Latest The Fine Print headlines

Kevin Barrett was treated poorly by Avis on a recent vacation in Arizona.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A broken windshield wiper on a rental car and the company’s less-than-ideal response — initially

A complaint about a missing windshield wiper blade on an Avis rental vehicle discovered in a rain storm on a desert road may force the company to better focus on safety issues.

Sandra and Julius Britto went on vacation to the Sandals resort on St. Lucia but came back with a larger bill than they bargained for.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

They turned down a room ‘upgrade’ that fell short and are fighting to get their money back

A couple vacationing at a Sandals resort in the Caribbean declined an upgrade to a fancy villa because it’s not what they expected, but the resort charged them $6,500 anyway.

Jeff Socolow said a supplier failed to deliver and install an awning he ordered for his deck. He is using the umbrella a

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Owner of Gloucester rental property is seeing red over awning dispute

Jeff Socolow paid $3,825 — a 50 percent deposit — in mid-February, thinking his awning would be ready for the spring. It’s late June, and there’s still no awning.

Natasha Seaman stood on her third floor, pointing out the reflection of the water-filled gutter on the roof of her home.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A gutter still gushes water after it was replaced

Water gushing over a “repaired” gutter prompts a Jamaica Plain homeowner to demand that a contractor respond to her complaints.

06/06/2019 Canton Ma- Fran Carleton (cq) and her husband John, paid Sears $635.00 dollars to fix their refrigerator, but one day later, it stopped working. They want a refund from Sears. They are photographed in their kitchen. They no longer have that Sears refrigerator. Jonathan Wiggs GlobeStaffReporter:Topic:Sears

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A broken refrigerator and the store that took too long to make things right

A Canton couple spent three months chasing Sears for a refund on a $635 repair job that didn’t actually repair her refrigerator.

A crack marred one of the spindles of the Torah.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A damaged Torah and a fight with UPS over fixing it

A sacred Torah damaged by UPS en route to a Milton synagogue leads to questions about who’s responsible for paying for repair.

When Alanna Ludley was looking for a company to move her belongings from Abington to Hanover last fall, she found Monster Movers. After her piano was damaged in the move, the company accepted responsibility and agreed to pay to restore it. But then it ghosted her.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Movers damaged her grandmother’s vintage piano, and she’s fighting to get it repaired

She obtained a small claims judgment for $600 for damage done by her mover, but can she enforce it without a valid street address for the company?

Doug MacDonald in the home he rents in Scarborough, Maine.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Home Depot makes a wrong delivery and for weeks refuses to make things right

The home improvement store chain made an appliance delivery to the wrong address in Maine — and then demanded $600 from the tenant who innocently let them in.

Caron Welch (left) and Robbin Wilson scoffed at Alamo’s theory that they took their rental to an inferior car wash.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A rental car debacle and a recommendation: Shoot a video before leaving the lot

Alamo Rent a Car demanded $1,075 after accusing customers of returning a vehicle covered in chemical stains from a car wash.

“It just disappeared,” David Lettvin, Denise Lettvin’s husband, said of her John Hancock monthly annuity. “We had no idea why.”

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

An annuity check arrived every month for nearly 40 years. Then it ‘just disappeared’

An annuity set up decades ago by Denise Lettvin’s mother vanished last year without explanation from John Hancock, which managed the fund.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Michael Coomey said when he was told what he owed in sales tax, penalty, and interest.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

RMV overcharges man — by more than $10,000

A man’s dream of putting his lovingly restored 1956 Triumph on the road hit an $11,232 bump in the road at the state Registry of Motor Vehicles and Department of Revenue.

03/22/2019 Hopkinton MA- Drew Lane (cq) left and his mother Linda Lane (cq) right are disputing a insurance bill. Jonathan Wiggs /Globe StaffReporter:Topic:

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

This woman’s polite request may have saved her $12,000 in surgery costs

Linda Lane was told her son’s surgery was covered, then, $12,000 later, that it was not.

Izaz and Irum Haque.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A single inch results in an $850 shipping penalty from UPS

UPS informed Irum Haque that the length of the box she shipped wasn’t 48 inches, as she had measured; it was 49. How much more for one extra inch? $850.

Arnie Greenfield.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Penalized for making a student loan payment early — not late

Arnie Greenfield has no problem helping his children with student loans. But he has a problem being penalized for making an early payment. Yes, that’s right. Not late, early.

Alex Chu modeled his new lacrosse helmet.

The Fine Print | Sean P. Murphy

Lacrosse player sidelined by helmet issue is back on field with new headgear

Alex Chu, the Wheaton College lacrosse goalie sidelined for months because the team couldn’t get a helmet big enough to fit him, is back in goal.

Mark Stepakoff was stymied by a closed website when he tried to renew his real estate license.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Downed website and a botched response from the state

Mark Stepakoff figured it would take only a few minutes to renew his real estate license with the state.

Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe


Lacrosse standout is benched because his head is too big

A former high school all-star, Alex Chu was recruited for lacrosse at Wheaton College. But now he can’t join his team on the field because they can’t find a helmet large enough for him.

Jessie Fire posed for a portrait in her apartment's gym.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A pricey personal training contract with a vulnerable client raises some troubling questions

Jessie Fire signed up for a personal training contract costing $14,400. Pricey, perhaps, but not otherwise an unusual transaction, except for the fact that Jessie is mentally challenged.

Robert Crotty has for months sought a $3,535 refund after he bought a used truck that almost immediately died.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

His truck broke down minutes after buying it. He still hasn’t gotten a refund

Robert Crotty Jr., 18, drove away from the used car lot in his new pickup filled with pride and excitement. Three blocks away, the 2002 Dodge Dakota died.

Lew Cutler.


A counterfeit check causes a real headache

So who takes the loss on a fake check? The first bank that accepted the check or the one that ultimately paid it — Citizens, in this case? Or the accountholder?

L'Espalier restaurant.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Upscale restaurant’s closing leaves holders of gift cards hungry for refunds

At least a half-dozen people say they were stiffed when Back Bay gourmet restaurant L’Espalier closed suddenly.

Salem MA 1/7/19 Pamela Howard and her cat, Muse in her Salem apartment. Pamela adopted Muse in June, but the adoption agency is trying to reclaim him after they saw them on social media because Pamela took Muse into the backyard (on a leash) when that's prohibited under the adoption contract. (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: reporter:

The Fine Print

A brief frolic outside may cost a woman her cat

In June, Pamela Howard adopted Muse, a blue-eyed, gray-striped, half-Siamese cat who had suffered terrible burns in a previous owner’s neglectful care.

An Airbnb “super host’ crashed through a guesthouse window as MDs Chiedozie Uwandu and Jaleesa Jackson slept; the company coughed up an apology and a sizable settlement only after readers blasted it.

Sean P. Murphy

Want corporations to listen? Speak up

I wrote dozens of consumer columns in 2018. About one-third resulted in some redress for consumers. All of them, I hope, helped ordinary people push back.

Travel sites like Needham-based TripAdvisor often rely on third-party booking sites to arrange your trip. TripAdvisor said it recently suspended its use of HotelQuickly after many of its reservations were canceled.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Beware of those big travel sites offering great deals

Jon Harrington found out the hard way that sometimes the sites rely on smaller, less reliable agencies to do the booking.

Grace Greene and her husband John (not pictured), have had to place about $10,000 dollars on their credit card, after a travel vacation issue.

After winning island vacation in silent auction, family feels taken

When they arrived at the Dominican resort, they were told they owed almost $10,000 more upfront for food and drink and could not check in until they paid up.

Jane Mansbridge just wanted to sit with her husband Christopher Jencks on the way home from Sweden.

The Fine Print | Sean P. Murphy

British Airways messed up this couple’s seating on a flight. Then it wouldn’t give them a refund

On the way home, a Harvard professor had paid $126 extra to be seated with her husband. But instead they were seated far apart, without an explanation, apology, or refund.

Virgina Newes loved using Zipcar, but then the car-sharing company abruptly dropped her after a minor accident.

The Fine Print | Sean Murphy

Zipcar ended her membership because of a car dent. But was it really about her age?

An 89-year-old Cambridge woman was terminated from the service after a minor mishap in a parking garage.

Bo Abrams and daughter, Rebecca Dowd, blamed StubHub for trying to extract extra money out of them for tickets to Hamilton.

Sean Murphy | The Fine Print

A ‘Hamilton’ ticket mixup, and a $675 StubHub charge

Rebecca Dowd, 17, came home from “Hamilton” last month glowing with excitement. It was a perfect evening, she gushed to her mother. Except that she almost missed it.

Maya and Isak Kayserman.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Eighty-seven, and left by the side of the road by Uber

She and her husband are both 87. But that didn’t stop the driver — in an action undisputed by either party— from asking them to leave his car in the middle of their journey home.

Phil Cronin used the SpotHero app to reserve a parking space three days in advance of a Red Sox playoff game, only to have the company blow off its

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

SpotHero parking reservation is guaranteed — except when it’s not

SpotHero’s CEO defended the company’s decision to renege on a patron’s $10 parking spot near Fenway Park after the Red Sox made the playoffs.

***FOR BUSINESS SECTION *** Joel Knopf sits among some of the damaged boxes of his possessions that he paid to have shipped from CA when he moved recently, at his home in Amherst on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. Knopf paid $290 to have 13 boxes of all his worldly possession shipped from Oakland to Northampton -- but they wound up in places like North Hollywood, CA, and Burlington, Iowa -- or disappeared all together. (Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe)

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

From his bike to his xylophone, Greyhound scattered a man’s possessions across the country

Joel Knopf packed nearly all of his worldly possessions into 13 cardboard boxes and gave them to Greyhound Package Express. “Big mistake,” he says.

Steve and Diane Trask with their son, Brayden, 13.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A dog dies, and his family wants answers

Steve Trask discovered his family’s pet puggle in rough shape at a boarding facility, and then things took a more dire turn.

Chiedozie Uwandu and Jaleesa Jackson.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Airbnb vows to make up for doctors’ night of terror in LA

The couple’s plight was detailed in a Boston Globe column on Tuesday.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

An Airbnb guesthouse of horrors

One Los Angeles rental had excellent reviews and a host who had so impressed Airbnb that he was ranked as a “super host.” Then the nightmare began.

Jaleesa Jackson and Chiedozie Uwandu were looking forward to their out-of-town sojourn, but it turned into a nightmare.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

An Airbnb guesthouse of horrors

One Los Angeles rental had excellent reviews and a host who had so impressed Airbnb that he was ranked as a “super host.” Then the nightmare began.

Gwen Larison-Santos. She blames Firestone for damaging her car by improperly installing an oil filter.


Should Firestone replace this woman’s car engine?

What Gwen Larison-Santos wants is an engine in the same condition as the one she brought into the shop for an oil change, not one that may have irreversible damage.

Watertown, MA., 09/12/18, Jack Keating is upset that a truck using an overhead boom to deliver building materials to a neighbor's house pulled down the overhead wires and ripped the electrical service off his house. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A delivery truck took down wires and power in Watertown. But who’s to blame?

New England Building Supply, whose truck caused the incident, won’t reimburse residents because it says the wires were too low.

Suzi Parks has a complaint about Avis' extra charge for use of toll roads.

Sean P. Murphy | Fine Print

How Avis can charge customers a fee for tolls, even if the driver doesn’t take a toll road

Suzi Parks has no problem paying tolls like everyone else. But she hates that she is charged an extra $3.95 “service fee” each day just because she went through a toll once.

Peter Grinspoon examined some of the extensive damage to his home.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Owners of a ruined house say repairs will cost $400k. The insurer is fighting, offering just $100k.

Their house badly damaged, a Newton family expected Providence Mutual to help them get back on their feet quickly. That didn’t happen.

Neil and Maureen Ferris sought to be reimbursed about $1,500 by Norwegian Air. They were offered $54. “I really expected them to reimburse me,” Neil Ferris said. “It feels like a case of mistreatment.”

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Should airline reimburse couple who waited for lost luggage?

Neil and Maureen Ferris planned a two-week trip of a lifetime in Europe to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. But they did not plan that the airline would lose their luggage.

“I just wanted my day in court,” Al Lepera said of a remote citation he was issued for driving without an inspection sticker. “I wanted to give my side of the story.”

The Fine Print

With his inspection sticker missing, this vehicle owner drives into trouble

Al Lepera opened the envelope from the RMV to find a citation for driving without the sticker. It could cost him as much as $1,000 in fines and insurance surcharges.

Arlington, MA - 7/19/2018 - Jackie Moquin-Vaudo inadventently paid Comcast $18,200 for a $182 monthly bill. For Sean Murphy consumer column. - (Barry Chin/Globe Staff), Section: Business, Reporter: Sean Murphy, Topic: 23consumer, LOID: 8.4.2592923946.

SEAN P. MURPHY | The Fine Print

A few extra zeroes cause a big headache

Somehow, instead of paying $182.36 and $92.60 via her online account to Comcast and T-Mobile, Jackie Moquin-Vaudo paid $18,236 and $9,260.

Thelma Kaminsky in 2016. (Family Handout)


Denied a chance to say goodbye to an old friend

When Thelma Kaminsky died last month at age 87, no friends gathered in her building to grieve and pay their respects. The managers of her building wouldn’t allow it.

The Fine Print

Pay attention to the tiny type when opening — and closing — a money market account

Let’s say you open an interest-bearing money market account with a $10,000 deposit. Two weeks later, you close the account. Question: How much is the check for?

Jonathan Scott says would-be renters showed up at his home in Provincetown four times last year.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Ripped off by phantom rentals on Craigslist

For almost a year, a parade of would-be vacationers has arrived at the front door of a lovely two-family house in Provincetown.

Sharon, MA - 6/12/18 - Barry Arntz talks about the $119, 425.61 bill of deferred taxes and interest due to the town of Sharon, for his mother's home. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: 18consumer Reporter: Sean Murphy

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

An inheritance damaged by delayed property taxes

Barry Arntz thought he and his sister owned the house passed down to them by their deceased mother “free and clear” — no mortgages, no liens, no encumbrances of any sort.

Zhongmei (left) and Gunnar Vincens have gotten the runaround for almost a year.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Apartment management won’t return security deposit? That’s just one problem at this Revere complex

Gunnar Vincens simply wanted his $1,700 security deposit after he moved out of Water’s Edge in Revere. At first, he got lots of assurances he’d get his money. He’s still waiting.

Wendy Dodek said that while her experience has been frustrating, “maybe it can serve as a warning to your readers.”


Fidelity sent back a $6,500 IRA payment because the postmark was smudged

Fidelity said Wendy Dodek missed the deadline to invest in her IRA because the smudged postmark from the post office was illegible.

Many funeral homes now sell merchandise adorned with the fingerprint of the dead. (Legacy Touch)

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

Sneaking a fingerprint of a dead body to sell tokens

A couple days after his father’s death, a grief-stricken man named Eric escorted his 87-year-old mother to a Malden funeral home that specializes in cremations.

No matter what the paperwork said, it was clear Vivian Murphy had been scammed.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

With promise of $1.5m prize, scam artist bilks woman out of nearly $28,000

A Worcester resident who was falsely told she’d won a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes is sharing her story.

The Fine Print

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Sean P. Murphy is the Globe’s consumer columnist, and he’s here to take your queries.