DEAR SUN SPOTS: A year ago last January, I ordered a book on arthritis from Johns Hopkins University Hospital. I received it in good time and paid $22.95 for it.
This year I received another one that arrived damaged. The Post Office wrote a note on it saying that it was received in that condition. The papers that accompanied it stated that if I didn’t want it, to return it by mail, which I did.
Being such a well-known place, I didn’t think I needed proof that I mailed by not asking for a signature. That was almost three months ago. I keep getting bills from them, and I keep telling them I returned it. But they ignore my letters. Now they are getting nasty about it.
I would like to put an end to this problem. I didn’t think such a well-known hospital would resort to such scams. Who could I contact to report this kind of thing and prevent it from happening to someone else?
I don’t want this to go on my records as being a deadbeat. I am an honest person and expect others to be also. I guess I am too naïve. Can you help me please? Please do not publish my name. My children don’t know about this, and they would have a ball with it. Thank you. — No Name, Peru
ANSWER: Try not to worry too much about your credit. These kinds of disputes with book clubs and subscriptions are very common, and a $23 charge would not cause your credit any irreparable harm even in the unlikely event it reached that level.
When Sun Spots worked at the Post Office, she always encouraged people to use a service called Delivery Confirmation. It costs less than a $1 (price varies depending on the package service used) and allows you to track your package by checking on the computer or calling an 800 number. No signature is required, but it will verify that your package has been delivered.
As to your particular problem, Sun Spots doubts seriously that this is a “scam” but rather a case of crossed messages. Johns Hopkins probably uses a service to handle and mail their books. These services are highly automated, with computer-generated notices sent at regular intervals. A letter from you would take some time to work its way through the system.
Another possibility is that because of the damage to the book’s packaging, your name and address were not legible, so they didn’t know it was your book that was returned.
Sun Spots suggests that you make a copy of this column and mail it to them, along with a note saying that you returned the book, are not going to pay for it and will refuse further shipments. Sign it and be sure that your name and address are prominent. Send it to the attention of the customer service manager.
You may still get notices for a while, but they should go away eventually. In the unlikely event that this does not get results, you can contact Maine’s Consumer Protection Service at 1-800-436-2131.
DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Lisbon Area Christian Outreach Board of Directors is having a spaghetti supper at Holy Trinity Church on Frost Hill Avenue in Lisbon Falls on Saturday, May 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. to benefit our food pantry. The L.A.C.O. food pantry serves approximately 200 families from the towns of Lisbon, Durham and Bowdoin each month. The tickets are $5 for adults and $2.50 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. Every $5 ticket sold will provide about 30 pounds of food for the food pantry. Thank you for helping us to share this information. — Carol Day, email@example.com
DEAR SUN SPOTS: I sold my lawn mower last week to Eric Boucher, but I forgot to give him the bagger. I don’t know where he lives, but I think his father or father-in-law picked it up and said he was from Litchfield. I will be glad to give it to him. My number is 782-9517. — Theresa Leclair
This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.