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Doctors don't have to give free consultations

I thought I read somewhere that the first consultation with a doctor should be free. Is this true? Burrill Lockard

Response: In a word, no. According to the Hillsborough County Medical Association, there is nothing in the Florida statutes mandating free consultations with a new doctor. Although we have heard of a few who do, it is strictly a personal choice.

Two years is too long for photos

I sent a negative to a photo processor in Matteson, Ill., for an 8- by 10-inch black-and-white print. The photo shop never found the prints. Is it too late for your help? Phyllis Skoglund

Response: We're afraid so, given that you say this goes back at least two years. Your receipt states that the store's liability for lost or damaged film is limited to replacement with similar unexposed film. This is standard in the photo processing business. Furthermore, the limit of liability states that the store is not responsible for work left more than 30 days, a time frame that has definitely been exceeded in this case.

Reaction

This is my third letter to you regarding the Teledyne Laars gas pool heater that malfunctioned less than a year after we purchased it. Thanks to you, we now have a brand new heater that was installed Nov. 7. According to my warranty we had to pay for the installation, which was $179, but that was a small price to pay for the peace of mind we now have. Kathleen Remsen

Recent recalls

The following products, distributed nationwide and in Florida, were recalled between Nov. 8 and 14:

About 3,000 chain saws, by Stihl Inc.; fuel can leak out of the chain saw's tank, causing fire or injury hazards. Affected are model numbers MS 170 and MS 180 C with serial numbers 255120848 through 255122797 and 255739074 through 255741150. Return to dealer where purchased for free repair. Call toll-free 1-800-610-6677 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays; Web site: www.stihlusa.com.

1-ounce, individually wrapped Nostalgia Black Walnut candy bars, sold by the 24-count box labeled "Black Walnut," by Farr Candy Co.; the candy bars contain undeclared nonfat dry milk, which poses a potentially serious or life-threatening reaction to people who are allergic to nonfat dry milk. The product was distributed in Idaho Falls through Farr Candy direct buy in its factory location and through Albertsons grocery stores. The product is not date coded. Return to place of purchase for refund. Call (208) 522-8215.

About 24,000 Kidz Club flashlights, sold under the Energizer brand, by Eveready Battery Co.; the flashlights can overheat and cause the batteries to leak, posing a risk of burns. The multicolored flashlights take "C" batteries and measure about 5.75 inches with a metal barrel and a plastic, rotating, focusing head. Call toll-free 1-800-669-6394 between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. weekdays; Web site: www.energizer

flashlights.com.

About 110,000 pounds of frozen ground beef by Skylark Meats Inc.; possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7. The ground beef was produced Sept. 10 and distributed to retail stores and institutions nationwide. Affected are 3-pound tubes of "Skylark 100% Pure Ground Beef" with a label "EST. 4215" inside the USDA seal of inspection and "Production Code 9-10-2003." The 30-pound boxes are marked "Ground Beef Chubs" with "EST. 4215" inside the USDA seal of inspection and codes "2253" or production code "9-10-2003." Also included are 1-pound tubes of "Frozen Ground Beef," distributed individually or packed in 40-pound boxes. Individual tubes have "EST.4215" inside the USDA seal of inspection and "Best Used By 03/10/03 Lot 2253A." The boxes of "Ground Beef" have "Contract No. 12022 7305" and "USDA Food" inside the USDA shield. Call (507) 238-4201.

Sources: SafetyAlerts at www.safety

alerts.com; Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov, toll-free 1-800-638-2772; Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov.; USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at toll-free 1-800-535-4555; government food safety information at www.foodsafety.gov; National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's Auto Safety Hotline, www.nhtsa.dot.gov/hotline; toll-free 1-888-327-4236.

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.

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