Go back in time with us to August 1986, when Northeast COMBAT received a letter from Priscilla Constable of Millinocket. She wrote that when her son Wayne received his income tax form from the IRS there was an advertisement for Liberty Coins. An 800 number was given so Wayne Constable called and ordered coins in the amount of $63, having the charges placed on his credit card.
Constable’s statement arrived on May 9, 1986, with a payment posted to the Department of the Treasury in Washington on March 21 for $63. When the coins had not arrived within a reasonable amount of time, Constable made a call of inquiry. He was told that his order could not be located but the problem would be taken care of.
It was at this point that Priscilla Constable contacted COMBAT asking if we could intercede between the Constables and the Department of the Treasury.
A COMBAT caseworker placed a call to the Department of the Treasury in August 1986 in behalf of the Constables. The caseworker was told that the problem would be turned over to the Consumer Complaint Division and that they would contact Wayne Constable within four weeks. We were also asked by the Department of the Treasury to put the complaint in writing and mail it directly to the Consumer Complaint Division so that a written record of the problem would be on file.
The caseworker did as he was requested, writing a letter stating Constable’s problem. We asked that the Liberty Coins be sent to Constable with notification to COMBAT of the shipping date. The caseworker then wrote to the Constables, asking that they recontact us within four weeks to let us know if the coins had arrived.
On Sept. 29 we received a letter from Priscilla Constable telling us that no coins had arrived.
As a result of the negative response, a second letter was written on Oct. 2 to the Department of the Treasury, Consumer Complaint Division, enclosing a copy of our first letter to them. We requested that the coins be sent or a refund in full be returned to Wayne Constable.
When we had not heard anything from either the Treasury Department or the Constables by Nov. 18, we wrote to Priscilla Constable asking that she let us know if the coins or a refund had arrived. We suggested that if no satisfaction had been obtained, she should send us a copy of the credit card statement with the $63 transaction involving the Department of the Treasury circled. Mrs. Constable complied by sending us the copy that we requested.
On Dec. 2 we received an envelope from the Treasury Department with an enclosed copy of a letter that they had mailed to Wayne Constable. It stated, “This is in response to an inquiry of Oct. 2, 1986, written on your behalf by Northeast COMBAT, Inc., regarding delivery of your Statue of Liberty coin order.
“Our records indicate that your order for two Statue of Liberty two-coin sets was shipped from our San Francisco office in late April. Apparently, they were lost in the shipping process.
“In an effort to resolve this problem, we are enclosing a certificate of non-receipt to be completed and returned to us. A self-addressed envelope is enclosed for your use. Upon receipt of this form, we will initiate tracer action for the lost coins and inform you of the results as soon as possible.
“We regret the inconvenience this matter has caused you and would appreciate your patience,” the letter stated.
When we had received no correspondence from the Constables by Jan. 8, 1987, we wrote to Wayne Constable, asking him to please keep us informed as to the status of the case.
We did not hear anything further until March 6, 1987. Priscilla Constable wrote, “It is almost a year since Wayne ordered his Liberty Coins and eight months you have been working with us. The beginning of December, Wayne receiveved a letter and a card from the U.S. Mint in San Francisco. (He had to sign and return the card) for them to receive permission for a tracer. Now it is March 6 and he hasn’t had any contact about the missing coins. I don’t know exactly how this will be resolved. With all your sincere efforts and hard work, we still are on the `good old merry-go-round.’ ”
On March 10 we wrote another letter to Deborah F. Johnson in the Customer Complaint Division of the Treasury Department stating that we had been told that she had sent a Certificate of Non-Receipt to Wayne Constable. Constable filled out the form and mailed it back in December. To date, he still had not received either the coins or a refund. We requested that this problem be taken care of within the next 14 days.
On March 26, 1987, a call came into COMBAT from a representative of the Treasury Department. The caller explained that the form Constable had filled out had been misplaced, and then found again shortly after they had received our letter. We were told that the coins would be sent out to the consumer the week of March 30 with a letter of explanation on what had transpired.
COMBAT immediately wrote to Wayne Constable to advise him of the phone call from the Treasury Department and the information that was given to us. We asked to be notified when the coins arrived.
On April 2, 1987, Priscilla Constable called us to say that the coins had arrived that day, more than one year from the date they were ordered. She thanked COMBAT for not giving up despite all odds.
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Consumer Forum is a collaborative effort of the NEWS and Northeast COMBAT. (COMBAT writes the column, not the NEWS.) Send your questions to Consumer Forum, Bangor Daily News, 491 Main St., Bangor 04401. Letters must be signed and include a telephone number, if possible.