Dear Heloise: The suggestion to check the Web site to verify medications might not always work. Generics often do not look like the brand names.

I have one generic medication that has had changes in the color, and the latest even changed from a round tablet to an oval-shaped tablet — it depends on the manufacturer. I checked with my pharmacy, and there is a code on each tablet by which the pharmacy can verify the medication. Some pharmacies also include this code on the label. My suggestion for long-term usage is to be familiar with what the medication looks like. — James Lucci, Montgomery, Ala.

James, you are so right! Remember, the pharmacist is there for you, and if you have questions, ask! — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Little did I know when I started using a shredder that most of them need to be oiled, so after having to replace two or three of them that just froze up, I finally read all of the instruction booklet, bought a bottle of shredder oil and posted a reminder on my computer calendar to perform this simple task on a specific day each month. — Barbara Phillips, Chino Valley, Ariz.

Yep, and be sure to use the correct oil, not one that is a flammable synthetic oil or an aerosol lubricant. Check the manual. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Recently, when I called a business's customer-service center, I got a recording asking me to stay on the line, but it also gave me the option of leaving my name and number to be called back. I'd like to suggest that all businesses that regularly have customers waiting on the phone give this option. — Kris Breid, via e-mail

Dear Heloise: When a panhandler asks me for money, I never hand out cash. Instead, I give the person gift certificates from fast-food restaurants in the area. With a couple of these coupons, they can get some hot food. This works for me. — A Reader, via e-mail

Dear Heloise: For those who have more than one key: Take a fine permanent market and write on the key what it is for. Let dry and cover with clear nail polish. Then you will always know which key goes where. It works for me and saves a lot of aggravation. — Bev Butson, Lisbon, N.H.

Dear Heloise: We have a lot of people in our great country who walk to keep in shape. Now, my hint is this: When out walking, take down signs that are out of date. Doesn't matter if you were involved with the event or not, these out-of-date signs need to be removed. Political and yard-sale signs are the most guilty. Look for the nearest trash can and pitch the litter in. Thanks! — Brenda in Kittanning, Pa.


Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-435-6473 or e-mail it to [email protected]. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. © King Features Syndicate Inc.