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Scrutinize used car before buying

We purchased a 1989 Lincoln Town Car from Scarritt Lincoln-Mercury last fall, thinking it was in good enough condition to travel to Texas. We left on Oct. 7 and got 100 miles up the road when the car started running hot. We turned around and went back to Scarritt. The dealership replaced the fan clutch, water pump and alternator. It had previously replaced the alternator when it was the battery that needed replacing. The alternator had to be replaced again because the battery wore it down. We paid half of the charges for repairing the water pump.

Now I've asked Scarritt to repair the radio. Its response was that since it had done all the other repairs, it wasn't obligated to repair the radio. It also said we agreed to this, and we did not. Any help you can give us on this would be appreciated. The heater also doesn't work, but since we didn't check that before we bought the car, we are resigned to repairing that ourselves. Wilma Schlitz

Response: Morgan Scarritt, vice president of Scarritt Motors in St. Petersburg, said that necessary action was being taken to resolve your concern, and you have let us know that the radio has been replaced. We're glad we could help.

Your reference to the inoperative heater that you failed to check before purchasing the car gives us the opportunity to reiterate Action's standard advice on buying a used car: Go over the car thoroughly before signing the contract. Even better, have it checked out by a qualified mechanic.

Bill merry-go-round

I was laid off from work but continued to pay for Aetna health insurance through COBRA.

In July 1998, I went to my doctor for a physical and Pap smear. He sent the Pap test to Quest Diagnostic for results. This is where the trouble starts.

I think it was October or November 1998 when I got the first bill. I took the bills to my former workplace. The bills kept coming. It is now August 1999, and every month I get a bill. I have called Aetna and I have also called Quest.

After an hour on the phone with a Fred at Aetna, he told me the bill was paid March 15, 1999. Quest says it needs a copy of the front and back of the canceled check. Aetna says it sent it. Now I'm getting bills from a collection agency.

Please help me. I've tried my best to get this mess resolved. I've never had bad credit, and now it looks like I don't pay my bills. Lillie Sdao

Response: We heard not a word from Quest or Aetna, so we were glad to get your note and the copy of the letter you received from the collection agency. The apologies were profuse for any inconvenience or undue concern you experienced, and assurances were offered that you will receive no more bills and your credit rating has not been affected in any way.

Rent in right hands

We purchased a mobile home in Roxford Mobile Park in East Meadow, N.Y., in 1984, and it has been on the rental lot ever since. In early 1985, the park was sold to Mrs. Evelyn DeLuca, and we continued to make our monthly rental payments to her. In August 1997, Mrs. DeLuca hired Fink Inc. to handle the rent collection. It demanded money orders rather than personal checks.

On June 1, we got a letter from Mrs. DeLuca stating that she was selling the park but did not know the name of the new owners. Since I was not going to be home from June 19 to July 11, I called her about paying my July rent. At her suggestion, I purchased the required money order and mailed it to her so she could get it to the new owners.

I thought that would be it until I heard from the new owners' park manager that he never got the July rent of $215. I called Mrs. DeLuca to find out why she had not turned my rent money over to the new owners and she said her lawyers would handle it. I also called the new owners to inform them of this.

In spite of more attempts, I have been unable to resolve this. I checked with the bank, and the money order was cashed on July 2. Can you move Mrs. DeLuca to part with the $215 she has? It rightfully belongs to the new owners. Joseph Borusiewicz

Response: Thanks for letting us know that your July rent money is now in the right hands. We also heard from Mrs. DeLuca's son, Patrick DeLuca. He said his parents have been very ill and unable to take care of business so he has been trying to straighten out their affairs.

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.