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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Fun of Refunds

In 2000, I bought my first car by myself. I had just gone through (to put it mildly) a crappy phase in my life and had suddenly lost most of my possessions, so I was living with my parents and dependent on them to drive me where I needed to be, mainly a job. I was tired of waiting out in the snow for my parents to pick me up from work whenever they got around to it. On the morning of my 25th birthday, I woke up and decided I was going to buy a car that day.

By the end of the day, I was the happy little owner of a maroon Nissan Sentra GXE. Nessie G served me well. I held 10 jobs that year (yes, 10) and she got me to all of them.

Nessie G has since been relegated as my husband's commuter car. She has been rear-ended more times than a... well, there isn't an appropriate metaphor here. But she's still around and I'm grateful for her.

Being younger and naiver in 2000, I had also purchased with that car, an extended warranty. (Never ever ever buy an extended warranty unless you get an extended warranty for that warranty.) (Translation: never.) I only purchased it because I was dying to get back home after a long day of car shopping and I was told that if I didn't use it within 5 years, I would be refunded all of my $1,295. I was cold, I was hungry, it was my birthday. I told the guy I'd buy it if he gave me $50 for dinner. He did, and I bit.

Five years later, my birthday again, I called the refund company and told them I was ready to get my money back. They said I needed to fill out a form and return it to them within 30 days of my birthday. They didn't send the form out until two weeks later, leaving me little time to get the photos and documentation I needed. Long story shorter, they rejected my refund. I was livid!

They sent me a rejection letter that made no sense. The names and dates mentioned in it didn't match my situation at all. I called the company and called and called and left voice mail after voice mail. None of my calls were returned. I was out my money.

Certainly, there was something that could be done about this injustice! I didn't know what though, and at the time of the rejection, three kids had move into our home and we had just been rear-ended (again), so my mind was occupied with more pressing matters.

That was 3 years ago, and I held onto the documents all that time. I couldn't force myself to throw away my copies of the papers involved in the case. Every few months, I'd clean out our file box and come across those papers. Fume, fume, fume.

Have you ever held onto something that made you feel angry? Every time you looked at it or held it, charged emotions returned to you as if you were reliving the moment you acquired the item?? Why do you hold on to that item? I held on because I was convinced one day I could put these papers to good use. Maybe I'd make a piñata.

Years passed. In August of this year, I came across the papers again and decided I shouldn't keep things that make me angry. So, I promised to "play" with the papers one more time and then throw them out the next time I cleaned out the file box. I went online to find the refund company's website. There, I found the email address for the president of the company. I couldn't believe it, right there in the open! At least, I could now have sweet sweet closure!

I wrote a short email telling him that I was sure his intentions were to run an efficient and ethical company but that no one had returned my calls to explain why my refund request had been denied. I hit "send" and thought no more of the matter.

A few days later, I got a phone call from the refund company. The president had passed on the message to the claims department. After a few phone tag conversations, I found out that the dates on my contract had been filled out incorrectly by the car dealership and my contract had actually expired 2 years earlier than the 5 years I had purchased. The dude who bought my dinner screwed up. I suddenly became re-energized. All those years, and I had a live case again! Long story shorter (again), after two months of phone calls, voice mails, and emails, the dealership offered to refund 1/2 of my money.

Now, for those who have known me the longest, you know that it is a mistake to stand between me and my money. An ex used to say about me, "she can pinch a penny until Lincoln squeals." While I am no longer quite so frugal, I still put up a fight for what belongs to me.

There I was being offered $647. This dealership either thought (1) I was still the naive girl who bought an extended warranty eight years prior or (2) that I would be happy to get any money back. They apparently didn't know who they were dealing with. (This is where my husband would smile in sympathy for whoever was patting me on the head while attempting to cross me.) True, I was tired of being given the runaround for two months (and ignored for three years), so I definitely understand why someone would accept half their money and let the rest go.

I gave the dealership my final offer in no uncertain terms, "I don't care who pays me, (name of dealership) or (name of refund company), but I am getting 100% of my money refunded to me. If I don't receive 100% of my money back within a week, I will send out a press release to the media and tell them that (name of dealership) has been selling warranties and refunds that aren't honored."

The refund check got rolling within the hour.

Saturday, I received my money! YIPPEEE! I asked David, "Can you believe I got my money back after all this time??"

He took a deep breath and said, "Yes because it's you. Yes, it's amazing, but I'm not surprised."

Mr. T says:

I pity the fool
who gets between Adhis and her money!


Kristen said...

Way to go!

I should tell you the story of my sewing machine someday. There wasn't nearly as much money involved, but definitely frustration, determination, and finally payoff. In the end, I didn't care about anything but the fact that I was 100% right even though a hundred people told me otherwise. I WAS RIGHT. =o)

Whatcha gonna do with the money? Oh right, pinch it.

Heidi said...

Way to go! That is awesome! Sounds like it't time to buy that projector!

Bridget said...

I love it when people go after money that is rightfully theirs! I do the same thing. My best victory was getting my $800 back from Royal Jordanian airlines.

Good for you!

Jenn said...

Way to stick to your guns!!! You know if you need any help spending the money, you do have these cool neighbor that live behind and across a street!!!

Christi said...

I have no problem accepting hand-outs if you need some blessings.

Kat said...

Seriously Adhis, I love you. You are awesome. Way to go for sticking up for yourself. You rock! I love the picture of Mr T too. He he he. :) Congrats!

Utah_Dave said...

Sorry, everyone! Adhis put that money right into her Roth IRA the very day after receiving that check. :)

Isn't that awesome?

Nathalie Smith said...

I need to take you along to be my spokewoman on things that are rightfully mine and I get the run around! I have always thought you have the best comebacks to anyones lame threats or settlements.