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Repairman sews up case of tossed machine

Q: My sewing machine needed work done on it and I took it in June to a dry cleaners in Orchard Park, where a sewing repairman picks up machines for repair. I waited awhile and called the cleaners to see if Chautauqua Sewing, of Ashville, had brought it back. No dice. I called the sewing store and the owner told me it couldn't be fixed, and that his son threw it out.

I was devastated because I had another place in Buffalo that I could have taken it for repairs. The sewing shop told me that I could have another machine for the cost of what the repair would have been on the old one, around $62. I still have my claim check. What recourse do I have?

- Helen Zander, Lackawanna

A: We got a slightly different story when we contacted Chautauqua Sewing, but the end result is probably the best that could be expected from an odd situation.

John Rogowski, owner of Chautauqua Sewing, said he had left you several messages that you did not return, before your old machine was tossed out.

"We had the machine almost two months before we were cleaning through the warehouse and threw it away," he said.

Rogowski said he had arranged to meet you at your house last fall with a new machine if you reimbursed him the cost of the repair on the old one. He said no one was home when he arrived. "The offer was made after we threw out the machine. I've been waiting to hear from her," he said.

This resembles a classic case of, "He said, she said." You insist you never agreed to such a meeting. "He probably came without notifying me," Zander said.

Regardless, it seems wrong to simply toss out someone else's property. "It was my machine and not his machine to throw away," Zander said.

We shared your sentiments with Rogowski and he asked what it would take to make you happy. "I can't bring the old machine back," he said. "It's unfortunate. I bend over backwards to please my customers."

Rogowski insisted your machine was about 30 years old and not a recognizable brand. "That machine was a junker machine. It was a clunker that I wouldn't take on a trade-in," he said.

In the end, he delivered a new machine - which he said was worth $250 - to your home on Feb. 7, and you paid him $64 including tax (representing the repair cost of the old machine).

"It's a pretty nice machine," Zander told us Feb. 8, a day after receiving her new one - though she said Rogowski has to return soon to fix the light on it.


>Follow-up note

On another note, Grace and Albert Huenniger of Eden recouped the $200 they had paid Jeffery Ciolek of Jiff's Landscaping in Buffalo for snowplowing, which he never did for them. After Eden Police Lt. John McCarthy tracked him down, Ciolek promised to return the money to them by Jan. 20, and he did so on Jan. 19.

Have a consumer problem? Send your comlaints to News Power, Karen Robinson, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. E-mail: Readers must provide their name, telephone number and town. Not all questions can be addressed.

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