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Don’t overcharge — unless you want a reputation

Today’s Sound Off is about auto repairs:

Dear Heloise: I took my car in for some repair work when I heard a knocking sound. The first garage told me I needed an oil change, new air filter and several more items for a total of $1,200. I was floored! I took the car to a second garage, and they said my oil was fine and that my air filter was only five months old and did not need changing. The knocking sound was repaired for less than $70.

I’m furious that someone tried to charge me for work I did not need to have done. My car is only three years old and was bought new, so I thought $1,200 was rather high for repairs.

Why do so many businesses try to take advantage of women? Clearly I’m not a mechanic and neither are any of the women I know, so I guess some places think we’re easy pickings. Needless to say, the 80/20 rule applies here. If you like something, you will probably tell 20% of the people you know. If you don’t like it, you’ll tell everyone you know. If businesses want to stay in business, the best way is to offer honest, reliable service. –Margaret K., Orlando, Florida

Margaret, you can always report a business to the Better Business Bureau. If they get enough complaints, they can investigate the situation. I’m sorry to say, price gouging happens, especially for those who need to depend on others for knowledge that they don’t have. You did the right thing by getting a second opinion, and thankfully got a better deal. — Heloise

FAST FACT

Need to improve the health of your nails?

— Moisturize your nails and cuticles often.

— Wear gloves when doing housework or gardening.

— Don’t pick at or peel nail polish.

— Try applying a petroleum jelly to your nails at night before bed.

A KNITTED GIFT

Dear Heloise: I read your column in the Sidney Daily News. Here is my hint: I knit and crochet to gift or donate. People give me their yarn frequently. Sometimes it smells bad from being stored or from being in a house where people smoke. Before handling it to make something, I put it in a zippered lingerie bag so it doesn’t tangle. Then I toss it in the washer and dryer. That way it’s pleasant to use and fresh to give away. — Pat P., Sidney, Ohio

TRAVEL WARNINGS

Dear Heloise: With more people traveling now, I have some hints to make their trip a little safer.

Always do your homework before you go. Check the travel advisory at the U.S. Department of State’s website (travel.state.gov). Always leave an itinerary and hotel information with family and friends. Don’t take expensive jewelry and don’t flash large sums of money. If you find yourself in trouble that you cannot handle, contact the closest U.S. Embassy. — Drake W., Alexandria, Virginia

Drake, that’s very good advice. I would also recommend that if you take medication, be sure it’s in a prescription bottle with your doctor’s name on it. Write down the name and number of the U.S. Embassy and store it with your passport or wallet. Make sure your passport is current. If you apply for a new one, it can take six to eight weeks to arrive. — Heloise.

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Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Heloise@Heloise.com. Letters won’t be answered personally.

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