Consumer news: Tuesday October 6, 2009

October 6, 2009 7:29:56 PM PDT
A former wedding photographer has pleaded guilty after ripping off dozens of newlyweds.

VIDEO: Nydia Han's latest Consumer Wrap report

Jack Holton has admitted to taking $174,000 dollars from dozens of couples, then failing to deliver or even shoot their wedding photos.

He will spend up to three years in prison.

The former owner of the now defunct "Renaissance Photography" and "Weddings Unlimited" told Action News he simply ran out of money.

Holton will be ordered to pay restitution - and be officially sentenced on January 8th.

Burlington County Prosecutors have some of Holton's inventory and are working to get items to victims.

Former customers can call Consumer Affairs at 609-265-5054 or go to their website.

RELATED LINK: Burlington County Consumer Affairs

Get cash for your old makeup

If you have old makeup lying around, take five of those items to Sephora for its Cash for Beauty Clunkers program.

It's a quick, easy way to get money off your next cosmetics purchase.

For your five OLD makeup items, Sephora will give you $10 off any purchase of $50 or more.

It doesn't matter where you bought the old item - or what brand it is.

Visit their website for more information and a coupon to print out. You have to take that coupon to the store with you.

RELATED LINK: Sephora's website

Cash for Beauty Clunkers runs through October 12th.

Take advantage of "Cash for Appliances"

You may qualify for some extra cash just for buying a new appliance.

Cash for Appliances is a $300 million federal plan, but each state will administer its own rebate program by selecting which Energy Star appliances to include and how much of a rebate to offer.

The Department of Energy expects the rebates to range from $50 dollars to $200 dollars per appliance.

It expects to have the money distributed to states by November 30th, which means you might be able to take advantage of the program just in time for Christmas.

And take note - the appliance rebate program is different from the Cash for Clunkers program for cars in that consumers will not need to trade in an old appliance. To get the rebate, all you'll have to do is buy any qualifying Energy Star appliance.

That means, you won't have to haul your bulky old appliances to a store or dealer.

Repair or Replace? Tips on appliances from Angie's List:

Angie's 10 questions to ask to determine whether to replace or repair an appliance:

  • Is it really broken? The trouble may be a short in the plug, a tripped circuit breaker, or a bad surge-protector outlet. Check the troubleshooting section of the unit's instruction manual for the most common problems and solutions.
  • How old is the appliance?
  • Have you had trouble with the unit before? If it's performed well, it might be worth fixing instead of replacing with something unproven.
  • How much will it cost to repair the unit?
  • What would a similar appliance cost?
  • Are there any hidden costs to purchase (removal, installation, disposal, tax, etc.)?
  • How difficult is it to replace the appliance (Is it a built-in)?
  • What additional features will I get with the new appliance?
  • What energy savings will I get with the new appliance? Will they offset the cost of a new appliance vs. repair?
  • What tax credits are available for purchasing an energy efficient unit? Will they offset the cost of a new appliance vs. repair?

Industry experts say washing machines tend to break down the most because they take the most beatings and contain many moving parts. Angie's List went to the experts for their estimates on the average life of major appliances:

  • 10-15 years for refrigerators and freezers
  • 10-20 years for ovens and ranges
  • 10-15 years for dishwashers
  • 10-15 years for clothes washers/dryers
  • 10-20 years for water heaters
  • 15-20 years for central air-conditioning unit

"Generally speaking, if a repair will cost more than half the cost of the new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, you're probably better off replacing it," Hicks said. "With the tax credits available now for energy efficient appliances, when you factor that in with the cost of repair, it might make good sense to go ahead and replace the appliance with a new one."

Preventative maintenance is your best bet for prolonging the life of your appliances. Angie suggests following these tips:

  • Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator annually and check door seals to ensure they are airtight.
  • Check air filters monthly and replace as needed.
  • Replace washer fill hoses every five years.
  • Avoid overloading the washing machine.
  • Have the exhaust duct on the clothes dryer inspected and cleaned once a year. Clean the lint filter before each use.
  • Don't allow heavy grease buildup on the oven interior.
  • Drain a quart of water from your water heater tank every three months to remove sediment that slows down heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater.
  • Have regular service as recommended by the manufacturer

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