It Pays To Use Protection

, , | Working | August 29, 2017

(I took over the last three months of a girl’s flat-share, sharing with one other girl. This ended a couple of months ago, and I was told I could expect to receive my security deposit two to four weeks after moving. About a month after I move out, I realise that I haven’t heard from them regarding it. I call up to find out what the issue is.)

Letting agent: “We’re waiting to receive proof that all the bills have been paid.”

(Since I only lived there for a few months, my housemate had all the bills in her name, so I text her.)

Ex-Housemate: “[Electricity Provider] are messing me about. I’ll chase them.”

(After a few weeks of chasing her to chase [Electricity Provider], she changed her story.)

Ex-Housemate: “I’ve sent them the confirmation code stating that I’ve made a payment, but they’re refusing to accept that.”

Me: “Of course they’re refusing, that just means you’ve paid them some money, not that the balance is zero.”

Ex-Housemate: “Anyway, I’ve spoken to Trading Standards, and they say they have no right to ask for proof of bills. I’m going to take legal action against them.”

Me: “Actually, they have complete right to ask for proof. It’s even written into our contracts. Can’t you just send them proof?”

Ex-Housemate: “Oh, they still haven’t sent it to me.”

(Fed up, I decided to contact the Deposit Protection Scheme. In the UK, landlords are legally required to protect your deposit using a DPS. I call the letting agency to find out what company they used and the reference number, then call the DPS, intending to find out what I can do if my flatmate is willfully withholding the information needed to get my deposit back.)

DPS: “Sorry, your name isn’t on that account, so I can’t discuss it with you.”

Me: “Let me guess. Are the names [Ex-Housemate] and [Girl I Replaced]?”

DPS: “Yes, they are. Sorry, they should have filled a change of tenancy form when you moved in. I can’t discuss this with you any further.”

(Not protecting my deposit means I can claim compensation of one to three times the amount of the deposit, plus full return of the deposit. I call the letting agency back.)

Me: “So, I’ve found out that my deposit wasn’t protected. As such, you’ve been holding my money for the past five months. If you return it now, I won’t claim compensation.”

Letting Agency: “We’ve already decided to release the funds. Our accountant is away until Tuesday, but we’ll process it then.”

(Tuesday comes. I call up and ask them to process it, and give them my bank details, and am told to wait a week or so for funds to clear. All the while, my ex-housemate is texting me asking if I’ll help her press charges for asking for proof of payment. The following week, no money has appeared, so I call back.)

Letting Agency: “Oh, we can’t release those funds, we haven’t received proof that the bills have been paid.”

Me: “We discussed this. You have not protected my deposit. I do not have to prove anything because it doesn’t qualify as a deposit. Please release the funds.”

(This is the line that really got me:)

Letting Agency: “It was protected… just not in your name.”

Me: *through gritted teeth* “Do you understand how this works? They won’t speak to me about it. If I try to resolve it through them, I can’t go anywhere. I tried to talk to them, actually because I thought [Ex-Housemate] was messing me around, but I literally can’t. It’s an insurance based DPS, and they won’t pay out any insurance to someone not named on the file. My deposit was NOT protected.”

Letting Agency: “Um… My manager isn’t in, he needs to approve it.”

Me: “Well, you’re going to need to contact someone with authority, because if you haven’t sorted this by the end of the day, I’m going to start the process to claim compensation.”

(Luckily half an hour later, they call back to say they’ve gotten it approved. I think the matter is closed, but then… a few hours later the letting agency calls.)

Letting Agency: “It seems that your housemate is two months behind on rent. My manager is refusing the release the deposit until her rent is paid up.”

Me: *explodes* “My deposit is not protected! You have no right to withhold it for any reason! It is not my problem that [Ex-Housemate] is two months behind on rent, because you did not protect it.”

Letting Agency: “Sorry, but my manager is holding firm.”

Me: “Fine. I will be claiming compensation.”

(I texted my housemate, and unbelievably she owned up to not paying the rent, and paid it. The letting agency told me that they processed my deposit and to expect it within a week. Later that week, I received a cheque [so no idea why they asked for my bank details], for less than half of my deposit. They still seemed to have no idea that they couldn’t legally deduct anything from it, BECAUSE IT’S NOT A DEPOSIT! I was planning on claiming compensation, but according to my lawyer they normally cave in before it reaches court, but after you have to pay legal costs, so it’s not really worth it. SO MUCH ANGER.)

You’re Not Declining This Awesome

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | August 25, 2017

(I work in the school district. As such, I get shunted around a lot. While getting lunch on the first day back, I decided to stop by a fast food place for lunch. I order my food, swipe my card, and it’s declined. I try again, declined. As I walk away, this happens:)

Cashier: “Sir, don’t you want your food? It was accepted.”

Me: “It was?”

Cashier: “Yes, sir. Here’s your drink, your food will be out momentarily.”

(As I fill up my drink, I see the manager tapping on the screen, and I see he smiles at me as he hands me my food, realization dawning on me.)

Manager: “Here’s your food, sir. Have a good lunch!”

(I think I said “Thank you” no less than five times. Cashier, Manager, you two gave me the strength to get through a tough day! Thank you so very much!)

I’ll Take The Whole Store For A Dollar

, , , , , | Right | August 17, 2017

(I work in a dollar store. Literally every single item in the store costs one dollar. It is generally a pretty easy concept, at least in the US, as dollar stores are everywhere. A woman comes in to the store and starts filling her cart with everything in sight. In less than five minutes she has a full cart, and she leaves it up front and grabs a second one to fill up. When the second cart is full she gets a third and fills it, and then she approaches me at the register with all the carts. I start to try and scan the items and she stops me.)

Customer: “You don’t need to bag these. I can just take these out in the carts. Here.” *hands me a single dollar bill*

Me: “Ma’am, I have to scan the items so I can charge you the correct amount. It looks like you have several hundred items here so that’s going to cost a lot more than one dollar.”

Customer: “Wait, what? I thought this was a dollar store. Everything I get is one dollar!”

Me: “Uh… no, ma’am. Each single item costs one dollar. It’s not ‘take as much as you want’ for one dollar. If it was, the store wouldn’t make any money.”

Customer: “What the h***?! Your sign says ‘everything for one dollar,’ DOES IT NOT?”

Me: “Yes. Every item costs one dollar. That’s what the sign is referring to.”

Customer: “Well, thanks for wasting my time! I’m gonna report you for false advertising!”

(She then ran out of the store leaving her three full carts behind. It took me and my coworker a full two hours to put everything back on the correct places on the shelves. She had 337 items. I could maybe understand her confusion if she wasn’t from the US or had never heard of a dollar store, but she had a local accent so I have no idea.)

The Charitable Thing To Do

, , , | Working | August 17, 2017

(My grandmother has developed dementia. This means my dad and his siblings have to do a lot of her administration. My mother has been doing her taxes for the longest time and she has complained about the long list of donations to charities my grandmother has been doing every month, as this apparently makes her taxes very complicated to deal with. For this reason, and because we can’t know for sure if my grandmother is still supporting these charities, my dad, as her legal representative, decides to cancel almost all charity donations. However, as my grandmother didn’t keep much track of them herself, and did some as she had already started to develop dementia, some of them cause quite funny conversations.)

Dad: “I would like to cancel the monthly donation from [Grandmother’s Account] please, as [Grandmother] has developed dementia.”

Charity #1: *searching* “Ah, I see the donation; however, it is under a different name. Does [Grandfather] approve of the cancellation, too?”

Dad: *starts laughing* “Well… [Grandfather] has been dead for… how many years now?”

(At this point I enter the room.)

Me: “18 years.”

Dad: “18 years, my daughter says.”

Charity #1: “Ah, I see. I guess he does approve. We’ll cancel it for you and you’ll receive a confirmation email.”

Hasn’t Got The Energy To Deal With This

, , , , , , , | Right | August 15, 2017

(I used to work for one of the major energy suppliers in the UK. Over the years I heard all kinds of excuses not to pay the bill, some genuine, some just plain crazy. One of my favourites occurs when I am on the evening shift. A customer calls up, furious that we keep sending him bills.)

Customer: “I’m not paying because I don’t believe in paying for energy.”

Me: “You used the energy; you have to pay for it, whether you believe in it or not. I understand if you cannot pay all in one go and am happy to set you up with a payment plan, if you’d like.”

Customer: “No! I haven’t used any energy. I’m not paying for what I haven’t used.”

Me: “That’s not what the meter readings are saying.”

Customer: “Then your meters are faulty. I’m not using anything.”

Me: “You seem to be calling us from your home phone. Is that right?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “It’s also dark out. Do you have a light on?”

Customer: “Well, of course I am. How could I see without it?”

Me: “Your phone uses energy and so do your light bulbs. You just admitted to using energy.”

Customer: “NO! Phones are just phone lines – they don’t use electricity. Also light bulbs use solar energy. I am NOT using any of your electric.”

Me: “Oh, do you have solar panels?”

Customer: “No! You don’t even need them. All light bulbs run on solar power. They’re LIGHT bulbs. Light is powered by light. You know, from the sun. Sun LIGHT.”

Me: “I can also hear a television or radio on in the background.”

Customer: “Yes, but it’s SATELLITE. It runs off the SATELLITE, not electricity. God, you people are so f****** stupid.”

(I pause for a moment and decide this is just one of those battles that isn’t worth fighting. We have lots of customers waiting and this customer doesn’t seem willing to budge.)

Me: “Unfortunately, it appears as though your appliances are using electricity because your meter readings are going up. This bill must be paid. If you do not clear your balance or set up an arrangement, we will go to court for a warrant, which will allow us access to your property to fit a prepayment meter to ensure the energy is paid for. This will also incur further charges to your account. I can set you up on a payment plan today to prevent this.”

Customer: “Go f*** yourself, you stupid b****. Go ahead. Take me to court. I’m not using any energy. You’ll never get that warrant!”