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You can prevent telephone solicitors' calls to your home

I got a call today from an air conditioning company offering to check my system. I told them I was not interested and wished I didn't get so many sales calls.

The caller said if I don't want sales calls I must call Tallahassee, and they'll charge me $50 to $100 to get my name off the calling lists.

Is that true?

Janet Izzo

Response: Partly.

Florida residents can put their phone numbers on a state "don't call" list that prohibits telephone sales calls. If a company calls anyway it can be fined up to $10,000.

But this service costs only $10 with a $5 annual renewal charge.

To get on the list send your request along with name, address, phone number and a $10 check to: Florida Division of Consumer Services, Attention Telemarketing, P.O. Box 6700, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6700.

To report violations, write to that address or call (800) 435-7352.

You should also know that under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, if you ask telephone solicitors not to call you again and they do call again, you can sue them in Small Claims Court for $500. And if you can prove the call constituted a willful or wanton disregard of your request, you can sue for triple damages of $1,500.

Customer didn't comply; no refund

On April 28, 1993 I signed up with Great Expectations, a dating service in Clearwater, at a cost of $1,695.

The very next day I hand-wrote a letter canceling the service. Everything was done correctly according to the contract and I was credited $500 on my Visa account the following month.

The problem is I have never received a credit for the remaining $1,195.

Visa says because I did not contact them within 30 days, they can only request a refund. Numerous calls have been made to Great Expectations with no response.

Laura Vojnovich

Response: Great Expectations says it has no record of receiving your cancellation letter. Unfortunately, you did not comply with the provisions of the contract.

The contract says cancellation letters must be dated, notarized and sent by certified mail or delivered in person. In either case you would have a receipt. As it is, you apparently have no proof that they got it.

Marcy Marsh, Great Expectations Service Manager, said the people who signed you up are no longer with the company. But she said her company would not still be in business after 18 years if it refused to give refunds when they are due.

Ms. Marsh could not explain why you got $500 of your money back, except to speculate that you called to say you wanted to cancel and someone downgraded your membership to appease you.

Support group helps divorced dads

Please share the information I've enclosed with Roberto San Luis, the reader who was having to pay child support late fees through no fault of his own.

He doesn't have to hire a lawyer. He can learn to represent himself. Our DAD's support group provides information and encouragement for people dealing with these kinds of problems.

Robert Zeller

Response: The information you sent us says that Dads Assisting Dads, is a non-custodial and custodial parental support group in Pinellas County that meets every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Northeast High School, building 9 room 5.

To learn more about it, write DAD's at P.O. Box 61373, St. Petersburg, FL 33784, call Bob Zeller at 393-9647 in Pinellas or Bryan Perry at 989-3967 in Hillsborough.

Thanks for sharing.

Sweater ruined; cleaners says not so

I took a wool sweater to Northside Cleaners and it came back many sizes smaller. It also looked like it had been combed with a steel brush.

Nobody would return my calls but I finally was able to catch the owner who said he would try to block it. When it came back the second time it wasn't even close to being acceptable.

I said I would take $75 for the sweater (I paid $125 a year ago) but they won't consider it and now the owner says he will call the police if I come in again.

They did sent a $45 check but I refused it.

Bill Ely

Response: The folks at Northside Cleaners said the local representative from Gulfcoast Fabricare examined the sweater and saw nothing wrong with it. They said if you will try on the sweater you will see it is the right size.

And they said they are willing to go to court if that's what you want.

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.