Archive for August, 2008

Gustav on Gas
August 28, 2008

FILL UP NOW– just in case. Most of us remember the horror at the pumps after Katrina, waiting in cars at gas stations out of fuel; furthermore, analysts say Gustav could send retail gas prices spiking back above $4 a gallon.

Meantime- the state is on the lookout for gas gouging as people prepare for the possibility of leaving town. If you suspect a gas station is raising prices unfairly- please let us know- and call the state’s consumer protection hotline at 1-800-351-4889.

DIGITAL COUNTDOWN… ARE YOU READY?
August 13, 2008

6 months to go before the big digital switch

  

We will all have our stories of the soon-to-be old television sets, but mine is classic.  I was 22 when I started anchoring mornings in Baton Rouge, and during my two-week audition as a ‘fill-in’ anchor/host, Mom and Dad drove every day from Marrero to Gonzales with the battery-operated portable TV in the car to sit in a parking lot where they could fiddle with the antenna and get a signal.  For two weeks they would sit in the Chrysler 5th Avenue and watch the black and white fuzzy television set from 6-7 a.m. before driving back to New Orleans and going to work.  That’s my family, and true New Orleanians in my opinion.  After I was hired, dad concocted some sort of antenna on their roof that I fear resembled a type of tracking device for NORAD.  We all laugh about it now, but very soon those memorable antennas won’t make the same memories.

After February 17 the old rabbit ears won’t work without a converter box, and if you want to save money it’s time to get one.  Think about the hurricanes.  Even when the electricity comes back, sometimes the cable is out for days and even weeks.  Or what about those of us who like to travel in the camper and pick up the free airwaves.  Many of us aren’t ready for the switch.

According to Nielsen, as of July 2008:

9% of the Television sets in the New Orleans Market (DMA) are Un-Ready.

5.6% of the Households in the New Orleans Market (DMA) are Completely Un-Ready.  None of the televisions in the household have a HD receiver, cable connection, or satellite connection.

12.3% of the Households in the New Orleans Market (DMA) are Partially Ready.  Some (but not all) of the televisions in the household have a HD receiver, cable connection, or satellite connection.

For more on the digital converter boxes and coupons to get them click here for our story  

To read up on all of the details about the digital switch visit the  FCC’s official DTV website

But if you just want to know how to apply for the government’s converter box-coupons, I’ll make it quick and easy for you. There are 4 ways to apply:

  1. (ONLINE) Apply for a converter box coupon with National Telecommunications and Informations Administration (NTIA) here
  2. (PHONE) Call toll free 24-hour hotline at 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009) Deaf or hard of hearing callers may dial 1-877-530-2634 (English/TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish/TTY). TTY Service is available from 9 AM – 9 PM Eastern Time Monday through Friday.
  3. (MAIL) Mail a coupon application to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000 Download a coupon application here
  4. (FAX) Fax a coupon application to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632)

If you’ve already purchased a box, share your experience of using the coupons and how the box is working for you.  We want to hear from you.

Unclaimed Property
August 8, 2008

It’s not every day you find out that you’re owed money.  I remember the day fondly …shortly after college I received an email from my mom informing me that I had “unclaimed property” being held by the state.   Apparantly I had let a pay check from my days of working at the Reveille (LSU’s newspaper) slip through the cracks… I was probably 21 or 22 and remember getting that email as if it were a million dollars.  I think it was maybe $100, but even today I would be ecstatic about that as it could pay for that red-light camera ticket I got on Causeway.

I budgeted pretty well and was shocked that I had money I didn’t know about.  You might not think it applies to you but it’s worth checking out, and it’s the time to do it.  Tomorrow is Unclaimed Property Awareness Day.  The state is holding $362 million in lost money for Louisiana citizens, and New Orleans area residents can see if any of this money belongs to them tomorrow at Clearview Mall in Metairie.

 “If anyone is hesitant to go to the mall to look for money, let me assure you there are no strings attached with the unclaimed property program. It only takes a few minutes to look up your name or the name of someone you know, and it’s a free service.” State Treasurer John Kennedy

What is unclaimed property?  Unclaimed property is money in the normal course of business that goes unclaimed after a certain period of time. It includes savings and checking accounts, uncashed payroll checks, certificates of deposit, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments, utility deposits and other funds. When a business cannot locate an individual the unclaimed property belongs to, usually because of a wrong address, the money is turned over to the state for safekeeping.  Over the past 10 years, Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division has returned more than $125 million to 200,000 Louisiana residents. 

Tomorrow unclaimed property employees will be located near the center mall pavilion at Clearview Mall (4436 Veterans Blvd. in Metairie) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help anyone who finds unclaimed property to file a claim for his or her money.

Individuals attending the unclaimed property event should bring a photo ID and Social Security card to claim their money. The typical turnaround for most unclaimed property claims is six to eight weeks. The quickest way for the Treasury to process a refund is if there is a Social Security Number and an address match for a claim.

Louisiana residents who can’t attend tomorrow in Metairie can search for missing money online at www.latreasury.com or by calling the Treasury’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-925-4127.