N LASIK alternatives
N Digital mammograms
products go bad
By David Horowitz
A PRODUCT IS declared dangerous. A recall is
announced. Owners return the item. Simple, yes?
No! Even this year—with widespread recalls of
unsafe items, including dolls, baby cribs, lunchboxes
and pet food—companies cite poor compliance and
report getting back a very small percentage of the
dangerous items that have been sold. “We do a very
good job of getting dangerous products off store
shelves, but our greater challenge is to get dangerous
products out of people’s homes,” says a spokesman
for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Officials are now struggling to determine
whether recall announcements are missing their
intended targets. The U.S. House of Representatives
recently approved a bill (Consumer Product Safety
Commission Modernization Act of 2007, H.R. 4040;
would force manufacturers of many children’s products to keep track of who buys them so that customers can be personally notified in case of a recall.
(Note: Costco has a comprehensive system for
notifying members about product recalls. If a situation is urgent, members are contacted by phone; if
timing is not critical, they are notified by mail.
Customer-service call agents are prepared to provide
up-to-date information and referrals to suppliers or
agencies, as appropriate. And, of course, members are
given a full refund on any recalled items purchased at
Costco. A current list of product notices can be found
on costco.com—click on “Customer Service” at the
bottom of the home page—or by calling 1-800-
Those considering surgery to correct vision
problems may wish to investigate other options,
such as LASEK (laser assisted sub-epithelial ker-atomiluesis), PRK, (photorefractive keratectomy),
intraocular lens implants, CK (conductive keratoplasty) or corneal rings.
AMY CAN TRELL
LAST SEPTEMBER we purchased a computer armoire
and bookshelves with a
custom finish. We paid a 50
percent deposit with final
payment on delivery, promised in two to 10 weeks.
After numerous calls they
delivered in December, but
the armoire was poorly done.
They took it back to refinish,
along with the bookshelves,
since we hadn’t paid in full.
Today we went to the store,
but the armoire finish is
even worse, and now it’s
scratched and chipped. We
asked for a refund of our
deposit or store credit, but
they refused because it was
a custom order. They offered
only a discount on the total
purchase, or we can wait
until they sell the furniture
to another customer before
we get a refund.
The transition from film to digital mammograms is causing an enormous increase in the number of fearful rechecks as w omen learn
that the doctor has seen something
on the newer test.
An essential part of tracking for
breast cancer is the comparison of
past and present mammograms. But
comparing the digital and film
versions can be difficult. Even
though doctors assure their
patients that most repeat
tests wind up being normal,
the increase in breast cancers reported in the population has many women
fearing the worst.
During this shift in
the technology, radiologists learning the brand-new protocol may be
more likely to play it safe
by requesting additional
X-rays, ultrasound exams
and even biopsies. The
result? For now, more worry
and more expense. And,
hopefully, more cancers
discovered at an early
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is
reissuing warnings about the risks of LASIK (
laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery. Users are
being reminded that the popular and highly advertised procedure does come with risks, including
vision loss, painful dry eyes, and glare and night-vision problems. Ad campaigns focus on instant
cures but rarely show the other side. Overall, the
FDA estimates that 5 percent of patients aren’t satisfied with the outcome and may experience side
effects that do not reduce or self-correct over time.
With LASIK, doctors peel back a flap in the cornea’s surface and zap the underlying layer to reshape
the cornea and ease either nearsightedness or farsightedness. This cut is widely believed to be that
procedure’s riskiest step. The newest version, considered safer, makes ultra-thin flaps using a second
laser instead of the original disposable blade.
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate.
His “Fight Back!” commentaries are heard daily on
the Jones Radio Network. For stations and times,
check the radio page at www.fightback.com.
© 2008 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
Sue them in small
claims court, mak-
ing sure their sum-
mons is served by
an officer. Docu-
ment your case
and receipts, with
a clear paper trail
showing their bro-
ken agreements. In many
cases, this kind of pres-
sure will bring about a
resolution before you
have to go to court. It
sounds as if you have the
law on your side, so
chances are good that
you’ll get a refund or new
furniture finished and deliv-
ered to your satisfaction.
P.S. Clarissa wrote to
me that this strategy worked
Do you have a question for David?
Just log on to www.fightback.com and “Ask David.” He will personally respond
to your problem if you follow the instructions printed on his Web site. (Costco
members receive a rebate off the normal fee.) Questions and answers of the greatest
interest to Costco members will be used in this column with the permission of the
contributor and will be posted on www.fightback.com.