping cash-strapped consumers nationwide.

Taxpayers failing to get their fair share of wireless gold rush

April 16, 2013

David Lazarus: Taxpayers failing to get their fair share of wireless gold rush

Satellite TV provider Dish Network says it's thinking only of customers as it offers $25.5 billion to buy Sprint Nextel, the third-biggest U.S. wireless company.

9:56 PM EDT, April 25, 2013

David Lazarus: When the private sector needs a nudge from the public

It's a common mantra among free-market-loving conservatives that government regulations hinder business growth and cost workers jobs.

Why are prices for medical care such a mystery?

7:47 PM EDT, April 18, 2013

David Lazarus: Why are prices for medical care such a mystery?

Ted Kamp wanted to make sure his daughter received the medical treatment she needed. That was his first priority.

Blue Shield quick to demand action from policyholder over its mistake

April 9, 2013

David Lazarus: Blue Shield quick to demand action from policyholder over its mistake

Health insurers don't exactly enjoy a reputation for timely payouts when people submit claims. They've been known to make policyholders jump through all sorts of hoops before coming across with a little cash.

9:50 PM EDT, March 25, 2013

David Lazarus: An insider's view of generic-drug pricing

Bob Toomajian worked for 16 years as Kaiser Permanente's drug purchasing manager for Southern California, giving him an insider's knowledge of how medications are priced before reaching consumers.

Facebook gets more in your face

8:02 PM EDT, April 4, 2013

David Lazarus: Facebook gets more in your face

It's hard not to detect a whiff of desperation in Facebook's new please-don't-go interface, which is determined to keep people within the social network as long as it can.

April 2, 2013

David Lazarus: Hungry for a group to safely deliver leftover food to charities

On a recent evening, students at Pomona College feasted on chicken pot pie, steamed veggies, biscuits and rice. And, as is often the case, there were plenty of leftovers in the dining hall, enough for about 100 extra meals.

6:16 PM EST, February 28, 2013

David Lazarus: Moving, slowly, toward a la carte cable

The cable company Cablevision says it's just looking out for consumers in its lawsuit against Viacom, owner of MTV and Nickelodeon, over bundled programming packages that drive monthly bills higher.

FCC needs to stop 'cramming' on cellphones

March 28, 2013

David Lazarus: FCC needs to stop 'cramming' on cellphones

Wen Chao received a text message on her iPhone the other day from something called Ringtunecloud.com. It offered mobile content, such as ring tones, for $9.99 a month.

Seeking a solution to wasted food

March 22, 2013

David Lazarus: Seeking a solution to wasted food

Sometimes it's hard to do good. For example, donating leftover banquet food to charity.

GOP's effort to roll back healthcare reforms is bad policy

10:55 PM EDT, March 14, 2013

David Lazarus: GOP's effort to roll back healthcare reforms is bad policy

Bernie Morse, 65, of Century City retired last year from the aerospace industry and joined the ranks of Medicare beneficiaries. The nearly $8,000 he used to spend annually on drugs for a liver condition now will be cut almost in half.

When a drug costs 30 times what it once did

8:11 PM EST, March 7, 2013

David Lazarus: When a drug costs 30 times what it once did

Diane Shattuck filled a prescription in December for a generic antibiotic called doxycycline. With insurance, she paid $4.30 for 60 pills at a CVS store in Orange.

8:25 PM EDT, March 18, 2013

David Lazarus: Prescription needed to remedy generic drug pricing shenanigans

Wanda Ferrin fills her husband's prescription for the generic antibiotic doxycycline at a Target in Simi Valley. For years, the medication has cost her $6 a month.

9:28 PM EST, February 21, 2013

David Lazarus: Slow response to tainted product

Sue Grey had used the product before, so she knew what to expect when she purchased a bottle of Super Colon Cleanse at a Woodland Hills CVS drugstore. Inside should have been 240 little gray capsules.

March 12, 2013

David Lazarus: Firm's extended vehicle warranty offer breaks down under scrutiny

It was the sort of letter designed to get attention. "Final attempt to notify," it said on the outside.

The myth of deregulation's consumer benefits

7:48 PM EST, February 14, 2013

David Lazarus: The myth of deregulation's consumer benefits

Here's a question for you: Is there a single example of consumer prices going down and market competition increasing after deregulation of a U.S. industry?

10:30 PM EST, February 18, 2013

David Lazarus: Consumers need better way to fix credit reporting errors

About 10 million consumers, through no fault of their own, have serious errors on their credit reports, raising troubling questions about people's ability to secure loans and the fairness of interest rates they're charged.

8:17 PM EST, January 31, 2013

David Lazarus: Are razor blade makers just ensuring a big cut?

We can put men on the moon. We can make computers small enough to carry around in our pockets. But we can't make a razor blade that stays sharp longer than a week?

January 29, 2013

David Lazarus: Time Warner Cable subscribers, brace for rate hikes

Just as Time Warner Cable has cut a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a new baseball channel, which could add $5 to customers' bills regardless of whether they watch the channel, the company is jacking up rates for nearly all its other TV services.

February 12, 2013

David Lazarus: Phone rate hikes have landline customers ready to cut the cord

Joseph Aguon believes in preparing for the worst. So even though he makes most of his calls using a cellphone, he maintains a landline at his home in the Fairfax neighborhood — just in case an earthquake or storm knocked out wireless service.

How many fast ones has FasTrak pulled?

March 5, 2013

David Lazarus: How many fast ones has FasTrak pulled?

If you want to dance, you've got to pay the piper. And if you want to zip along the 91 Express Lanes in Orange County, you have to pay a toll of as much as $9.55 per trip.

Going good postal

7:38 PM EST, February 6, 2013

David Lazarus: Going good postal

The U.S. Postal Service, in its latest bid to save a few billion bucks, plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays.

Seeking preferential treatment with the flash of a card is wrong

7:16 PM EST, January 21, 2013

David Lazarus: Seeking preferential treatment with the flash of a card is wrong

Brad Newman thinks that people who post lots of reviews on websites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor don't get enough respect from the businesses they write about.

Stock sell-off shows an emotional investment in Apple

6:32 PM EST, January 24, 2013

David Lazarus: Stock sell-off shows an emotional investment in Apple

A friend of mine, a weatherman for a local TV station, always greets me the same way: "Time to sell my Apple stock?"

Bank of America should just play the tape of disputed sales call

6:31 PM EST, February 25, 2013

David Lazarus: Bank of America should just play the tape of disputed sales call

It's perhaps not so surprising that a Bank of America customer discovered recurring payments on his credit card bill for a service he swears he never signed up for. This kind of thing happens a lot.

10:48 PM EST, February 19, 2013

David Lazarus: Anthem halts plan to require some drug purchases by mail

Anthem Blue Cross is backing off a decision to require some policyholders to buy their prescription drugs from a single mail-order pharmacy — a requirement that the California attorney general's office said may be illegal.

9:21 PM EST, January 17, 2013

David Lazarus: Celebrating a tool of death

Saturday is Gun Appreciation Day, an occasion to feel good about a consumer product that is guaranteed to play a role in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans this year.

February 5, 2013

David Lazarus: CVS' Medicare drug program causing headaches for enrollees

Deborah Shapiro decided a few months ago to switch her prescription drug coverage from her former employer's plan to Medicare. The Medicare literature made clear that she could save hundreds of dollars on the various drugs she and her husband required.

First the cat, now the health system puts the bite on me

January 15, 2013

David Lazarus: First the cat, now the health system puts the bite on me

Call it the $55,000 cat bite.

Anthem's mail-order policy may have crossed a legal line

8:00 PM EST, January 10, 2013

David Lazarus: Anthem's mail-order policy may have crossed a legal line

Anthem Blue Cross may be breaking California law by requiring some policyholders to buy their prescription drugs from a single mail-order pharmacy, according to the state attorney general's office.

In harmony with Justin Bieber on reckless paparazzi behavior

7:52 PM EST, January 3, 2013

David Lazarus: In harmony with Justin Bieber on reckless paparazzi behavior

Words I never thought I'd say: Justin Bieber has a point.

6:44 PM EST, February 7, 2013

David Lazarus: A free trip to Rio, with many weird strings attached

A sportswriter here at the paper responded to a tweet from basketball star Lamar Odom to enter an online sweepstakes for a free trip to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

By catering to 'elite' fliers, American Airlines misleads others

6:33 PM EST, December 17, 2012

David Lazarus: By catering to 'elite' fliers, American Airlines misleads others

Do airlines deliberately withhold seats until the last minute to get you to splurge on pricier options?

Banks shortchanging consumers in mortgage settlement

January 8, 2013

David Lazarus: Banks shortchanging consumers in mortgage settlement

A mortgage is a contract. You agree to pay a certain amount of money to the bank each month, and the bank, in turn, agrees to finance your purchase, play fair and not jeopardize your ability to keep a roof over your head.

Getting the runaround on long-term care insurance

8:14 PM EST, December 13, 2012

David Lazarus: Getting the runaround on long-term care insurance

Rita Corwin, 90, conscientiously paid her premiums for long-term care insurance for 21 years to make sure that if she needed help as she grew older and more fragile, she'd get it.

December 7, 2012

David Lazarus: Appeals court puts 1st Amendment over public health

The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act makes it illegal to sell a prescription drug for any purpose other than what's listed on the label.

Individual mandate in healthcare was year's top consumer story

December 30, 2012

David Lazarus: Individual mandate in healthcare was year's top consumer story

This was the year of the healthcare mandate. No other consumer story of 2012 comes close.

January 1, 2013

David Lazarus: Here's to some wishful consumer-friendly resolutions

It's a time for new beginnings. So here are some resolutions I'd like to offer on behalf of some of our friends in the business world.

November 9, 2012

David Lazarus: Time Warner Cable socks Internet customers with new modem fee

Time Warner Cable is seeing growth in its broadband Internet business but steady losses in TV viewers. So how is the company responding?

A costly lesson that your email — and money — aren't safe

10:33 PM EST, December 20, 2012

David Lazarus: A costly lesson that your email — and money — aren't safe

Think your email, and your money, are safe? Think again.

Lazarus: Patients' choices narrower, yet cost of insurance rises

November 30, 2012

David Lazarus: Lazarus: Patients' choices narrower, yet cost of insurance rises

It's hard enough having a serious condition like cancer or kidney failure. It's even worse, some might think, when your health insurer says you have to buy your medicine from the pharmacy of its choice — or pay the full amount for expensive life-saving drugs elsewhere.

December 11, 2012

David Lazarus: Airline fees sap the joy out of flying

Remember when you liked to fly? Bill Knauer does.

Mortgage lender uses fear as a sales pitch

November 27, 2012

David Lazarus: Mortgage lender uses fear as a sales pitch

State and federal authorities may have cracked down on unscrupulous mortgage lenders to avoid a repeat of the housing market meltdown, but there are still plenty of companies that are eager to dupe people into taking out bad loans.

Giving thanks for our healthcare system — which needs reform

November 23, 2012

David Lazarus: Giving thanks for our healthcare system — which needs reform

It's a day late, but I'll tell you what I'm thankful for.

Anthem clerical error adds anxiety to woman's breast cancer fight

November 6, 2012

David Lazarus: Anthem clerical error adds anxiety to woman's breast cancer fight

Ann Walton-Teter was diagnosed with breast cancer in September. About a month later, she was informed by her health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, that her coverage had been canceled because of a missed payment.

6:00 AM EDT, October 19, 2012

David Lazarus: U.S. investigating CVS prescription refills

The U.S. Justice Department's civil fraud division is investigating claims that CVS Caremark wrongly refilled prescriptions and billed insurers without the knowledge or the approval of its customers.

December 4, 2012

David Lazarus: Collecting on travel insurance is not smooth sailing

When it comes to travel, especially involving something as pricey as a cruise, it's wise to take precautions. You never know when you may have to cancel your trip.

November 13, 2012

David Lazarus: Patient trapped in health insurance rate hike

It's understandable that car insurance rates can change when you move. One neighborhood might have more accidents or burglaries than another.

AMC leaves moviegoers in the dark on rewards program change

10:49 PM EDT, November 1, 2012

David Lazarus: AMC leaves moviegoers in the dark on rewards program change

AMC Entertainment wants to thank you for patronizing its movie theaters. But not too much.

September 25, 2012

David Lazarus: A bill for 17 porn films in 4 days? Now that's obscene

Carol Scott's idea of unwinding at home is ordering a movie from Time Warner Cable's pay-per-view service, maybe a nice romantic comedy or an engaging mystery.

October 12, 2012

David Lazarus: CVS Caremark prescription refills under scrutiny, source says

Medicare is investigating reports that CVS Caremark Corp., the country's second-largest drugstore chain, has refilled prescriptions and submitted insurance claims without patients' approval, according to an official with knowledge of the matter.

11:20 PM EDT, October 25, 2012

David Lazarus: Prescription refill pressure bothers CVS pharmacists too

Chris Cullum normally gets his prescriptions filled at a CVS Caremark store in San Diego. But, while traveling, he placed orders at a CVS branch in Arizona this year and at a branch in Illinois last year.

October 16, 2012

David Lazarus: Will SoftBank buy other U.S. telecom firms after Sprint?

In a soda market completely dominated by Coke and Pepsi, it wouldn't make much business sense to purchase Royal Crown Cola unless you also had plans to get your hands on Mountain Dew or Dr Pepper.

October 30, 2012

David Lazarus: Don't be tricked into applying for an online payday loan

The envelope looked official enough. "Confidential materials enclosed," it said on the outside. "Unauthorized use strictly prohibited."

October 9, 2012

David Lazarus: CVS customers say prescription refills weren't OKd

George Engelke manages his CVS prescriptions online. If he needs more of a medicine, he orders it. If he's going to be away from his Corona del Mar home, he tells the pharmacy where to send the shipment.

October 5, 2012

David Lazarus: Don't need that drug refill? Here it is anyway

You already knew that our healthcare system is screwy. But you probably didn't know that at least some pharmacists at CVS, the nation's second-largest drugstore chain, were refilling prescriptions and submitting claims to insurers without patients' approval.

Up a tree over dead cat's health plan

January 16, 2008

David Lazarus: Up a tree over dead cat's health plan

When Sarah Harper took her cat, Pete, to Banfield, the Pet Hospital, she was encouraged to sign up for one of the company's "optimum wellness plans."

EBay gives buyers, sellers ultimatum on arbitration

October 2, 2012

David Lazarus: EBay gives buyers, sellers ultimatum on arbitration

If you're an EBay user, heads up: The big dog of online auctions says it will take away your right to join class-action lawsuits unless you send in a letter challenging the move.

March 12, 2008

David Lazarus: Curbing our need for oil

With oil prices at record highs and gas heading to the $4-a-gallon level, I was set to come roaring out of the gate today with a proposal that all vehicles be slapped with a conservation-promoting surcharge based on mileage, with proceeds going to public-transit projects.

Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens refill drugs without OK, patients say

October 23, 2012

David Lazarus: Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens refill drugs without OK, patients say

Ivor Davis received a call recently from the Target pharmacy near his home in Ventura. He was informed he could pick up a refill of medication for his wife, Sally, who is battling pancreatic cancer.

7:05 PM EDT, May 28, 2012

David Lazarus: Trying to make dollars and sense out of YouTube's partner program

Making money from YouTube videos — it's something I've always wondered about. You won't get rich stuffing Mentos into bottles of Diet Pepsi, right?

October 4, 2012

David Lazarus: T-Mobile purchase of MetroPCS is good for consumers, for now

Consumers would normally shake their heads in dismay at news of yet another market-shrinking telecom merger.

Utilities have no incentive to scrap pension plans

January 28, 2011

David Lazarus: Utilities have no incentive to scrap pension plans

Galen Dean of Yucaipa has worked on and off for Southern California Edison Co. for 29 years. As he puts it, he's done "pretty much everything except climb poles."

April 16, 2008

David Lazarus: Too much contact at this Reunion

The name of the game for social-networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook is to draw as many users as possible into the fold. Typically that's done by creating a community and features so irresistible that people feel they just have to join.

March 9, 2008

David Lazarus: Renters priced out of L.A.

Deanna Corbin, 46, would live in Los Angeles if she could. But she can't, at least not with a modicum of space and safety, not on her $38,000 salary as an administrative secretary.

September 28, 2012

David Lazarus: Do-not-call list is almost like a feel-free-to-call-any-time list

Like many people, Marlys Burke was thrilled when federal authorities unveiled a "do-not-call list" in 2003. She signed up immediately in hopes of keeping telemarketers at bay.

Anthem's tip for better health: Try this ice cream

4:37 PM EDT, September 20, 2012

David Lazarus: Anthem's tip for better health: Try this ice cream

Anthem Blue Cross wants people to eat better. And to help its members make more healthful food choices, the insurance giant is sending out money-saving coupons.

Alito's moment

January 8, 2006

THE PEOPLE'S COURT

Alito's moment

SUPREME COURT nominations are as old as the republic, but the modern history of the battles over court appointments begins in 1987. That's when the Senate rejected Robert H. Bork, the conservative appellate judge who President Reagan nominated to replace Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., the swing-voting centrist on what was then, as now, a closely divided court.

April 6, 2008

David Lazarus: ZIP Code still a factor in auto insurance

A lot of drivers probably thought they were finally getting a break when then-California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced in 2005 that he was requiring insurers to stop using ZIP Codes as a main factor in determining car-insurance rates.

September 4, 2012

David Lazarus: Stolen identity keeps making trouble, 15 years later

The letter from debt collector Resurgent Capital Services arrived at my home the other day. Enclosed was a bill for $2,852.56, originally run up in the 1990s on a Citibank credit card.

March 23, 2008

David Lazarus: Things are looking up -- at the pawn shop

The economy is tanking, banks are scrambling for cover, the Fed is repeatedly cutting interest rates . . . and business is booming at pawn shop Crown City Loan & Jewelry in Old Pasadena.

April 20, 2008

David Lazarus: 'Smart meters' may soon be outdated

California's three biggest utilities are charging customers nearly $4.6 billion to install millions of "smart meters" at homes and businesses. These newfangled meters, the utilities promise, will revolutionize energy usage by giving consumers far greater control over how much they pay for power.

Trump spins in foreclosure game

December 12, 2007

David Lazarus: Trump spins in foreclosure game

When I heard that President Bush wants to bail out homeowners caught up in the sub-prime mortgage mess, I figured I better move fast if I want to profit from other people's misfortune.

April 9, 2008

David Lazarus: Mortgage payoff on steroids

When Stockton resident Kevin Byrd refinanced his mortgage a couple of years ago, he figured he'd need the full 30 years to pay off more than $300,000 in debt.

December 19, 2007

David Lazarus: Airline descends to a new low: a death fee

We all know that some airlines nickel-and-dime you with fees -- fees for baggage, fees for food, fees for blankets and pillows. But fees for death?

January 23, 2008

David Lazarus: The joke is on cellphone users

Keith Fitzgerald, a concessions manager for Los Angeles International Airport, was in the middle of a meeting last month when his cellphone suddenly emitted an unfamiliar ring. He'd received his first-ever text message.

April 2, 2008

David Lazarus: Cellphones may do a number on Cuba

The Cuban government made headlines worldwide when it announced the other day that its citizens would finally have unrestricted access to cellphones, ushering in a new era in telecommunications for the economically challenged island.

December 23, 2007

David Lazarus: Best Buy kiosks not connected to Internet

The Connecticut attorney general's office sued Best Buy in May, charging the electronics heavyweight with using deceptive in-store websites to trick customers into paying higher prices than available on the company's actual site.

February 17, 2008

Consumer Confidential

David Lazarus: Firms round up; we pay the price

We live in an age of supercomputer-driven, lightning-fast digital technology that can determine the time of day down to the nanosecond.

February 2, 2008

CONSUMER CONFIDENTIAL

David Lazarus: Columnist roots for Microsoft. Huh??

If there's a sentiment that crops up with frequency in this column, it's that bigger is seldom better when it comes to how businesses treat consumers.

February 13, 2008

David Lazarus: Shadow victims of the mortgage crisis: renters

The Bush administration's announcement Tuesday that it would put the foreclosure process on hold for 30 days to rescue struggling homeowners came several weeks too late for Mike Salgado.

October 24, 2007

David Lazarus: Insurance claims could haunt houses

If past history is any measure, many homeowners affected by the wildfires burning throughout Southern California will find that claims they submit to insurers will result in higher rates or even dropped policies.

February 27, 2008

David Lazarus: Housing upheaval: a tale of two homes

Just when it was looking like things couldn't get any worse in the housing market, government officials announced Tuesday that home prices had their biggest fourth-quarter drop in 17 years.

December 26, 2007

David Lazarus: Free news online will cost journalism dearly

I don't pretend to understand all the minutiae of the writers strike, but I do know this much: Hollywood scribes want to be compensated fairly when their work is accessed on the Internet, which is increasingly becoming a venue to watch movies and TV shows.

October 26, 2007

David Lazarus: Insurers taking risk out of the equation

You buy a Band-Aid. You get a scrape. You use your Band-Aid. And the next time you go to the drugstore, you're told that you have to pay more for Band-Aids. Or maybe they won't sell you another Band-Aid at all.

March 16, 2008

David Lazarus: Cellphones to keep track of your purchases -- and you

You might not know it, but as of January it became illegal in California for companies to require workers to have devices implanted under their skin that would reveal their whereabouts at all times.

Southland transit is in need of big ideas

December 9, 2007

David Lazarus: Southland transit is in need of big ideas

The traffic in L.A. bites -- you know that. The question is: What are we going to do about it?

November 28, 2007

David Lazarus: Next cell trend lets users hold the phone

First people were allowed to take their phone numbers with them whenever they switched wireless providers. Now, Verizon Wireless is handing consumers greater clout by allowing them to use their own handsets, not just Verizon's, on the carrier's network.

December 16, 2007

David Lazarus: Trump's a grump about column on his 'priceless' tips

Donald Trump wasn't happy with Wednesday's column about his seminars on profiting from the foreclosure market.

October 22, 2007

David Lazarus: Locked in a cell: Wireless users punished for canceling early

Lawndale resident Julian Torres' cellphone experience will be familiar to many wireless customers.

March 5, 2008

David Lazarus: Cost is the real drug threat

In his weekend radio address, President Bush warned of rogue pharmacists making potentially dangerous prescription drugs readily available online.

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