Power outages, rideshare nightmares, unregulated dog trainers: the top stories of 2019 from 7 On Your Side

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's been a very busy year for our own Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side. Michael has helped viewers with a host of consumer problems -- and their stories caught your attention. We take a look back at 2019, which was certainly was a year to remember. We saw recycling centers shut down, FasTrak keeping secrets from the public, PG&E shutting off our power, and in a personal shock, a marketer stealing Michael Finney's identity, and falsely claiming he endorsed a product. In addition to those are the following top seven most-watched 7OYS stories.

7. What to do right now to prep for a planned power outage

Number 7 on our list came after PG&E shut off power to thousands of customers to avoid sparking a wildfire. 7 On Your Side showed viewers how to get ready for total darkness. Among the tips: get cash and gasoline before ATMs and gas pumps lose power. Prepare a "go bag" with things like medicine and documents, and learn how to open your garage door manually.



6. Thousands of homeowners in fire zones are losing their insurance

Number 6 on the list? Insurance companies refusing to renew policies for homeowners in wildfire areas. New figures showed 167,000 homeowners lost their insurance in 2018 even if they didn't have fire damage. Among them was Elizabeth Cehovec of Orinda. "I thought gee, I've been with them for 40 years now they're canceling my insurance," she told us.



5. Lyft nightmare: Oakland mother and baby made to walk down Interstate 880 in the rain after rideshare breakdown

Number 5? It was the story of a Lyft nightmare. An Oakland mother and her baby were in a Lyft that broke down on the Nimitz Freeway in the rain... and the driver ordered them out of the car. The mother, Jennifer Collins, had to carry her baby in his car seat along the freeway to get to safety. She told us, "It was rainy, it was windy, it was freezing. Cars were buzzing by me, I was getting soaked, my son screaming -- like I just feel helpless."

To top it off, Lyft would not even give her a refund saying it didn't want to, "monetize her safety."




4. Two dog deaths spark concern about lack of regulations for dog trainers

Number 4 on the list was this exclusive report about the deaths of two dogs while under the care of local dog trainers. Our report revealed the lack of state regulations or licensing requirements for dog trainers. Jane Creswell of San Ramon says her dog Kenzi died while in the board and care of a trainer. Another dog Gunnar also died in similar circumstances. Now there is a push for more state oversight for trainers.



3. San Lorenzo woman dies at 102, DirecTV charges early termination fee

Number 3on the list was story of the San Lorenzo woman who died at age 102 -- and DirecTV charged an early termination fee. The irony caused this one to go viral. The woman was born before TV was invented, she lived through two world wars and 18 presidents. But she couldn't outlive her satellite TV contract. Her family was charged $160 after she died.



2. You can store electricity before the outage: here's how

Second most watched story? It had to do with those power outages again... We told you how to store electricity before PG&E shuts it off. Among the tips, charge up your old laptops and use them later to charge phones, buy battery packs that recharge the chargers, and of course, make sure your electric car or hybrid has a full charge beforehand.



1. How to find out if you live in an earthquake hot zone

Finally, our number-one story of 2019 was how to find out if you live in an earthquake "hot spot." Those are zones with soft soil prone to liquefaction -- areas that are most prone to destruction in a quake. The USGS put out an interactive map, and we showed you can type in your address, find out if you're in a danger zone.

Here's to more wild rides in the New Year -- hopefully all good ones!

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.