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7 years of helping consumers



Updated: November 2, 2012 6:12AM

D ear Readers: Arlene is in her apartment, Patricia still has her house and Michael left us one year ago but frequently laughed about his brush with celebrity.

Last month, The Fixer column marked its seventh anniversary, but instead of giving ourselves wool or copper (seven is not as fancy an anniversary as gold or diamonds), we decided to check in with some folks who’ve been in this space before.

First, some happy news from a recent fix: Arlene Jones, whom we helped in August with an application snafu at an apartment complex in Sioux City, Iowa, is happily settled in. Arlene, who is disabled, moved from Harvey to be near one of her sons.

Her new apartment is on one level, with no stairs and a large handicap-accessible bathroom. Her kitchen has an accessible sink, so Arlene can clean up the dishes from her wheelchair. Her neighbors are nice, she says, and nearby there’s a park where she reads her Bible.

“I sleep peacefully,” Arlene told The Fixer last week. “It’s just been a blessing to get to this point where I’m not so stressed.”

We also caught up with Pat Meehan, one year after his dad, Mike Meehan of Schaumburg, died of cancer. We helped Mike in December 2005 after a problem with his ticket purchase meant he missed seeing a performance by comedic legends Tim Conway and Harvey Korman.

After that column ran — and the ticketing company did refund his money, by the way — Tim Conway’s son surprised all of us by offering Mike free tickets and backstage passes for another show. Mike took him up on his offer in April 2006 in Columbus, Ohio, and had a blast. After the show, the comedians posed for pictures and a video greeting for Mike’s family. It was a memorable evening, to say the least.

Pat told us his dad loved to tell people about the time he hung out with Conway and Korman (who died in 2008). “He used to keep the [Fixer] article in his wallet,” Pat said.

A week ago, about 50 of Mike’s family members gathered at Wrigley Field, where Mike always swore he wanted his ashes scattered. Did that happen? Who knows. But his family sure had a good time. “You wouldn’t have known the Cubs lost by sitting in our section,” Pat said.

And we were happy to reconnect with Patricia Iwan of Chicago, who was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2010 when The Fixer helped clear up a paperwork error with her long-term disability insurance claim.

Patricia had already been battling the insurance company for more than a year at that point. After months of back-and-forth, we were able to help straighten it out, and the insurance company ended up sending back disability benefits totaling $23,270, which allowed Patricia to save her home.

Our column about her ran in April 2010. Patricia got about two more years of monthly payments under her policy and was able to pay back family members who’d been keeping her afloat.

“You saved me,” said Patricia, who despite a tough bout with West Nile virus this summer sounded bright when she spoke of the future. “I try and make the most of every day,” she told us.

And that’s good advice for everyone.

Fixer on the radio

Th e Fixer will again be guest-hosting the “Don’t Fall for It” radio show at noon on Wednesday on WBIG-AM (1280) and streaming live at . This week’s guest will be Jim Tenuto, assistant executive director at the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The show is put on by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and as the title suggests, it aims to keep consumers from falling for scams and frauds.

Speaking of scams

Politicians aren’t the only ones raising money this season. Scam artists are, too — and we’ll give them points for ingenuity.One scam making the rounds involves a ro

bo-call promising that you’ll get a “free cruise” for taking a political survey. The catch is they need your credit card number to cover “port fees and taxes.” Don’t be fooled.

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at , where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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