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Fee is for used tires left at store, not those bought

Bob Lee's quoted me $230 for new tires or $104 for used. I bought the used tires.

As they were installing them they said there would be an additional charge of $1 per tire for disposal. I said the person who bought those tires new had already paid the disposal fee. Why did I have to pay it again?

They said I just did. It was not worth arguing about so I paid it.

I realize this is not a big deal, but Bob Lee's sells hundreds of tires every day, charging everyone disposal fees. Then they are selling the used tires and again charging this disposal fee.

They are collecting it twice. Is this legal? I don't want my $4 back; I just want an answer.

G.S.

Response: Bob Lee's did not collect twice for the same thing.

Florida Statute 403.718 says the $1 tire disposal fee is to be charged for "each new motor vehicle tire sold at retail" in Florida.

Bob Lee said his company only collects the state disposal fee on new tires, not used. The new-tire fee is listed separately on your invoice. That money gets sent to the state.

Lee said it costs him $1.25 per tire for the legal disposal of old, unusable tires. That's why he and other tire dealers charge customers $1 for each tire left with them for disposal. That money does not go to the state.

In other words, you didn't pay $4 for the used tires you bought; you paid $4 for the used tires you left.

If you trade in used tires that are in good shape and can be resold, Lee said he does not charge his own $1 fee for disposal. Nor does he charge it when customers keep their old, used tires.

According to the attorney general's office, tire dealerships legally can collect a fee to cover their own tire disposal costs provided that fee is listed separately from the state disposal fee on their invoices.

By the way, the Department of Revenue tells us the total amount collected in 1993 for the state disposal fee on new-tire sales was $16-million.

Of that amount, 3 percent was spent for the expenses of collecting the fee. The rest went to the Solid Waste Management Trust Fund administered by the Department of Environmental Protection.

According to Bill Parker, an engineer with the DEP's waste tire program, 45 percent of the money went to counties as waste tire grants, 40 percent was used to get rid of waste tire sites, 10 percent went to mosquito control districts to remove waste tires or spray them, 3 percent is being used for research and demonstration projects, and 2 percent paid administrative costs.

Paint sealant not free after all

I bought a 1990 Plymouth Voyager from Suncoast Chrysler for $10,050 plus my trade-in. The business manager gave me what I thought was a free paint sealant and fabric protection certificate.

But when I had the work done they would not return my vehicle until I gave them a check for $650.

They said the sealant was not free and that due to a computer error during the sale I owed them an additional $400.

What recourse might I have to recover this payment?

Carl Aldrin

Response: The copy of the certificate you sent us simply says, "We owe Carl Aldrin one paint sealant and fabric protection." It is signed, "Pete." The parts and labor charge spaces are left blank. The small print says it is valid for only 30 days, and you must make an appointment to get the work done.

According to Suncoast Sales Manager Wayne Schmidt Jr., however, his business manager fully explained that the paint sealant and fabric protection would add $600 to the selling price.

In addition, an error caused your contract to be written for $1,000 less than it should have been. The business manager called you and explained that he needed another $400 for the car plus $600 for the sealant before the car could be delivered.

Schmidt said you asked for a break on the sealant. Because you were helping to correct their accounting error, they agreed to sell you the sealant job for $250. You agreed and signed a promissory note because you didn't have your checkbook with you. That afternoon you replaced the note with your check when you picked up the car.

Schmidt said you left happy.

One recourse, if you are not satisfied, would be to take the matter to Small Claims Court.

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.

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.

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