1. Archive

Nagging questions dog settled claim

Published Feb. 19, 2008

Q: In desperation, I ask that you help me resolve a false accident claim against my car insurance by Vanguard Car Rental (Alamo).

I rented a car from Alamo between June 12 and 21. I returned the car to the Detroit Metro Airport (where I had picked it up) on June 19. A representative checked the car in and gave me a credit for early return. No damage was reported at that time because there was no damage to report.

More than a month later, I received a letter from Alamo that claimed damage. I called my insurance company Aug. 7 and told it about the false accident claim I'd received. I was given a case number and was told it would pay the bill if Alamo submitted a body shop repair bill.

I am furious over this scam. I contacted the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and filed a complaint, but when Alamo failed to respond, it was "unable to resolve this complaint."

Patricia Girard

A: The erroneous damage claim against you by Alamo has been dropped.

Alamo Damage Recovery Unit senior manager Frank Lipari wrote with an explanation. "I won't make any excuses, only to say that we did not handle your claim in a timely or expeditious manner." During his research, Lipari said his company failed to provide you with adequate responses to your inquiries. It did receive the complaint you filed with the state, however, and, after review, Alamo's claim against you was dropped Aug. 22. Lipari said a letter was then sent to you, but you obviously didn't receive it. Nor did Alamo respond to the state, according to its letter to you.

Your insurance company doesn't seem to have been notified either. Lipari said Alamo received a message from it in late September, and his response followed on Sept. 21.

It's nice to hear a representative take responsibility for a company's mistake for a change, but Alamo's lack of response to you, to your insurer and to the state is disturbing. Equally unsettling is your insurer's readiness to pay a claim you disputed without investigation.

Tiles not staying put

Q: We're hoping you can help us resolve a problem we have with the tile floor in our home, built in 2000.

We had our builder install tile in hallways, kitchen, family room and bathrooms. We chose a tile standard to our builder; it was installed by a subcontractor.

About two years ago, the tile started to lift here and there. Now 75 percent of the tiles are loose, lifting or producing a hollow sound that means they'll be lifting soon.

We contacted the builder several times; the company finally sent us a letter offering to have its subcontractor fix the tiles at our expense by shooting adhesive under them. A foreman saw the floors when a few of the tiles had started to lift, but no one has been out to see the extent of the problem.

We spoke with other installers, who told us this solution will not solve the problem because the tiles will continue to lift away from the new adhesive. We believe the tiles and mastic should be removed and the tiles reinstalled. Neither the builder nor the original installer will accept responsibility.

Can you assist us?

Digby and David Janus

A: I reviewed the documentation you sent, but I don't believe Action's involvement could result in a different outcome. The tile is out of warranty, and the builder has denied responsibility. Contact the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, a nonprofit certifying body for the flooring industry. Its independent inspectors' reports often aid in complaint resolution. Call toll-free 1-800-835-4624 or visit

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.