Monday, April 21, 2014

"Sunshine Kitty"... going after an online business

First of all... anytime I get a story about someone named "Sunshine Kitty," I'm going to jump on the tip.

It turned out to be a Houston-based online company whose customers weren't getting their products.

I certainly don't investigate every company I get tips about, but we decided to dig into this one after learning more than 50 people in a month had complained to Houston's Better Business Bureau.

With only her website name and a post office box, we went to work to try and track her down. If you've never used the site, check it out. It will show you the registered agent of most websites including addresses, emails and phone numbers. This is how we got her phone number. From there we tracked back her recent address.

We are pretty sure we have her Facebook page too.

Starting up a business is hard, but ceasing to communicate with your customers is inexcusable.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Worth remembering something about 911 call takers

As people watch my story tonight on 911 hangups, I hope viewers remember that in most cases 911 operators work to save people's lives.

I've spent time at the 911 call center and found most of the employees I interacted with to be friendly.

The Houston 911 center takes somewhere near 300,000 calls a year, according to its spokesperson.

The cases in tonight's story deal with only a small portion of the calls the center receives. However they are important to bring to light. Every life is important.

I hope you will share with me your thoughts on the story.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"I love you, but I need your money/iPhone"

Love is a powerful thing and scam artists know it.

I'm proud of a woman who agreed to speak up about a military romance scam where she was nearly a victim. She was only duped for a short time, but she wanted to warn others after a "Sgt. Major in Afghanistan" fell in love with her and needed her to send him an iPhone.

Not all people who are victims of a scam are willing to go on TV and warn the rest of us. Here's how we uncovered proof of the bad guy's scam.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Thursday, November 28, 2013

#WhyImThankful Jace Larson's 2013 edition

I’m one of the luckiest people and I always enjoy Thanksgiving because it gives us time to breathe and think about why we are grateful. Why am I thankful? In no particular rank:
  1. 1.       Great family & friends.
  2. 2.       My dog, Rocky, who really falls into category one but is special enough to get his own number.
  3. 3.       The fact that I live in the United States. I have friends in other countries who would give up just about anything to have the opportunity Americans have.
  4. 4.       Fun coworkers.
  5. 5.       The other smart people in my life who constantly challenge me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Another PR ‘what not to do’

I blog from time to time about my interactions with public relations and marketing people. Usually it’s “what not to do.” Hopefully my posts are helpful to my friends on the other side of the business.

I’m having an experience right now with a group who will likely appear in an upcoming story.

Weeks ago, I sent an email giving a short overview of my investigation. It asked to talk on the phone and I wrote that I would like to bounce some ideas around. My offer was a branch showing I am open to other ideas. I also noted that I was using a specific case in my news story.

Now I’ve received a statement that addresses the specific case, but not the broader issue in my story. No one from the organization has called to take me up on the offer to talk openly.

My advice: when a reporter is willing to be open on a story that may not be favorable to you, take him up on it. Some journalists really do want to be open, upfront and honest from the start. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when people act scared or afraid of a simple conversation.

(Bad taste doesn't affect the story. It will be as fair as ever.)