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HMO refund finally arrives

Well Care Health Plan in Tampa owes us for premiums that were withdrawn from our account in March and April, after we were no longer in its HMO. We were told by phone that Well Care owed us $76 and that a refund would be mailed to us within two or three weeks. That was in May. I wrote to the company on Aug. 1 but have heard nothing. Viola Moody

Response: Thanks for letting us know that you finally received your refund.

Business shuttered

In June 2000, I purchased white roll-down window shutters from Shutterhaus Industries in St. Petersburg. By February, I noticed that the shutters had discolored to beige. From March to May, I continuously corresponded with the company and finally received a replacement of three shutters on May 7. By August, the new shutters had again discolored. I wrote to the company about replacing them. On Oct. 9, I contacted the company by phone, since I had received no reply to my letter. I reached only an automated answering system. I never received a return call. Since the shutters are still under warranty, any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Lise Matievich

Response: The response we received was a flier stating that Shutterhaus Industries is in receivership and directing us to Larry Hyman, a certified public accountant with Michael Moecker & Associates in Tampa. Hyman said the flier is not entirely correct. He confirmed that Shutterhaus Industries is no longer in business. It has filed for assignment for the benefit of creditors under Florida Statute 727 in Pinellas County court, and the assets are being liquidated to pay creditors a pro rata portion of their claims. (This is not unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, which are filed in federal court.)

So what does this mean for you? Hyman said no warranties can be honored. You will therefore have to contact another company to replace your shutters. You can then file a claim, although there is no guarantee that you will receive anything. If you choose to do so, call Hyman's office at (813) 251-5229 to get a proof of claim form.

Slow refund

I ordered a magnetic mattress from European Health Concepts in West Palm Beach to be shipped after July 5. It arrived July 11. It had a 30-day, no-risk trial with full refund if not satisfied within 30 days.

The mattress did nothing for me, so I shipped it back Aug. 14, after calling to get an authorization number. I heard nothing by Sept. 12, so I called and Vanessa said the mattress was received Aug. 16, and a check would be mailed Sept. 17.

No check by Sept. 20, so I called and was told it would be mailed the next week for the full amount of $951.88. I left on vacation Sept. 21 and returned Oct. 12. Still no check. Please help. Henry Dooley

Response: In your words: "I wish to thank you for your help. I don't know what you said to European Health Concepts to get my refund, but I received it 13 days after first writing to you. I couldn't get a call from them in 58 days. Thank you very much."

Treasured photo lost

We find ourselves in an unpleasant situation and would like to have your help. On April 17, we took a faded, 32-year-old, precious family photo to a local drugstore to be restored. The photo was lost. We have checked with the drugstore and the photo lab numerous times, but no one has been able to find it. We tried to replace this photo but found out the photographer went out of business a long time ago. So this 32-year-old photo of our four family members cannot be replaced.

My husband spoke with the drugstore manager the last week of September and asked if he could go to the lab's office to see if it had the photo. The manager was not very helpful. He said no, because the lab had already looked for the photo and it couldn't be found. My husband then asked what the drugstore could do for us, and the manager said nothing. He said we had agreed to a "limit of liability and remedy," printed on the customer receipt. I did not read the small print saying that any damage or loss would only entitle us to replacement with a like amount of unexposed film. I would imagine 99 percent of people don't know this. I know I would NEVER have left a treasured photo there had I known this. We would like for you to help us resolve this situation and also inform the public about this store's policy. Mary Louise Young

Response: The disclaimer on the photo envelope is standard throughout the industry. If you check other companies' policies, you will find similar wording. With the benefit of hindsight, it might have been better to take the irreplaceable photo to a company that specializes in photo restoration. We're sorry we couldn't help.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your 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 for Action. Names will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.