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Attorney general involved in Deer Creek cases

Regular readers of Action will be familiar with the name Deer Creek Products, a mail order company in Pompano Beach. Complaints have generally involved nonreceipt of either the order or refunds. It sometimes took the company a while, but in the end, it always made good.

Since late September, however, Deer Creek Products has ceased responding to Action, although we have a collection of signed return receipts acknowledging the company's receipt of complaints we have sent it. For the 20 or so readers with outstanding complaints, we have some news, and it's not good.

Deer Creek Products has filed for bankruptcy, said Stephen LeClair, assistant attorney general in Fort Lauderdale. This came after the attorney general's office filed a lawsuit against it for deceptive and unfair trade practices in May. Although there is no guarantee of a favorable outcome, he said consumers who have not received their orders or refunds from the company can file a complaint with the Fort Lauderdale office of the attorney general. Write to: Assistant Attorney General Stephen A. LeClair, Ninth Floor, 110 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.

Judge orders troubled

Aries Insurance liquidated

For readers with problems collecting claims from Aries Insurance Co., this one's for you:

According to a Department of Insurance news release, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Janet Ferris ruled Nov. 14 that the financially troubled Miami property and casualty insurance company should be liquidated by the Florida Department of Insurance. The good news for policyholders is that the judge's order allows the department to tap into state guaranty funds so outstanding claims can be paid. The bad news is there are 38,000 pending claims, so it may take some time.

The department urges policyholders to work with their agents regarding any outstanding claims. If that is not possible, call the department's consumer helpline at toll-free 1-800-342-2762.

Cell phone company

sending refund

Can you help me get my refund from an advance payment on our cell phone bill? It is my wife's practice to pay in advance on those coming-due bills such as Visa, the phone, etc., if we are going to be out of town for a period of time, which is why she paid Bell South. However, because we were going to be gone for several months, I canceled our cell phone service. We have been trying to receive a refund for this advance payment since June. I am sending you a copy of the canceled check. If Cingular Wireless, the old Bell South, would like a copy of this check, have it look in its files. It has two copies that we previously sent.

Why is it that companies go to all extremes to collect money, but are reluctant to give it up? And they want us to sign on for electronic billing? No thanks. William Campbell

Response: According to a voicemail message from Frieda Holt with Cingular Wireless in Atlanta, you should receive a check within 10 days. She apologized for the inconvenience.

Refund for Delongi

coffee maker on the way

I purchased a Delongi coffee maker in November 2000 from Service Merchandise, and also took out a warranty contract. In August, the switch to turn on the coffee maker would not work. At this point I started to call National Electronics at its toll-free number. I have not been able to get past the recording of "I'm sorry but all lines etc." I have been on hold for up to 45 minutes at one time. The warranty is up Dec. 25, and I would like to have my coffee maker working by Christmas. Dorothy Knudsen

Response: Louise Reynolds, consumer response specialist with N.E.W. Customer Service Companies in Dulles, Va., said the company manages the service warranties for Service Merchandise. She apologized for the extended periods of hold time you experienced each time you tried to call the customer service department. She said this was due not only to the large volume of calls the company has been receiving since Service Merchandise went out of business, but also to a new computer system that has caused additional delays as the representatives adapt to it. She said she sent your complaint to the company's buyout department and it will send you a check for the original purchase price of $69.97 plus tax within three to four weeks. Let us know if you do not receive it by mid-December.

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.