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LETTERS PILE UP TO ANTIQUE COLUMN

Q FOR SOME TIME, I have been wanting to write concerning the antique column published in The Buffalo News and written by Ralph and Terry Kovel. Since others that I have spoken to have told me they shared my experience, I finally decided to tell you about it.

Some time last June, I wrote to the Kovels at the address given in their column, explaining and describing fully the item I wanted them to comment on, and enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope as requested. I never received an answer from them and then learned that the same thing happened to several of my friends.

This has never happened to me before and I have written to many of the writers of columns that appear in your newspaper. They all responded promptly and most often with informative answers to my problems. I am not used to complaining, but I am also not used to being ignored. Just thought you should know.

--T.N., Buffalo
A THE PEOPLE WHO should know about this kind of problem, of course, are Terry and Ralph Kovel, who have a genuine concern for the publication of their nationally syndicated column and their many readers.

We contacted them about your complaint and they explain "We receive over 10,000 pieces of mail a month. Although we read every letter, we're sure you realize that it would be impossible to personally answer each one. Our newspaper column should include a statement informing readers that we cannot answer their letters personally but will answer those of general interest through the column.

"Any letter sent to us with a stamped, self-addressed envelope receives a form letter reply. In addition, photographs are returned by us, whether or not an SASE was included. We have a paid staff to handle this and the cost of their time, postage, etc. is considerable.

"Most people who write to us want to know the value of their items. As we state in our form letter, it is unprofessional, as well as nearly impossible, to give an appraisal for an unseen item. The majority of questions we receive can be answered by a trip to the local library and we give some suggestions about this. If an object appears valuable or the question requires unusual research, we will include a note on the form letter.

"We were sorry to hear that News Power has received a complaint about the handling of the mail, but considering the quantity of letters we receive, we do not know of any other way to handle the problem."

News Power is designed to help persons who feel baffled, cheated or ignored. Because of the heavy load we cannot tackle every case, but select those where we can do the most good. We'll tell you if we can't handle yours. Send your problems by mail -- mail ONLY -- to News Power, Buffalo News, 1 News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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