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Reader loses proof of money order

I purchased an $80 money order on Dec. 24 at the Winn-Dixie store on Little Road in Port Richey for car insurance. It somehow got lost in the mail and my insurance was canceled. I have called and also gone to Winn-Dixie at least three or more times. I lost my copy of the money order but the store said that was all right since I knew the amount, date and approximate time I bought it, and there was only one purchased for that amount at that time.

Integrated Payment Systems handles the problem cases, so I called it and was sent forms to fill out and return. I was also told to get a note from a Winn-Dixie manager on the store's letterhead stating I had purchased the money order there. Winn-Dixie tells me it has no stationery with letterhead on it. That seems a little unreal to me. It has been over three months now and I feel as though I am getting the run-around. The money order has still not shown up and Winn-Dixie is still giving me no help. Linda Warner

Response: Oops, losing proof that you purchased a money order can be a permanent bye-bye to your funds. So it's fortunate you had the information you did. We were glad to hear that with a nudge from Action, you received calls from the Winn-Dixie district manager, the Little Road store and the letter you had requested. Now that you have mailed off all the documentation, you can sit back and wait for the $80 refund.

Auto loan sold

Around April 8 I received a phone call from a person who said she was calling for South Financial Corp., the company that financed my car. She said my account had been sold to Avco Auto Center in Altamonte Springs. She told me to call and get a new payment book from Avco. I asked for this information to be put in writing and mailed to me for my protection and was told that this was not possible.

I called South Financial Corp.'s office in Gainesville and spoke to a man who told me the same thing. On April 13 I called Avco and was told that my file had not arrived yet but that I should send my car payment to Avco and when my file was received, my payment would be entered into the computer.

If this is legitimate, shouldn't I have been notified in writing? Gail Axtell

Response: Bruce Wiltse, president of South Financial Corp. in Gainesville, said that his company has indeed sold a number of accounts to Avco Auto Center. It is a common practice for finance companies that maintain auto loans, mortgages or student loans, to sell such contracts to other finance companies.

Wiltse said it is SFC's policy to notify its customers when their accounts have been sold. SFC does this to try to make the transition smoother, he said. Ordinarily, the news that an account has been sold comes when the new owner notifies the customer, either by sending a new payment book or in writing. Most lenders of this kind of paper, Wiltse said, will extend the contract to make sure there are no delinquencies during the transition process, in effect giving the customer more time to make the next payment.

All your files have now been forwarded to Avco Auto Center, he said, and once all of the contracts have been entered into its computer, Avco will in turn contact those customers regarding the new ownership of their loans and what procedure to follow for future loan payments.

Wiltse said SFC regrets any inconvenience to you during this transition period and wants to assure you that your payments will be credited to your account. If it is necessary for you to make a payment on your account before you receive the notification letter and payment book from Avco, you may make the payment to SFC and it will forward your payment to Avco.

If you have a question for Action, or your 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. Names will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited.