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Discrepancy puts order on hold


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001

I sent off for a Marlboro Miles Gear catalog from Philip Morris, enclosing a copy of my driver's license, in the spring of 2000. I sent in my order on Sept. 10 with a check for $15 for shipping and handling and another copy of my driver's license.

Philip Morris requested another copy of my license in early October and again around the first of November. I sent it both times. I also called on Nov. 6 and was told my order was on hold because my order said my birthday was March 3, 1932, and my driver's license said it was March 4.

The representative said it could have been a computer error, and the order would be taken off hold. I called again on Nov. 25, 28, Dec. 17, Jan. 7 and 8. The order is still on hold. Philip Morris is not questioning the year of my birth, so it should be clear that I am way over 21 years old. I would like my merchandise. Geraldine Ruhland

Response: John Barlow, senior consumer affairs specialist with Philip Morris in New York City, said that an error in your order made the company think it was ineligible. A discrepancy existed between the date of birth on the order form and the date of birth on the copy of the government-issued ID. That information in required to certify that, as a smoker, you are 21 years of age or older.

That's when your order was placed on hold and a letter was sent to you requesting that the discrepancy be corrected. Barlow said it was not corrected, so the hold on your order was not released. The fulfillment center has released the hold on the order, and it is scheduled to be reshipped.

However, because of an overwhelming response to the promotion, the merchandise you ordered is currently back-ordered, with the exception of the Classic Game Set. It will be shipped shortly and the rest of the order as soon as it becomes available.

Barlow said you are also being sent a coupon to redeem for a free carton of your favorite Marlboro brand in appreciation of your being a customer and to make up for the inconvenience you have experienced.

Carpet cleaning

On Nov. 1, a young man from Direct Cleaning Services knocked at my door and asked me if I needed my carpet cleaned. He said he was cleaning the carpet a few doors down, and he would give me a good price. I had been thinking about having my carpet cleaned, so he came in and gave me an estimate of $129 if he could clean it that day. Then he talked me into having Teflon added after the cleaning, saying it would keep anything that spilled from soaking in. That would cost me $44 more, so I agreed; the total cost was $173.

I wear white socks in the house, and I noticed the soles of my socks were very dirty. That concerned me because this was after I had had my carpet cleaned. I called Direct Cleaning Service in Clearwater and complained. I was told that the machine used to clean my carpet was not doing the job properly and that a new machine was now available, and my carpet would be redone at no charge.

About half-way through this second cleaning, I was told a color brightener was being put on my carpet, and it would cost me an additional $59. I didn't want it nor did I ask for it, but I went ahead and paid the $59. I was very unhappy about this and called the company again and spoke to the owner, Ron Pettifer. He told me he would send me a refund. I keep calling every few days and the answer is always the same: The refund will be sent. I'm still waiting.

I would appreciate anything you can do to help me get back my $59. Louise Martin

Response: Thanks for letting us know that you received a check for $59. Although your experience has ended on a positive note, in general we strongly discourage people from doing business with anyone who comes to their door.


The following products, distributed nationwide and in Florida, were recalled between March 2 and 8:

Sources: SafetyAlerts at; Consumer Product Safety Commission at, toll-free 1-800-638-2772; Food and Drug Administration at

Multi-purpose lighters under the brand name "DIY" by Double L Inc.; the lighters can leak butane when ignited, causing a burst of flame and presenting a risk of fire and burn injuries to consumers. The 101/2 inch-long lighter has a black handle, red plastic trigger and on/off switch, a silver-colored metal barrel and yellow label on the handle that reads in part: "DANGER: EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE . . . Made in China." Return to place of purchase for refund. Call toll-free 1-800-253-1399 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

"Scooter Bug" toys, distributed with McDonald's Happy Meals for children under 3 years of age from November 2000 to February 2001, by McDonald's Corp.; the bug's antenna can break off, posing a choking hazard to young children. Return the toy to any McDonald's restaurant for a replacement toy. Call the Consumer Product Safety Commission toll-free 1-800-638-2772.

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, (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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