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Car's water leak takes several tries by mechanics

I took my 1986 Dodge to Moore's Shell in September because of an antifreeze leak. The mechanic said I needed a new radiator cap.

Four weeks later I still had a leak. The same mechanic said I needed a heater control valve.

Until January I kept adding antifreeze to the overflow bottle because it was still disappearing. Then when I recently parked my car in my son's garage, I saw antifreeze running down the driveway. I looked under the hood and could see a constant drip.

Back I went to the same station where the mechanic said I needed an upper radiator hose. I told him the drip I saw was not leaking from above but lower down. He insisted it was leaking from the upper hose.

I asked if the hose would take care of my antifreeze leak. He said it would.

I went back to my son's home (where I babysit), put the car in the garage and a few hours later found more antifreeze under the car. I lifted the hood and there was the same constant drip from the same place.

The next morning (Saturday) I found another shop open. It took the mechanic there about six minutes to tell me I needed a water pump.

I went back to Moore's Shell on Monday and told them I should be refunded for the last bill of $39 because they had had three chances to stop the leak. They refused.

I live on Social Security and mistakes like this really hurt.

D.M.

Response: According to Gary Moore, owner of Moore's Shell, pressure tests showed you needed a radiator cap and heater control valve. No leaks were found upon your third visit in January but the upper radiator hose was bulging under pressure. Since your car had 62,000 miles with original hoses, he recommended you buy a new hose and you agreed.

His shop does not sell customers parts they do not need, Moore said. A water pump can go bad at any time. Had your water pump been leaking he would have recommended you change it.

He is sorry you are unhappy but he feels his mechanic did everything that was needed with your approval.

Sales pitch fails

In September I received an "official notification" from Publisher's Award Center that I had been chosen to receive one of four awards _ a new car, six appliances, $1,000 or vacation accommodations.

I called the 800 number. A sales rep asked me to subscribe to some magazines. I said I was only interested in collecting my prize. I asked to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor checked and said I was indeed a winner. All I had to do was return my prize claim within seven days and I would get my prize within two months.

I mailed my prize claim on Sept. 24.

On Dec. 2 I again called the 800 number. A sales rep again tried to sell me magazines. I told him why I was calling and he said I would have to call the customer service department _ a toll number. He said he could not transfer me to a supervisor.

I hung up and immediately redialed the 800 number and went through the same thing with another sales rep. When I asked to speak to a supervisor he said she was in a meeting. He agreed to take a message and ask her to return my call.

Since then I have received no response.

I'd appreciate your help. I do not want to become another statistic for a rip-off.

Sandra Percy

Response: You won't be a statistic in a rip-off because you were smart enough not to buy anything or send any money.

Thomas A. Davis III, attorney for Publishers Award Center, said company records show that your vacation accommodations award was mailed to you around Oct. 5. Since you say you haven't received it, another vacation accommodations award will be sent to you via certified mail.

Davis explained that the people who answer the company's 800 phones are sales reps and have neither the authorization nor capability of responding to customer inquiries or requests. They were correct in referring you to the customer service department _ which you apparently did not call.

The company does carry through with its promises, Davis said.

Your vacation accommodations package will provide free lodging for unlimited three-days stays over a three-year period at various timeshare accommodations. Of course you will be expected to listen to a 90-minute timeshare sales talk and to pay for your own transportation and other expenses.

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.

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