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Smoking in restricted room raised motel bill

I have been having a problem with a bill from a Best Western in Indiana. My husband and I checked into the motel in April for one night. In short, the problem concerns staying in a nonsmoking room and being charged an additional $75 because the staff found a cigarette butt in a cup after we left. We discovered this charge when we received our credit card.

At no time when we were checking in or out was a smoking or nonsmoking room mentioned. Since there is no difference in rates between the two kinds of room, I think we should be billed the $44.99 for one night and not $139.99.

_ Verna Saunders

Sorry, you don't get our sympathy on this one. You already have received a response from the motel that states you were offered the choice of a smoking or nonsmoking room upon check-in. You chose a nonsmoking room on the first floor. All nonsmoking rooms are specifically posted nonsmoking by the door; a small sign on the television in the room also states that no smoking is permitted in the room.

The following day, the letter continues, the housekeeping staff cleaned the room and found cigarette butts in a cup in the room. The room also smelled of smoke. As a result, the housekeeping staff had to clean and air the room. The room was not available to guests for two nights because of the smell of smoke. The manager charged you $75 for this inconvenience.

We think this is more than fair. Since you are a smoker who lives in a state where smoking is prohibited in public places, we're curious why you would ignore nonsmoking signs in another. The fact that you had to use a cup for the cigarette butts (or even a single butt) suggests there were no ashtrays in the room. Didn't that raise a flag? As a smoker or someone who lives with a smoker, you are probably immune to the smell of cigarette smoke. That is generally not the case with nonsmokers.

Recent recalls

The following products were recalled between Sept. 10 and 16:

+ 78,000 NCR Universal Inkjet Refill Kits by NCR Corp. The product does not have required child-resistant packaging or warning labels. It contains ethylene glycol, which is dangerous when swallowed. Recalled are black ink kits (model numbers 943264 and 999292) and color ink kits (model number 999289). They were sold at Big Lots and Walgreens from April through June for about $12. Return to the store for a refund or free replacement. Call toll-free 1-800-279-0203 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays; www.ncr.com.

+ 49,000 Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier Active infant carriers, model 1-260, by Regal Lager Inc. The back support buckle can detach from the shoulder straps, risking a fall for the baby. They were sold at specialty retail stores, catalogs and internet sites from September 2003 through Aug. 15, 2004, for about $120. Call toll-free 1-877-962-8400 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays; www.regallager.com.

+ 240 Eiger QuadRunner ATVs by Suzuki Motor Corp. Because of incorrectly placed welds, the mounting bracket could break off during riding, reducing rider control and resulting in loss of control of the ATV. Recalled are red, yellow or green 2004 model year four-wheel drive Eiger ATVs with model numbers LT-A400FK4 (for automatic transmission) and LT-F400FK4 (for manual transmission). Affected ATVs were produced May 19 to May 25 and sold by Suzuki dealers nationwide from May 28 to Aug. 16 for $5,149 to $5,299 (automatic transmission). Call toll-free 1-800-444-5077 for the location of the nearest Suzuki dealer for free inspection and repair.

+ 18,500 Predator 500 all-terrain vehicles by Polaris Industries Inc. The front brake lines can crack and leak brake fluid, possibly resulting in loss of braking capability. The recall includes Predator 500 ATVs from model years 2003 and 2004 with these model numbers: A03GJ50AA, A03GJ50AB, A03GJ50AS, A03GJ50CA, A04GJ50AA, A04GJ50AB, A04GJ50AC and A04GJ50AD. They were sold at Polaris dealers from November 2002 through February 2004 for $6,000 to $6,500. Contact a Polaris dealer for a free inspection and repair. Call toll-free 1-800-765-2747 between 8 a.m. and midnight daily; www.polarisindustries.com. Polaris notified consumers directly about this recall.

+ Various Imagine Foods Rice Dream and Soy Dream, White Wave Silk Soy Milk and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze beverage products by California Natural Products. Because of a processing failure, the product could become contaminated with harmful micro-organisms. Affected products are in 32-ounce TetraPak paper containers produced between March 8 and March 22, 2004. For lot codes and expiration dates, call toll-free 1-800-946-1615; www.fda.gov (click on Recalls).

Sources: Government recall site at www.recalls.gov; 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; RecallWarnings at www.recall-warnings.com.

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, e-mail actionsptimes.com, 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.

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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