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Driver's test steers a reader to seek answers

On June 9, I took the CDL (commercial driver's license) test for a CDL permit. I was allowed two chances to pass. Out of 50 questions, you can miss 10. The first time, I probably missed 10. But the second time, when I picked the right answers, the computer still showed I picked the wrong ones. I also disagree with a few of the computer's answers.

I brought this to the examiner's attention at the front desk. He looked at the questions and said he understood the problem. For instance, one of the multiple choice questions asked what one sign of a tire blowout was. I answered vibration. The computer said skiing or skidding. But the manual for the test gives the answer as noise, sound, vibration of vehicle and feel.

In another question on what not to do when braking for an emergency, the computer said you can brake when the car is doing about 40 mph. The manual's answer says to avoid braking unless your speed has dropped to 20 mph.

The examiner gave me the customer service number for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Tallahassee. I have gone round and round with various people there. The people who were supposed to call me back haven't, and it seems I can't be transferred to them. I am unemployed and can't continue making all these long-distance calls. I hope you can put this information into the right hands so I can proceed with the test. Geraldine Goins

Response: As it turns out, you didn't need our intervention because you recently retook the test and passed. Congratulations! However, we have a response for you from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Department spokesman Robert Sanchez said your letter suggested you think the automated driver license system's "right" answers are not the correct answers for at least two of the CDL general knowledge test items. These test items, as well as the manual that drivers study for the test, come from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. He said he wouldn't doubt that a given driver might reasonably disagree with the official correct answers on some items. However, the association's materials are the national standard for states to use in CDL testing and have been developed through a very careful process.

Sanchez said that if the problem wasn't one of differing opinions or interpretations in the way the computer scored your answers, the possibility arises of a technical problem with the testing system. He said he would ask the staff members who maintain the system to look into this possibility.

Your second concern, he said, was the problem you had communicating with the department's customer service center, especially in not receiving the promised return calls. You had already suggested the possibility of having not answered calls because your caller ID identitied them as "caller unknown." Sanchez said that message is not unusual when calls are made from a call center with a trunk line that handles multiple phones, as in this case. It's therefore possible that you received a callback but did not answer in the mistaken belief that the call was from a telemarketer. Nonetheless, your complaint is being referred to the customer service center for review.

Furniture damaged in move

On March 27, I had a few pieces of furniture moved locally by Family Movers, a.k.a. Dixie Transfer. During the move, two casters were broken off the cabinet of a sewing machine, and the base of a 7-foot-tall cabinet with plate glass doors was damaged as well. I called the office to report the damage before the movers even left.

After numerous calls to the mover to have the damages repaired, I was told that its furniture repairman had left and there was no one to replace him. An offer was made to settle by sending me a check for 10 percent of the amount of the move, so I could have the repairs done myself. I agreed.

When no check arrived, I again made numerous calls and was always told the check would be put in the mail shortly. On May 9, I wrote a letter demanding payment within the week and informing the company I would write to you if no check was received. Can you help me in getting these movers to move as they should? John Silk

Response: Dixie Transfer/the Movers in Tampa apologized for the delay and has sent you a check for $27, representing 10 percent of your total moving cost, to compensate for the damages that occurred.

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 mail-order merchandise, 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.

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