Love seat financing leaves buyer, seller sitting apart

Published Aug. 26, 1993|Updated Oct. 9, 2005

I bought two love seats from Roberds in May. They cost $1,500. I paid $225 down and was advised that the balance was due in 90 days as advertised.

I received a bill July 1 requesting a payment of $38. I called Roberds and asked the meaning of this bill. They said $38 was no big deal and I shouldn't mind making two payments.

I explained that I was told no payment would be required _ other than a down payment _ until 90 days had passed. I told the same thing to the manager, but he did not give me a satisfactory answer.

I told them I would pay the balance as agreed in 90 days, or Aug. 5.


Response: The advertisement you saw in the newspaper said "90 days same as cash." It said that no finance charges would be assessed if the balance was paid in full within 90 days of purchase. It also said that "Minimum monthly payments of 3 percent or $10, whichever is greater, are required on all purchases."

One of the forms you initialed said, "90 days same as cash (requires minimum payment every 30 days)."

Donald Weideman, Roberds' Clearwater store manager, said you conceded that these provisions "probably were" explained to you at the time your credit application was being processed. But now you contend that the monthly payment requirement should not apply to you because your present interpretation of the offer is that you do not need to make monthly payments.

Weideman said Bank One of Dayton, Ohio, is handling the credit end of your purchase and he will try to use his association with Bank One to limit any detrimental effects generated by your arbitrary action.

Our advice is to make the $38 payments before you wind up paying 22 percent interest on the $1,275 balance.

Haslam's has large-print crosswords

Where can I find crossword puzzle and pencil game books in large print? The local bookstore does not have them.

These games were my husband's hobby until recently, but now Parkinson's disease has affected his vision. His birthday is next month, and I would like to surprise him.


Response: Haslam's in St. Petersburg has large print crossword puzzle books put out by the New York Times. They are $7.50 each.

Need a contractor? Look for a license

I was contacted by phone about an air-conditioning service contract. A Jeffrey Beckwith of City Maintenance Service came to my home and had me sign a two-year contract. I gave him a $50 deposit.

At the end of March I tried to contact him but could not get through. When I did get him, he gave me excuses _ said his beeper had been broken. Then when I tried to call, no one answered.

After many tries I got leery and decided to have just a one-year contract. He said he would mail it to me. I never got it.

Then I called and asked for my deposit back. He said he would have the check back to me in 10 days. I am still waiting.


Response: Our letters came back saying City Maintenance was not at the address on your contract. The company's phone has been disconnected and so has the phone to Max Service Co. at the same address.

Our messages to the beeper number have not been returned.

According to the Pinellas County Occupational License people, Beckwith has an occupational license for both companies. However, the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board says a contractor's license is required for this type of work and neither company has one.

So say goodbye to your $50 deposit.

We do not recommend hiring contractors who do phone or door-to-door soliciting. Some of them may be legitimate and well qualified, but it would be difficult for the average homeowner to separate the good workers from the good con artists.

Your best bet is to ask friends and neighbors for references. Ask if they are happy with their air-conditioning or pool contractor, painter, roofer, plumber, carpenter, electrician or car mechanic.

From these recommendations, choose one you like. Ask your county Consumer Affairs Office if there have been any complaints against the company, and check to be sure it has an occupational license and, if required, a contractor's license.

If you get ripped off, file a complaint with Consumer Affairs. If you are happy with the company, be sure to recommend it to all your friends.

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, 893-8171, to leave a recorded request for Action.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or on our voice mail system; 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. Upon request, names will not be published.