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Fitness center gives renewal refund

My wife was a member of American Fitness, Mademoiselle and Shapes Total Fitness Center for 26 years. She passed away on Jan. 28. I stopped by the Shapes office on 38th Avenue N in St. Petersburg and notified them. I was told Shapes does not refund memberships and was given an 800 number to call.

I called the number for three days and left messages but no one returned my calls. My wife had been ill for the past three years and only visited Shapes twice in 1997. I paid $88.25 in December for a one-year renewal. I believe I am entitled to a refund of that amount less one month. Alex Monid

Response: We are sorry for the loss of your wife.

We spoke to Lisa Dill in the accounting department of Shapes who said that the policy is to not give refunds on renewals. However, given the circumstances, she said her manager, Jack Woods, has authorized a refund of $75.62.

Settlement check lost?

I would appreciate anything you can do for me about my settlement from Ostrager, Chong, & Flaherty, P.C., for the class action lawsuit involving International Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.

What prompts my inquiry is the fact that my mother-in-law received her settlement in December, and since we were both in the same situation, we thought ours would be coming soon. We waited until February at which time we sent a registered letter to them. After not getting an answer, I sent a copy of the first letter since I thought I might have sent the first one to the wrong office. I have not received any answer to that one either.

I realize there are no doubt a lot of people to send the checks to, but I am concerned since we moved, although we did send a change of address. There is also the possibility of mail getting lost over the Christmas holiday. Clifford Loiselle

Response: You will need to write to the plaintiffs' lead counsel Paul D. Wexler, c/o Bragar & Wexler, P.C., 900 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022, Attn: ITB Litigation.

His office said the first batch of checks has been mailed. Those that were returned, and since you moved yours might well be among them, are in the process of being re-sent to different addresses.

Wrong vacuum advance

My problem is as follows: On Jan. 24, I called V.F.W. Road Auto Salvage in Brooksville to see if they had a vacuum advance for my car. I was told it had one, but that it would only be sold if I bought the distributor it was attached to. Even though I did not need a distributor, I bought it to get the vacuum advance.

The next day I took the vacuum advance to my mechanic. He immediately attached a small vacuum hose to the advance, sucked on it and said it was no good. The next week I took the advance back and V.F.W. refused to give me my money back, even though a vacuum advance is not an electrical part and the sales slip states only that there are no cash refunds on electrical items. I was given a 45-day credit but I do not need anything from this yard. I believe I should get a refund. They should have checked the advance, just like my mechanic did, before they sold it to me. Mark Lyons

Response: Carmine Casteria, the owner of V.F.W. Road Auto Salvage, said the vacuum advance is considered to be electrical because it is part of the distributor with which it is sold. However, the main reason he would not accept the return of the vacuum advance is because it was not the one he sold you. Every part he sells is marked, he said, and the one you brought back wasn't. Customers are informed of this when they purchase parts, he said.

No merchandise

On Jan. 8 I mailed a check in the amount of $19.93 to the Beautiful Music Co. in Northport, N.Y. for "1 Party Orchestra in the World." I mailed the check and the order form in the company's return envelope and corrected the spelling of my last name and address on the form.

I did not receive the merchandise. I did, however, receive my canceled check. It was cashed Jan. 22. I wrote to the company asking it to send the merchandise or explain the delay. I have heard nothing from it and hope you can help me. Marium Annaert

Response: The cover letter we sent to Beautiful Music Co. along with your correspondence was returned to us with a stamped notation that "We are: reshipping, refunding or contacting. "Reshipping" was checked off so we take it you'll receive your order soon. Let us know if you don't.

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. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.