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Don’t discard gift-card receipt

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Dear Heloise: I have a hint that we nearly found out the hard way. Whenever you give someone a gift card, always enclose the receipt showing the amount paid for the gift card. My mom and I each purchased $50 gift cards for my hubby for Christmas. The clerk didn't tell us the system was down at the time, and therefore the cards didn't get entered into the system.

When my hubby tried to redeem the cards three months later, the merchant wouldn't honor the cards without seeing the receipts. My mom's canceled $50 check wasn't good enough; my credit card showing a $50 charge wasn't good enough. Thankfully, we were eventually able to find both receipts, but we came very close to making a $100 donation to the merchant. —Karen Beane, Houston

This is an important reminder, and if you're sending gift cards out of town or state, send along the receipt just in case of a problem. — Heloise

Dear Friends: Here's an energy question, so let's see "watt" you think the correct answer is.

How much does it cost to burn a 100-watt light bulb for an hour?

A. One penny

B. One dollar

C. One hundred dollars

Well, actually the answer is less than a penny. Our electric company said that it costs 6 1/2 cents for 10 hours for a 100-watt light bulb — but, of course, it will depend on the cost of electricity in your area. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: You had a hint in your column the other day about donating cell phones. I am a community representative, and we are currently collecting cell phones to use as 911 phones for senior citizens.

The only problem we are having is getting the charging devices for the phones. Please remind your readers that when you donate the phone, also donate the accessories, especially the charger units. —Jill Hotelling, Middlesex, N.Y.

I'm happy to mention it! If other readers out there want to donate an old cellular phone, here is the address:

Call to Protect

c/o Motorola

1580 E. Ellsworth Road

Ann Arbor, MI 48108

This organization takes phones and refurbishes them to dial only 911 and usually one non-emergency number. These phones are then donated to police departments, domestic-violence shelters and other organizations.

So, if you have extra phones just gathering dust, why not donate them? — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I've started using one of those loofah-style gloves to clean my shower, bath, countertops, etc. I just add some detergent — any kind, because the abrasive fabric of the glove does the work. It makes cleaning those shower tracks a breeze. So far, I haven't found it to damage anything, since it is used on the skin and therefore is not too abrasive. — Gail from Virginia

Send a money-saving or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. © King Features Syndicate