Hands On Tips For Manicures And Pedicures

January 21, 2011

HANDS ON TIPS FOR MANICURES AND PEDICURES

The winter doldrums inspires dreams of open toed shoes, and bare footed saunters through the surf and sand.  Which in turn prompts many of us to get out of our winter funk by scurrying out to the nearest beauty salon to get a matching manicure and pedicure.  Before you pamper yourself from head to toe, check out your beauty salon carefully, and make sure that it is clean, licensed, and safe.  Vanity does not have to come at a price.
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Always Pamper With Care – Outbreaks of skin infections among nail salon patrons are not out of the norm.  This should not scare you away from getting a manicure or pedicure, but it should give you pause, and induce you to always pamper yourself with concerted care.  Before you opt to have your toes and nails manicured, and adorned with the trendiest color, perform the white glove test, and scrutinize your surroundings for cleanliness.  You should make sure that there is adequate ventilation.  You should never be bowled over by the release of noxious fumes created by artificial nail products, nail polish, or other chemicals.  An overpowering odor can also warn that the salon is using methyl methacrylate (MMA) which is an inexpensive ingredient sometimes found in artificial nail products that can cause adverse reactions in some individuals.  The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning against using this product.  Be sure to ask whether your manicurist is using MMA.  If a salon is offering very inexpensive acrylic nails, this may be a red flag that they are using MMA.  You also want to make sure that clean towels and implements are used on each client.  Be leery of a salon that touts “low-low” prices.  If there is any question that the shop is not clean or safe, or if there is the suspicion that lower-quality products are being used, let your tootsies do the walking.  If it costs you your health, beauty is no bargain.
Foot The Bill Safely – Before you get gussied up, make sure that your manicurist has thoroughly washed his or her hands.  Before working on your nails, your manicurist should put a clean towel on the workstation, and provide you with a fresh bowl of soapy water to soak your nails.  All bottles and containers should be clearly labeled with a listing of ingredients.  All clippers, nail-care tools, instruments, utensils and appliances should be sanitized immediately after each use, and maintained in sanitary conditions at all times.  Soiled instruments should never be kept together with clean instruments.  Don’t be shy about inquiring how the salon sterilizes its’ instruments, autoclaving (heat sterilization) is preferable.  Any equipment that cannot be adequately disinfected, such as nail buffers, emery boards, toe separators, and orange sticks, should give you pause.  You might want to consider bringing your own manicure and pedicure equipment with you to ensure that the instruments will not be used on anyone else but you.  Before you dip your toes in a footbath for your pedicure, make sure that the water is changed, and the tubs are wiped down and disinfected between customers.  Also inquire how often the filters are replaced and disinfected.  If you are diabetic or have other medical conditions, speak with your doctor before you go to the salon.  If the skin around your nail becomes painful, red, or inflamed, seek medical attention immediately.  Manicures and pedicures should not be painful, or costly to your beauty or health.

Check The Salon From Head To Toe – Most states have laws that require that nail salons and manicurists be licensed. Look to see that the licenses of the salon and manicurist are posted in a conspicuous location.  Take matters in your own hands, and check to see if a particular salon or manicurist is licensed and in good standing.  Your can contact the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology at 1-717-783-7130.

Consumer Tip:  Tax season is fast approaching, and The Internal Revenue Service has toll-free numbers to provide you with tax information.  If you have not yet received your tax refund, you should call the IRS Refund Hotline at: 1-800-829-1954.  If you have tax questions about small businesses, corporations, partnerships, and estate taxes, of if you need to apply for an “employer identification number,” contact the IRS Business and Specialty Tax-Line at: 1-800-829-4933.  If you have general questions pertaining to your taxes, contact the IRS Tax Help-Line at: 1-800-829-1040.

Please send your consumer and legal questions to Elisha Hoffman Abrams, Esq. at elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: www.legallyinformed.com.

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information on this blog should not be relied on as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.  An attorney-client relationship is not created until a retainer agreement is signed.

 


HOLIDAY RETURNS MADE SIMPLE

November 12, 2010

The ritual of frantically returning purchases and exchanging unwanted gifts is part and parcel of the post-season shopping rush.  Return treks back to the malls or via the Internet are not always hassle-free endeavors.  However, with a dash of moxie and knowledge of return rules, you can make for a New Year of many Happy Returns.

RETURN TO THE RULES

In most instances, you do not have an automatic right of return, exchange, refund, or store credit for merchandise that you do not want.  As a rule, stores are not legally required to accept an item for return unless the item is defective or was misrepresented.  Some stores even have “no return” and “final sale” policies.  Get in the habit of always saving your receipts, tags, and original packaging to ease and expedite the return process.  If you do not have your original receipt, some stores will accept a credit or debit card statement as proof of purchase.  If you receive or purchase an item that you are sure you will return, do not get curious and greedy by breaking the manufacturing seal, or by opening the packaging.  If you do return an item, do so as soon as possible since many stores impose stringent time limits on making returns.  Many electronic stores charge a “restocking fee” on electronics, computers, stereos, and on accessories, and they may impose a limited return time on these items.  Additionally, video games that have been opened usually cannot be returned unless the item is defective.  Identify whether the store issues “Gift Receipts” for purchases.  This allows the person who receives a gift to make an exchange.  If the store does have a written return policy, scrupulously read all of the fine print.  Key questions to ask include: Can you receive a cash refund, or are you limited to a merchandise credit?  If you do receive a credit from the store, can you use the credit towards sale items?  Are there time limits on returning merchandise and on using store credit?  Does the item have to be returned in its original packaging with the tags left on the product?  Do you need a receipt?  The adage you get more with sugar than with vinegar holds true when making returns, so keep your calm and remain courteous.

EXCHANGE KNOWLEDGE OF ON-LINE RETURNS

If you received or purchased a gift from an on-line merchant, the return process often differs from that of your brick and mortar store.  You should check to see if you will have to pay a shipping charge to return the product, and whether the merchant has special shipping instructions.  Inquire whether the on-line store operates a retail store in your area where you can make the return yourself to avoid shipping fees.  Find out whether you need to obtain advance permission from the store before you make the return, and whether you need to obtain a Return Merchandise Authorization Number (“RMA”).  You also want to see whether you are responsible to pay a restocking fee, or an “open box fee.”  Do not delay, since many websites have strict time limits on returns.   On the website of the e-tailer, look for the address for where you will send the return, and locate where you can reach customer service if you have a problem.

Consumer Gift Certificate Alert:  If you snooze you may lose when it comes to gift certificates.  When you receive a gift certificate or a gift card, check to see when it expires, and if service fees are applied if you do not use it before the expiration date.  If you have lost or did not redeem a gift certificate before it expired, contact the Pennsylvania Treasury Bureau of Unclaimed Property to see if the Treasury is holding gift certificate funds or other property belonging to you.  You can access the online database at: http://www.patreasury.org, or call: 1-800-222-2046.

Effective August 22, 2010, The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (also known as “The Card Act”) regulates gift cards. The Act requires that gift cards do not expire for five years after issuance, and the expiration date must be disclosed upfront.  The Card Act also bans dormancy or inactivity fees on gift cards unless there has been no activity in a 12-month period.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com.

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information on this blog should not be relied on as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.  An attorney-client relationship is not created until a retainer agreement is signed.


ZERO PERCENT FINANCING

July 30, 2010

ZERO PERCENT FINANCING

The economic picture this summer is filled with a plethora of inducements that proclaim zero percent loans and postponed payments for cars, computers, electronics, etc.  Before you lunge for that no-interest deal, or for that no payments until 2012 offer, bear in mind that these financing deals can be misleading and deceptive, and can end up costing you.

SCOPE OUT THE DEALS

Always compare and contrast offers, since you may discover that there is a cheaper price being offered from a retailer that does not offer a convoluted financing deal.  In addition to price, you also want to deal with a reputable store that sells quality products, and provides consistent customer care.  If you find a better price, take the financing ad with you.  Sometimes, the other dealer will match, or even beat the competitor’s price.  Negotiate your price.  You will not know if you can get a better price if you do not ask.  Remember, asking costs you nothing.  If you are looking to compare financing deals, incentives, and rebates for automobile purchases, access: www.autobytel.com and www.edmunds.com.

LOOK WITH SCRUTINY

A zero percent loan often is not as good as it appears, and can end up taking a bigger bite out of your wallet than would have been the case if you purchased the same item without the free financing deal.  Often, you have to forgo a “cash back” deal, or other discount to take advantage of these no-interest loans.  Some stores offer no interest financing, but inflate the selling price to make up the difference.  Also, some zero-interest offers impose restrictions that are only applicable to certain brands, or only apply to purchases over a minimum dollar amount.  Always be alert to any hidden costs or conditions surrounding the financing deal that may nullify any of the cost saving benefits that are being advertised.  Many zero-interest offers provide that you do not have to pay interest on an item as long as you pay for the purchase in full by a specified date.  However, the catch is that if you do not pay in full by that specified date, you will be charged exorbitant interest on the entire amount of the item, dating back to the original purchase date, even if you have paid off most of the balance.  If you do take advantage of a deal that touts no payments for a specified period of time, e.g. no payments for six months, confirm that when you do start making payments, that you are not obligated to pay interest that accrued from the original date of purchase.  Always get in writing the date when you start owing and start paying interest, and the amount of interest that will be applied.

MAGNIFY THE FINE PRINT

Do not get seduced by provocative advertisements that scream “No Interest,” or “No Payments Required until 2012.”  The truth is in the details of the contract, and it is essential that you get everything in writing.  Before you agree to any offer, temper your enthusiasm, take your time, and understand all of the restrictions, payment terms, interest rates, and payment deadlines.  Do not be afraid to ask questions.  If the salesperson is using a lot of fancy financial jargon that you cannot understand, let them know.  You may also want to shop with a trusted and knowledgeable friend, co-worker or family member.

Consumer Savvy Shopping Tip: When you are shopping online, go to www.retailmenot.com,. This website will alert you to any promotional codes, special offers, and coupons that you can access to save money on your online purchases.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46 Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information on this blog should not be relied on as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.  An attorney-client relationship is not created until a retainer agreement is signed.


Don’t Get Tripped-Up By Travel Insurance

May 6, 2010

DON’T GET TRIPPED-UP BY TRAVEL INSURANCE

Our world of travel is topsy-turvy with reports of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, airline bankruptcies, and threats of terrorism.  This grim news has provoked a rash of panic and angst, and has put a damper on many of our travel plans.  If you are contemplating taking a trip, and plunking down hard-earned money to purchase travel insurance, carefully map out your travel plans to insure that your travels are safe, stress-free, and economical.

DON’T GET TRIPPED-UP

Travel insurance can be a costly proposition, and if you do not journey with vigilance, it can end up costing you more than the price of your trip.  It may not even be worth it for you to purchase insurance, since the value of insurance often depends on the type and cost of the trip that you are planning to take.  Generally, travel insurance policies cover trip cancellation or interruption, trip delays, lost or delayed luggage and its’ contents, and medical coverage if you become sick or injured while traveling.  The tricky wicket when selecting coverage is the variability in the cost and coverage of policies, and the microscopic fine print that excludes many of the protections that you expect should or will be covered.  Do not assume that acts of terrorism, outbreaks of war, civil disturbance, or insurrection will be covered.  If terrorism is covered by your policy, carefully read the exceptions to your policy.  Often, there are stringent limitations imposed.  Some insurers will decline coverage of terrorism in certain countries, or they will only cover you if a terrorist incident occurs within ten days of when you are scheduled to arrive at your foreign destination.  Most policies are not going to cover you if you cancel because you get cold feet, and are concerned that the place you are going to may be dangerous.  Also, fear of contracting H1N1, which was a concern this year, or of getting sick, generally are not conditions covered by most travel insurance policies.  You may have better luck getting a refund by speaking with your travel company.

NAVIGATE YOUR COVERAGE

Weather the storm with travel insurance so that it is not a complete wash out.  Explore what company provides the best insurance policy for your needs.  A good starting point is to access: InsureMyTrip.com, TotalTravelInsurance.com, and squaremouth.com.  These sites will provide you with side-by-side comparisons of policies offered from most of the major travel insurance companies.  Make sure that your policy includes “supplier default,” which reimburses you if the company that you book with goes out of business, or if an airline or cruise line goes out of business or files for bankruptcy.  One of the essential elements that you want covered is trip cancellation and interruption insurance.  This will protect you if you or a family member has an unforeseen illness, death, or accident.  It is critical that you scrutinize your policy to ascertain terms such as: “unforeseen;” who is viewed as a family member; and whether preexisting medical conditions are covered.  As a rule, most policies exclude coverage for pregnancy and for preexisting conditions.  Therefore, if your trick knee, or bad back flares up before or during your trip, you may be out of luck.  Also, if your trip is cancelled or interrupted by a hurricane, earthquake, or by inclement weather disruptions, you will only be covered if you purchased your insurance before the storm is predicted.  Before you purchase travel insurance, insure that you are not duplicating coverage.  Review your current insurance policies.  It is quite possible that you already have sufficient coverage through your homeowner’s, health, life, and automobile insurance policies, and even through coverage provided by your credit cards.

Purchase your travel insurance from an independent insurance company, rather than from your tour operator or cruise line.  Otherwise, if they go out of business suddenly, your insurance policy, as well as your trip is worthless.

Consumer Techno-Savvy Tip: If you have a predilection for a particular seat on an airplane, travel to SeatGuru.com where you can select the airline and find the seat with the most legroom, and other amenities that are important to you. 

Please send your consumer and legal questions to Elisha Hoffman Abrams, Esq. at elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: www.legallyinformed.com

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information on this blog should not be relied on as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.  An attorney-client relationship is not created until a retainer agreement is signed.


Tis The Season For Charity Scams

December 6, 2009

TIS THE SEASON FOR CHARITY SCAMS
The holiday season is at our doorstep, and appeals from charities will be plentiful.  This should be a time of festivity, and for giving thanks.  Yet, unfortunately, with good deeds come scams, which are being perpetrated by organizations and individuals, who claim to be legitimate charities.  Before you reach into your pocket to lend a helping hand, you should take precautions to prevent becoming a victim of charity fraud.

CONTRIBUTE CAUTIOUSLY AND ASK QUESTIONS – Resist the temptation to give just because an organization claims to be affiliated with the police or firefighters, since this purported affiliation does not guarantee the charity’s legitimacy.  Be sure to call the local police or fire department to verify the fund-raiser’s claim.  Before you agree to give, request that the charity provide you with written information describing the charity and the programs that your donation will support.  Do not assume that a claimed celebrity endorsement is real, or that the celebrity has carefully researched the charity.  Steer clear of high-pressure campaigns that pull on your heartstrings, but offer little information on how your support will be used to help.

IDENTIFY HOW YOUR DOLLARS ARE SPENT – Inquire how your contribution will be used.  It is important to know how much of your donation goes towards helping people versus what goes towards fundraising and administrative expenses.  Request a printed annual report, and make sure that the charity has complied with required federal, state, and local registration laws.  Helpful websites to check-up on a charity include: The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance www.give.org, The American Institute of Philanthropy www.charitywatch.org, and Guidestar www.guidestar.org.  For security and tax record purposes, you should pay by check, and write the official name of the charity on the check.  You should also confirm that your contribution is tax-deductible.  Just because an organization is tax exempt, does not mean that your contribution is tax-deductible.  You can check for approved charities on the Internal Revenue Service Web site at: www.irs.gov, or by calling 1-877-829-5500.

AVOID SCAMS AND REPORT FRAUD – Beware of unknown telephone solicitations, door to door solicitors, and spam e-mails.  Do not divulge your social security number, credit card, bank account, or other personal information. You should also watch out for similar sounding names for charities.  There are many bogus charities using names that sound respectable and familiar as a means of deception.  Avoid charities that promote sweepstakes and guarantee prizes.  You have no obligation to pay for unsolicited merchandise that is sent to you as an inducement to contribute.  Be skeptical of invoices and solicitations thanking you for a pledge that you do not remember making.  Chances are you never made the pledge.  Be leery of chain e-mail charity solicitations.  Many of these chain letters are scams.  Stay away from charities offering to send a courier to collect your donation.  Take time to contemplate your giving objectives before you give.  The need for help will be there tomorrow, and for years to come.  To obtain additional information about a particular charity, or to report abuses, you should contact your local Better Business Bureau and State Attorney General’s Office.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information on this blog should not be relied on as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.  An attorney-client relationship is not created until a retainer agreement is signed.


Gift Cards

December 5, 2009

Effective August 22, 2010, The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (also known as “The Card Act”) will regulate gift cards, The Act will require that cards do not expire for five years after issuance, and the expiration date must be disclosed upfront.  That Card Act also bans dormancy or inactivity fees on gift cards unless there has been no activity in a 12-month period.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information on this blog should not be relied on as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.  An attorney-client relationship is not created until a retainer agreement is signed.


SWINE FLU ALERT

October 28, 2009

H1N1 ALERT: Beware of bogus claims promising magic elixirs to fight H1N1.  The FDA has issued an alert to tread with extreme caution when purchasing any products that claim to “diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure” H1N1.  Many of the items being peddled are not only ineffective, but they could be dangerous.  If you have health concerns, you should contact your health care provider.  For up to date information about H1N1 go to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention www.cdc.gov and the Food And Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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