I have a grapefruit tree in my yard that was there when I bought the house. Can you tell me what is the life expectancy of a grapefruit tree? How old must it be before it starts bearing fruit, and for how many years can it be expected to produce fruit? Nelson Barbeito
Response: We checked with Angela Asbury, manager of Carroll's Nursery on this one.
According to Ms. Asbury, a citrus tree grown from a seed takes seven to 10 years to bear fruit. But you wouldn't want to start a tree that way. Because of hybridization and the use of root stock, seeds no longer come back true, she said, so you would have no idea what kind of fruit you'd get from a tree you started from seed.
The only proper way to grow a citrus tree is to get one that has been grafted onto root stock, and in Central Florida, the best root stock is sour orange. That will assure you that your tree will not succumb to root diseases.
Because the grafted part of the tree is taken from a mature citrus tree, it will bear fruit the second year when it is still quite small, Ms. Asbury said. But you should expect it to take three to five years to produce fruit in any quantity.
And then, provided you take good care of it _ fertilize and spray it regularly and make sure it gets enough water _ your grapefruit tree should live to be at least 40 or 50 years old and continue bearing fruit until it dies of old age.
Motel failed to file claim
While staying in a Budget Lodge motel in Gainesville last October, I slipped and fell in the shower and fractured my hand. I filled out an accident report, and the night manager assured me that the motel's insurance would handle it.
The doctor charged me $140. After trying numerous times to get payment for this bill, I finally paid the doctor myself. I have since gone to the Florida Department of Insurance for help in getting my claim paid. No luck.
I know that Action has gotten results so I am writing to see whether you can get this money for me from Budget Lodge's insurance company.
Response: The reason for the delay, according to the operations manager of Sun State Insurance Agencies, is that Budget Lodge never reported your claim.
The claim has since been filed, and you should be hearing from the insurance carrier shortly.
Missing watches on way
Last year I ordered two Big Time watches from Helena Windsor. I liked them so much that I ordered two more. But this time I didn't have the coupon and didn't remember what the postage was, so I sent $10 for each watch plus $6 for postage. That was December. In January, I got one watch but I have never got the other one.
Response: You now have three watches and a $13 refund check.
On March 15, Action ran a letter from W.C. Leuzinger, who complained that the used mattresses he had bought two years earlier from Sleep Time World were defective. Although they had come with a 10-year warranty, he said, the company would not refund his $297 and the replacement mattresses they gave him were worse than the originals.
Sleep Time World's Annette L. Himes replied that the warranty was null and void because the mattresses had been purchased without a box spring. The store had made an exception in this case and inspected the mattresses. They were found to be impossible to repair (although Leuzinger was charged $81 to cover repairs) and were replaced twice. Ms. Himes said, however, that a refund would not be given.
We have since learned from Ms. Himes that Leuzinger took the matter to Small Claims Court and lost. County Judge Water Fullerton found that because Leuzinger knew the mattresses were used, because he decided not to buy box springs which were a prerequisite to the warranty, and because he waited more than two years to complain about the mattresses, he failed to prove that Sleep Time World breached their agreement by providing defective mattresses or that the mattresses were purchased under false pretenses.
If you have a question for Action, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write: Times Action, c/o the City Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg 33731, or call your Action number, 893-8171, to leave a recorded request for Action.