Friday, August 15, 2014

Business as (un)usual

Happy Friday, campers...looks like we've almost made it to the weekend.  Barring unforeseen issue, of course!

Those of you who are not baseball fans would have missed this, but for the first time in about twenty years, the team owners of major league baseball yesterday elected a new commissioner, to start work in January.  His name is Rob Manfred, and he's been the deputy commissioner and primary labor negotiator for some time.  He will be replacing Bud Selig, who used to own a team but has been in charge of baseball for many years.

I had used this space to promote my own candidacy for this august position, in jest, of course, but that's one of the things about these professional sports leagues that drives me bonkers.  You'd think they'd want or recognize the need for some clear perspective, from someone who's NOT been a part of the "business as usual" mentality.  Not so, and in the other major professional leagues, when the torch is passed, it passes more or less internally.  It's pretty much that way in business, too.

I learned recently that a former employer that laid me off when it significantly restructured the sales division of which I was a member of management is now moving back to its old structure, the new setup having proved itself a failure.  They apparently are telling the employees who remain (and there's not all that many of them, as the parent organization is openly courting buyers for that division) that they plan to conduct an exhaustive national search for the right person to lead the divisional sales effort.  Something tells me they'll look around the organization and tap someone who's already there for this position.  Because they've done it before!

Funny story about a credit card account that we don't use very often.  I've done business in one form or another for over thirty years, starting out in catalog form and moving to major appliances and lawn equipment.  This entity (nameless for obvious reasons) farmed out the management of its credit card program to a global banking company a couple of years ago.

Yesterday's mail brought a notice from that banking company, letting me know that my account was delinquent.  Now, those who know me know that's a virtual impossibility, unless something unusual happened.  And for those who don't know me, I'm VERY cautious about financial matters, paying bills and such well before the due dates, etc.

Anyway, I called the financial institution, and was told that I was more than thirty days overdue on my account.  I countered that I had not received a statement in some months, but only realized it after receiving the letter.  The agent then informed me that I had at some point agreed to have all statements transmitted to me via e-mail.  I didn't recall having agreed to that, as I like the piece of mail that reminds me to make that payment.  I also don't remember seeing anything in my e-mail that looked like a statement, so I'm guessing that it was categorized as spam and never appeared in my inbox.

I explained to the agent that I've done business with ___ for over thirty years, and, until this recent stretch had a very timely record of payment.  I asked him to examine my past history, and he countered with "all I know is that we haven't received a payment since May, and if you don't pay ___ today with me by phone, you'll be hit with ANOTHER late fee."  I attempted to reason with the man, but to no avail, and after he expressed incredulity at my statement that I would pay the balance in full today, but through my bank, and not over the phone (for obvious security reasons), I then asked for his supervisor.

When I got that person on the phone and reviewed the entire scenario, I finally used the "this call is being monitored and/or recorded for quality assurance" thing to my advantage.  I told this "escalation agent" what had happened and what I was prepared to do to remedy the situation.  I also told her that she would need to remove the existing late fee and provide me assurance that I would not receive another, since this was the institution's fault that I stopped receiving mailed statements.  Repeatedly, I added "since this call is being recorded or monitored" to my statements and all she could do was agree.  I also added for emphasis that "you're prepared to have me pay the balance in full and then close an account and end a business relationship I've had for over thirty years because you were interested in saving sixteen cents a month on statement and postage costs, is that correct?"  The response was another sheepish "yes."

Needless to say, I was not a satisfied customer, but since that company closed their larger operations in my home area recently, I don't consider that a major loss.  In the end, they'll get their payment, they're removing an late fees or any credit reporting regarding late payments (they say) and I can shred another credit card.  I suppose doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it's always the RIGHT thing.

Enough ranting.  Have a good weekend!


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