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Expired warranty means no refund for replaced ignition

In August 1999, I bought a new car. In April 2001, it broke down and had to be towed in when the ignition locked up. This was all taken care of under warranty. However, the problem has developed again.

It is obvious that a car should not need two ignitions replaced within three years and one month; this is some kind of manufacturing problem. The dealer refused to cover the labor for the second repair, which cost $60. Because I needed my car, I had to pay the bill, but I believe the dealer or manufacturer should refund that money to me.

Furthermore, the dealership informed me that the problem may involve the deep cut of my key, so it suggested that I try using the new key that came with the ignition instead of rekeying to match my trunk and door locks. Obviously, I do not want to be replacing my ignition every year, so I took the suggestion.

I resent having to carry the extra key, however, because my job involves my needing lots of keys; I am always trying to get rid of some of them. In addition, if the deep-cut key is a design problem with locks, shouldn't the manufacturer also replace my door and trunk locks?

I hope you will be able to convince the car manufacturer that even though it technically may have a right to refuse care when a car is one month out of warranty, it obviously has a design flaw and should stand behind its product. Rosemary Woolfe

Response: Although we can understand your desire to have the second ignition covered, a manufacturer is within its rights to deny free repair service once a car is out of warranty.

We're unable to make the leap from this particular problem having occurred twice in one car to a basic design flaw. However, you can check to see if similar problems have been reported for your make and model of car at the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration's Web site,

With regard to the inconvenience of carrying a second key, it certainly beats having to replace your ignition.

Coins kept coming

On May 5, the Department of Treasury's U.S. Mint in Lanham, Mo., shipped five 10-coin proof sets to me at a cost of $99.75 plus $3.95 shipping and handling. My Visa credit card was billed. I did not place additional orders.

June 16, I was again billed for $103.75 for a duplicate order that I received but did not order. I received a letter dated July 19 from the Mint that an order processing problem had resulted in a duplicate shipment that I could keep or return for full credit. If returned, the cost of postage would also be credited.

I returned the duplicate set of coins by priority mail June 26, and the Mint acknowledged receipt at 1:45 p.m. June 28.

On June 24, my Visa was again billed for $103.70, apparently for another order of the same coins that I did not receive. This was followed two days later by a credit for $103.95.

In July, I contacted the Mint's customer care center and informed it that I had not received credit for the returned shipment. I was told it would appear on my next statement. It did not.

I have attempted to contact the customer care center numerous times since, and the only response I get is a recording that it cannot help me at this time and to call again later.

Meanwhile, I could be drawing at least 1.75 percent interest on the $103.75, plus the $4.35. Cecil Boggs

Response: In your words: "The U.S. Mint has credited my Visa account on the statement I received Nov. 1, after my last correspondence to you. . . . I sincerely appreciate your efforts on my behalf. I'm sure that I would never have been reimbursed the $103.75 had it not been for your assistance. I'll live without the $4.35 and charge it to a bad experience with the U.S. Treasury."

We always urge readers to pay by credit card when possible, because that offers more protection, and we're glad you did. However, you did not avail yourself of your right to dispute the charge. Had you alerted the credit card company that you had returned the unordered merchandise, it could have charged back the amount when the credit did not show up.

Furthermore, you would not have had to pay the $103.75, and that money could have been earning interest for you all along. Keep this in mind if you're ever in a similar situation.

Super-size shredding

With all the warnings about identity theft, I'd like to know if there's a place where a person can take sensitive items such as old bank account information, copies of tax returns, medical and insurance information, etc., to have them burned or destroyed. I have a household shredder, but you can put only a few things through it, and some items won't even go through it. I have records that are five or 10 years old that I would like to get rid of.

I hope you can steer me to a place that can help with this. I know many people who are in the same boat as I. Geraldine Herring

Response: Check with one of the commercial companies that provide shredding services for businesses. You may find one that will also shred documents for individuals. You'll find them in the Yellow Pages under "Business Records: Destroyed."

If your county has a waste incineration site, you might also try calling it to see whether the public may deposit such items for incineration.

Alternatively, if you shred a few documents a day, the task will not seem as monumental. For documents that won't go through your shredder, cut or tear them so they fit. Or cut out and destroy the sensitive information and pitch the rest unshredded. Your identity is generally tied up in a line or two _ your name, address, Social Security and/or account numbers _ not the whole page or document.

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, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, 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.