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Watch the Packing

April 28, 1985

In a shop in San Marco, Italy, we bought a glass sculpture for around $1,200. Four months later we were notified to pick up a crate at customs. It was labeled "glassware" and we had to pay duty on it. (There is no duty on an original work of art.) Inside the crate were two molded lumps of glass pasted together. I called the credit card company and they said to return it to the seller before they could act on our behalf. We did this at the cheapest price, another $250. We notified the police in Venice and the Minister of Justice in Rome.

It has been three months and the shop owner says he will refund nothing. The Venice police and the Minister of Justice have not acknowledged our letters. Our credit card turned out to be on a bank in Buffalo, N.Y., which said it has no responsibility to protect us on purchases made more than 100 miles from home.

Don't think that you can carry your purchases out and be safe, either. Some people bought a flamingo at the same shop and the owner went to wrap it in the back room, but first very carefully adjusted the curtain so nobody could see in. We imagine that they also unwrapped a clinker when they got home. . . .

RITA SIGMOND

Los Angeles

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