Dear Harry:

I made the mistake of buying a couple of electronic gadgets from a telephone solicitor. The guy was the smoothest talker I ever heard. When I got the things from my mailbox, they were not in any way like what I was told. I could tell this from the pictures on the boxes, so I sent them back completely unopened. The problem is that they hit my debit card for $78, including a shipping charge. I contacted the bank to try to stop the charge, but it was too late. You can probably guess what happened when I called the company. "The refund is on its way." Sure. It's now three weeks and about a dozen calls later and nothing has happened. Help!

What Harry says: Your problem illustrates some no-nos. Debit cards have the disadvantage of having to get money back after it's taken from your account. With a credit card, you're in control of your money until you pay the bill. (This is one of the reasons I don't like debit cards.) The law in Pennsylvania helps consumers in telephone solicitations. First, the merchandise must conform to the descriptions and must comply with the warranties. You must be informed by the solicitor that you can obtain a full refund if the items are returned unused and undamaged within 10 days of receiving them. And, refunds must be processed within 30 days of the receipt by the seller. By now, that 30 days should be up. Get on the phone and call the consumer protection hot line 800-441-2555, and get some official help in putting these toads back in their swamp.

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130.