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Call Federal Reserve for bond info

I have HH/H bonds from 1978 to the '80s and can't find out how to get them cashed without sending them away by mail to an address I don't know anything about. I hesitate to trust them to that.

I wonder if you can find out any other way to get them cashed. They have run their term, so I am anxious to get rid of them. We have gone to our bank and two or three others, and they say they can't handle it because they are not a Federal Reserve Bank. We are at a loss now. Edith Adams

Response: We are sending you some information from the U.S. Treasury's Web site (http://www.treasurydirect.gov), but here is what we suggest that anyone with bonds to sell should do: Call the Federal Reserve's savings bond toll-free number, (800) 322-1909, for instructions. Or write to Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 701 E Byrd St., Richmond, VA 23219.

Lottery mathematics

It appears that most recent Florida Lotto winners are requesting a one-time, upfront payment for their Saturday winning ticket. If the winner only gets half the amount that is spent for that week's lottery tickets, who gets the other half? What happens to it? It can't all be going to taxes. Bud Peterson

Response: The quick and easy answer is that the other half doesn't exist yet. According to the Florida Lottery's Web site, the jackpot amount for the Florida Lotto that is advertised during the week is an estimate of the amount the lottery will be able to pay a single jackpot winner in 30 annual payments. This estimate is derived from projected sales for the week, added to rollovers from previous weeks when there was no jackpot winner and the expected interest rate for long-term investments.

The cash option prize, which many people prefer, is the amount of money in the jackpot pool that is available for immediate investment. Depending upon current interest rates, this is generally about half of the advertised jackpot amount.

As for what happens to the money, 67 percent of the winning prize pool for the Florida Lotto goes into the jackpot. This amount, plus the interest earned over 30 years, constitutes the jackpot. The first installment is immediately paid to the winner and the rest is invested by the State Board of Administration in government securities. The Lottery does not get to dip into it. The cash invested and all interest earnings go to the winner.

For information on the Florida Lotto and other games, check out the Florida Lottery Web site at http://www.flalottery.com.

Magazines never arrive

On Nov. 25, a high school boy came into my business selling magazine subscriptions through American Fullfillment. The deal was that by purchasing two, I would receive a third one free. I gave him a $25 check, which cleared my bank on Dec. 3. I mailed a check to the company for the remaining $24.90, which cleared on Jan. 1.

In March, the company sent me a letter to choose another magazine because one was discontinued. I circled a new choice and returned the letter. I was aware that it took four to six weeks to process the memberships, but as of mid-May, I still hadn't received one magazine I ordered and paid for. Can you help? Wendy Klingensmith

Response: The cover letter we sent to the company along with your complaint was returned to us with a handwritten note that you are being refunded $49.90. Let us know if you don't get it.

Reaction

I ordered two airline tickets in May from Cheap Tickets. Along with my own, I was also sent someone else's ticket by mistake. As instructed by the enclosed notice, I immediately called Cheap Tickets' office to report the problem. A very nice receptionist told me to return it to its office in Los Angeles by Federal Express, and that I would be reimbursed for the expense. I never received the reimbursement and a month later I began trying to contact Cheap Tickets and have been sent 'round and 'round ever since. My frustration mounting, I turned to you.

Thanks so much for your intervention regarding my refund for being a "good Samaritan." If it weren't for you, I'd still be in Cheap Tickets' voice mail hell. Carol Walker

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.

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