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PROBE: Aug. 7, 2001

August 07, 2001

QUESTION: I got a cell phone from Alex Wireless because I was going on a trip. I bought the USA plan so I could call anywhere. When I got home my bill was $277 for one month.

When I complained, they said my free minutes were for calling in Imperial County from Calexico. They would not let me pay part of the bill. I paid $137 and I still owe $140. My phone was disconnected.

I don't want this service anymore. But they say if I drop the contract, I have to give back the telephone and pay another $250 or they will send the account to a collection agency and mess up my credit.

I am willing to give back the phone. I am not willing to pay the $250 or let Alex Wireless ruin my credit. I have excellent credit.


I talked to the salesman who sold me the service. He sold me the wrong plan. He said he would talk to someone in the corporate office to help me. Anyway, later he told me he couldn't do anything and I have to pay. Can you help? — Overcharged, El Centro

Marco Hurtado, Alex Wireless marketing director, promised to look into your situation and get back to us.

"There must have been a miscommunication. I am sure we can work something out for your reader," he said.

For now, the only thing left to do is warn readers that nothing comes free. Companies don't give away free telephones or free minutes or free anything. Listen closely because somewhere in the talk of freebies there is a loophole that allows the company to recover its costs.

A LOTTA NERVE — My heart went out to the country boy in San Marino. No matter how you slice it or how you spice it, you can't turn round steak into carne asada. Round steak is just too dry for grilling.

I have some spice he can use to make his own carne asada. I have sent this stuff to nine states from Washington to Hawaii to Oklahoma and to two countries.

I sent a jar to Mexico. They loved it! I am leaving you two jars, one to take home and one to send to the San Marino boy! — Another Country Boy, West Imperial County

It's takes a lot of gall to send carne asada spice to Mexico. But if that ole boy up in San Marino will send us his address, we'll send him the spice … if we don't eat it all dry right out of the jar.

According to the label, "it's good enough to make a skunk's butt taste good but use on beef, pork, lamb, fish, any and all vegetables." We believe it!

For our other readers, we will tell you this is a blend of black pepper, salt, seasoned salt, garlic and onion powders. It's up to you to get the amounts right.

We're guessing two teaspoons to a pound of meat would be about right, then sprinkle the meat with equal parts lemon or lime juice and water, set aside in the refrigerator overnight.

If you want it to taste authentic, grill over a hot mesquite charcoal fire. If the fire gets too hot, cool it with a splash of beer.

GOTTA HAVE IT — My mouth is watering. I have to have a mess of that wild weed, verdolaga, but I guess it's not in season yet! When will we be able to find it! — Adventurous, El Centro

It may be starting now. A farmer said it usually comes up when they irrigate a plowed field the first time. There is a just watered field on Barbara Worth Road about a mile north of Highway 98 covered in verdolaga. We doubt the farmer would mind if you stopped and pulled a few weeds. Just make sure it's not a new field of broccoli.

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