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Posts about Neighborhood nuisances

Phone books arrive, against her wishes

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: July 18, 2011 - 10:58 AM

Whistleblower has previously described the frustration of finding phone books you don’t want on your doorstep. Janine Keller of Hopkins has tried, and failed, to stop what she sees as a waste of resources:

“Once I was home when the books were being delivered, and told the delivery person I had opted out and didn’t want it. He defiantly plunked down the book and stated, ‘Too bad, you’re getting one.’”

“I have since gone online and repeated the opt out for various phone book providers to no avail. The latest episode was last week when my neighbors received the latest version of the yellow pages. I didn’t get one. I got TWO.”

Does anyone have any tips on stopping the phone books?

Man alarmed by ambulance driving

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: June 21, 2011 - 9:35 AM

Over the past year, hundreds of you have asked Whistleblower for help. While we can’t investigate each tip, we want to share more of what you tell us. In 2009, we started publishing a few tips each week to stimulate online discussion and create ways for our readers to help each other. Unlike our news stories, we have not verified this information, so we do not include the names of the parties involved. If you have a tip, send it to

A Minneapolis reader said he’s alarmed by the driving habits of certain paramedics:

“I pay attention to things that are going on around me. Something that I have noticed for over a year now is strange behavior by ambulances.”

Last month, according to our tipster, an ambulance made a rapid U-turn into a downtown parking ramp on Hennepin Avenue with its siren blaring, then came out the other side with its siren and lights off.

This month, an ambulance turned on its siren as it sped toward the tipster, from “out of nowhere,” he said.

Unlike delivery trucks, most emergency vehicles don’t have signs encouraging motorists to report bad driving. Have you ever reported unsafe actions by an emergency vehicle?


Just slam the door on pushy peddlers

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: May 20, 2011 - 9:54 AM

When it comes to pushy and fear-mongering peddlers, seniors should lose the “Minnesota Nice” and slam the door.
That’s the counsel from Attorney General Lori Swanson, who offered tips this month for seniors, the frequent targets of high-pressure sales tactics in person and over the phone.

Stoking fear is one of those tactics. Security-system peddlers often talk about a rash of nearby burglaries.

The Minnesota Personal Solicitation of Sales Act requires door-to-door salespeople to say who they are and what they're peddling before they put on the hard sell. Here's the relevant portion of the law:

Before any personal solicitation every seller shall, at the time of initial contact or communication with the potential buyer, clearly and expressly disclose: the individual seller's name, the name of the business firm or organization the seller represents, the identity or kinds of goods or services the seller wishes to demonstrate or sell, and that the seller wishes to demonstrate or sell the identified goods or services. When the initial contact is made in person, the seller shall also show the potential buyer an identification card which clearly states the seller's name and the name of the business or organization represented. The disclosures required by this section shall be made before asking any questions or making any statements except an initial greeting. Nonprofit organizations are exempt from the requirements of this section.

I wonder how many sales reps actually follow the letter of this law.

You also have three days to get your money back from any door-to-door purchase.

Read more about your consumer rights here.


When things get out of hand at the local dim sum joint

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: April 20, 2011 - 11:24 AM

My colleague Mary Jane Smetanka reports today on how the Jun Bo Chinese restaurant at 7717 Nicollet Avenue in Richfield has worn out its welcome with the city of Richfield. Rowdy drunken patrons, apparently fueled by buckets of beer, have intimidated neighbors and, on March 5, created a melee that left a bloodied man outside and other bloodied customers storming the stage. The cops had to clear the restaurant. Smetanka's story is rounded out by $74,000 in unpaid taxes and a mystery man named Mingo. Even if the city had allowed the restaurant to keep serving liquor, the dim sum carts would have to stop rolling later this year when an expanded Menards will take over the site.

Read the police report from the March 5 disturbance below:


Richfield police report

Weekend Whistleblower: A big graffiti target, tax debtors, database under fire

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: April 18, 2011 - 9:55 AM



My Sunday column described the frustration of the owner of the iconic Grain Belt Beer sign, where graffiti taggers have taken over the back of the giant bottle-cap. Winthrop Eastman doesn't want to keep paying for city-ordered graffiti removal when that money could go to restore the sign and illuminate it once again. Also Sunday, Hard Data columnist Jane Friedmann reported the latest roster of sales tax scofflaws who have had their licenses revoked by the state Department of Revenue. The On Your Side column described the fight over the new product recall database, It appears some in Congress object to the public getting access to unconfirmed reports of product defects. That's a dynamic that's quite familiar to us where at Whistleblower, where we frequently use this blog to air consumer complaints that we haven't verified. Unlike, we typically remove identifying information about the company and people involved, and we offer a disclaimer. But the debate over the Consumer Product Safety Commission certainly makes me wonder whether our policy should change.


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