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Refund covers repairs to damaged pool deck

On June 13, I contracted with Decorative Coatings to have my pool deck cleaned and coated with epoxy for $550. I gave a deposit of $275. The job was started the following day and finished the day after that. On June 16, I paid the balance of $275. It was noted that the screen door would not close and, since I could not get a promise from the company to correct this, I stopped payment on the second check. When I informed Decorative Coatings of this, it came right out and corrected the problem.

Since I had stopped payment on the check, I gave it another one for $275. Decorative Coatings accepted the check without telling me it had already cashed the first two, which I discovered when I received my bank statement. I phoned Decorative and was told that a check for $275 would be mailed to me July 2. I tried calling the Pinellas number on the invoice, but it was no longer working. I left messages on the Pasco number but have not been called back. I would like to get my refund.

_ R.C. Friedman

Michelle McKesson, owner of Decorative Coatings in New Port Richey, said you made a payment of $275 when you signed the contract to have your river rock patched and resealed. The job was performed, and you paid the balance of $275 upon completion of the work. You then called to report that the company's work had created a problem with the screen door and that you would stop payment on the second check.

The following day, McKesson said her husband, Scott, went to your home. The problem had nothing to do with the job Decorative Coating had done for you. The bolts on the screen door were rusty, causing the door to sag. He tried to help you with the door, and you gave him a replacement check of $275 for the one on which you had stopped payment.

A short time after that, you called to say that the door was still broken and that you had someone who would affirm it was the fault of Decorative Coatings. McKesson said her husband returned to your home and explained again that their company had nothing to do with the screen door problem. He told you he thought you would need to have it replaced. McKesson said he reported that you appeared satisfied at that point.

Instead, about a week later you called again. You said you now had a problem with the river rock and that you also wanted reimbursement of $125 for having had the screen door fixed by someone else. In the meantime, McKesson said she had learned that all three checks had been deposited in the company's account. Scott therefore took $275 cash with him when he went back to your home so he could reimburse you for the third check. When he got there, he discovered that the individual who had fixed your screen door had cut away several inches of the river rock from the threshold. You wanted McKesson to fix this area for free. Given that someone else had caused this problem, he said the charge for the repair would be $250. You agreed. He replaced and repaired the river rock and gave you $25 of the $275 he had brought to return to you.

McKesson said she and her husband do not think they owe you any money. You were satisfied with the work, and Decorative Coatings did not cause the screen door or the subsequent river rock problem. Finally, she said you were never charged for the service calls that followed completion of the contracted work and required that her husband drive from New Port Richey to south St. Petersburg three times.

Where's that signing bonus?

I hope you can help me obtain a $50 bonus from AOL's "Sign on a Friend" program. I signed on a friend in October; after she stayed with AOL for a three-month period, I was supposed to receive the $50 bonus. My friend remained with AOL and is still a subscriber. If AOL is going to advertise this program, it should honor it. I've called AOL representatives many times, and they keep promising me I will get my bonus check. I've received nothing. I've been waiting all year.

_ Donna True

We contacted AOL in Dulles, Va., twice, the second time Aug. 30, by certified mail. We have never heard from the company, so we were glad to get the following e-mail from you:

"I finally received phone confirmation from Michelle Kellebrew at AOL concerning my $50 rebate for the AOL "Sign on a Friend' promotion. She said that I would receive a check for $50 in four to six weeks. After almost a year of waiting, I am so grateful to you for your persistence in obtaining this for me. Thank you so much!"

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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