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Time wasted, money spent _ and the car still isn't right

I have dealt with Helton's Honda for a very long time and still have not resolved my problem, which is improper service and false claims on the repair of my car. You are my last resort. The problem is that Helton's installed the wrong air conditioning compressor clutch, and then shimmed the replacement clutch to the wrong dimensions.

I had to go back at least 10 times and spend a total of $270 for work that did not need to be performed _ and the air conditioner is still not functioning.

I also spent $164 for a major tuneup, only to find that the air filter and distributor cap were not changed as I had requested.

When I finally confronted the owner, Kenneth Helton, he walked out in the middle of our conversation.

Helton's took my money, wasted my time and still has not remedied the original problem. Can you please stir them to action and help me receive the money I lost on unjustified repairs?

Louis B. Okun

Response: Kenneth Helton says he admits that you have been to his repair shop "several times," that the first clutch he put into your compressor was the wrong one.

When you returned, he replaced it with the right clutch, but that one was shimmed to the wrong dimensions.

He does not respond to your complaint about the tuneup, but Helton says he did walk out in the middle of your talk with him because he had to see about another job.

When he returned, you had gone.

The reason you are bringing all this up a year after the fact, he says, is because your girlfriend got upset recently when her car quit running five miles down the road after being checked at his shop.

Helton says if any repairs he has done to your car are still causing problems, and if you can prove that you had to have the same work done elsewhere, then he will be glad to refund your money to the original cost of his receipt.

Based on that statement, you could take your non-functioning air conditioner to another dealer for repair and bring the bill back to Helton's. Since you are unlikely to be reimbursed for the time and aggravation it cost you for nine needless repair trips, and since your air conditioning is still not working, we suggest you accept the offer.

Do let us know how this turns out.

Mermaid just treading water

Here we go again, asking "whatever happened to the Webb's City mermaid?"

I recall that a while back we were asked for ideas about its use. Do you think it could be used at the Florida Suncoast Dome? It would be a shame if it weren't displayed somewhere where a lot of people could see it.

Irene Cherba

Response: Frankly, St. Petersburg's favorite fish faces a foggy future.

At the moment, "Doc" Webb's 16-foot blond damsel with the curled tailfin is sitting on its clamshell in a storage room at the St. Petersburg Historical Society Museum.

The museum has no space to display it and is looking for a good community use for her, says Historical Society president Mary Wyatt Allen.

Audie Morris, whose development company is building a supermarket and shopping center at the old Webb's City site, says he would like to see the mermaid used in his development.

Morris says he visualizes a restaurantwith the mermaid as a theme. If the Suncoast Dome generates enough activity, it may justify some retail expansion in that area, he says, but right now there is not enough market to warrant more building.

Cat calendars missing

I ordered two calendars from Friskies cat food in September, sending the required proofs of purchase and $1 for each calendar. I never received the calendars and have no record of the address to which my request was mailed.

These were to be Christmas stocking stuffers for my two children. It is a minor matter, but it is annoying, and if you could help me get the calendars in time for their Easter baskets, I'd appreciate it.

S.P.

Response: The ARM Fulfillment company says most of their premiums are shipped by third-class mail and sometimes orders get lost in the mail. You should have your two calendars by the end of the month _ in time for Easter.

Company paying for work

I had repair work done on my car's air conditioning that took six hours to complete. My extended service company, Industrial Indemnity, only paid for one hour of labor.

I believe I should have been paid for the total of $180.

My regular mechanic was going to replace the blower motor, but since the air conditioner is an add-on and the entire dash had to be removed, he figured it would take him eight to 10 hours and suggested I take the car to the people who installed the air conditioning unit, which was ARA Central Garage.

I've had other repair work done on the vehicle and the service company has been very prompt in making payments. I was very pleased with their service until the above labor-cost problem.

Everett Lind

Response: Industrial Indemnity is sending you the additional $150 for labor. But officials say you were presumptuous in having a repair made without their knowledge or approval, and then expecting them to pay for it.

In the future, they say, your repair claims will not be adjusted if you do not get their prior approval.

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