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Q: I contracted with Belcher Contractors and Roofers in Tampa on Oct. 16, 2006, for a new flat roof and flashing on the chimney.

The roof was finished promptly and I paid in full, but the flashing wasn't completed. The owner, James Belcher, promised to come back and fix it.

I have called six times, and he continues to promise that he'll flash the chimney. Nothing yet.

Virgil DeSimone

A: The flashing was not part of the roofing job you hired James Belcher to do. A review of your contract confirms this.

Belcher explained that the collar around the upper part of your chimney needs replacing because it is rusty. He offered to apply some metal flashing to it as an interim repair, at no charge, when he had time. His schedule has been full, but he is still willing to make the repair when time permits. If you want it repaired sooner, Belcher suggests you hire a chimney specialist.

Were late fees fair?

Q: My wife and I travel during the summer months. I set up all my regular bills to be paid electronically while we're gone.

Last year Wells Fargo did not offer electronic payments, so I arranged with my bank to send regular monthly payments of 1/12 of the initial balance, to begin immediately. I didn't establish the beginning date; the arrangement was to begin the next regular banking day and continue for the next 12 months. No Wells Fargo representative informed me of a specific due date.

While we're away, I use my laptop to monitor my bank account. Payments were made each month, as arranged.

Upon our return in October, I discovered our payments had been going out after their due dates; Wells Fargo had charged late fees for the six months we were gone.

We do not receive mail while we're traveling, so there is no way I could have known the payments were being received late.

I phoned the company immediately, but was told that because it had notified us by mail, there was nothing it could do.

Even after I explained what had happened, it refused to consider refunding canceling the late charges.

I would appreciate anything you can do to help.

Gerald Schubert

A: Customers must pay their bills according the billing cycle the company establishes. It makes no difference whether you're paying a set amount monthly by check, credit card or electronic transfer.

If I understand correctly, you set up a regular payment to Wells Fargo, independent of your billing cycle. You, or your bank perhaps, just chose a payment date.

During the process leading up to that, it was your responsibility to ask Wells Fargo about due dates. You don't say that you did, only that the representative you spoke to didn't mention it.

Most bills are due at about the same time each month. If you had paid by those dates previously, why would they be irrelevant because your method of payment was different?

The company did contact you. The fact that you were traveling and opted not to have your mail monitored or forwarded is not the company's responsibility.

Most companies will waive a single late fee if you phone as soon as you know your payment will be late and explain your predicament. I'm not surprised that Wells Fargo declined to waive six months' worth of them.

CD rate clarification

A few readers called or wrote because they didn't understand the figures in a recent column on CD rates. As some readers pointed out, the interest on a $10,000, six-month CD at 5.46 percent APY is $273.00, not $285.95.

The confusion lay in the value of the CD. The reader was investing $10,579 in a six-month CD. At the advertised APY, the interest comes out to $288.88. Rates vary slightly from day to day, which is what produced the lower figure on the day she called the bank.

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