Consumer questions: Tax rebates for all?

$600 promise?

Question: "I'm Brea and I live in San Francisco and I was just wondering about this $600 that the president is promising every American. Is it true that it is $600 for everyone? And what is the purpose of this bribe late in his presidency?"

Answer: No, but pretty close. You had to have made at least $3,000 for an individual and not more than $75,000. If you meet these requirements, then you get $600. If you're a couple and make less than $150,000, you get $1,200. After that it starts going down rapidly.

The other thing you get is $300 per child, and there's no cap on it. So if you have five children, you'll get $1,500. So working families across this country are going to do well. But working families here in the Bay Area may not because their income levels are higher and the cost of living is higher and Washington, D.C. did not take that into account.

Finding a good dog walker?

Question: "I'm Mika Gretton, I'm from Sonoma and I'm wondering how I would go about finding a reputable qualified dog walker for my dog Elvis?"

Answer: It's very much like trying to find a babysitter. What you should look for are recommendations from friends and family. You may also want to call the local humane society. It's unlikely they're going to give you a recommendation but you can ask them to put you in contact with the folks there that use a dog walker. Once you get the dog walker, just don't hand over your dog. You need to ask some questions: How many dogs are going to be with my dog? Are they going to be the same size? Are they going to be the same temperament? Ask what they would do if the dog had a health issue. Will older dogs be walking with puppies? Where will you be taking my dog? Unleashed areas? Also, many people end up giving the dog walker a key to their house so you have to make sure you're comfortable with that person. And finally, ask if they have a business license because some cities will demand that they have one. If they don't, don't hire them.

Retrieving items from sewage drain?

Question: "I'm Jennifer Stergill from San Francisco and I would really like to know how I can get my keys back if I drop them down a sewage drain?"

Answer: I would start with the police department. If you can get the police department on your side, they know how to deal with this. The police officer may be helpful in getting a crew from the Department of Public Works to help. If you're calling Public Works on your own behalf, consider tipping. An economic incentive may get you your lost item quicker.

For more of Michael Finney's consumer stories and advice, visit 7 On Your Side.

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