Centsible Saver

July 3, 2011 

Frugal shopper, coupon clipper and penny pincher Amy Dunn writes about deals, bargains and more at her blog, Centsible Saver ( blogs.newsobserver.com/saver). Here are a few recent highlights.

Cheap baseball with cheese

Already a steal, tickets to Durham Bulls and Carolina Mudcats games just got even cheaper.

Every Tuesday night game through Sept. 6, take the wrapper from a package of Kraft Cheese Singles and get a free ticket when you purchase a ticket.

Kraft has teamed with minor league teams across the country to offer the free tickets, so if you're traveling this summer, keep this deal in mind.

Tickets to Bulls games run as little as $7, so two of you can go for just $3.50 apiece. Mudcats tickets are cheaper: Two of you can get in for $6.

Use the money you save to buy yourself a hot dog and some peanuts.

Free flick rentals

There's absolutely no excuse for paying for a movie rental these days.

Blockbuster Express keeps expanding to new locations at Food Lion, Kerr Drug, Rite Aid, Sheetz and other stores across the Triangle. As part of that expansion, and to compete with rival Redbox, Blockbuster Express has been offering free rentals. Here are two codes for free $1 rentals at Blockbuster Express kiosks that expire Monday: 26KBDJ5 and 25NCRP6.

Pizza night on the cheap

We love pizza at our house, so pizza night is pretty much a weekly tradition.

Over the years, we've tried all the nearby pizza places, using coupons to get the best deal. And we always opt for carry-out rather than delivery to save a little more.

It has been a relatively cheap thrill and a night off for the cook.

But last week, when one large and one medium pizza wound up costing almost $13 and it wasn't even all that good, I decided it was time to go to Plan B.

This week, I picked up two rounds of pizza dough from the refrigerated section at Trader Joe's, took them home, rolled them out, topped them with sauce, shredded cheese and black olives. I had them in the oven in less than 10 minutes.

Here's the cost breakdown:

Pizza dough: $1.09 each.

Sauce: free with a Super Double deal at Harris Teeter.

Shredded cheese: I'm estimating $1 for a package and a half of Kraft shredded cheese purchased on sale with coupons.

Black olives (half a can): 50 cents at Aldi.

Total for two pizzas: $3.68. That's approximately $9 in savings every time we eat pizza. Nine bucks doesn't sound like much until you do the math: $468 in savings for the year. I think we've got a new tradition.

Adopt a pet for less

If you've been mulling the idea of adding a pet to your household, you can save yourself a bundle today by adopting through the SPCA of Wake County.

Through Monday, the SPCA is reducing its fees to $17.76 to encourage adoptions of its puppies, dogs and kittens over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Adopting an adult cat is free.

Adoption fees at the SPCA regularly range from $70 to $115 and include spay/neuter surgery, a microchip, vaccines, deworming and a wellness exam. The SPCA estimates the value of those services at $300 at a veterinarian's office.

The SPCA is at 200 Petfinder Lane, near Tryon Road and Highway 70, in Raleigh.

For more information, check out the SPCA website at www.spcawake.org.

Kellogg cereal settlement

Do you remember eating Cocoa Krispies for breakfast between June 2009 and March 2010? Any recollection of making a pan of Rice Krispie treats about that same time?

Think hard. There's up to $15 riding on it, according to CerealAdvertisingSettlement.com.

As part of a class-action settlement in a lawsuit filed against Kellogg alleging false advertising, folks who bought the cereal between June 1, 2009, and March 1, 2010, can submit a claim for a refund.

You don't need any proof of purchase, but you do need to swear under penalty of perjury that you did buy the cereal. You get $5 for every box purchased during that time period - up to three boxes per household.

The lawsuit claimed Kellogg falsely advertised that Rice Krispies and Cocoa Krispies supported a person's immunity system.

Kellogg stands by its advertising and denies it did anything wrong.

The deadline is Nov. 16.

Who says Rice Krispies aren't good for you?

A customer service battle worth $110

It pays to check over your monthly bills. I know this and tell other people to do it all the time. You never know when you might find an error, computers make mistakes ... you know the drill. In theory, smart consumers know to check their monthly bills for mistakes.

In practice, it doesn't always happen. And I admit, I had gotten kind of lax about it.

So when I happened to check over our cellphone bill the other day, I was at first mystified - then horrified - to discover we were being charged $10 per month for a data plan on one of our phones.

I was mystified because not only did we not sign up for it, we had, in fact, blocked the phone from getting picture texts and having Internet connection. I was horrified because we had been billed for this service for 11 months before I noticed it.

Aggravated equal parts with myself and AT&T, I went to my closest AT&T store, figuring it would be best to straighten out the whole situation in person.

Wrong. The very courteous salesman told me he would be happy to take the service off our plan and make it retroactive to the beginning of the month.

When I told him I was more interested in a retroactive credit for the entire 11 months, he politely told me he couldn't help me and handed me a phone number.

Thirty minutes wasted, but undeterred, I went home to make the call to a customer service rep who initially offered me the very same thing as the store clerk.

When I repeated my story, she offered me a $25 credit. I politely told her that wasn't good enough and launched into my story a third time. I figured that if that didn't work, I'd ask for a supervisor.

I didn't have to. The phone rep suddenly offered me a full $110 credit, which I accepted. Within a few minutes, I had my credit and an email message confirming it. I hung up happy and $110 richer.

Afterward, I wondered how many folks would chalk up the mistake to their own neglect and let it go? How many would have caved to the offer of the $25 credit?

How often do you check your monthly bills? Have you ever found a big mistake?

In your experience, what types of companies are the biggest offenders? Please share your customer service war stories, big or small.

amy.dunn@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4522 or blogs.newsobserver.com/saver

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