Monday, September 3, 2012
Help Me Howard: No State Refund
If you go into a business, pay for a product and they don't give it to you, You get your money back right? Unless you are doing business with the state of Florida can the state do that to taxpayers? It's why one man called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Billy Coates: "This is the most popular type of shirt. Its got the palms. Its got the people the thatched hut.
Billys newest venture is selling vintage Hawaiian shirts on-line.
Billy Coates: "Everybody wears Hawaiian shirts."
Business is doing well and that's good cause it distracts him from his irritation at the good old State of Florida bureaucracy.
Billy Coates: "I want my money back. I didn't't get what I asked for."
In a previous company Billy created he needed an armed security guard license. This year he filled out this application to renew the license.
Billy Coates: "So I paid $224 for the G license."
Then the state told him he needed to take a refresher course. He said, then forget it.
Billy Coates: "So I said 'OK I will just withdraw that license. And they said 'OK you can withdraw it but we are not giving you your money back.' And I said 'Why?' and they said 'That's the law.'"
Billy tried to reason with another employee at the State Agriculture Commissioners Office which handles the licenses.
Billy Coates: "Please send me my refund. Oh, we don't refund."
The employee told Billy that the application clearly said no refunds if you withdraw the application.
Billy Coates: "And I looked very closely all over that application and nowhere does it say no refund."
What it does say on the application in dark letters is you are confirming your continued eligibility for the license under chapter 493 Florida statue.
Billy Coates: "Which consists of 45 pages."
And tucked in those 45 pages is a line that says no refunds if you withdraw the application. Billy didn't't read all 45 pages before he signed the application. He doubts many Floridians do, but he says its clear what the State of Florida is doing.
Billy Coates: "They have got to find a lot of money quickly and they are looking for any way they can get it, whether it hurts people innocent people."
Billy is a small businessman. He says if he takes money for a product, he delivers of gives the money back.
Billy Coates: "Absolutely, and that's the way in should be not in the state of Florida no not in the state of Florida they think somehow it works differently here."
Well Howard, can the State of Florida take your money and refuse to refund it.
Howard Finkelstein: "Sadly yes, the courts wouldn't't allow a private business to keep a fee without proper notice, but the government can require you to read a 45 page law when you fill out an application and hold you responsible for everything in it. The legislature passed this and legally that's it even though most people would says its unfair."
I contacted the State Agriculture Commissioners office. A spokesperson was nice but they didn't't budge telling me that Billy signed the application saying, "I remain qualified under chapter 493, Florida statutes, for a statewide firearms license."
Billy Coates: "And I sell them at a reasonable price around $8 or $9."
That means Billy will have to sell a couple of dozen shirts to get back the money the state took, but he says people can be sure. In his business they people will get what they pay for.
Billy Coates: "If you have to get up early in the morning you just grab a Hawaiian shirt a pair of jeans and you are out the door."
Patrick Fraser: "Now if you are one of those people that doesn't't go find a 45 page State Law before you fill out a state application join the crowd. But if you want to know what you are agreeing to their is a state website and number you can call for help. It's at wsvn.com under Help me Howard. And if you want to buy a vintage Hawaiian shirt that link is there as well.
Got problems you want to say Aloha to? You don't need an application for us, just call. We wont take your money we'll try to return it to you.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Florida Agriculture Commission
Vintage Hawaiian Shirts