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Looking out for some bad seeds

I ordered some garden seeds from Park Seed in Greenwood, S.C., back in March. Since I have been burned a few times during my 50 years of gardening, I have learned not to go hog-wild when ordering from a new seed company, so I placed a small order and watched to see what happened.

Three seed packets were okay. The seeds from two packets never came up at all, and of the 50 seeds in another packet, only two came up.

I wrote the company on Aug. 5 asking them to refund my money for the bad seeds. Although I sent a copy of my order which included my name, address, date of order and a "paid in full" stamp, I received a form letter asking me to send that information.

If they need such a form letter, it is obvious that this company has problems with its seeds. Since I cannot get them to back up their product, may I impose on you for help?

Thank you.

Ann Kennedy

Response: That form letter was missent and should have gone to another customer, say the folks at Park Seed. As for your refund, they tell us it was, by a remarkable coincidence, sent the same day we wrote them a letter.

Did you get it?

Contests too sweet to be true

I am curious about sweepstakes contests. Can you enlighten me?

For example, they say no purchase is necessary to win, yet envelopes containing entry blanks specify on the outside whether the entry has been accompanied by an order for merchandise.

They say to respond by a specific date so as not to forfeit a prize, but there is no indication as to when a winner will be announced.

The enclosed document from American Family Publishers contains a notarized statement that the company has posted financial guarantees that the $10-million in prizes will be awarded to the prize winner. The date that New Jersey Notary Public Pamela Eagan signed this document is shown as July 22. The document arrived in my mail on July 2. How could she attest to it three weeks after I got it?

Are these contests on the level or just another way of persuading me to buy their wares?

Agnes Oexmann

Response: They are all trying to sell you their wares. Some are on the level, and some aren't.

Florida has a tough lottery law. It requires all contests to be open to everyone, with no strings attached and no purchase necessary. Also, the folks who run these contests or sweepstakes must register with the state and be prepared to prove that people actually won the prizes.

So never send money or buy a product, even though the outside of the envelope shows you did not. That is just to intimidate you into buying something.

If you have questions about the legitimacy of a contest (no dates given for drawing winners _ a notary public who pre-dates her signature), send a copy of the mailing to: Sweepstakes, Florida Department of State, Division of Licensing, Box 6687, Tallahassee, FL 32314.

Music to his ears: He gets a refund

In June, I bought two over-the-ear hearing aids from Vanco Hearing Center in Spring Hill. They were to replace my all-in-the-ear aids. I charged half the $1,500 bill on my VISA card and paid the balance in cash when I picked them up.

The new aids were not as good as the old ones, so I returned them on June 29 and was told I would receive a full refund within two weeks.

But the Spring Hill office claims it has no control over money matters and refers me to their Clearwater accountant, Bob Van Dyke, about the refund. He will neither accept nor return my calls.

VISA has processed a credit of $750. Can you help me get my $750 payment refunded?

Salvatore Pizzo

Response: You've got it.

Vanco's president, Dan Eastwood Jr., regrets the poor communication you had with his company. The two persons with whom you dealt no longer are employed by Vanco, he says.

Military PXs have limited access

I served four years in the Navy, received an honorable discharge, joined the police force and retired. I am now 64.

Since I retired, I have been trying to purchase items from the military PX, but they say I have to be retired from the military. When I show them my honorable discharge, they laugh.

It's a small thing, but I'm mad.

J. A.

Response: Sorry, but only people retired from the military with at least 20 years service or retired for certain medical reasons are eligible to shop at military commissaries or PXs.

Action answers questions, opens government doors and fights consumer battles for residents of and visitors to the Suncoast. Given sufficient information, we process or refer every serious inquiry, but we cannot guarantee response. Requests will be accepted only by mail. We cannot be responsible for returning personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If the complaint concerns a mail order, we will need copies of both sides of your canceled check. Upon request, names will be omitted from items used in the weekly column. Address your letter to Action, Times, P.O. Box 879, Port Richey, FL 34288-0879.

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