Articles

Consumer Issues and Life in General

  • Debt Collection

    November 7, 2016Debt Collection Abuse

    The NACA has put together this series of animated debt defense videos for consumers. Dealing with debt collectors Are you being illegally harassed? If you are having problems with debt collectors, watch this video to learn about your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and state laws.   I received notice of a lawsuit; what should I do? If a debt collector files a lawsuit against you to collect a debt, discover what to do next.   Defending yourself in a lawsuit If you want to learn how to represent yourself, hear about common defenses against debt ...

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  • Craft & Draft

    October 28, 2016Things We Love

    Why We Love Craft & Draft

    If you love great beer (and we do) you’ll love this place. A trip to their store on Devine Street in Columbia is no mere shopping excursion, but a journey to Beer Nirvana. Looking for something local? They’ve got that. Want something from Russia? They’ve got that too. The greatest thing about this place (besides their excellent and knowledgeable staff) are the 12 taps that rotate not only great beers from all around America and the world, but many from right here in S.C. Enjoy one at the in-store bar or out back in their very own “biergarten.” Thoroughly knowledgeable, totally ...

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  • Through Being Cool

    January 27, 2016Richbar News Articles

    There comes a time in every man’s life when you figure out how cool you no longer are. For me, it finally happened three weeks ago. More in a moment on that; but first, a bit of background. I’m 47 so, as a realist, I should have seen this coming for a while. The writing was certainly on the wall. I know because my two teen boys and pop-culture hyperaware 11-year girl keep reading that wall aloud to me as we ride in the car listening to the radio: Me: “Who is this guy that keeps yelling in the middle of everyone else’s songs?” Them: “Dad. Seriously. That’s Pit Bull.” Me: “P ...

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  • Moving On

    July 17, 2015Richbar News Articles

    Don’t tell me, because I already know.  You’ve been waiting by the mailbox, haven’t you?  Wondering where your Richbar newsletter is?  Well, as a matter of journalistic principal, the blame always lies with the editor. But unlike all the times I’ve accepted the blame in the past, this time it really is my fault. I’ve been in the midst of moving my family of five from one house to another for what seems like about two months.  It’s one of those “life events” that shouldn’t be that time consuming or stressful.  It only rates a 20 on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale which ...

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  • Keeping Calm

    April 9, 2015Richbar News Articles

    “I think all right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired.   I’m certainly not! And I’m sick and tired of being told that I am.”  Graham Chapman, Monty Python,  “Right Thinking People” 1973.    You know what I’m getting sick and tired of being told to do?  I’m fed up with being told to “KEEP CALM and CARRY ON.”  Surely you’ve seen that slogan everywhere lately — mugs, t-shirts, posters, beach towels, iPhone cases, pillows, defibrillators and farming implem ...

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  • The Way We Debate.

    September 28, 2014Richbar News Articles

    Q: “What is your position on the role of government in supporting innovation in the field of biotechnology?" A:  “Recent research has shown the empirical evidence for globalization of corporate innovation is very limited. And as a corollary, the market for technologies is shrinking.  As a world leader, it is important for America to provide systematic research grants for our scientists. I believe there will always be a need for us to have a well-articulated innovation policy with emphasis on human resource development. Thank you.”   (To audience): “Now THAT’s the way you debate! ...

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  • Unsustainable

    August 9, 2014Richbar News Articles

    Back when I was a law student, I got a lot of advice from older lawyers.  Some of it I even asked for.  But some not.  Like the time I enrolled in USC’s mentoring program. I was  assigned an older lawyer from a big firm in Columbia (which no longer exists).  My first official act as Mentoree was to miss my appointment with my Mentor.  Three days later, I received my first “Nasty Lawyer Letter” in which I was informed how my massive breach in etiquette reflected my basic lack of worth as a person (and even lower value as a prospective member of the Bar).  Somehow it took three pag ...

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  • Fear of the Beast

    March 19, 2014Richbar News Articles

    “Being the parent of a young teenage son is not easy, but you can do it” my right brain says.  Meanwhile, my left brain is calculating the cost of military boarding schools in French Guiana.    But whenever I get ready to throw in the parenting towel, I’m reminded of some of the benefits of being a father to a teenage boy.  Like having someone to help move heavy furniture.  Or having someone who wants to go with me see “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” and not complain that it’s juvenile (when that — and the fact that Nicholas Sparks didn’t write it — is the entire point). ...

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  • How Arbitration Screws Customers

    On Thursday December 12, 2013 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will hold a field hearing on Forced Arbitration Clauses, which have been called “Corporate America’s Most Successful Dirty Secret.”As many of you know, Arbitration Clauses are now found buried in the fine print of almost EVERY consumer contract you sign — cell phones, insurance, credit cards, vehicle purchases, etc. When you sign such a contract, Courts now find you have “agreed” to whatever it contains — including giving up the rights given you under state and federal consumer protection laws. That means you ...

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  • The Final Rose

    January 2, 2014Richbar News Articles

    Florida State trails Auburn 31-27 in college football’s BCS Championship game.  13 seconds left on the clock.  FSU’s Heisman-winning quarterback, Jameis Winston, has just engineered a six play, 78 yard drive to the Auburn two.  Now he takes the snap.  He drops back, whips around, leaps, and hits receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone!  Touchdown!!  Benjamin hangs on as the Auburn defense tries furiously to strip the ball from him, and FSU hangs on to win the last — and possibly the most thrilling - title game in BCS history. Unfortunately, I’m blissfully unaware that this is o ...

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  • Flight Risk

    December 4, 2013Richbar News Articles

    Have you heard about the FAA’s recent decision to allow the use of “Personal Electronic Devices” during all “flight phases?”  It’s true. Used to be that we had to wait until we were “safely cruising.” Now we can use our iPhones, Androids, Kindles, Nooks, and Laptops (simultaneously even) during takeoff and landing. Whether or not you welcome this new rule likely depends on what kind of traveler you are.  For me (and I suspect a lot of you) traveling is like driving — when we climb into that seat, our personality changes. In everyday life, I enjoy talking to people at the ...

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  • Expect the Unexpected

    August 14, 2013Richbar News Articles

    A 2007 Honda Pilot has a total cargo capacity of 87 cubic feet. That didn’t stop my wife and me from loading it with 115 cubic feet of beach toys (plus three kids). You can load lots of equipment in a car when you don’t care about breaking it (which you don’t when you’re running three hours behind schedule and you’re furious at everyone). Jumping off a ladder makes closing the tailgate easier, too. My kids don’t know how easy they have it with their DVD’s, iPads, and iPods. God knows what else they have way back in the car. For all I know, they might be grilling paninis back the ...

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  • Can a data breach hurt me years later?

    May 12, 2013Consumer Protection

    Yes.  In fact, it's far more likely to hurt you then. I've written about the 2012 SC Department of Revenue Breach (in which 3.8 million social security numbers, among other things, were stolen from DOR) and you've heard all about it. Think the worst is over? Think again.  Here are some scary facts: 1) Data Breach victims are 4x more likely to become identity theft victims (ie., to have their names and ID's not merely stolen, but USED to actually DO SOMETHING BAD, ranging from fraudulent accounts to terrorism). 2) Studies from javelinstrategy.com show that, after committing the data ...

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  • Breakfast Rules

    March 28, 2013Richbar News Articles

    One of the perks of being the editor of this newsletter is that once a month I get to eat a free breakfast with the members of Richland County Bar Association’s Executive Committee at their monthly meeting.  I’m not sure that I’m actually supposed to be there.  But my predecessor and friend Ward Bradley always was.  So, if feeding a non-Committee member constitutes some kind of gross malfeasance, blame Ward. Anyway, in between stuffing myself with free Belgian waffles and remembering to restrain myself from voting on anything, I catch nuggets of news from the Executive Committee wh ...

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  • Freedom from Choice

    Have you heard the big news? Hasbro, the maker of the Monopoly board game, is getting rid of one of the game’s eight playing pieces. In case you haven’t played for a while, the current pieces are (in order of lamest to coolest) : thimble, iron, wheelbarrow, boot, tophat, dog, battleship and racecar. We, the public, get to decide which piece gets the axe. Obviously, the racecar is totally safe. Everyone loves it. It has wheels - which makes sense in a game that goes in a circuit - and it looks awesome. The battleship is formidable. The tophat is dapper. The boot kind of looks like the ra ...

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  • The Man Who Had Everything

    November 20, 2012Richbar News Articles

    Unlike Fred Flinstone, and a thousand other cartoon/sitcom/family drama stereotypes, I really love my mother in law.  She’s always treated me like a son, and she’s never even ONCE tried to hit me with a rolling pin.  And she gives me great Christmas presents.  Usually. This year, in addition to a Barnes & Noble gift card (woohoo!) she gave me another gift -- a Brookstone battery-operated wine bottle opener.  “Oh no!”  I thought.  But it was official.  I had finally become The Man Who Had Everything. Don’t get me wrong, my hands DO get tired pulling cork after ...

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  • Worrying

    November 20, 2012Richbar News Articles

    Do you have any recurring dreams?  I have one and it’s actually more of a nightmare.   It’s my  3rd Year at USC Law School.  It’s the last day of the last semester when I discover that I’ve forgotten to go to the required math class (I know — no math in law school, stay with me).  This class has met every day.  Now it’s time for the final exam on “Advanced Algetrigacalculculogicas.” Fail it, and I don’t graduate.  The professor stalks around the room handing out test booklets the thickness of the Dallas phone book.  I look at mine.  It appears to be comprised of char ...

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  • Seven Things I Learned from Gene Trotter

    November 19, 2012Richbar News Articles

    Unless you just started practicing in the post-Lady Gaga era, you likely know my partner, Gene Trotter.  I still remember the day that Gene interviewed me.  It was 1995 and the highlight of  my resume was “graduated in top 65% of class.”   But he hired me anyway.  Besides being lucky enough to have great parents and finding the right girl to marry, getting hired by Gene was the biggest break I’ve ever caught. In the last 17 years, I’ve learned more from Gene about being a lawyer -- and life in general -- than I could possibly put into words. Nevertheless, in an effort to honor ...

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  • SCDOR Data Breach

    Saturday mornings as a kid in the 70’s were the best. I’d wake up early, pour myself a giant bowl of Count Chocula and sit down in front of the TV to watch Super Friends. In case you missed it, Super Friends was a cartoon about a team of superheroes (Batman, Superman, etc.) who banded together to fight evil as The Justice League. An oft-repeated scenario was this one: Super Villain X captures Aquaman. He then pretends to be Aquaman in order to wreak havoc and maybe learn the Justice League’s secret handshake. Just when you think all is lost, the real Aquaman escapes to confront fake A ...

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  • Common Consumer Complaints

    October 20, 2012Consumer Protection

    One of the clients in your corporate practice mentions that his daughter just signed a contract for a car that she really can't afford. "I told her not to worry, because she has three days to cancel the contract, right?" he asks you. Your pro bono client tells you that a debt collector is calling his employer. He is worried about getting fired and wants to know if the calls are legal. A longtime client calls you about her apartment lease. "I moved out months ago and have not received my security deposit back from the landlord. Isn't there a law preventing him from doing this?" She asks. ...

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  • Invasion of the I.D. Snatchers

    Most 1950s science fiction films are, let's face it, pretty cheesy. In The Blob, a jello-mold creature absorbs a town. In Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, a very tall woman (in the days before the WNBA) attacks a town. And in Rocket Ship X-M, Lloyd Bridges attempts to seduce every woman in an intergalactic town. But perhaps the worst science fiction movie of all time, and a contender for the worst movie of all time, was Plan 9 from Outer Space, where extraterrestrials team up with vampires to (you guessed it) oppress a small town. An exception to this lame fare was 1956's Invasion of the ...

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  • Home Improvements Contracts

    August 22, 2012Consumer Protection

    One of actor Tom Hanks' more forgettable roles was as a beleaguered homeowner in The Money Pit. Hanks and his wife, played by Shelley Long, move into a "fixer upper" house with plans to renovate it. At one point, water is streaming out of the house in the background. A plumber hands Hanks a huge bill, declares that he is late for his daily golf game, jumps into his Corvette and disappears. While the scene is funny, there may be an eerie familiarity to it if you own a home. And chances are, the scenario is also familiar to some of your clients who are homeowners. Few of them ...

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  • Everyday ERISA

    July 22, 2012Consumer Protection

    It was the winter of 1963 in South Bend, IN, when the last Studebaker automobile built in America rolled down the assembly line. The company, which had begun as horse-drawn wagon maker 111 years before and had survived two world wars and the stock market crash, was effectively wiped out. On the heels of the plant's closure, Studebaker terminated its retirement plan for hourly workers. In his article The Most Glorious Story of Failure in Business: The Studebaker-Packard Corporation and the Origins of ERISA, 49 Buffalo Law Review 683 (2001), Professor James A. Wooten writes th ...

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