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Bankruptcy proceedings are affecting refund

Early in February, my wife told me she would like an item from Petals in Tarrytown, N.Y., for Valentine's Day. I told her to order it, which she did. After waiting more than a reasonable amount of time, she telephoned this company and asked about the delay. She was told there was a "hold" on this piece for $3.27 in taxes. Why this company didn't notify her of this I can't figure out. How was my wife to know?

She sent the $3.27 and waited. In March, she called again and was told the item would be shipped right away. A couple of weeks later a package arrived from Petals with the wrong item. My wife called and was told a shipping label would be sent for her to return the incorrect item. It came and the package was returned.

This was followed by another long wait for the right item. When she called to inquire about the order, she was told the returned merchandise had not been received. Luckily, my wife had sent it back with a return receipt requested. She told the company this, and somehow the package was found. She was told her item would be sent immediately.

That was late March or early April. Nothing came, so a couple of weeks later she made another call to the company. This time she said it was too late to fill an order for the item she had wanted for Valentine's Day. She canceled the order and asked for a full refund. She was told it would be mailed right away.

That was mid-April. My wife called again May 5 and was told her request for a refund was up before the "board" and a decision would be made in four or five days.

What kind of company is this that a refund has to be a board decision? My wife would probably say to forget it, but I guess I'm stubborn. It's not a lot of money, $49.70, but the idea of the many calls, 13 of them, as well as the time and expense galls me. Thank you for whatever you can do. James Rizzo

Response: We did not hear from Petals in Tarrytown, N.Y., so thanks for updating us with the copy of a U.S. bankruptcy court notice you received. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, so we don't anticipate you'll see your refund soon, if at all.

Your experience does afford us the opportunity to remind you and other readers of steps to take to avoid similar situations in the future. First, check out any company you're going to do business with. Had you read that Petals in Tarrytown, N.Y., had an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York, you might have thought twice about ordering from it.

Second, use a credit card. Had you done so, the issuing bank could have charged back the purchase amount when the order was not received. Just remember that you have only 60 days from the date of the statement on which the charge was posted.

Bank reviewing its files

This concerns redemption of some municipal securities at the Bank of New York. Over a period of time, I invested $83,714.44. When the principal payments were made to me, I feel the bank shorted me $11,707.93. The bank has never offered an explanation for this error.

I finally decided to write to the chief executive officer and sent the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, on March 24. I have not received an answer. I am hoping that a letter from you might get some action. John Giammaria

Response: Bank of New York's Heidi Russel in New York City said that the bank's chairman, Thomas A. Renyi, asked her to review your correspondence, and she has forwarded it to the appropriate officer for review and resolution. We suspect we won't hear from the bank again, so do let us know whether or not you receive the additional money and/or explanation you are seeking.

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.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail. 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.

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