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Partial refund for dropped course

I attended an introduction seminar for a course on how to become a legal guardian. The instructor is Irene Rausch. It was to be followed by four full-day sessions of instruction and training to take place on weekends. The registration fee for the course was $200, which I sent. The introduction served as an overview of the course and allowed those attending to decide whether they wished to continue.

I work third shift at a local hospital, so it is difficult to attend anything on weekends if I've worked the night before. I had faith my future schedule would make allowance for the classes. Rausch explained that if I intended to take the full course, she would keep my registration fee for instructional literature.

But my current schedule did not allow me to attend. Then, even though I hadn't given up on attending, other circumstances arose with my elderly mother, who resides outside Florida.

Consequently, I now find it impossible to attend any of the course offerings. I e-mailed and wrote a letter to Rausch explaining my circumstances and returning the literature. I asked for a refund of my $200.

I have had no response. Would you please encourage her to refund my money? Any mention of her business in the newspaper could prove detrimental to her standing in the business community. She may respond to correspondence from you if she knew her reputation was at risk.

Nancy Wisdom

Action doesn't exist to "encourage" businesses to make refunds so they won't appear unfavorably in the newspaper. In fact, we discourage businesses from making undeserved refunds. It isn't fair to them. When a consumer is wronged, she has a right to ask for resolution. Likewise, when a business is wronged, it has a right to defend itself.

Irene Rausch, a certified master guardian and legal guardian since 1982, is the instructor for the court-approved Guardianship Training Seminars. She addressed your complaint.

Rausch explained that "the overview is given as an opportunity to determine whether or not you wish to register for the class. It is explained that this is the official 'drop period,' or time in which you may ask for your registration fee back." If someone who attends decides she doesn't want to continue, Rausch said, her uncashed check is returned right then. Once you express your intent to finish the course and you leave, no refunds are available.

At the overview in March, Rausch said you told her you couldn't attend the rest of the classes offered that month, but you would attend in the future. You told her to keep your check, she said, and she gave you the three books used in the course. You later sent an application to register for the July classes, but you didn't attend those either.

It wasn't until the middle of July that you requested a refund and returned the books, more than four months after you registered for the course.

Rausch decided to refund $60 for the books, which we consider generous: Most bookstores allow only 30 days for returns.

Stop the junk mail

The holiday season brings floods of catalogs in the mail. Several readers have asked how to permanently end the deluge.

Contact Mail Preference Service through the Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 282, Carmel, NY 10512 or online at www. the-dma.org (click on "information for consumers.") Consumers can remove their names from mailing lists for catalogs, major nonprofit solicitations, financial services, book and music clubs, and magazine and sweepstakes offers.

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.

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