Sunday, December 3, 2006

Learning about consumer rights the hard way

Gary Wood of Palmer Lake's Villa Pasta (see Springs & Co. in the Monday's Business Edge section in The Gazette) was not the only person to contact Melisa and Jim Rittenberg after they butted heads with a Best Buy store in St. Louis last week. Their experience in getting a box with pasta sauce, a phone cord and a plastic electrical outlet cover inside instead of the $1,600 Sony camcorder they had paid for, brought them calls from consumers all over the country who had suffered similar shopping mishaps and poor store response.

"This whole thing got blown out of proportion because of the way the store handled it," Melisa Rittenberg said. "The corporate headquarters was never contacted and the local store manager just said there was nothing they could do."

Sony did come through, shipping a camcorder to the Rittenbergs on Nov. 29, but the whole process was an eye-opener for the Perryville, Mo. couple. "Consumers often don't know what to do when these things happen. The most important things we learned are to open the box in the store and that there are steps you can take -- filing a police report, disputing the charges with your credit card company and contacting the state district attorney. You do have recourse."

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