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SWITCH IN TV LEADS TO CONFUSION

Q: I have basic cable and I understand that we are switching to digital. Why will I be forced to pay almost $15 more per month to have access to 400 channels that I don't want and from which I'll have to block my children?

I keep getting the runaround from Bright House. What options do I have?

Kerry Berard

A: Your concern stems from a misunderstanding, but I'm sure you're not the only one who's confused.

The DTV switch, set to take place in February 2009, has to do with how television signals are transmitted, not the kind of cable service you subscribe to.

Bright House spokesman Joe Durkin said customers who own digital televisions will not have their service affected, whether they subscribe to basic, standard or digital service.

DTV transmission will affect those who use an antenna to watch TV or who own an analog set.

"There have been a number of television commercials and print ads beginning to run on the digital transition," Durkin said. "However, nothing will change for Bright House customers."

If you'd like to learn more about the switch, read Consumer's Edge columnist Ivan Penn's analysis at www.sptimes.com/2008/01/12/Business/The_digital_switch.shtml.

Please be patient

Q: I ordered a meal at a Checkers Drive-In on McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater on Jan. 5.

I paid the bill while taking a cell phone call. Later, I checked my receipt and realized the "value items" I ordered didn't total up to the advertised prices. I was overcharged.

I have contacted Checkers via its Web site complaint section but have received no response.

Is it too much for Checkers to acknowledge its error and answer my inquiry? I'd like a refund, and not in coupons!

Kenn Sidorewich

A: Elizabeth Sheridan, communications manager for Checkers, agreed that you were overcharged.

"This is due to the fact that (Mr. Sidorewich's) order was accidentally entered incorrectly," she said. Simple human error.

In addition to sending you a refund, Checkers is reviewing procedures with its cashiering staff at the location you visited.

I'm curious why you didn't just return to the restaurant or call and ask to speak with a manager about the problem. This would have seemed the most expedient way to deal with it.

You wrote Action only two days after the incident occurred, which makes me think you expected an immediate response to your e-mail inquiry. Even Action can't provide answers in 24 hours.

Customer service isn't what it used to be, but every business deserves a fair opportunity to answer its customers' complaints.

Couple owed money

Q: My wife and I subscribe to United HealthCare as our Medicare prescription drug provider.

My wife joined in May 2007 and I joined in July. We decided to have the premiums taken directly from our monthly Social Security checks.

The gentleman at UHC I spoke to said it takes a few months for the deductions to start. Rather than fall behind in payments, I sent a check to pay for our premiums until that happened.

In August, I got a letter from Social Security stating it would begin deducting our premiums that month and would deduct the premiums for July. My wife received a similar letter three days later.

I've written and called United HealthCare to let them know I made double payments and to ask for a $110.40 refund, but have had no response.

Charles Greenberg

A: Roger Rollman of UHC declined to provide details about your request, but said, "I can report that United HealthCare has determined that a couple of refunds need to be made to Mr. and Mrs. Greenberg."

Rollman said there were "some questions regarding this situation," and he had phoned you and left a message to discuss the matter.

I hope those questions are answered and your refund is on its way.

Sprint won't send bill

Q: I can't get Sprint to send me a monthly bill.

I don't have my bill automatically deducted from my bank account. I don't get bills online. I've verified that my mailing address is correct.

I learned I should receive the bills on the 25th, 26th or 27th of the month, but they never come.

I've called too many times to count.

Edlynn Bodi

A: We queried Sprint's executive services department, which has handled complaints from Action in the past.

When the company didn't respond to mail sent through the post office, we sent it by FedEx. It was delivered and signed for, but we didn't hear a word.

Odd that a company won't help a customer get a bill in a timely manner.

You never mentioned how you manage to pay for service when you don't get a bill, but I bet if you stopped paying, Sprint would find a way to get in touch with you.

Collectors must pay

A federal court has entered a stipulated final order against a Florida debt collection agency operating under names including Rawlins & Rivera Inc. of Florida and Ryan & Reed Inc. of Florida, its officers and a Florida lawyer who participated in collection activities.

The order settles a Federal Trade Commission action that alleged the company used misleading dunning letters and abusive telephone calls, which often included profanity, to threaten consumers.

These actions violated the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The defendants are required to pay a judgment of $3.4-million, the amount the defendants took in through their activities.

Stipulated final orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. Write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request. Complaints can be accepted only by mail. Send only photocopies of personal documents. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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