Dolphin Silver Linings

That 1-6 Record Is Not So Bad. Think Positive!

First of all, Tailpipe would like to put to rest those rumors about the New Times curse. Sure, Daunte Culpepper was ignominiously benched by the Dolphins after gracing our cover. And whatever happened to Marlins Manager Jack McKeon (to say nothing of that cute Asian lady we featured in a story on women's billiards)? But there were other factors involved, including other publications working their voodoo. Let's not forget Satan's apprentices over at Sports Illustrated.

As for the disappointing Dolphins (1-6), there's also a big, pillowy pile of positives to consider. As cornerback Travis Daniels said recently, "I don't think we're the worst team in the NFL by a long shot." The Dolphins, of course, have exclusive rights to anything Daniels says. Hence, a shiny new slogan: "The 2006 Dolphins: Not the worst — by a long shot!"

In the same spirit, Tailpipe has compiled this list of Dolphins not-by-a-longshot silver linings:

Jeez, at least they beat the Packers, right? Oh, wait.

Miami's cutting-edge attack may someday be enshrined in the Football Hall of Fame as the Virgin Offense, which eschews (almost without exception) the scoring of touchdowns.

There's a lot more room for Steelers fans at the bar.

Orange-and-teal fashions are now irretrievably passé.

As it turned out, no dirty bombs ever exploded at Dolphin Stadium. But the mere suggestion indicates that at least someone is thinking in terms of radical solutions.

Unlike other South Florida football teams, the Dolphins have yet to stomp, punch, helmet-hammer, or body-slam any opponents in a sideline-clearing brawl. Then again, the Jets come to Miami on Christmas, so there's always a chance.

Publisher's Scamminghouse

When Connie Gunter got a call in June from a grandmotherly lady around dinnertime, telling her that she was a runner-up in the Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes, she didn't hang up. Why should she? The caller told her she had won a "diamond gold watch" and three free magazine subscriptions. Hooray. Of course, for shipment purposes, the caller needed Gunter's credit card information.

"At this point, my daughter's looking at me kind of funny," says Gunter, 47, a resident of Ghent, Kentucky.

What the heck — Gunter gave the woman her debit card number and hung up, expecting a packet to come in the mail with her free watch. The next day, she got a follow-up call.

"A man called the next day to verify," Gunter says. "He talked 50 miles a minute. He was so fast. At one point, he did tell me this was nontransferable and noncancelable, but at that point, I'm still thinking I won this. I won these magazines and the watch, and this is all still legit. So I go ahead and give him my debit card info again."

Next, Gunter received an invoice notifying her that $59.80 had been taken out of her account and that she would eventually owe about $700 more for the several un-cancelable magazine subscriptions she had agreed to. Realizing she'd been had, Gunter called the company listed on the invoice: the Community Reading Club of Tamarac, a corporation with offices on Commercial Boulevard in Broward County. The woman answering the phone was belligerent, Gunter says.

"She kept insisting that they had me on tape, that I gave my credit card info willingly, and that my subscriptions were non-cancelable. I've never in my life heard of a magazine subscription you can't cancel."

Gunter refused to pay and asked her bank to dispute the charge. But, hey, there was her consent on tape, and there was nothing the bank could do. So, down $60, she closed her bank account and canceled her debit card, determined that the Community Reading Club of Tamarac wouldn't get any more of her money.

But the magazines kept coming: Elle, Wired, Redbook, Rolling Stone. In September, Gunter got another call from the Community Reading Club of Tamarac, this time from its collections department. "We're just calling to remind you that you're three months behind on your payment," they told Gunter before threatening to ruin her credit.

Gunter began contacting Florida authorities. She wasn't alone, it turned out. The company, under several different names, has chalked up 45 complaints to the local Better Business Bureau of Southeast Florida in the past three years. Most of those complaints remain unresolved. The state's Division of Consumer Services and the Broward County Sheriff's Office have handled complaints about them too. But it took getting the state attorney general on her side for Gunter to make Community Reading Club of Tamarac blink.

"A complaint came in from the state attorney," acknowledges Melissa Sentz, president of Personal Periodicals Inc., which does business as the Community Reading Club of Tamarac. Sentz insists that her company canceled Gunter's account two days before the attorney general contacted them. "From June to September," Sentz laments, "[Gunter] received three months' worth of magazines. We lost money for it, and we're not going to bill her for anything more." It was just a sad, costly case of "buyer's remorse," Sentz explains. "We've been in business for 19 years, and sometimes customers complain."

Well, what about those scores of other unanswered complaints on file at the Better Business Bureau?

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