Apron Strings Made Of Iron

, , , | Learning | June 13, 2019

(I work for my college’s summer orientation program. I have to check in students and their guests, since they can stay overnight with us. Because of this, there is a charge for parts of orientation, like if the student gets a lunch or stays overnight in the dorms. Prior to coming to orientation, they are charged a fee very similar to the price of the overnight fee, but students HAVE to pay the first fee. They don’t HAVE to stay overnight if they don’t want to. We do not give students and guests the option to pay for their orientation items ahead of time because many students end up changing their plans and just staying in a hotel with their parents or not getting breakfast on campus, for example, which messes up our banking.)

Me: “Welcome to orientation!”

(I try to take the information from the student — he is the only one who has the paper I need to fill out for billing and records — but his mother steps in the way)

Mother: “Hi. I’m [Student]’s mother.”

(I simply smile. We are supposed to address the student, not their guests, even if the guests try to take over the conversation. Orientation is for the incoming student, obviously.)

Me: “I’ll take that paper for you. Okay, it says you’re staying overnight in our dorms with us, correct?”

Student: “Y—”

Mother: “He is.”

Me: “Okay. You’re getting three meals with us with that. Your total will be $54.”

Mother: “I already paid for this online; don’t worry. I’ll just take his room key.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am, but we don’t have the option to pay for this online. You probably received a separate fee that is related to housing, but that is for your son’s stay while he lives on campus in the fall. This is an unrelated charge.”

Mother: “No, nope, I paid for this. I remember.”

Me: “You really could not have paid online beforehand. We do not give the option on the orientation registration.”

Mother: “I remember it, though.”

Me: “I’m certain you’re thinking of the separate fee that is around the same price as this, but it is unrelated and completely separate. You have not yet paid for this. If your student wishes to stay overnight and eat three meals with us while he is here for orientation, I will need $54 in the form of a card or check.”

Mother: “I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I paid for this.”

Me: “Ma’am, there is literally no possible way you paid for this beforehand. We make it so that you have to pay in person so we don’t have to go through the trouble of refunding you if plans change, which happens often.”

Mother: “All right, well, I paid for this already.”

(At this point, the lines have reached capacity and I really need to help the next student or else we will not be able to finish check-in in time. I figure she is just trying to wear me down so she doesn’t have to pay.)

Me: “Well, I can actually bring over the director of housing for the university, if you’d like. She is in today.”

Mother: *purses lips* “No, no, that’s fine. I guess I’ll just…pay this again. I don’t want to be double-charged.”

Me: “You will not be charged for this orientation twice.”

Mother: “So, you’ll take the other charge off?”

Me: “No, ma’am. Even if I had the power to do that — which I don’t as I am just a student here — that would put you in trouble. Both fees we have discussed are necessary for your son’s enrollment and orientation.”

Mother: “Fine. I’d better not get double-charged.”

(I take her card and go through the transaction, ready to cry from frustration. I grab the key for the student and the mother takes it from me as her son reaches out for it.)

Me: “Ma’am, you are not staying in the dorm tonight. Your son is. This is his key for the night. I will give it to him.”

Mother: “He loses everything. I’m taking it.”

(Students and their guests often have to be separated for certain sessions, and I let them know that)

Me: “There is a charge of $150 if you lose the key. I recommend your son take it so he can keep track of his own room.”

Mother: “Just finish the d*** check-in.”

(We finished. The next morning during checkout, guess who was charged $150 for his mother losing his key while she was in a different session?)

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