Advertisement

Today's Consumer: News you can use

By United Press International

GM RECALLS CHEVYS, PONTIACS, OLDSMOBILES AND BUICKS

General Motors is recalling about 1.9 million 1995-97 Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire and 1996-97 Buick Skylark, Pontiac Grand Am, and Oldsmobile Achieva cars because of a faulty ignition switch that could cause a fire in the steering column.

Advertisement

Repairs will be performed on these vehicles to prevent high electrical current flow through the ignition switch. There have been no reports of a fire caused by this condition while the vehicles were being driven. Most of the incidents occurred within minutes of an unsuccessful attempt to start the car, and there have been some claims of smoke inhalation.

"The ignition switch may deteriorate if the engine fails to crank and the driver holds the key in the 'start' position for an extended period," said Lori Queen, GM small car vehicle line executive.

If the switch is damaged, the plastic internal components may heat up, melt, and eventually ignite. This could occur even with the engine off and the key removed.

Advertisement

"If the operator is experiencing a 'click-no-crank' condition, he or she should refrain from holding the key in the start position for an extended period of time," Queen said. She added that vehicle owners should have their vehicles checked and serviced if they are experiencing starting problems.

On March 27, GM began mailing notification letters to owners about the recall, advising them to contact their dealers to schedule repairs and the precautions they should take until them. Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac dealers will install a low current relay into the ignition circuit as well as will test the ignition switch and replace it if necessary. The repairs will be performed at no cost to the customers.

(Web site: gm.com)


SPACE HEATERS RECALLED

Lakewood Engineering & Manufacturing Co. of Chicago is recalling about 107,000 space heaters that may pose an electric shock danger.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said electrical connections can loosen inside the heater, causing the metal frame to become energized. Neither the CPSU nor Lakewood has received any reports of injuries.

The recalled heaters have model numbers 797 or 797 DFT stamped on the back of the unit. Model 797 is painted white and model 797 DFT is painted gray. The metal space heaters have a round control knob and sit upright on small feet. They were sold at Wal-Mart, Kmart and retailers nationwide between October 2000 and February 2002 for around $30.

Advertisement

The CPSC advises consumers to stop using the heaters immediately, unplug them, and contact Lakewood toll-free at 888-853-3506 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday for a free repair or replacement unit. More information is available on Lakewood's Web site, lakewoodeng.com.


DON'T BE SLAMMED

Don't be an April fool. Check your phone bill this month to be sure you haven't been "slammed."

Slamming is when a consumer is switched from their preferred long-distance telephone company to another provider without their consent. It has become one of the biggest industry problems plaguing consumers.

"Three ways to avoid being slammed are, read the fine print in any sweepstakes or drawing entry form before filling it out," said AT&T spokeswoman Janis Burenga. "By signing the form, you may unintentionally authorize being switched to another long-distance company. Tell telemarketers who contact you about changing your telephone service that you're not interested. You also have the right to ask that the telemarketer remove your number from the solicitation lists. Check your telephone bill each month. Be sure that it displays the name of your long-distance company to ensure that it hasn't been changed."

Burenga said if you've been slammed, immediately contact your chosen long distance company and ask to be switched back. Then contact the company responsible for the switch and ask them to reimburse you for any excess charges they've billed you.

Advertisement

(Web site: att.com/slam)


EDUCATION HOTLINE

Does your child need help managing homework or dealing with a bully? How do you tell if your child is ready for school, or needs special testing? This Sunday through Tuesday, anyone with questions like those can get answers by calling 1-800-944-1601, a toll-free hotline sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

"The goal of the hotline is to provide useful advice and also to encourage parents to get in touch -- and stay in touch -- with their schools," said Ohio principal Paul Young, the association's president-elect. "They may also request a free copy of our brochures, which address many of the most commonly asked questions."

Young said the hotline will be staffed by hundreds of principals and school psychologists. Parents who are curious, troubled, or simply need some reassurance can speak confidentially -- and anonymously -- in English or in Spanish.

The hotline will be open on Sunday from 2-8 p.m. (ET), on Monday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., and on Tuesday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals has more than 28,000 members in the United States, Canada and overseas.

(Web site: naesp.org)

Advertisement

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement