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PROBE: June 1, 2001

June 01, 2001

QUESTION: On May 8, I ordered a condenser for the air-conditioner in my pickup from Napa Auto Parts. I ordered from Napa because it was the only parts house that promised to get it for me the following day. I paid $224 for the part when I ordered it.

That was three weeks ago and I have been calling on a daily basis to see if the part arrived. Last week, I went to the parts store and asked for my money back. If they couldn't get me the part, I wanted to buy it somewhere else.

They asked for the receipt. By then I had lost it. They said if I didn't have a receipt they would not refund my money. They said the computer had no record I had ordered the part. If the computer didn't show the order, I had not ordered it or paid for it. Again, no refund!

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The computer showed I ordered the part until last week and suddenly there's no record of it. — Hot and Fuming, Holtville

We talked to both the customer and his mechanic, Richard, at Quality Lube. Both said they had discussed the undelivered part numerous times with Napa employees.

We called Napa Auto Parts in El Centro and talked to the manager, Mario Botello, and then to Napa official Jerry Kay in Ramona.

Both were adamant that if the computer didn't show it, the part had not been ordered.

Kay said, "If he (the customer) will bring us a receipt, I will refund him double his money."

Our argument was that you can't rely too heavily on computers.

Kay softened the offer, "If he will come in and tell us who sold him the part, I will refund his money."

This story does have a happy ending for the customer. Dale Granahan, a friend of the customer, managed to find the order in Napa's computer system.

Granahan, who was a co-worker with the customer at the Imperial Irrigation District until the customer retired three weeks ago, met with the customer and the manager at Napa.

Botello insisted he had been looking in the computer for the order but could not find it.

"It's not there," he said.

"I bet I can find it in two minutes," said Granahan, who is enrolled in a computer class at Imperial Valley College.

"If you find it in two minutes, I'll refund his money and give him the part without charge!" Botello countered.

Granahan found the order in the computer in just over a minute.

Granahan didn't rely on fancy computer tricks. Instead, he looked at all the purchase orders for May 8.

There was no order for $224. But there was an order for $228. He pulled it up and it was a perfect match — same part to fit the right model pickup.

Botello didn't argue. He counted out the refund. The condenser will be here tomorrow, he promised. That's today.

QUESTION: I went to the Army surplus store in Calexico and talked to Abraham. He gave me a new pair of shoes. Thank you. — Satisfied, Calexico

We're glad it worked out.

QUESTION: Last week my daughter, 5, and I were feeding the ducks in Bucklin Park when we noticed a blind duck. He couldn't see the bread. Can you tell us who to call? My daughter was very upset. — Tenderhearted, El Centro

Call the city of El Centro at 337-5182 and speak to Ken Skillman.

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