Not In The Zone Of Waiving The Fee

, , , , , | Right | January 21, 2020

(I work in the treasurer and collector’s office for a town. We have a pretty strict payment policy. We have a one-day grace period after the due date, after which we charge interest. State law allows us to waive up to $15.00 of interest and/or fees. Sometimes, if the customer is sincere enough in their excuse why they didn’t pay their bill on time, we will waive the interest and/or late fee, but not more than the legal amount. I do have some authority over these instances, but if I don’t like the customer’s attitude or if I’m unsure if I should do it — we also look into payment history — I ask my manager for approval with the excuse given. Real estate tax bills were due on the first of the month. It is currently the ninth. A woman who doesn’t seem familiar brings in her bill with her check already written out for the original amount. I look up the bill for the current amount with interest.)

Me: “Okay, so, after this payment, the balance will be $4.59, which we can put on the next bill if you’d like.”

Customer: “What? Why?”

Me: “Because it was due last week on the first. It’s now the ninth.”

Customer: “Listen. My husband volunteers for the town.”

Me: “Okay.”

Customer: “He is on the zoning board.”

Me: “Okay.”

Customer: “So, can’t you give us a break?”

(I think, “Did she actually just ask us to waive her interest because her husband is on a board? Isn’t that unethical?”)

Me: “No, sorry.”

Customer: *angrily* “Well, why not? He volunteers for the town.”

Me: “We don’t waive interest for any reason.” *especially name-dropping!*

Customer: “Can you ask your manager?”

Me: “Sure.” *to my manager* “This customer just asked us to waive her interest of about $5 because her husband is on the zoning board.”

Manager:What?! No. Absolutely not. I can’t believe she would even ask that. No, tell her we can’t do that.”

Me: *to the customer* “Sorry, my manager says we can’t do that.”

Customer: “I don’t believe that. My husband volunteers for the town! He doesn’t get paid! And you can’t waive $5 of interest?”

Me: “No, we can’t.”

Customer: “Unbelievable.”

Me: *knowing this isn’t going to go anywhere* “[Manager], can you come here, please?”

Manager: “No, we absolutely cannot waive interest just because your husband is on the zoning board, or any board or committee, for that matter. It’s against the code of ethics.”

Customer: “But I don’t understand why you can’t waive it. It’s just $5. He volunteers for the town. As in, he doesn’t get paid. And you can’t give us a break for $5.”

Manager: “No. It’s unethical, and frankly, I’m surprised you’d even ask. Your husband signed a code of ethics, and this would violate that code. So, no, I’m not going to waive it.”

(The customer then stormed out and tried to slam our self-closing doors on her way out. My manager talked to the town clerk, who would have sworn the husband in to his position and given him the code of ethics. The clerk said the husband may have known not to do it, but the wife may not have known. My manager cooled off a little after that. She told me that if the customer had come in with almost any other excuse, like it got buried in a pile and she just now found it, she may have waived the interest, but because she asked in that manner, it wasn’t going to happen. I also noted that one of the Select Board members makes late payments for almost every bill, and he always pays interest, so why would we waive it for a zoning board member? Update: While typing this out, the customer called back to apologize to my manager. She thought about what she had said regarding ethics violations, and she agreed that wasn’t the best course of action to take. She said her husband had buried the bill in a pile of mail, and she would be talking to him later.)

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No Extra Extension To His Patience  

, , , , , | Right | December 31, 2019

(I work in a call center for Internet, cable, and phone services. I get so many calls a day and there are some that just make me shake my head.)

Me: “Thanks for calling [Company]. My name is [My Name]; how can I help you today?”

Customer: “Ah… yeah… I need an extension on my bill so my services don’t get interrupted.”

(I look into his account and determine that since he is past due, the longest I can extend the past due balance is the 15th, as going into the 16th, he would be interrupted.)

Me: “I can extend the past due balance through to November 15th. Does this work for you?”

Customer: “Umm… so, what you’re saying is I could get another extension if I called in a few days.”

Me: “Sir, that’s not how this works.”

Customer: “Well, when do I have to make this payment?”

Me: “On the 15th, sir. Anything else I can help you out with?”

Customer: “Yes… you’re supposed to help me, you selfish c***!”

(The customer ended the call.)

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Scary Things In The Basement

, , , , , | Working | September 11, 2019

(My wife and I have just bought our first house. It is relevant to the story that it is a detached home, with a fully furnished basement. Although the basement is set up so that it can potentially be rented out as an apartment, it was not used this way by us or the previous owner. As is common after a move, we get a bit of mail meant for a previous owner. There is one piece of mail from a TV and telephone company addressed to “Resident” at “[Our Address] Bsmnt Apt.” A new envelope comes monthly. I call the company to correct the issue.)

Employee: “How can I help you?” 

Me: “Hi. I’m calling about some mail that is being sent to me in error.”

Employee: “I can help with that. Can I get your phone number or account number to pull up your info?” 

Me: “Actually, I don’t have any services with [Company]. That’s why I’m calling. I’m getting someone else’s info sent to my home.” 

Employee: “I see. Can I have the name on the envelope?” 

Me: “No, it’s just sent to ‘Resident.'” 

Employee: “Well, I can’t change the mailing information on your account if you don’t give me a name or a phone number.” 

Me: “It’s not my account. I just bought the house. It’s not even addressed to a real apartment. It says, ‘Bsmnt apt,’ but there is no basement apartment.” 

Employee: “Can you give me the address? I may be able to get your account from that.” 

Me: *provides my address*

Employee: “Please hold for a moment.” *brief hold music* “Okay, sir, I have the account pulled up now. It looks like you have an outstanding balance of [over $100].” 

Me: “What? No. You’re not understanding me. You have the wrong address on file. Whoever owes that balance doesn’t live here anymore. I just want you to stop sending his mail here.” 

Employee: “Sir, you still have to pay your bill, even if you moved.” 

Me: “But it’s not my bill.” 

Employee: “You live at [address], correct? Then this is your bill.” 

Me: “But I just moved here and have never had any services with you. Just stop sending any correspondence here. There isn’t even a basement apartment! No one lives there separately. You’re records are clearly wrong.” 

Employee: “If you own the house, then you own the basement apartment. You are the ‘Resident’ at [Address]. This is your bill. You have to pay it.” 

Me: “I’m going to make this clear. I do not have any business with your company. You are sending someone else’s bill to my address by mistake. I will not pay a penny. You have no name on file. You have an address that doesn’t exist. If you send me any more mail to this address I will consider it harassment.”

Employee: *long silence* “But this is your bill.” 

Me: “Transfer me to a manager.” 

(I spoke to a manager. She understood what I was saying and corrected the issue in minutes. I now record my calls with an app.)

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Listen To The (In)Voice Of Reason

, , , , , | Right | September 3, 2019

(Part of my job is going to customers’ offices to have invoices countered. This particular run, my manager is heading to the banks near a customer, so he offers me a ride. Since I usually just take a minute, he waits in the car while I go into the office. This happens after I’ve submitted the invoice for countering.)

Customer: “Your invoice is wrong. I’m not signing it until you fix it.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am. What’s the matter?”

Customer: “Your price for [product] is too high. We’ve never paid that much.”

Me: “Oh, I’m really sorry about that. I’ll take it back to the office and have it corrected.”

Customer: “No, don’t bother. Just change the price there and I’ll sign it.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I don’t have the authority to do that. Only one of the people who signed off on the invoice can correct it, and it’d need to be countersigned.”

Customer: “Okay, go. It’s your problem if this is late.”

(I take the invoice and go back to my waiting manager. When he asks me how it went, I tell him the customer refused the invoice because the price is wrong. He checks the price and says it is correct, and that he was the one who informed this particular customer that there was a price hike. He takes the invoice and tells me to come with him back to the customer.)

Manager: “Ma’am, my assistant here tells me you have a problem with the price. I have to tell you that this price is correct. We changed it last December, and I told you about it right away.”

Customer: “No, you didn’t. We’ve always paid [price] for [product].”

Manager: “You did until last December. Ma’am, this isn’t even the first invoice we’ve issued at this price. Your order last January was at this price, and you signed the invoice then.”

Customer: “No, I don’t think so. We’ve been ordering [product] from you at [price] for years.”

Manager: “Yes, ma’am, you have. That’s why I informed you of the price increase last December and asked if it was okay.”

Customer: “I never heard about a price increase.”

Manager: “Ma’am, I can show you our text exchange on my phone. If you have a minute, I can even call the office and get them to send me a picture of the last invoice, which you countersigned. The price is correct.”

(My manager and the customer get into an argument because the customer refuses to accept that she was informed of the price increase. When my manager shows her the text exchange in which she was informed of the new price and even confirmed it, she insists she be given the old price for just this order, insisting her loyalty means they deserve a discount. My manager stands his ground, giving all the reasons the price went up and even insisting that the customer’s loyalty is the only reason it didn’t go up more. She finally decides that if that’s the case, she doesn’t want the goods anymore and demands we take them back, which we cannot do because the goods are at their warehouse, not office, and we would have to schedule the delivery team to do it. The whole thing would also require approval from the sales director, who probably wouldn’t give it because of the size of the order. She finally angrily signs the invoice, but of course, has to give the classic:)

Customer: “Just so you know, we’re not ordering from you again. This is absolutely ridiculous.”

Manager: *smiles acidly* “Ma’am, given how small your orders are, I really don’t care. We’ll be back for your last check, then.”

Customer: “I’m not paying!”

Manager: “Then our lawyers will be in touch.”

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Friends With Money (Problems)

, , , , , , , | Friendly | July 10, 2019

(I am at the mall with a friend, who is also my roommate. We head into a cell phone provider, as I’m going to change my plan and buy a new phone. We get to talking about how expensive it all is. Side note: he’s notoriously bad with money.)

Friend: “I can barely pay my phone bill as it is. I can’t imagine paying [price] for a [brand-new model phone].”

Me: “I can’t afford it, either; that’s why I’m getting the older model. It’s on sale now, essentially free if you extend your contract.”

Friend: “Make sure you ask about cancellation fees. [Other Phone Company] was the worst when I couldn’t pay and tried to cancel my plan.”

Me: “Yeah, I’ll ask.”

Friend: “Or you can do what I did and just disappear.” *laughs*

Me: “What?” 

Friend: “Yeah, instead of giving [Other Phone Company] like 200 bucks to get out of the contract, I just stopped paying.”

Me: “But you still owe them that money, right? They can come after you for it.”

Friend: “Let’s see them find me.” 

Me: *silence*

Friend: *proudly* “I’ve moved twice since then. They’ll never get a penny from me.” *laughs*

Me: “That would kill your credit rating.” 

Friend: “What does that matter? I already have a credit card.” 

(It still boggles my mind. He was a good person, and smart in general, just absolutely clueless about money.)

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