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COUPLE SEEKS $200 REFUND ON MOTORCYCLE SAFETY COURSE

Q: On Oct. 13, 2004, we sent a $200 deposit ($100 each) to StreetRIDER Inc. regarding its New York State motorcycle safety course to reserve our spot for this spring. This course is not only an instructional course, but upon successful completion of it, riders receive a road test waiver. On Nov. 15, our check was cashed and we were told that we would be contacted in March to set up the dates for our course. We need help getting our deposit back. We haven't been able to contact StreetRIDER by phone, e-mails or letters.

- Leo and Laurie McGorry, Hamburg.

A: This is a sticky wicket. We haven't been able to reach StreetRIDER, either. Phone numbers for the organization have been disconnected, and we've received no response to an e-mail we sent them.

StreetRIDER's Web site noted that a mandatory $275 price cap was being enforced on upstate training sites and $350 on downstate sites. The group said the fee cap would force it to cut services, lower instructor pay and adversely affect the training the group has offered for the several years.

StreetRIDER said it appealed the decision to the Motorcycle Association of New York and the Department of Motor Vehicles, but was notified in December that it would no longer be a state training facility. As of Jan. 1, StreetRIDER said it would no longer accept course deposits.

We contacted the motorcycle association and they declined to discuss the matter, forwarding inquiries to the state DMV - though it did acknowledge that it has received complaints from many others about the same problem.

State DMV urged customers looking to recover their deposit money from StreetRIDER to file complaints with either the Better Business Bureau or the state Attorney General's office.

"It's what we consider the strongest sanction by not renewing the contract with StreetRIDER because of poor business practices and not adhering to our rules and regulations," said Joe Picchi, a DMV spokesman.

BBB's Buffalo office has received complaints on StreetRIDER, dating to 2002, and not received responses from the organization. The bureau's most recent correspondence sent to the group was returned as undeliverable by the post office.

The bureau's office manager, Kathleen Winter, encouraged those who are out their deposit money to still file complaints. "It would be on record if anyone is looking into them at some point," she said.

Given the situation, filing a complaint with both the BBB and the Attorney General's office is probably a good idea. The BBB's Web site is www.upstateny.bbb.org. To file a complaint online with the AG's office, its Web site is www.oag.state.ny.us. The AG's consumer hotline is (800) 771-7755, or try calling its Buffalo regional office at 853-8400.