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Unwanted magazines stop coming

By NANCY PARADIS, Times Action Columnist
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 26, 2002

I need help. Forbes is sending me magazines I did not order and keeps billing me. I have written and told it to please stop sending them. I would appreciate your help. Joseph Ebner

Response: Maybe we did help, because, although we have not heard from Forbes directly, your note is encouraging:

"I have not heard from Forbes. No more bills. No more magazines. They have stopped. You did it. Thank you."

You're welcome.

Mattress refund

On July 26, I went to a seminar pertaining to magnetic mattresses. Lo and behold, the presentation was so good, I bought one from Natural Health Alternatives in Cocoa Beach with the understanding that if it did not do a thing for me I could return it for a full refund.

The mattress did nothing for me, and I returned it Oct. 15. I have still not received my refund. As you can see by all the papers I am sending you, I followed all the instructions for the return and even got a letter from the president of the company that I would receive my refund. I'd be more than grateful to you if you can help me get the $798 that is due me. Jacqueline Wetzel

Response: According to the company, checks for $798 and $47.88 (sales tax) were sent to you. If you have not yet received them, Lisa Brown, executive assistant with Natural Health Alternatives in Cocoa Beach, said to let the company know and a stop payment will be put on the checks and they'll be reissued. Alternatively, you can let us know and pass on the information.

OnStar malfunction

I purchased a new Buick at the end of May at Jim Ball Buick in Orchard Park, N.Y., and took delivery the first part of June. Included in the price of the car was a one-year subscription to OnStar with 30 minutes call time. (OnStar is General Motors' voice-controlled wireless telephone service with satellite-based global positioning.)

Calling was a problem from day one. OnStar would not accept the spoken number two. When I called OnStar to complain, I was advised to use words that sounded like two, such as sue, shoe, etc. I was successful with a couple of calls but could not reach any of my children who had the digit two in their numbers.

I purchased a car with OnStar for the protection I thought I would receive; for instance, if the air bag inflates, OnStar is supposed to know the location and dispatch medical assistance. I had a laryngectomy -- I have no vocal cords and breathe through my neck -- and I paid extra to OnStar to have this information so it could inform any medical assistance that might be responding. This is critical information, since resuscitation cannot be administered in the usual way.

I have been traveling in this car since it was purchased, thinking I had this security when in fact I did not. Early this month my husband took this car to a dealer here in Florida about this problem. It was very helpful and recognized that something was wrong but could not correct the problem with the number two.

Shortly thereafter, the red indicator light came on indicating OnStar was not working. When OnStar was contacted, it advised me to take the car to a Buick dealer.

I returned to the Florida dealer, where a more thorough examination disclosed that part of the antenna harness was not installed at the factory. A part was ordered, twice, but neither time was it the correct one. The dealer was very understanding and finally removed the part from a new car on the lot to correct the problem.

Buick has acknowledged there was a problem and said that On Star will extend my contract for three months and Buick will add another three. There was no mention of the 30-minute calling time.

I do not think I am being unreasonable in wanting my year to start when the unit was repaired and operating properly. My husband and I have expended a lot of time and effort getting this corrected, and I was without protection I thought I had for eight months. Suzanne Walters

Response: Desiree Deschamps with OnStar's executive resolution center in Troy, Mich. said the company apologizes for the experience you have had to date. The dealership appears to have resolved the hardware problem, she said. As for the problems you had with the system recognizing the number two, she said the company suggests that you set up name tags for frequently dialed numbers. A reference card to help you set this up is on the way to you.

Finally, your Safe & Sound service is being extended for one year. The new expiration date is Feb. 7, 2003. In addition, 100 personal calling units have been downloaded to your vehicle.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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