Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What Would You Do for $5.84?

Take a moment and think about it. I'll wait...

Would you spend countless hours on the phone? Would you wipe out reams of paper sending letters requesting said $5.84, not to mention the postage? Would you retain the services of legal counsel to get it? Ok, I'll stop baiting you and tell you what's up. Two months ago, I paid off and closed an account with a bank I'll call, say, "HSBD". The person I spoke to was not proficient in English, leading me to believe she was in an overseas call center. She was, however, quite pleasant. She gave me the amount needed to pay off the account in full and close it, which is what I paid. My next statement showed my final payment of $101.74, and then a balance of $5.84. What the? Looking below, I saw that these were finance charges they were trying to add; a dollar here, two dollars there, etc. I called "HSBD" to inform them there was no way they were getting another dime from me. I spoke to someone who told me that, in so many words, I'd have to pay the $5.84. I ignored their letters and phone calls for weeks until I answered the phone without looking at the caller id. The conversation went a little something like this:

Friendly Customer Rep: Mr. Alan Simmons?

Me: Yep.

FCR: This is (some name) from HSBD regarding an outstanding balance of $5.84 on your account.

Me: I've already paid this account off. It should be closed.

Friendly Customer Rep: No sir, it shows you have a $5.84 balance that will need to be paid first.

Me: No, those are finance charges you added after I paid the balance.

FCR: You've paid the balance?

Me: Yes! $101.74.

FCR: I don't see a balance of $101.74... I do see that a payment was made in that amount on the 4th of January...

Me: (Sigh) That's it. That was the balance I was given to pay off. And I paid it. And now I would like my account closed.

FCR: Well, sir, there's still the matter of the $5.84 on your account.

Me: That's not going to happen. I'm not paying you any more money. The $5.84 on the account is $5.84 that your company is going to have to eat. I've paid off my account.

FCR: Well, then it will have to go to our collections department, sir.

Me: Really? You're going to involve your collections department for $5.84? And if they don't have any luck, I suppose you'll take legal action against me?

FCR: Well, we wouldn't want to, but if you didn't pay collections you'd leave us no choice, sir...

Me: So now you've got all the folks in legal on board with this as well? Do you realize how silly that's going to sound to an attorney with a six-figure salary? Do you, um...what's your name again?

FCR: Nathan.

Me: Nathan, do you understand that you can't even retain an attorney for the amount you'd be asking him to retrieve? Don't feel compelled to answer, Nathan, because if you understood we wouldn't be having this conversation. So here's what I propose. You tell your supervisor that you have a customer who refuses to pay $5.84 in bogus finance charges and you feel that, in light of the small amount in question, it's in the company's best interest to—are you writing this down, Nathan?

Nathan: (shuffling paper) Um, yes...

Me: You feel that it's in the company's best interest to credit me for the $5.84 and close the account so that you don't waste the company's valuable resources over such a petty amount. Did you get all that, Nathan?

Nathan: Yessir...

Two days ago I recieved this letter:

Way to go, Nathan. Way to go.