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Action: Clock merchants want smiling faces

Q: Why is it that when you see an advertisement for a clock or watch, the hands are always at 10 minutes past 10? This really bugs me.

By Suzanne Palmer, Times Staff Writer
Published March 3, 2008


Q: Why is it that when you see an advertisement for a clock or watch, the hands are always at 10 minutes past 10? This really bugs me.

Rexford McCane

A:I hate to admit being so unobservant, but I'd never noticed what time it was in watch advertisements.

My research showed the subject has been heavily addressed, perhaps most notably in a Consumer Reports story written a decade ago. The advertising and public relations director for Timex Corp. in 1998, Susie Watson, said there aretwo reasons. "At that time, a watch's hands don't hide its logo," she said, "and they make the watch smile."

A 2004 story in the Hayward Daily Review in California, went a step further.

It explained that around the turn of the 20th century, almost all display clocks and watches also displayed the same time.

But it was 8:18.

The same principle applied. Having the hands set at that time allowed for the most advertising at the top. "There weren't any full-color ads in magazines in those days," the story said, "but a lot of jewelers had a painted watch or clock on the sign that heralded their businesses."

The change came about when the information at the bottom of the dial, like "quartz movement" or "water-resistant," began to require more room than that at the top.

It also forms a frown.

Q: I read the complaint against ITV in the Action column on Feb. 11. My issue with them is different but reflects very poor business practices.

On Nov. 1, I returned two books I'd ordered from the company by UPS. My understanding, according the advertisement when I ordered them, was that I could get a full refund if I returned them within 30 days.

To return them, I was instructed to call for an authorization number, but I never got a response. I returned them anyway, expecting a refund.

It never materialized.

When I got in touch with ITV by mail and e-mail, I was told that the total cost billed to me was for shipping and handling, $9.95 per book. The books were free. Shipping and handling is nonrefundable. I paid $8 to return them.

I find such business practices very deceptive and I wouldn't recommend doing business with ITV.

Anne Turner

A: I'm sorry to hear insult was added to injury when you paid an additional sum to return the free books.

Perhaps this was why you never received a call back when you asked for a return authorization number?

Sarah Moe, assistant to the vice president of customer service at ITV, told you in an e-mail, "The cost of shipping and handling is non-refundable per our written policy. Shipping and handling is the only charge incurred for your order."

I couldn't find any return policy or terms and conditions on ITV's Web site, despite using its site map. That doesn't mean it's not there; just that a reasonable search of the site didn't make it apparent.

You didn't send a copy of your invoice, which may have contained the written policy Moe referred to.

Your experience illustrates just why we have to be vigilant at asking for and receiving as much information as possible before allowing any business to separate us from our hard-earned money.

This is especially true when we're not dealing face to face with a salesperson in a bricks-and-mortar store.

Q: I paid $450, plus the cost of office visits for orthotic inserts made by Dr. Jeff Kopelman at All Florida Orthopaedic Associates.

After a number of visits and adjustments, they still hurt my ankles. Dr. Kopelman kept saying they would adjust but they didn't, so I returned them to his office in August 2007.

I asked for my money back because they weren't covered by insurance and I was unable to use them. I didn't hear anything so I sent a letter in October. Still nothing.

Jack Hildebrand

A: Kopelman was very surprised to hear from Action in mid January, especially because he hadn't talked to you since an appointment in December 2006, he said.

From that visit, he sent this transcript from dictation, "(Mr. Hildebrand) states he is doing excellent. Not having any problems at all. He even walks on the beach with them." He also noted the practice would see you in about four months for re-evaluation, and "if he has any problem before then, I would be happy to see him on a sooner basis."

Kopelman didn't see or hear from you until September 2007, when he received the first of two letters from you requesting a refund.

In light of the fact that nearly a year passed since his last contact with you, and at that time you claimed to be using the inserts with no problems, Kopelman declined your request.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. Write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request. Complaints can only be accepted by mail. Send only photocopies of personal documents. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

[Last modified February 29, 2008, 20:52:37]

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