Wednesday, May 31, 2017

BBB Tip: Avoid common summer scams

In many ways, Memorial Day weekend signals the start of summer. The days are getting hotter, the end of the school year is right around the corner and the calendar starts filling up with outdoor activities and vacation plans. Unfortunately, as the temperature increases, the Better Business Bureau also starts to see an uptick in the number of summer scams. If you know what to look for, you can make sure no one spoils your fun.

Don’t let a scam ruin your vacation.

There are several common travel scams that we often see at BBB, but all of them have one purpose: to get your money without giving you anything in return. If you’re booking your trip online, do so through reputable sites and pay with a credit card if you can, as you’ll have a better chance of disputing any false charges. Look the rental company up on and read their customer reviews before handing over payment. Red flags: a suspiciously low price, a landlord who only communicates via email, or payment in the form of wire transfer or a pre-paid debit card.

Watch out for hidden fees when renting a car.

If you’re renting a car this summer, do your homework before you sign anything. You obviously want to get the best deal but you may not be aware of all of the possible fees, which can sometimes double or triple your initial quote. It’s important to shop around, make sure you understand the contract and insurance, and ask about all of the potential fees. Red flags: lack of specifics in the contract, full upfront payment, or deals that sound too good to be true.

BBB Serving Eastern Oklahoma recently reported on over 800 complaints filed against Payless Car Rental, which indicated a pattern of complaints related to sales practices, billing and collection, and contracts. That complete release can be found here.

If you’re moving, protect your belongings.

While some might be relaxing at the beach this summer, many are moving. Unlicensed movers are ready and waiting to offer you a “good deal” that actually isn’t very good at all in the end. One common tactic is to offer an estimate over the phone and then increase the price at the last minute, after everything has been packed and loaded. The key here is to do your research on the company and have a thorough and complete contract in place. Red flags: anything other than an in-person estimate, cash-only payment or large upfront deposits, or a poor BBB rating.
You can find more helpful resources at

Don’t fall for high pressure door-to-door sales tactics.

Door-to-door sales activity seems to increase in the warmer months, possibly because more people are home during the day. Many legitimate companies use this tactic but some individuals may try to deceive you into thinking they represent a business you actually know about. Before you hand over your personal information, get everything in writing and verify the details. If a home security salesman is standing on your porch, take the time to look into the company he represents and make sure that he is who he says he is. Red flags: time-sensitive offers or aggressive sales tactics, lowball pricing, or a company you’ve never heard of.

International expert on climate change and national security comes to The Collider - June 9

WHAT: Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral David W. Titley will be at The Collider in Asheville on June 9 for a daylong series of meetings and events that will feature his expertise in climate, the Arctic, and national security. These include talks with federal, academic, and business leaders, as well as a public reception and talk titled, "Climate Risk & National Security: People, Not Polar Bears." There is no charge for this event, but donations will be accepted at the door.

Friday, June 9 at 5:30pm is the free public talk (doors open at 5pm). Up until then, Admiral Titley will be at The Collider meeting with business leaders and the climate services community. The Admiral is available for media interviews by phone prior to June 9, or at The Collider at a scheduled time on June 9 before the 5pm public event. Please contact Kathi Petersen to make arrangements.

WHO: Admiral Titley (see bio here) is central in The Climate and Security Advisory Group, a non-partisan security and foreign policy institute with a distinguished Advisory Board of military, security and foreign policy experts that envisions a climate-resilient international security landscape. In September 2016, the group published The Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG): Briefing Book for a New Administration - Recommended Policies & Practices for Addressing the Security Risks of a Changing Climate.

The visit by Admiral Titley is sponsored by The Collider, an Asheville-based nonprofit, non-partisan, non-advocacy innovation center focused on solutions for climate change. The events are co-sponsored by the Citizens' Climate Lobby, a nonprofit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. A capacity crowd of 150-200 is expected for the public event.
WHERE: All events take place at The Collider, located on the top floor of the Wells Fargo building at 1 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville, across from Pritchard Park. Parking for media and the public is available in nearby city-operated decks and garages or in metered spaces on the street.

WHY: Ranking members of the United States military believe climate is a severe threat to national safety. This is an opportunity to meet and learn from a foremost expert on national security.  

Mountain bird painting demonstration - July 7th

Gallery of the Mountains, located inside the Omni Grove Park Inn, will feature Asheville artist and illustrator Al Ramirez on Friday, July 7 from 1 - 5pm. Al will be working on a painting of a female cardinal, and will demonstrate brushwork techniques in oils. Several fine art prints and original works from Al’s popular Mountain Birds series will be on display and available for sale.

Al Ramirez has had a long career as a working artist. Highlights include working as a comic book colorist, finisher, and co-illustrator with collaborator and good friend Jackson “Butch” Guice, a nationally known comic book artist. From 1984 to 1992, Butch and Al worked on Superman with DC Comics, followed by the X-Factor graphic novel, Nightbreed, Hellraiser, and various projects for Action and Acclaim Comics. Al has also done a number of commissioned illustrations and free-lance art projects, including paintings for the Tri-Star movie Private Eyes starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway, shot in Asheville, NC.