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Action: Time of Lincoln's death not in watch ads

Ever since publishing Rex McCane's question about the time showing on watches in advertisements, readers have inundated me with stern reprimands that my explanation couldn't have been more wrong.

"Everyone knows the watches are set at the time Lincoln died," one anonymous reader said. "I've known for all my 93 years that this was the time Lincoln was shot," another said. Both 10:10 and 8:18 were claimed as the appropriate times.

I did read about this explanation while doing my research, but I didn't include it because it's just an urban legend.

According to the experts at the Lincoln Museum in Indiana, President Lincoln was shot at 10:15 p.m. April 14, 1865, at the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. He was taken to a home across the street, where he died the next morning at 7:22.

Incidentally, the bed in which he died and a photo taken immediately after his body was removed can be seen at the Chicago History Museum. I was fortunate to visit it on Presidents Day and the exhibit is a powerful sight.

I certainly appreciate your calls and letters. You do keep me on my toes. But I hope this settles the matter.

Need rebate sent north

Q: My permanent address is in Florida, but I go north for the summer. I always have my mail forwarded.

I'll be leaving before our federal tax rebate check is mailed so I phoned the post office to make sure it would forward the check. It didn't know and referred me to the IRS.

Of course, when you phone the IRS, all you get is a recording and no access to a live representative.

Can you find out?

Ann Heckathorne

A: It doesn't instill confidence when your post office can't tell you whether it'll be delivering your mail, but once I spoke to Postal Inspector Linda Walker, I understood why.

Walker explained that it all depends on what class the IRS uses to mail the checks and whether it adds an endorsement.

According to the U.S. Postal Service Quick Reference Guide, endorsements are used by mailers to request an addressee's new address and to provide instructions on how to handle undeliverable-as-addressed pieces. They can ask for return service, forwarding service or change of address service.

If they're sent with an endorsement that requests return service for a change of address, the post office will apply a label with your forwarding address and send it back to the IRS.

Then the IRS would mail the check again with the new address, creating a considerable delay until the money lands in your pocket.

Not to worry. Gloria Sutton, an IRS spokeswoman in Jacksonville, says the agency will be sending the checks first class with no endorsements.

Waiting for cell refund

Q: Back in July 2006, my wife and I were told by Charles Pope Cellular that if we switched our service from Sprint to Alltel, it would refund the cancellation fees of $150 each to my wife and me.

We paid the cancellation fee and were told we'd receive our refund by the end of 2006. In March 2007, we received a letter apologizing for the wait and promising a refund by the end of 2007. We're still waiting.

We went to Charles Pope on the recommendation of a trusted friend. Others he had referred who had canceled their previous service had received their refunds.

Please help us recover ours.

Rich and Holly Seiler

A: Customer service manager at Charles Pope Cellular, Lydia Dunn, let me know a check for $300 had been cut to you in mid February.

"The customer has been called," she said, "and a message was left as well."

I trust you've received your refund.

Dodge lottery ripoffs

A couple of readers recently contacted Action about international lottery scams.

Joseph Moore of St. Petersburg was particularly worried about seniors living in assisted living facilities or families suffering financial difficulty.

"If you ever see any of these letters and envelopes, you may marvel at the effort put into creating such visual impact," he wrote. "The stamps, insignias, serial numbers, codes, etc., as well as the wording, are all so impressive to an already confused, elderly mind."

Nova Smith e-mailed with the unfortunate news that she had been a victim herself, to the tune of more than $300.

Sometimes the letters claim you've been selected a winner of one of these lotteries and say all you have to do to collect a gazillion dollars is pay taxes, fees, etc. An unexpected check or promise of large winnings just for sending off a small fee should be treated with a good shredding.

In some schemes, the word "lottery" is never mentioned, perhaps to trick those who know that participating in foreign lotteries is illegal in this country.

Sometimes a check is received, perhaps even bearing the name of a legitimate bank such as Wells Fargo or Western Union. The checks are to be deposited and the "winner" wires the money to the sender to cover miscellaneous fees.

You're assured that when they get their money, you'll get yours.

If you were to deposit the check and wire the money, your bank would discover it was no good and you'd be on the hook for the full amount. It makes no difference that you didn't know it was counterfeit.

These schemes run cyclically, so when Action starts to receive notice from readers, it's a safe bet many others will be affected.

Many thanks to Joseph and Nova for tipping us off.

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.

Action: Time of Lincoln's death not in watch ads 03/24/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 3:23pm]
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