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Getting out of deal is a workout

When my husband and I joined Gold's Gym in St. Petersburg, we wanted someplace to go together as a couple. Because they had child care, Gold's was perfect.

We informed Larry upon joining that my husband had back problems and we were not sure he could do the exercises. He said no problem: Rex would help him.

Five days after working out, my husband was in extreme pain. His doctor sent a letter saying he was totally incapacitated for any type of employment. We gave this letter to the manager of Gold"s Gym, Jeff Rogers. He said he would cancel my husband's membership but continue to charge our checking account $50 for my membership.

I did not want to commit to two years because I did not want to go to the gym without my husband.

Since that time I have been diagnosed with a brain tumor. My doctor wrote a letter to Gold's Gym, which I sent with a copy of my husband's doctor's letter by certified mail. I asked them to stop the collection agency from sending us letters.

That was on April 3. On April 27 we got another letter from the collection agency but have never heard a word from Jeff Rogers.

Can you help? M.W.

Response: The reply we received from Scott Sugdon, president of Gold's Gym, said, "A refund or stoppage of payments can only happen when Gold's Gym receives a proof of disability certificate. A note from the doctor is not proof of disability.

"We would be happy to freeze membership time but not payments," Sugdon said. "Because one person is disabled does not mean the other can be released from the contract."

After sending this reply along to you, you wrote back saying neither your doctor nor your husband's doctor had certificate of disability forms.

We have since called Gold's Gym five times and left messages for Sugdon, asking him where you can get the certificate of disability forms. Sugdon has not returned our calls.

You have the option of filing a formal complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture, Division of Consumer Services, (800) 435-7352.

Hurricanes and water

Lots of people buy bottled water and then take the empty bottles to a machine that fills them up again.

How long can you keep a sealed bottle of water? How long will water be safe in a refilled bottle?

With hurricane season here, I would like some information. Betty Phipps

Response: Unopened, sealed bottled water can be safely left on a shelf for a year. Refilled containers are another matter because their safety depends on the condition of the water and whether the containers were properly sterilized.

Your best bet is to keep clean containers on hand and fill them with tap water when you hear of an impending hurricane. If you can't keep them refrigerated, add eight drops of bleach to each gallon of tap water. Let it sit for half an hour before using to lessen the chlorine taste.

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.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; 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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