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Firm won't pay for other's work

On Dec. 14, United Restoration came to tune up my air conditioning unit. The serviceman turned the unit off and then could not get it to restart.

Finally, after several phone calls to his office for advice, he got it started again. Since he did not seem to know what he was doing, I told him that I would send a check when I was sure it was working properly.

It didn't work properly, so I called and asked United Restoration to send someone to check my unit. It refused unless I paid the $29 fee up front. I said I would pay when the unit was working.

Since United did not respond to further calls, I called another company to come out and check the unit. He said there was no Freon in the unit because a valve that United must have checked leaked when the gauges were removed.

The cost to replace the Freon was $69. I have asked United Restoration to refund this money, but it has refused. Joan Hawrylynko

Response: Ian Berch with United Air Comfort in Fort Lauderdale said he has reviewed your complaint and does not find a connection between a system that would not engage and a leaky Schrader valve. United's technician performed the tune-up on Dec. 14 and left without payment. He said you refused to pay, saying you would make the payment in a few weeks.

According to Berch, you next called on Jan. 3 and advised that you would not pay the bill. Instead, you insisted that United pay a bill from another company. He said United was never notified that you were having trouble with your unit, and none of the work performed would have created the leak situation you describe.

Berch said he is willing to forgo the $29 amount you owe United but that in no way will the company accept responsibility for the work performed by another company.

Procedure was followed

On Jan. 5, 1999, I was told by CobraServ that I was okayed for COBRA continuation coverage insurance. I sent a check for $405 for this insurance, which started Nov. 3, 1998. I continued to make monthly payments of $161.13 through December.

On Dec. 19, 1998, and Jan. 5, 1999, I had treatment at two area medical centers. I have tried many times to process the bills and been told by Cigna that I have no coverage.

Will you please find out what happened to all the money I've been paying. Joan Craig

Response: James Trimble, vice president of compliance and audit for CobraServ National Service Center in Palm Harbor, said in a letter that your problem has been thoroughly reviewed.

"The COBRA administration process involves interplay between the employer, the qualified beneficiary, the COBRA administrator and the insurance carrier. Timing and reporting processes are involved, and delays in claims payments by the insurance carriers can sometimes result as these processes are executed.

However, as long as the qualified beneficiary properly elects and pays for COBRA coverage and continues to meet eligibility requirements under the plan, he or she is entitled to the payment of the claims under the terms of the employer's plan.

Because (you) properly elected and paid (your) premiums for COBRA coverage under the plan, the payment of (your) claims was never in jeopardy. All parties involved in facilitating payment related to (your) claims have acted in that regard."

Trimble's letter concludes with the information that your employer has informed CobraServ that the issue has been resolved. In turn, CobraServ has notified you that you should resubmit your claims to the proper carrier and they should now be processed without complication.

Package reshipped

I ordered a map on Oct. 25 from Kennedy Mint to be sent to my father in St. Louis as a Christmas gift. Kennedy Mint cashed my check on Nov. 2, but as of Jan. 10 my father has not received the map.

If the company does not plan to send him the map, I would like a refund. Carole Mason

Response: Evelyn Scibbe, customer service representative the Kennedy Mint in Strongsville, Ohio, said that the package would be reshipped to your father. Unfortunately, you never told the company about the missing package, or it would have resent it sooner.

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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