Shining Knight? One down, one to go

"He never showed."

That was Floyd Artrip's report on John Knight, who had promised, many times since last March, to do some repair work on gutters he'd installed on Artrip's home in Inglecress. I wrote about the situation last month ["Days for Knight," September 18, 2003], and ended the column with Knight's statement that he would "probably" perform the repairs by September 13. But Artrip, alas, waited in vain.

Last week I asked Knight, owner of Knight Glass, whether he planned to follow through on his oft-repeated pledge.

"I have no intention," he replied, "of doing anything for Floyd Artrip." He went on to wonder aloud why Artrip would even want him to do the work. "If you had a bad experience in a restaurant," he asked me, "would you go back?"

"I've never had any bad press," he said– referring to my column– "and I didn't like it." He wondered again why Artrip would want to continue their relationship. Personally, he explained, he wouldn't give a business a second chance "if I had that bad an experience that I felt I had to take it public."

Given how unhappy Artrip has been with him, Knight was astonished that "he's actually still waiting for me" to do the work. I assured him that Artrip was indeed still waiting. Knight appeared the next day, began the work, and, according to Artrip, said his crew would finish it the next day. However, as of presstime, the job is still unfinished.

I hadn't called only to talk about Artrip; after the column ran, I heard from a second Knight Glass customer, Betty Clatterbuck, who was also waiting for Knight to appear. Clatterbuck had a new roof put on her Stony Point house in June, and Knight installed the gutters. He ran out of brown elbows, however, and had to use white elbows in two places. Clatterbuck also says he neglected to install one downspout, which Knight denies.

Clatterbuck says she paid Knight $480 in cash, and that he promised to return "the very next day" to replace the white pieces with brown (and, in her version, to install the downspout as well). "I trusted him," she says– but, by Knight's own admission, he never returned.

"These are small things," he explained, and said he'd finish the job "when we're in her area again.

"We went out of our way to help her," he stated, and seemed to be affronted that she would press to get the job completed. Clatterbuck claims that he stopped answering his phone, which is why she finally called me.

Knight showed up after he and I spoke, and finished the work– including, Clatterbuck says, the downspout she claimed he owed her.


CompuServe update

Talk about waiting; I waited in vain for a call from Josh Danson in corporate communications at CompuServe– or, more precisely, at its parent company, America Online. Danson had promised to research the situation I wrote about two weeks ago ["'Free' Reign: How to Cancel CompuServe," September 25] and let me know whether CompuServe planned to issue Elizabeth Petofi a refund of $21.95 or increase it to $43.90.

Petofi got a free year of CompuServe when she bought her computer at Circuit City in February 2002. She claims that as the end of her free year approached, she began trying to cancel the account. Although she says she called CompuServe five times in all to cancel, the company began charging her debit card $21.95 a month, from February through May.

According to Petofi, her bank, SunTrust, said that since she was using a debit card instead of a credit card, the only way to stop the deductions was to close her checking account– which she'd had for 10 years, and into which her social-security checks were directly deposited. Reluctantly, she did so.

Danson said that since Petofi hadn't used her CompuServe account since March, the company would refund her $21.95 for April. I pointed out that they'd also charged her for May, and he agreed to research the discrepancy. I faxed him the bank statements on September 23, emailed on September 26, and called on October 1.

All attempts to rouse him, however, were in vain.

Do you have a consumer problem or question? Email the Fearless Consumer, write her at 100 Second Street NW, 22902, or call 295-8700 ext. 406.