on assignment

Showing 21 posts tagged on assignment

Black Friday diehards

“Are you kidding?” she shouted into her phone, after secretly making it ring. “Yankee Candle is giving away those big candles for free for the next 10 minutes?!” Most of the hour-long line in front of her fled the J.Crew store at Jersey Shore Premium Outlets to dash over to the candle store. She checked out in 15 minutes. “I’m on a schedule,” the college senior said.

Black Friday diehards will do just about anything for a bargain [TODAY]

New Stories I Wrote For NBCNEWS This Week

Wrote a bunch for NBCNEWS this week. Getting up at 6 and at the desk in the newsroom at 30 Rock by 8. The editors I’m working with are great. Here’s the stories I filed:

Applebee’s: Your friendly neighborhood disco?

Christmas Creep is coming to your inbox even earlier this year

Evolutionary Dr Pepper ad spurs religious kerfuffle

Chick-fil-A says it will stop funding anti-gay groups

‘Botox leave’ and other odd employee benefits

Millionaires hurting (a bit), but billionaires sitting pretty

Salaries for first-year legal associates take a dip

New services will co-sign your apartment lease for you, for a price


I wrote a new article for SmartMoney about companies you can pay to co-sign your apartment lease for you. I had no idea these services existed until a reader emailed me asking which one was the best deal. They’re good for people who need a co-signer in order to get approved for an apartment, but can’t get a friend or family member, or are too embarrassed to ask. The guy who emailed me had quite the story, only a snippet of which was able to make it into the bigger article.

Basically, he was dating this girl for a long time and her parents were pressuring them to get married. He wasn’t ready to do that and in fact was dating other girls at the time. He and the girl got into a fight where he said he wouldn’t marry her and couldn’t stay exclusive with her. He came back from going out to the bar with another girl to find his apartment trashed. The ex-girlfriend got buzzed in by the desk manager and she poured bleach all over his room and squirted it and soap water into all his possessions, including several severs and computer gear. With a few cups of liquid courage in him, he went over to his ex’s place. No one was home so he kicked in the door, grabbed a few of his things from there, and left.

The cops arrested him at work for attempted burglary. Even though the girlfriend didn’t want to press charges, they still went after him. His job was in IT in a government place and because of the charge he lost his security clearance and his job. Then he had to spend his savings on lawyers to fight the charges and also fell behind on his car payments.

Meanwhile, he had to sleep on his couch because his bedroom was contaminated with noxious bleach smell. He fulfilled the rest of his lease term and the landlords were very willing to keep renting to him but he had to get out, past the smell and the memories, so he resorted to couch surfing for the next few months. He now has a new, 6-figure job, but nobody will rent to him because he has the burglary charge and the bad credit from missing the car payments. That’s the pickle he found himself in when he tried scoping out the lease-signing companies and emailed me. He turned me on to an interesting niche industry which I think has a lot of potential for growth in this down economy.

Sadly none of the landlords around him have heard of the lease signing services. He did end up finding a place eventually. Instead of a co-signing service, the owners had him pay twice the normal deposit and set up the rent to be automatically deducted from his checking every month. “Isn’t love grand?” he emailed me.

10 Ways to Reinvest Your Health Insurance Rebate Check Back into Your Health

New post for Lifehacker: $1.1 billion in health insurance rebates were paid out this week to an estimated 12.8 million Americans. It’s part of the Affordable Care Act which requires insurers to pay rebates if they spend less than 80% of the premiums they collected on care (85% for group plans). Some came in the form of a check in the mail. If you got one, how about reinvesting that “dividend” back into your health? Here’s 10 cool ideas for doing it.

Dealership Threatens To Sue BMW Owner Who Won Their eBay Auction

Refresh, refresh, refresh, 5-4-3-2-1-0. Autodynamics’s no-reserve eBay auction for a 2008 BMW 3-Series M3 Dinan was over. At $33,700, Rene Beunier was the top bidder, and he was pretty stoked to get it for about $7,000 under typical dealer cost. When he called the dealership to arrange the deal, the receptionist accused him of “hacking eBay.” After more protracted wrangling, the dealership is threatening to sue Rene for “tortious interference” and “defamation,” unless he pays up $1,500.

How To Avoid A Scam

Reposting an article of mine from Reader’s Digest for posterity because the link is dead on their site. Photo: joelogon

How to Avoid A Scam

When times get tough, the cons get cagier. The latest scams, shams, and devious flimflams to avoid.

By Ben Popken - From Reader’s Digest December 5, 2008

The economic crisis has left many Americans deep in debt and looking for a deal-or a savior-to get them through tough times. But instead of a white knight, many are getting a shady scammer.

Inspired by the headlines, con artists slap new stories on old tricks, preying on the financial fears and desperation of hardworking citizens. After all, when you’re drowning, you’re interested in what the guy who claims to be selling life preservers has to say. Here, some of the newest and newsiest plays to avoid.

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Inside Improv Everywhere’s latest prank: Car Alarm Symphony

For Jalopnik I wrote 1600 words from the epicenter of Improv Everywhere’s latest prank:


Alarm after alarm erupted all around me. It was like Philip Glass composed a symphony entirely of car alarms and someone was cranking the stereo at full blast. Dozens and dozens of car alarms from every make and model trilled through the air. They warbled up and down, the sound of countless potential emergencies colliding. They honked. They brayed. They came in and out in arpeggios of warning. WAH A WAH A WAH A WHA A HONK! HONKA! HONKA! WEE-OOO-WEE-OOO-WEE! Times twenty….

…I’d like to think that if I should see any of the other agents down the road, crossing the street, queued up at the DMV, if we both found ourselves reaching for the same avocado at the supermarket, we might pause and nod, maybe even whip out our key fobs and clink them together. Than I would quickly glance around to see if there were any other agents around, and if I had stumbled into a new scene that was about to start.