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April 24, 2013     Sentinel Tribune
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April 24, 2013

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE VIEWPOINT Wednesday, April 24, 2013 Page 4 Your Legal Rights: How to Assert Your Rights as a Consumer From the Office of Minnesota Attorney General Loft Swanson Most companies understand that it is usually beneficial to try to find a solution to a consumer's concerns. Companies don't want unhappy consumers to complain and use a competitor's service or product. Keep in mind the follow- ing points when filing a complaint about a product or service with a business. Step 1: Get Your Ducks in a Row: Gather the documents that support your complaint. Collect price tags, receipts, warranties, contracts, advertisements, manu- als, photographs, and correspon- dence, as appropriate. Step 2: Determine What You Want: Figure out the solution you want. Do you want a replacement or a repair? Do you want to dis- pute a charge, have a fee waived, or receive a discount? A complaint is not effective unless you say what you think is fair to resolve the problem. Step 3: Call or Visit to Let the Company Know You Have A Problem: A company cannot help you if it does not know you have a problem. By calling or visiting the company to file a complaint, you may be able to quickly determine the company's position on the matter and, possibly, resolve the issue immediately. By calling or visiting the company, you put a "face" on the problem. A call or visit should be attempted before writing a letter that may get no more than a form letter response. When you speak with a com- pany, you may have to work your way through the company's chain of command by starting with a customer service representative. Be sure to ask for the representa- tive's name and write down the date and time of the call as well as the response. If you feel that the representa- tive is not addressing your con- cerns, ask to speak with the repre- sentative's supervisor. Once again, keep a log of the discussion, and be sure to write down the name of the supervisor. Step 4: Write a Letter: You may also wish to send a letter or e-mail if the call or visit does not result in a timely or appropriate response. The letter should be sent to the company's chief executive officer or president. He or she will then route the letter to the person most appropriate to respond. Keep your letter brief. The most effec- tive letter',are no more than one page and summarize the important facts. You may include with the letter a more detailed outline which is specific in terms of the product purchased, the date of purchase, the amount of the pur- chase, the problem encountered, your attempt to resolve the prob- lem, and, once again, the resolu- tion that you believe will fairly resolve the problem. The outline should attach copies of documen- tation supporting your complaint. The letters and outline should be concise. Do not include derog- atory comments about the cam- pany, its products or its advertise- ments. Do not include extraneous information that is not helpful to resolving the complaint. In your letter, you may wish to set a reasonable time limit, such as ten business days. It is important to include your contact informa- tion, such as your day and evening phone numbers, so the business knows how to reach you. Make a copy of the letter for your files and send it certified mail with a request for a return receipt. When a business agrees to resolve the issue, write a confir- mation letter, keep a copy for your files, and send the letter via certi- fied mail as well. Step 5: File a Lawsuit in Conciliation Court: If you are unable to resolve your problem, you may wish to file a claim in Conciliation Court, which is a court for cases involving disputes up to $10,000 (the limit increases to $15,900 on August 1, 2014). In order 19 file with the court, you must :omplete a Conciliation Court form and pay the filing fee in the ounty where the company has an office. If you have low income, you do not have to pay the filing fee, but you must bring proof of your income. Copies of your Conciliation Court form will be mailed to the other party, so you will need the full name of the company you are suing and its address. Depending on the county where you file your claim, your court date should be within weeks after you file. For more informa- tion, you may want to review the Minnesota Attorney General's Office user guide entitled Concilation Court: A User's Guide o Small Claims Court. Step6: Get an Attorney: If the problen is expensive enough, it may py to hire an attorney. An attomei may be able to identify importmt legal consequences that may afect you, provide you with options and give you advice about your not course of action. If you cannot identify an attorney to advise you, the Minnesota State Bar ssociation's Attorney Referrd Service is available on the Interact at www.mnfindalaw- You may also identify an attorney through the local Bar Association in your area by con- tacting the county bar associa- tion's referral service. If you select an attorney through the referral service, you should ask about any initial consultation fee since the fees vary. Be Persistent, Be Persuasive and Be Positive: Modem com- munication, in the form of voice- mail, phone trees, the Internet, and e-mail, can be cumbersome. An old fashioned face-to-face discus- sion is often the best means to resolve a consumer problem. If face-to-face communication is not practical, a personal call is often more effective than an e-mail. Through effective communica- tion, you will increase the likeli- hood that your rights will be asserted successfully. Mission Statement The Sentinel Tribune serves the residents and business community of Cottonwood, Redwood, Murray and Lyon County and southwest Minnesota by apply- ing its available resources to accurately and consistently produce a quality newspaper which thoroughly covers the news of the area, stimulates thought and conversa- tion, delivers advertising messages in a timely manner, and provides information of general value to its public In so doing contributes to the overall quality of life and eco- nomic health of its readers, advertisers and community in general while stimulating the professional develop- ment of its employees. AI Bart... "Stories from the BaH Cave" I can't tickle myself because of NASCAR Snow, snow, go away. Come again some other day. During win- ter would be a good time to come again. Weather is our constant compan- ion, but this spring's version needs editing. Winter refuses to leave. Apparently, not all the mittens have been lost yet. A coach's advice for everything was to "walk it off." It's hard to walk off winter because of the ice. Folks have been staring in fear through the mini-blinds and wear- ing the faces they make when they want something to go away. My wife describes the season as "Fine." That code word is used by females to indicate that it isn't fme. I'm reminded of the Hartland businessman interviewing five job applicants for a position at the local Think Tank. He asked each the same question, "How much is two and two?" The newspaper columnist answered, "22." The engineer answered, "Between 3.999 and 4.001." The lawyer answered, "I have cited three court cases in which two and two was found to be four." The accountant answered, "How much do you want it to be?" The meteorologist answered, "I have no idea." Many married couples have hyphenated last names. We should hyphenate our seasons. This one could be spring-winter. An old neighbor once offered me a job helping him move hay bales. When I stopped by his house at the appointed time, I found him play- ing euchre (a card game) with some guys. They were his friends who'd driven up from his home- town in Iowa to surprise him. I hated to interrupt the frivolities, but I mentioned the hay that needed tending. "It can wait," he said. "The hay will still be here tomorrow. My friends will not." We need to consider winter an old friend. I told my wife that I'd read an article saying there was talk about raising the speed limit to 75. I said there was no need. People are already driving faster than that. I used that article as a clever ruse to bring up another piece I'd read. That one concerned the number of words a woman uses in a day. It said that a woman utters 30,000 words daily to a man's 15,000. My wife, The Queen B replied, "That's because women have to repeat everything because men aren't lis- tening." I responded cleverly, "What?" Maybe the weather isn't a good listener. I watched a baseball game. They've been hard to fmd this year because of the weather. They'll need to start playing quadruple- headers. The shortstop scooped up a ground ball nicely and then threw the ball over the ft baseman's head. There is often a gap between good intentions and good results in baseball and in life. Weather likely starts out with good intentions. There is an old Ole and Lena story. All Ole and Lena stories are old and because I live in Hartland, Minnesota, I know that all Ole and Lena stories are true. The story goes that Ole was terminally ill. The old doctor, Splint Westwood, told him he had just a few hours left. Ole was in bed in an upstairs bedroom when he detected the odor of sugar cookies wafting up through the tiny heat register in the comer of the room. Ole loved sugar cookies almost as much as he loved Lena. He mustered what little ener- gy he had left and crept down the steps. It was excruciatingly painful, but there were sugar cookies. He crawled through the living room into the kitchen. He pulled himself upright by the use of a kitchen chair and saw the treasure. A plate (ono of the good plates) of sugar cookies, warm from the oven. In agony, he reached for the ecstasy. His fingers had almost touched the cookies, when Lena appeared out of nowhere to slap his hand. "You leave those alone, Ole!" she admonished. "They're for after your funeral." There will be good things after winter, just as there are after a funeral. It'd be nice ifa fellow could tickle himself. That would provide some giggles on a gloomy day. Have you ever wondered why we can't tickle ourselves? The legend is that we were given a choice between being able to tickle our- selves and having NASCAR. The ability to tickle ourselves would be a way that we could be tickled pink despite bad news. Newspaper headlines would read, "Massive job layoffs hit area. Everyone is tickled." Why can't we tickle ourselves? The science isn't there yet. Winter will end just as surely as wind turbines produce wind. A1 Batt 2013 71622 325 St. 1-1, MN 56042 15 ...................................................... '' ']r1111]/l/'rlll III IIII Sentinel Tribune Thomas Merchant Junette Merchant Joan Spielman (ISSN 8750-3905) Managing Editor Office & Production Ad Representative & Office Published every Wednesday at Westbrook, Mirnesota 56183 Periodicals Postage Paid at Westbrook, Minn.sota 56183 SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FOR THE SENTINELTRIBUNE WILL BE: In the following counties: Cottonwood, Redvood, and Murray $42.00 per year. Elsewhere in Minnesota $46.0(3 per year. Out o; the state $52.00 per year. Canada and foreign countries inquire at the Sentinel Tribune Office. If wrong amount is submitted subscrip- tion will be pro rated accordingly. "Snowbirds" may put their paper on hold at no extra charge while they are gone, or pay $5.00 extra to have it mailed out of state. 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