Overcharge refunds will get homeowner a cup of coffee -- just

THIS JUST IN ...

November 05, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

When Fleet Mortgage Group Inc. agreed to pay $150 million in refunds to homeowners overcharged on their escrow accounts, Craig Powell was one happy palooka. He was one of a million homeowners nationwide who would benefit from the settlement. Lawyers said the average refund would be $146.

Well, somebody must be getting huge settlements, because the low end of the pile is some kind of serious low. "I got my check last week," Powell reports from Catonsville. "After they took out 24 cents for attorneys' fees, my share was 47 cents. I'm sending it to the government for deficit reduction."

Jon Jensen of Baltimore received his refund, too. "Seventy-nine cents," he reports. "After subtracting 29 cents for a stamp to send in my proof-of-claim, I will come out exactly 50 cents ahead. I haven't decided whether to blow it all on a cup of coffee or use it for 40 minutes worth of parking."

Grouse he might, but Jensen keeps things in perspective. "I'm still getting a better deal than someone who had been with Fleet for a shorter period than my three years," he says. "A one-year mortgagor can look forward to a 27-cent rebate, which will leave him two cents in the hole. I'm dying to know how much the lawyers made for negotiating this lavish settlement. But, after all, they've worked tirelessly on my behalf to right a wrong I didn't even know was being perpetrated, so I guess they're entitled to their new BMWs. Well, there's a heartwarming story for you . . ."

Wilderness

Spotted Tuesday on the Jones Falls Expressway, Baltimore's gateway to the wilderness: Man parks his truck on the left, northbound shoulder, about a mile north of Northern Parkway. He takes out a knife and field-dresses a freshly killed deer, presumably the first step in the preparation of road-kill stew. Mmmmmm. About two hours later, not far away, an elderly woman pulls her car onto the right northbound shoulder, gets out with a couple of baskets and starts picking berries in the roadside brush. Mmmmmm. Road-kill stew with wild berry sauce. It don't get much better than that.

Card trick

The scene at a Fells Point bar, Halloween night: On a whim, a patron named Mac positions himself near the foyer and starts carding college-age kids as they enter the place from Broadway. "We're talking your Goucher and Loyola types," Mac says. "Like lemmings, six in the first group and five in the next get in line, take out their driver's licenses. All of them had their licenses out when they got to me. They didn't catch on till they got inside and the bartender carded them again. Then the bartender came over to me and said, 'All right, pal, we'll handle this.' "

Be watching for Mac's next trick: Toll-collecting on Pulaski Highway.

All in a good cause

The annual Fall Festival of the Hampton Elementary School, Lutherville, was conducted last weekend under the auspices of the local Parent-Teacher Association.

The event included a silent auction of items donated by both parents and teachers in an honorable effort to raise additional money for the school. Among the items were restaurant dinners with some of Hampton's teachers, a guided hike through Gunpowder Falls State Park, a sliding glass patio door (installation included) . . . AND A VASECTOMY!

The unusual donation came from Dr. Brad Lerner of Towson. The vaz had an approximate value of $530. We are told a number of women made bids on behalf of their husbands.

"One woman, a very pregnant woman, with two in tow made a bid," reports Sheli Mariner, who chaired the event with Linda Gunn. "Then there was a man who made a bid on behalf of his brother. Then the pregnant woman came back and scratched her husband's name off; I'm not sure why. Then the man whose brother had bid for him came in and topped the bid." Winning bid was $160. "And the winning bidder's deductible for a vasectomy would have been only $150," says Sheli. "So he actually paid $10 more than he would have under his insurance policy." Hey, anything for a good cause, right?

Roughing it in 1993

Ingmar Burger, our correspondent in Remington, has been inundated with pre-holiday junk mail. "The new Recreational Equipment Inc. catalog just arrived," he writes. "They sell high quality camping gear. The usual stuff. Parkas, mountain boots, backpacks, mini espresso-maker, snow shoes . . . Mini espresso-maker? Get this: 'Brews delicious espresso out on the trail, $13.50.' Hey, just because you're roughing it, no need to get uncivilized about it. Still no word on the campfire-powered Jacuzzi."

Wait! There's more! The new Sharper Image catalog offers a "personal life clock."

You enter your name, age and gender, and it tells you, in digital hours, minutes and seconds, how much time remains in your statistical lifetime. "It is the most profound number you will ever see," the ad says.

Next to the price: $99.95.

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