Rude staff results in loss of customer

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about department staff who ignore the customer: “Dear Heloise: I recently went shopping at a major department store, and I asked one of the sales staff if she could assist me, and she said, “No,” she was busy, and just walked off. I saw a group of three giggling salespeople and asked if they could help me, and one young woman said, “In a minute,” turned her back and continued her conversation. I left the store without spending a dime.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve seen salespeople ignore a customer. The majority of salespeople usually are helpful and professional, but it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the reputation of a store. Is it a lack of proper training?” — Emma Y., Scranton, Pa.

Emma, sorry to hear about this unfortunate incident, but you do have options. You can call the store manager to let him or her know of your experience, or write a letter to the corporate CEO. Training might be the issue, but you always can recommend better training in a phone call or letter. — Heloise


Dear Readers: If you lose your wallet:

* Call the police and report that it’s lost or stolen — do this immediately!

* Get a new driver’s license — this is your most commonly used form of ID.

* Cancel all credit cards and, if necessary, notify your bank.

* Notify utilities in case someone tries to open an account.

* If you kept a spare house key in your wallet, have the locks changed.

— Heloise


Dear Heloise: I’m having problems with gnats in my kitchen and bathrooms. I have the house sprayed for bugs, but I still have gnats. Do you have a solution to this problem? — Bugs in Kitchen, via email

First make certain all indoor plants are not watered for a couple of days; gnats lay their eggs in damp soil. Remove all food or fruit bowls from the counter. Clean all surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner, including the floors and trash baskets. Cover drains with plastic and tape it down. Leave this in place overnight.

Then make a gnat trap:

* Pour about 1/4 cup of apple-cider vinegar into a jar or plastic container.

* Take a coffee filter and place over the opening of the apple-cider container. You can use a rubber band to ensure that the coffee filter is held in place and there is a tight seal.

* Poke three holes in the coffee filter, no bigger than 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch wide.

* Place in an area where the gnats are, and leave it there for a day or two.

— Heloise


Dear Heloise: I’m helping to buy SUPPLIES for my grandchildren for the upcoming school year. Here are some hints I use to stay organized and save money:

* Taking inventory of what they already have and can still use was my first step. What can be recycled? What can be repurposed?

* Next, establishing a budget is important. Kids like and need boundaries.

* The school provides a list of required items. I stick to the list — nothing fancy.

* I buy necessities in bulk (paper, pencils, folders, glue).

* Some schools have programs to help disadvantaged kids. We try to help.

These hints have helped us get ready for a successful and productive school year! — Mary J., Hammond, Ind.

Mary, fabulous! Great way to help your grandkids and others who need a hand. Here’s a Heloise hug! — Heloise


Dear Heloise: When my bars of soap get very thin, I break them up and put them into a pump container and add water. When they dissolve, I have a convenient container of soap. — A Reader, Waco, Texas

Whether this will work depends on the makeup of the soap. Some will dissolve easier than others. — Heloise

EDITOR’S NOTE: Send your great money-saving or timesaving hint to to Heloise at P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, Fax to 1-210-HELOISE, or email to She can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in her column.