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Personality, not service problems

We have had constant problems with the management team at the Commons Apartments in Tampa, where we reside. We first had a problem with our smoke detector. We reported this to the management and were told it would be fixed. It took five days and many messages before that happened.

It took several phone calls and more than a month to have someone fix our air conditioner. Problems with a leaking faucet and sliding glass door also required an unacceptable amount of time before they were repaired. These are valid problems that need immediate attention.

The management did not like things that were said when we left messages about these problems, but we were completely frustrated and fed up. If these things were taken care of in a timely fashion, we would not leave critical messages. We always pay our rent on time and follow all the rules.

I wrote a letter to the manager on May 24 outlining these frustrations and concerns and stating that, in the future, all maintenance requests would be given in writing unless there was an emergency, in an effort to cut down on confusion and communication problems. I asked for a courtesy call if the maintenance or repair was going to take longer than 24 hours.

For more than a month now we have had bull ants and termites. They are very bad in the bedroom and the children's room.

We have a 3-year-old and a 21-month-old. Both have been bitten, and we still get no cooperation.

We have reported this a number of times and been told the building would be tented. What are we supposed to do until then? Charity Grissom

Response: Brandy Leslie, customer service manager for Northland Investment in Houston, said that pest control sprayed your apartment for ants on July 6 and again on July 20. A representative from the termite company also visited you, and your building is scheduled to be tented this month.

Leslie said she called you on July 22 to follow up on your ant problem. You told her that you had seen no ants that morning and that you were in agreement with the proposed tenting for termites.

She said you also told her that you did not have a problem with the assistant manager and leasing consultant at the Commons Apartment Homes. Your only conflicts were with the community manager. Leslie said it is Northland's contention that the conflict stems from a personality clash, not from malicious intent by either party.

According to Leslie, in previous conversations with you she advised you to put all maintenance requests in writing. She has also advised the apartment's staff to communicate in writing so that there will be no misunderstandings. She said she is confident that this will minimize the possibility of future problems.

Northland has 37 multifamily home communities nationwide with more than 12,000 residents, she said, and its customer service department can be contacted at (800) 932-5579, ext. 15, by any resident if problems arise.

Warranty expired

On Aug. 2, 1997, I purchased a pressure washer from a store in Ocala. I used it one time in October 1997, and it worked fine except for a bolt holding the motor on. It vibrated off.

When I used the machine in January, the pressure was not what it should have been, not like the first time. The warranty expired in October 1998. All instructions were followed to the letter for operation.

I sent a letter to the store manager on March 23 but never received a reply. On July 26, I spoke to the manufacturer and was very bluntly informed that the problem was mine and that I had to get the pressure washer fixed at my expense.

I used the pressure washer only twice, so cleaning my deck has turned out to be very expensive. Does Florida's Lemon Law apply in my case? Herbert Wampler

Response: The Lemon Law applies only to new vehicles. If the pressure washer is out of warranty, it's your responsibility to get it fixed. In the future, you might also consider renting, rather than purchasing, specialized equipment that you use only infrequently.

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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