Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, May 28, 1999

Refunds for
T-shirts unlikely

Question: What's happening with the Friends for Ewa T-shirt refunds? I mailed a letter to the group more than a month ago, but still haven't gotten my money.

Answer: No refunds have been given to any of about 900 people who have requested them, said Lance Arakawa, a volunteer who took charge of the Friends for Ewa group in January.

And, it turns out, it doesn't look like any refunds will ever be given, despite a settlement worked out by the state Office of Consumer Protection that said shirt buyers could get at least a partial return of their money.

After we asked about the status of the refunds, consumer protection staff met with Arakawa earlier this week and found out "they are without any means of making restitution at the present time," said Executive Director Jo Ann Uchida.

"Unfortunately, we're in the position of trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip," she said. The only assets are "a whole lot of T-shirts," whose value is questionable.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Police Department investigation of the bungled raffle is "near completion," said Sgt. Chris Lee of the Vice Division. Police are looking into possible charges of gambling in the first degree.

The Friends for Ewa tried to raise money last year by selling T-shirts as raffle tickets for a house giveaway. Thousands of shirts were printed, but only 3,600 were sold. Many also were stolen. A Texas insurance company that underwrote the event eventually bought 18,000 shirt-tickets and ended up winning the house.

The fiasco led to the resignation of Executive Director Bob Kato.

The Office of Consumer Protection is "trying to decide whether it's a worthwhile expenditure of our resources to pursue the matter or whether we should just fold up our tents now," Uchida said.


To Signature Theatres for not honoring ads saying $4 matinee prices are in effect for shows before 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. We left our jobs earlier than usual to see the 5:40 p.m. movie at Dole Cannery last Friday. But when we got there, we were told the price was $7. The manager's excuse was that the matinee price ended at 5:30 p.m. (weekdays), despite what the ads said. His unwillingness and inflexibility regarding the problem, caused by the false advertising, indicated he did not feel he wanted nor needed our business. -- Concerned moviegoer

(Bob Zacha, general manager for Signature Theatres, apologized for the confusion. He blamed it on a combination of the discount policy for "Star Wars" being beyond Signature's control and the fact that both the new movie complex and a blockbuster movie opened at the same time. Some things got "messed up," he said.

(The $4 discount is good until 6 p.m. for all movies except "Star Wars," Zacha said. For the first six weeks of "Star Wars," the discount will end at 5:30 p.m. Ads since Tuesday in the Star-Bulletin now reflect that. The discount ends at 3 p.m. weekends and holidays.

("Twentieth Century Fox, in conjunction with 'Star Wars,' put it in their contract that we cannot accept any discounts after 5:30. This came out just after all our advertising had been placed," Zacha said. Local ads are handled by Signature's offices in Oakland.

(If you're not satisfied with the response you receive to the letter you've sent to Signature's president, you can file a complaint with the state Office of Consumer Protection.)

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

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