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Bankruptcy permits consumers' claims

Action has processed many complaints about Protecht Windows and Doors. Most consumer protests to the company went unanswered, but in the few that were, readers said the company still did not fulfill its promises. Protecht Industries Inc. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Feb. 9. Assets were reported, so any readers who wish to make a claim must contact the attorney representing the company and/or attend the first meeting of creditors, scheduled for March 16. Call the Middle District court in Tampa toll-free at 1-866-879-1286 and request information for case number 071030.

Check, apology arrive

Q: I have been a customer of Sears for more than 60 years. Up until recently we have always been highly satisfied with its products and its service.

My wife and I took advantage of a promotion offered in July 2006. We purchased several home appliances, qualifying for a 20 percent rebate on our costs, or $1,157.97. To date, we have received checks totaling only $520.33.

We have called and written several letters, none of which have elicited responses.

I do not feel it should be necessary to go through what we have to claim the advertised refund.

John Green

A: You sent a note telling me, "I am glad to say that we were recently contacted by Sears Roebuck . . . which apologized for the inconvenience caused and assured us that a check would be coming in the mail. The check arrived on Tuesday."

Telephone badgering

Q: Since the first of January, I have been receiving recorded telephone calls from persons, all identifying themselves with the same last name, asking me to call them back at several 800 numbers as they have "important business" to discuss with me.

I have been on the national Do Not Call list since it began, but that doesn't seem to have any effect.

I've checked all the numbers on www.whocalled.us and found that others have had the same calls. Information on the site identified the business calling as National Enterprise Systems (NES), an aggressive collection outfit. I have no outstanding debts, and my credit rating is excellent.

I've reported the numbers to the Do Not Call violators' list and the Bell South annoyance center with little effect.

I was wondering if you had any information on this outfit.

John Stansbury

A: The Better Business Bureau reports that NES is indeed a collection agency. Debt collectors are exempt from the rules set forth by the national Do Not Call list. That's why your reports to its violators hotline did not produce results.

The BBB has processed 312 complaints against the company in the past three years, 191 in the last 12 months. "The company does not return phone calls, honor requests to stop calling or provide requested information to the consumer," the complaints alleged. Many consumers said the company representatives are rude and threatening in their collection attempts.

According to the Fair Debt Collection Act, "You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collector telling it to stop." I suggest sending it certified, return receipt requested, so you have proof. Once the letter is received, the collector may contact you only with notification that the creditor intends to take some specific action.

You may report a collection agency in violation of the FDCA to the Federal Trade Commission by calling toll-free 1-877-382-4357.

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. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length.

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