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Canceled music club account ends confusion

I've been a member of Columbia House Music Club for more than 15 years. Two years ago I got a call asking me to rejoin the club. All I had to do was buy four CDs in two years, and I would get 15 free CDs. I never received the 15 free CDs, so I never bought the four.

Now, two years later, I'm receiving bills for $78.28, the price of four CDs. Columbia House is threatening to ruin my credit. I've tried letters, phone calls and e-mails, but I can get no response. I hope you can help me resolve this problem. Lisa Glaser

Response: Andrea Way, customer service representative for Columbia House in Terry Haute, Ind., said the account in question was established in October 2000 as the result of a telemarketing call. At that time you were asked to choose one selection free of charge. The requested selection was not available, so a certificate was issued.

You were told that by accepting the certificate you agreed to purchase four additional selections at regular club prices within a two-year period. She said that the initial recording was sent along with a certificate for 11 additional CDs.

That certificate has never been redeemed. Since there apparently was some misunderstanding about how the program worked, Way said your account has been canceled and all charges and remaining obligations cleared.

Recent recalls

The following products, distributed nationwide and in Florida, were recalled between Feb. 28 and March 6:

+ About 350,000 electric orbit sanders by Makita U.S.A. Inc.; the pads on the sanders can break apart during use and strike the operator. The recalled model number BO5000 and B05001 sanders were sold in home centers, hardware stores and by industrial suppliers from April 1999 through February for $110 to $125. Return sander to nearest Makita factory service center for free repair. Call toll-free 1-800-462-5482 between 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. weekdays. BO5000 or BO5001 sanders with the letters "PUR" on the pad are not involved in this recall.

+ About 37,000 electrical hot pots by Atico International USA Inc.; the bottom of the hot pot can separate from the top, which could pose a serious burn hazard to consumers. The recalled pitcher-shaped Kitchen Gourmet Hot Pots, used to heat beverages, are made of white plastic and have a date code of 0702 on the bottom of the pot and box. Walgreens stores nationwide sold the hot pots from September 2002 through January for about $10. Return hot pot to store where purchased or mail hot pot to Atico International USA Inc., 501 S Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, for refund. Call toll-free 1-800-645-3867 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

+ About 270,000 riding lawn tractors, sold under the Murray and Stanley brand names, by Murray Inc.; the fuel tank can crack and leak fuel, posing a burn and fire hazard. The recalled lawn tractors have 38-, 40-, 42-, 46-, and 52-inch cutting decks. The tractors were sold at retail and hardware stores, including Wal-Mart and Home Depot, from November 2000 through January for $800 to $1,500. Contact nearest Murray service dealer for a free replacement fuel tank. Call toll-free 1-800-876-1634 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays; Web site: www.murray.com.

+ About 56,000 IBM computer monitors by IBM; the monitor's circuit board can overheat and smoke, posing a fire hazard. The recalled IBM monitors include the G51 CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) and G51t Touch Screen CRT models with following numbers on the back of the unit: 6541-02N, 6541-02E, 6541-02S, 6541-Q0N, 6541-Q0E, and 6541-Q0S. IBM, MicroTouch Systems and major retail stores nationwide sold the monitors from June 1997 through December 1998, for about $370. Call toll-free 1-866-644-3155 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays for a free inspection and repair or replacement; Web site: www.ibm.com/pc/g51recall.

+ About 360,000 board book sets by Random House Inc.; the book sets were sold in cardboard boxes with plastic snaps, which can detach and pose a choking hazard to young children. The boxed sets contain four books and include the titles Monsters to Go!, Disney Princess _ Disney The Princess Collection 2, Disney's Winnie the Pooh _ A Very Merry Christmas, and Barbie _ My Barbie Fun Box. Only book sets with plastic, not metal, snaps are included in the recall. Book, discount department stores and online retailers sold the recalled books nationwide from August 2002 through January for about $10. Cut off the lid of the box with the plastic snaps and send it to Tri-State, c/o Anthony Armetta, 325 Rabro Drive, Hauppauge, NY 11788, to receive a free replacement book set and a refund for postage. Call toll-free 1-800-805-8534; Web site: www.randomhouse.com.

Sources: SafetyAlerts at www.safetyalerts.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, toll-free 1-800-535-4555; government food safety information at www.food

safety.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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