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Try filing mobile home complaint with the state

We purchased a new Jacobsen three-bedroom, two-bathroom manufactured home Nov. 15, 2001. We've owned homes before but never have had problems that are as simple as these, yet impossible to get fixed. Problems include nonmatching doors on the kitchen and bath cabinets, a hole/crack in the side of the tub, wood laminate flooring coming loose in the kitchen and an improperly adjusted front entry door.

We've spoken to the Jacobsen Homes' repairman many times; he has come by and sort of slapdashed a few repairs. All we want is to have these few things taken care of once and for all. We don't think this is too much to ask.

We are now at an impasse. We get no response to any of our calls or letters. We even sent a letter to Mr. Dennis Schrader, president of Jacobsen Manufactured Homes. This letter has also been ignored. You are about our last resort. Please help us out. Richard Cole Walrath Sr.

Response: Dennis Schrader, president of Jacobsen Homes in Safety Harbor, said that he was not going to comment on or "badger back and forth" with the St. Petersburg Times or anyone else about this or future complaints.

If consumers' complaints are legitimate and they believe the manufacturer is treating them unfairly, he said, they have the option, as explained in their home owners manual, to contact the Mobile Home and RV Consumer Complaint Department. He said this department can and will handle all disputes and that he will abide by its decision.

Because Schrader referred you to a department in the Division of Motor Vehicles that regulates manufactured homes, we take it that your home is a HUD, and not a DCA, manufactured home. Although very similar, here's the difference. HUD manufactured homes are built to federal Department of Housing and Urban Development standards. DCA manufactured buildings, which can include homes, are built to Florida Building Code standards and regulated by the Florida Department of Community Affairs. Keep in mind that neither code covers cosmetic complaints, under which, for example, your mismatched cabinets and doors fall.

Unfortunately, what Schrader neglected to mention is that your manufactured home is out of warranty. The legally mandated warranty period in Florida for manufactured housing, sometimes referred to as mobile homes, is one year.

Though you can still file a complaint, the department does not make physical inspections after one year. Call (813) 740-4298 in Tampa or the toll-free HUD hotline number at 1-800-927-2891 and enter your state abbreviation (35 for FL). For questions or complaints regarding DCA manufactured homes, call (850) 487-1824.

Sorry, wrong doctor!

On March 6, 2002, I began to hemorrhage and went to the emergency room at a hospital that was in the network of care providers I knew my insurance would require. One would think that if you went to a facility that is in the network, the doctors in the facility who gave the care needed for my emergency would also be in the network. Not so, according to my insurance company.

I have been billed $590 for the emergency room doctor who attended to me and the lab work done while I was there. According to the information I received while there, I had lost three pints of blood. This was not a frivolous emergency room visit. I was later moved to ICU, where I stayed for three more days. This was very serious.

I have appealed to the insurance company about this bill, to no avail. It continues to tell me that the emergency room doctor was out of the network of care providers it would pay for. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but when you go to the emergency room, the "room" does not treat you. The doctors within that room do. Because I had no choice as to which doctors treated me, how am I to prevent this from happening in the future? Mike Mullican

Response: Diane Marlowe, compliance specialist in the legal department of Insurers Administrative Corp., the third-party administrator for your insurance plan, said that your policy provides benefits for PPO and non-PPO providers. Your policy does not contain a provision allowing non-PPO providers to be processed at the PPO benefit level, with the exception of the first 48 hours of an emergency inpatient admission at an out-of-network hospital.

This exception did not apply to your case because you went to a network hospital. Because the emergency room physician who treated you was not part of the network, Insurers Administrative Corp. processed the claim at the non-PPO level.

Marlowe said that it is unfortunate that your hospital did not use a contracted emergency room physician or refer your lab tests to an outside pathologist who participates in your plan. She said that her company realizes that in such situations the patient has no control and cannot choose to seek treatment from a participating provider. However, as a third-party administrator, it must process claims according to the terms of the policy. In other words, it appears you are stuck with this bill.

As for how you can prevent this from happening in the future, the answer, unfortunately, is that you probably can't, especially if the situation is an emergency.

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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