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Archive for Wednesday, August 14, 2013

25 years ago: False rumor leaves collectors with thousands of pull-tabs

August 14, 2013

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Aug. 14, 1988:

  • In the days before widespread internet usage, urban legends may have spread more slowly, but they proved just as difficult to eradicate. Before fact-checking websites existed, rumors could spread for quite some time. In one instance, a local volleyball team had been one of many groups nationwide saving the pull-tabs from beer and pop cans for what they firmly believed to be a worthy cause. The story at the time was that one tab would pay for a free minute of dialysis for a kidney patient. Ona Arnold, a fund-raiser for the Kansas and Western Missouri Chapter of the National Kidney Foundation, said that there was nothing to the rumor. "You do not have to buy time on dialysis," Arnold explained, adding that since 1973, Medicare had paid 80 percent of the dialysis cost, and the remaining 20 percent usually came from private health insurance or state kidney programs. Arnold said that she had been hearing false stories about saving items for free dialysis for about 15 years. Sometimes it was cigarette packs, sometimes gum wrappers, and now it was pull-tabs. Drew Lybrook, public relations manager for Reynolds Aluminum in Richmond, Virginia, said that people often refused to believe him when he explained that the company did not pay for dialysis in exchange for tabs. Lybrook called the story "a rumor with a life of its own" that tended to sweep the nation in waves. Taking pity on the multitudes around the country who had thousands of tabs saved in buckets and sacks, the National Kidney Foundation announced this summer that not just tabs, but entire aluminum cans, pie plates, and tinfoil could be brought to the nearest Reynolds-affiliated recycling center and the cash from the recycling would be sent directly to the Kidney Foundation. "We felt sort of sorry for the people who collected all those tabs.... We hope it'll make people feel a little better about being conned into going to all that trouble for nothing," said a supervisor at one of the regional Reynolds-affiliated recycling centers.
  • New federal laws were going into effect on Sept. 1 which would require that checks be endorsed exactly in the right spot. The endorsement, or signature of the person or business whose name appeared on the "pay to the order of" line on the front of the check, was now to be confined within the first 1 1/2-inch space at the "trailing edge" of the check, or the edge behind the left side. Officials at local financial institutions said this week that many people didn't know where the endorsement was supposed to go and an error under the new law would make the check uncollectible.

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