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Amtrak apologizes for toilet trouble

My husband and I took a trip to Virginia in August on the Amtrak auto train. On the return trip, the service people did not refill the toilet tanks because the train was running late.

About an hour and a half out of the station, the toilets in two passenger cars failed to flush. By 11:30 p.m. only one toilet was operable for five passenger cars full of people.

The long lines and smelly cars probably constituted a health hazard because food and drinks were served to passengers.

We complained to the Amtrak staff, which locked the inoperable toilets. The staff did not refill the toilets with water until we stopped at 11:45 p.m.

I sent a complaint to Amtrak Customer Service but have yet to get a reply. I would appreciate anything you can do to make Amtrak more responsive to the public. Janet O'Brien

Response: Amtrak is very aware of the importance of on-time performance, says customer relations officer Brigitta Robinson, and tries hard to operate on schedule.

Unfortunately, Amtrak is having a severe equipment shortage, she said. Many cars and locomotives are old and overworked and numerous delays are the result.

The first orders of long-anticipated new equipment have begun to come in, she said, and with these new acquisitions and intensified maintenance programs it is Amtrak's intention to alleviate the problems you reported.

You have Amtrak's heartfelt apologies for your inconvenience.

You also have Amtrak's $200 transportation credit. It can be used toward any Amtrak travel within 18 months.

Firm appears shut down

In response to a TV ad, I purchased a diet product from Easy Trim Diet Patch Program in Boca Raton. The product was not what I expected so I called the company, got the proper return authorization number and returned it within the time period allowed for a refund.

Since that time (April 5), I have called and written several times but have yet to receive my $72.70 refund.

Now one of their phone numbers no longer accepts calls. The other number is always busy. Please help. L.M.

Response: Our first letter to Easy Trim got no response. Our second letter, sent certified, return-receipt requested, was refused. We then tried calling but the phone has been disconnected.

Sardine life

Your column on Sept. 29 about the shelf life of sardines and other canned meats may not be entirely correct.

I'm enclosing a leaflet I got off King Oscar sardines. C.L. Canuette

Response: We quoted the Department of Agriculture as saying that canned meats can be safely kept for as long as two to five years provided they are maintained at a temperature of 70 degrees or cooler.

The folks at King Oscar say their Brisling sardines mature in the can with the olive oil blending with the fish oil, etc., and when stored in a cabinet for more than two years, may be called vintage. Could be their sardines are an exception to the shelf-life rule.

One-shoe source

I read somewhere that a person needing only one shoe could acquire single shoes from a shoe-exchange organization. A friend of mine would appreciate getting the address of that group. Vera Spalla

Response: Write or call National Odd Shoe Exchange (NOSE), 7102 N 35th Ave. Suite 2, Phoenix, AZ 85051 or call (602) 841-6691 for information.

Registration is $25 and annual dues are $15 (reduce that to $15 and $10 if you're younger than 18 or older than 61). You send them your size and style preference, they send you shoes. You pay only the postage.

If you need two sizes (size 7 for your left foot and 8 for the right), NOSE will try to match you with someone who has the opposite requirements.

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, or, outside of Pinellas, (800) 333-7505, ext. 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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