Foust Law - December 2018

A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY Health Coverage for Furry Companions

The close bond that humans form with their pets can be mystifying to those who proclaim they are not “pet people.” A dog given a spot on the bed or a cat given specialty food might seem extravagant to some, but a glance back in time shows that this close companionship developed long ago. Ancient Egyptians were sometimes mummified with their feline or canine companions, and when given the choice between losing a battle or harming cats, Egyptians chose a loss to their Persian adversaries rather than attacking soldiers who’d strategically strapped felines to their bodies. A special relationship developed between humans and their animals during the process of domestication, and pets earned their proverbial place at the table. For some pet parents, this close bond makes insurance coverage for their fur babies a no-brainer. Some employers are even offering it as an employment benefit. When it comes to caring for our furry companions, veterinarian Jean Maixner points out that having pet insurance can keep families from having to make a gut-wrenching decision when a pet gets sick or hurt. “If you get the right policy, it can be an asset to the health care of that pet and have a significant impact on the bill that results from an emergency visit,” Maixner says.

can find plans that cover accidents and illnesses, and some plans even cover routine care, like vaccines. In an assessment of policies, Consumer Reports found that for a relatively healthy pet, most policies actually cost more than they would ultimately pay out. However, they also found that for a pet that develops a serious illness or condition, many pet insurance policies will indeed pay out more than what they cost. Talk with your vet to see if there are any conditions your pet is prone to. Consumer Reports also recommends reading all

the fine print when looking at plans to make sure you understand what will be covered.

For many people, pet insurance offers peace of mind that their companion will be protected. As Herb

Weisbaum, consumer advisor for NBC News, says, “If you buy pet insurance and don’t use it, consider yourself lucky.”

As with human health insurance, pet health insurance policies vary. A higher deductible usually means paying a lower monthly rate. You

Fake Discounts and Angry Shoppers A Massive Black Friday Lawsuit

Shoppers flock to retailers every Black Friday in hopes of securing the best deals on the year’s hottest products. There are many nasty aspects of Black Friday— the long lines, the overzealous shoppers, the limited stock of items—but phony pricing and fake sales shouldn’t be among them. But that’s exactly what happened to folks in Los Angeles during the 2016 holiday season, leading to the biggest Black Friday lawsuit in history. In December of 2016, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office sued J.C. Penney, Sears, Macy’s, and Kohl’s for a practice called“false reference pricing,”a nefarious tactic whereby retailers lie about the original price of an item tomake a discount appear bigger than it actually is. For example, Sears sold a Kenmore washing machine at a“sale price”of $999.99, compared to

a“regular price”of $1,179.99. The problemwas the so-called sale price was actually the price that product was offered at every day. Therefore, it wasn’t actually on sale. Duping your customers is a bad business practice, but what makes it illegal?Well, California law requires that retailers post a retail price no higher than what the product was sold at within three months prior to the ad.“Families today… are striving to get the very most they can get from an extremely hard-earned holiday shopping dollar,”said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer.“They deserve tomake an informed decision.”After the suit was brought against them, the retailers all quickly moved to settle, promising to never engage in false reference pricing again.

Most retailers offer discounts around the holidays to encourage shoppers to come into their stores or visit their websites. Promotions and sales are great tools in any business’s arsenal, provided they aren’t out to mislead customers. Big-box stores may try to manipulate innocent people, and it’s up to aggrieved customers to hold those corporations accountable. Nearly every year, you’ll read about a class-action lawsuit that develops in response to the shady tactics of businesses eager to secure those holiday shopping dollars. Are there great bargains to be had on Black Friday? Of course. But if something sounds too good to be true, it very well might be. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t let retailers trick you into a purchase you wouldn’t make otherwise.

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