Business Ethics 6/29/19

By Richard Bleil

When I graduated from high school (1981; I’m 56 as of the writing of this blog for those who are trying to do the math), my mother bought a desk and chair for me. They were beautiful, but the chair is the point of this opening. See, it would lean back. One day, many years later, the spring broke. Fully intending to purchase a new one, I wrote the manufacturer to ask how to get the replacement.

They sent me two springs.

This was many years later. Isn’t this how customer service is supposed to go? Isn’t this what we deserve?

Recently I took a trip to Texas. The company that was hosting me booked, presumably, two rooms , one for me (a male) and the other for my female partner. The original booking, which was apparently through a booking agency or web site, gave the hotel $602.60 for the room (four nights). When we arrived, and it turns out only one room had been booked, I was forced to book a second room on the spot for $542.80 which I paid for out of my own (well, my company’s) pocket. This is fine; the company that had contracted us will reimburse this amount. The problem is, as I was reconciling my bank account, this hotel (Marriott Towneplace Suites in Fort Worth), in two separate transactions, had billed me for both rooms. Remember, they already received payment for the original $602.60, so this isn’t a case of using the wrong card; it was double billed.

So today I call up, and explain what happened. I asked to be reimbursed for the $602.60 as that should have been billed to the other company. They sent me a form to fill out, that I didn’t trust. I was told on the phone that this was to authorize reimbursement so they know the card to put it on, but it was an authorization of charges form. I knew I shouldn’t have done it. But, like an idiot, I trust people. I tend to believe in their basic goodness and honesty.

Yes, I’m an idiot.

But on the form, in the comments section, I clearly wrote “this is for REIMBURSEMENT of $602.60, and is NOT an authorization for charge”. Today, a new charge of $542.80 showed up. A charge. Not a reimbursement. First of all, it was the wrong amount, and secondly, it was not a refund. Now they’ve collected twice the amount for each room.

I asked to whom my attorney should direct correspondences.

It’s not the first time this happened. While at Purdue, being paid once a month, I sent out checks for all of my bills when I was paid. One month, I started getting complaints, some weeks later, about not receiving payments. This struck me as odd since I knew I had paid. As it turns out, the post office lost my entire batch of checks. All of them. Gone. Buh-bye.

So I spent the money to cancel every check, and re-issued them now with added late fees. Eventually I leave Purdue, and cancel my utilities, including electric, leaving just a little bit of money in the bank account.

Thirteen months later (about three months after leaving Purdue, thereby closing all of my utility accounts) I start getting notifications about checks bouncing. Lots of ’em. The exact count; almost, but not quite, the number of checks lost by the post office. Yup, they found ’em, delivered ’em, and everybody started cashing them.

But wait, you say, didn’t you cancel them? I did, but there are two policies this bank had that brought me down. First, check cancellation is only valid for twelve months. If you want the cancellation to continue, you have to pay the fees. Again. For the rest of your life, apparently. Second, although many banks will not honor checks over twelve months old, this bank…did. Great customer service. I got serviced alright.

But wait again, you say, didn’t you say almost but not quite? Yes, I did. Apparently the first check to hit the bank was from my electric company, who decided to cash the check.

But wait again again, you say, didn’t you close that account? I did. They had to re-open my account, paid in full and with zero balance, to cash the check. As it turns out, there was enough money in the account for that check, which was somewhere around $19.

With a newly re-opened closed and paid in full account, they sent me a monthly statement, to my new address in another state, saying that my balance is $-19. I chuckled.

Yes. I’m an idiot.

I figured I’d get a few statements with this negative amount, and eventually a reimbursement check. Nope. Wrong. In this marvelous age of “service”, after receiving a statement saying they owe me $19, the next month I received a statement saying that since I didn’t pay, now I owe THEM $30.

It was never resolved. Not only did I never get my nineteen dollars back, but now I can’t open a new account in Indiana for non-payment of the money they owed me.

Things are still not quite right in Texas. It’s very possible I will need to make a return trip. A friend of mine asked me who would foot the bill. Here’s the reality; I would rather be like the company that manufactured my chair than like Marriott. I won’t rip them off; if it is necessary, it’ll be on my dime with no additional cost to them. I’ll tell you this, though; I won’t be staying at a Marriott!!!!!!

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