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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
Tales of Stupidity and Frustration

Stupidity of my own: I seem to have lost my driver's license. I had it last week when I had to get something notarized. I recall putting the stupid thing in my purse. Where it has gone, only it and other runaway licenses would know. This is very frustrating because I was going to rent a moving van to help my sister (well, she always says stepsister, but that's mostly because she finds it a more affectionate term than sister -- her blood relatives are... interesting) move. Now I can't as I'm not carrying my valid license. The DOL won't be open until tomorrow, so I can't get a temp until then. Argh! And, I suspect, it will be like your average credit card... it'll show up as soon as my new one arrives.

BAH!!!!! At least I've still got my old license so getting the new one shouldn't take much time. Really sucky is I have to renew it next year and I've already gotten a replacement license once this year. *sighs*

Stupidity of others: Bernina/GE Money Bank/Philips and Cohen Law Firm-Collection Agency.

I paid mom's remaining bills in July. I wrote checks so large they made me want to cry (I mean, how often do you write a check for over fifty thousand dollars?) I paid off her Bernina credit card to the tune of $3500. Yay. I had gotten a notice regarding the probate in June/July. I cleverly misplaced it, something I could take an Olympic gold in (as is evident by my missing license). I thought, 'Oh, well. The money is owed to GE Money Bank. I'll just send them the money.' I wrote the check. I sent it certified, return receipt requested. I got the return receipt. I didn't think much more about it.

Fast forward to the end of August. It's Saturday morning, around 9:30 or 10:00. The phone rings, waking me up. It's a collection agent at Philips and Cohen. 'We haven't heard from you. Are you going to pay this bill?' I stare at the phone. I go and grab my return receipts. I can find all of them but the one from GE Money Bank, which I know I've seen because it was the one that took forever to come back and I remember the distinct relief I felt when it had come in. I grumble about this crap to the man on the phone.

"I paid this in June."

"Are you sure?"

No, I think, I am a *complete* dumbass who is unable to remember writing checks and crying because it was like saying goodbye, like admitting that mom was gone forever.

"Yes. I'm unsure where the hell the damn thing went. I'll talk to the bank about getting a copy of the cancelled check."

"Okay. I'm sorry about this, but they haven't told us the debt is paid. The money is probably sitting in free-money limbo somewhere."

"I don't blame you," says I. Mom worked for the government all my life, in law enforcement. I'm perfectly well aware of the frequency of left hand being unaquainted with right hand. He gives me his number and fax-line and the reference number for the case. We hang up.

I think for a couple of minutes and then, with an old Bernina bill in hand, I call the 800-number for card's customer service. I use my touch tone phone to thrill the computer and... find that according to Bernina, there's a twelve dollar credit on the account. I request a copy of this information and try to phone overly-dedicated man at Philips and Cohen. It's the weekend. Apparently he can call out but no one can call him back.

I'm mildly annoyed, but philosophical about it. I go to work, knowing that my next day off is Monday, which will give me lots of time to call this man.

Monday rolls around and I roll out of bed and immediately call. I have to leave a message because he's not at his desk. It only takes him an hour and a half or so to call me back, because obviously both my time and clearing this issue up are valuable. My willingness to work with him is clearly a valued commodity.

"Mr. BLEH, I called the 800-number for the card and it tells me that there's a credit on that account. I'm thinking you shouldn't be bothering me about this. I've asked for a statement of the current balance and can fax it to you if you like."

"Really? Because they haven't told us that." Pause, as though he's thinking. "You don't need to fax that in. I'll look into it and get back to you by Friday."

"Okay," says I, relieved for the matter to be cleared up. "I appreciate that."

Friday comes and goes with no word. I serenely assume that it's dealt with.

Then the letter, the one in threatening language, arrives. This letter says that I have been negligent and obdurate about not paying the $3600 or so dollars and that if Philips and Cohen don't receive satisfaction, they'll be forced to resort to legal action.

I stare at it as it's getting rain-spattered. I become quite angry about it and walk into the house and pull out the statement of account sent to me by Bernina... you know, the one that Mr. BLEH said I didn't need to fax in because he was going to call GE Money Bank about it? It's the middle of the night, I've just gotten home after nine hours of the idiocy that is customer service. I'm in *no* mood for this.

Dear Mr. Cohen I write on the threatening note, I was very nice and cooperative with the man on the phone. Enclosed you will find the letter I got from Bernina saying that they owe ME twelve dollars. I really think you shouldn't be bothering me with this. Absolutely no love, Me.

I folded up the thing from Bernina, shoved both items into the provided envelope (I have come to the conclusion that I really, really, REALLY hate windowed envelopes, particularly when the window totally doesn't match the spacing on the letter inside) put more than sufficient postage on it and chucked it into the mailbox.

A week or so later, I get a call from the ominous "UNKNOWN NAME."

This time, I'm pretty sure I know who it is.




"This is Mr. BLEH from Philips and Cohen. Why haven't you worked things out with Bernina if this debt has really been paid? They haven't told us to stop collection yet."

"I just sent you people the hard copy sent to me by the credit card company."

"When was that?"

"Last week. Friday, I think. I suppose you might not have gotten it yet."

"Well, it isn't in my file. Why haven't you contacted Bernina and had them tell us to stop calling you."

I take a deep breath. I fail to remind him of his telling me that he would call them.

"I have to do this?" I clarify, feeling a return of the anger.

"Yes, it must come from your end."

"You can't call them and ask them for updated information about the account." I want to be very, very sure of this. Rage is beginning to prick at my eyes, and a return of my omnipresent grief. I paid this bill and would give anything to still owe the money and have my mom back, goddamn it.

"No, you have to do so. I told you that."

No, you prick, you didn't.

"All right," I say. "I'll contact them."

"You have to call them..."

"Okay. I will."

"There's nothing I can do from..."

"I'll call them."

"So you have to talk to them about..."

"Mr. BLEH," I say, quite sharply. "I understand your position. I am holding the Bernina bill and will call them as soon as you hang up. I will call them and get them to contact you."

"Oh. Okay."

"Good bye. Have a good day." I hang up, contemplating briefly how it shows that I work in customer service. I compulsively have to tell people to have good days. Even telemarketers, before mom and I joined the 'don't call us, damnit' list.

The tale of trying to contact someone at GE Money Bank is tedious. Over an hour spent on the phone, trying to find someone who knew what the hell I was talking about. Finally, driven to tears by grief and rage and frustration, I actually manage to contact the probate department. "I'm calling about my mom's account. I paid this in July. I'm still being contacted by your collection dogs. I want this to stop. Tell me you know who the hell I'm talking about."

"I know. I'll take care of it."

"Thank you. Have a good day."

I try to let my anger not ruin the rest of my day.

Last week, I get a phone call. Mr. BLEH was pretty damn lucky. Ten minutes later I would have been at work.

"Why," he asks, sounding like he's trying to be pleasant despite irriation, "Haven't you contacted me or Bernina about this?"

"Excuse me?" I ask, coldly. "I called them right after I last spoke to you, not to mention that hard copy I sent."

"There's nothing in my file and they haven't contacted us." Though pleasant, his tone calls me a liar.

"Really," I drawl. "I see. I will call the 800 number, again, and get them to send me yet another verification of the zero balance, since I cashed the refund check last week. It should take about a week. I will fax it to you. What is your fax number?"

"It's 1-555-555-5555. I sit right next to it! I'll see it immediately if you send it to me."

"How nice. Goodbye." I hang up on him. I look at the clock. I call the 800 number and reach out ant thrill the computer once again with my touch-tone follow-the-instructions skills. I go to work. On the plus side, we were having a gas war with the morons on the corner and gas was $1.98/gal. I even needed 3/4 of a tank, which brightened my day considerably, as well as keeping me to busy to remain hopelessly angry.

The next morning I roll out of bed and call the Bernina people again. I ask for the number for the probate department. I get put on hold, transferred to the wrong division, put on hold, and finally get someone in probate.

"I'm calling about account XXX-XXX-XXXX-XXXX."

"That account is closed, with a zero balance."

"I know," I purr dangerously. "But apparently you couldn't be bothered to inform Philips and Cohen, because I'm still recieving calls from them about it. I would very much like for this to stop. Now. Because, frankly, this was paid in June/July, and I think it is bordering on harassment."

Harrassment seems to be a magic word.

"Hold, please."

I wait. And wait. And wait. Then I wait some more and spend some time simply idling by.

She comes back on the line. "I called Philips and Cohen and told them to stop collection activities."

I resist the urge to ask her if she is certain that she has done so. Aren't I nice? But she's not the one who keeps calling me, despite the fact he has more than sufficient information to call up the 800 number for the Bernina card himself and check the balance. He's got the card number and the zip code. I suppose his fingers are broken and he only strains them to harass people who have actually paid their bills.

Today I am going to fax him the 'you've got a zero balance!' letter, along with a copy of this month's Bernina bill. The one that says '0.00' dollars due. And a cover page that mentions that I would like a call, preferably with an apology regarding this matter, indicating that he is aware that the goddamn thing is paid and that he will not be contacting me ever the fuck again. Actually, no. I want it in WRITING. Because this, frankly, is bullshit.

It isn't that I don't understand that buraucracies generate stupidity. Idiocy is much like entropy, it is an ever-increasing mass. Monolithic structures like corporations generate stupidity and general inhumanity at astonishing rates. I can totally see the fact the damn thing was paid being lost in the eternal electronic paper shuffle.

I can even understand *his* frustration. After all, people try to avoid paying bills. It is pretty much guaranteed that it's a pretty thankless job to contact grieving people and tell them the estate of their loved one owes the people they represent money. I'm sure he encounters people lying about whether something was paid or not all the damn time. I'd be exceptionally surprised if he didn't. But I find no excuse in the universe for his 'Not being able to call GE Money Bank and ask for an update on the condition of the account.' I call bullshit. It is a yes or no question about something I cannot believe is prevented by privacy laws. The collection agency is trying to collect a debt, surely they are privledged to verify that the debt exists. He knows that I am not a lawyer, that I am the one who is lost and grieving, who is occasionally spacey and confused. Pestering me about something that he can check himself is lazy bullshit.

If anything, were I working for Philips and Cohen and someone told me that they were confused because of the zero balance and why are you harassing me, I'd be on the phone to ask why the hell I hadn't been updated! Bad enough that it is necessary to pester people who have lost a loved one, it is still worse to do so to ones who have managed to keep it enough together to try and do what is right and just and fair, damnit. I'd feel awful if I found out I'd been harassing someone who'd paid the bill in question months after it was paid, and I'd be damn pissed off because the corporation failed to tell me it wasn't necessary.

The primary blame lies with GE Money Bank, but the collection guy? He takes the cake... perhaps with a chocolately laxative mixed in.

Current Mood: restlessresigned

So. If it doesn't bother you or something, you should head over to my LJ and find my Christmas card post and like... gimme your address. Yes. So I can send you a Christmas card.

frustrations and stupidity

On stupidity: For me, I already call this thing, "sickness". I usually find myself looking for things that I know I just put somewhere. It's just that I can't find these things and what is funny is you will finally see these damn lost things when you finally decided to end up looking for them. Oh boy!

On frustration: I can't even imagine myself sitting there by the phone and repeating over and over the same story. Good thing you are patient enough to deal with this. If this happen to me, uh! I just don't know how flared up I can get!

Simmons Barclay