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Old 04-28-2010, 08:44 AM   #1
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Dealing with Businesses

I have two situations that are residuals from my recent building project. Perhaps it is time for a fresh approach on both so I'm looking for some different ideas.

On the first one, I needed a 30 yard dumpster to haul off the debris from the the demolition of the old building. I found out that I could only contract with the firm with whom our Town has a franchise and did that. In error, they started billing me for that dumpster at the start of the contract, not on the delivery date as the contract called for. In fact, I had a past due notice (I never saw the original) for charges before the dumpster ever showed up at my house. They refused to cancel the billing and start new billing properly. Fourteen phone calls and nearly 5 months later, I have the disputed amount down to $35 (from several hundred dollars). They agree that I don't owe that $35 verbally but their billing system keeps spitting out the erroneous total and I just got a past due notice for the total bill, not the disputed amount. I'm very concerned that billing system is going to turn the matter over to a collections agency within the next month. I can never get to anyone in the organization above the customer service people and the phone. They have no power to fix anything and have promised resolutions every month on the next month's billing. It never happens.

The second situation is with the company who fabricated the building. They work with local contractors to create an artificially low estimate for the costs to erect the building, collect a huge deposit and then those erection costs skyrocket when the actual work begins. Mine went up 25% for no given reason. My choice was to walk away from the large deposit or pay the higher costs. I've found evidence that other customers have had the same experience. Unfortunately for all of those customers, they've never found their way to the Better Business Bureau or other organizations that could alert consumers

I've learned that our law enforcement system at all levels considers both of these to be civil matters. Since the second situation is across State lines, there is nothing but the Feds to turn to and I hold no hope for that.

I could just rollover and ignore both situations but that doesn't seem like the right thing to do. I suspect that a significant part of the revenue for the building company comes from defaulted deposits. I'm certain that their tactics are intentional. The first company is just incompetent.
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:17 AM   #2
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I'd go down there and demand to see someone who is in charge, if that failed, then I'm sure a quick stop at my lawyer's office would start the ball rolling. I'm sure that you signed some kind of a contract, hopefully you read it first. Some where in there I would think, would cover the subject of cost over runs. Good luck and don't take this with out a fight.
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasfm11 View Post
I have two situations that are residuals from my recent building project. Perhaps it is time for a fresh approach on both so I'm looking for some different ideas.

On the first one, I needed a 30 yard dumpster to haul off the debris from the the demolition of the old building. I found out that I could only contract with the firm with whom our Town has a franchise and did that. In error, they started billing me for that dumpster at the start of the contract, not on the delivery date as the contract called for. In fact, I had a past due notice (I never saw the original) for charges before the dumpster ever showed up at my house. They refused to cancel the billing and start new billing properly. Fourteen phone calls and nearly 5 months later, I have the disputed amount down to $35 (from several hundred dollars). They agree that I don't owe that $35 verbally but their billing system keeps spitting out the erroneous total and I just got a past due notice for the total bill, not the disputed amount. I'm very concerned that billing system is going to turn the matter over to a collections agency within the next month. I can never get to anyone in the organization above the customer service people and the phone. They have no power to fix anything and have promised resolutions every month on the next month's billing. It never happens.
chasfm
You don't happen to be dealiig with WM are you? We have had a dumpster for about 5 years with them. I pay my bills about the 15th. and they send their bill out about that time. The problem is the bill is dated the 1st. of the following month and due the end of that month so it is showing me being 30 days behind when it is actually paid about 2 weeks before it is due. Their invoice never shows when they receive the payments. I have complained about it and at one time I received the bill just before the end of the month (for about 3 mos. but still before the date on the bill). It didn't show me behind on the payment then but now it's back to where it was. It's my opinion that the bill should be dated when it is printed.
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:06 AM   #4
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No, Cliff. It is Republic Services, not WM. They actually have several names, so I'm not sure what the corporate relationships really are.

I suspect that the problem with WM, Republic and the like is that, because they are franchise driven, they are more like a utility than a business. Unlike a utility, they don't have tariffs that cause them to be held accountable.

Regarding contacting my lawyer, that thought crossed my mind. But the other side of that argument keeps saying "its only $30 now, why bother?" There are certainly principals involved but it isn't yet clear to me how those principals could be advanced by anything that I do. Hence, my dilemma.

A part that I didn't include is definitely influencing my thinking. I had a previous situation where medical bills were being mis-coded in a hospital computer system and generating a large number of bills for thousands of dollars. I tried working with the hospital and even physically went there several times, sitting down with analysts to correct individual bill problems. On my last day of working with them in person, I returned home to find a blistering letter from a collection agency, accusing me of being a habitual deadbeat and telling me that I owed 3 times the total (now tens of thousands of dollars) that the hospitals computer carried. It took a threat of having the director of IS arrested for systematic fraud to finally get that one straightened out. The Dallas police department and District Attorney's office was no more willing to work with me on that then any of the legal organizations are on the two situations that I've presented. I've found that the best course of action is to be forthright and immediate in dealing with such matters but even that doesn't help. I still cannot get over how the wrongful prosecution of debt collection for money that isn't owed isn't fraud. I just don't want to go there again.
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:25 PM   #5
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If Republic keeps saying that you don't owe anything verbally, ask them to send it to you in writing, either by e-mail or snail mail. See what happens then.
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:53 PM   #6
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After one phone call, don't call again. Put everything in writing. In Colorado we have an Office of Consumer Affairs. It is part of the Attorney General's Office. If you have anything like that, copy them on any complaint. Keep copies of everything-and make notes of all calls you receive. Follow-up calls to you with a written reply detailing what the conversation was. Yeah, it is a lot of effort but it has proven to be worth it in the long run. You will find, as I have, that most business's run in an ethical way - those that don't hate to see anything in writing.
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:54 AM   #7
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As somebody who has not done it this way all my life until recently, pay the $35 and get a letter stating Paid In Full. Your peace of mind isn't worth the aggravation of $35. Report them to the BBB, tell them after you get your letter and move on. I didn't get the amount on the other problem, but I suspect it is a whole lots more. You might consider hiring a paralegal to send them a letter. You also have to consider what this means to your credit rating. I have done a lots of work on my shed and am stopping for our 3 month RV trip. See link:

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Old 05-02-2010, 09:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
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As somebody who has not done it this way all my life until recently, pay the $35 and get a letter stating Paid In Full. Your peace of mind isn't worth the aggravation of $35. Report them to the BBB, tell them after you get your letter and move on. I didn't get the amount on the other problem, but I suspect it is a whole lots more. You might consider hiring a paralegal to send them a letter. You also have to consider what this means to your credit rating. I have done a lots of work on my shed and am stopping for our 3 month RV trip. See link:

tavaresshed
I appreciate your advice. If you will look back over my original post, you will see that it didn't start at $35 - it was several hundred. $35 was only the lastest variance and that came after many, many phone calls. I have not intention of letting them get to the point where they even get to the collection agency. That's why I've been very aggressive in trying to get it straightened out. I agree that a paralegal may be an option. I really plan on trying to go there in person first. I'm not sure that even paying the $35 would really solve the problem as their billing application is very antiquated and seems to come up with a different amount every time it does a billing run. I've been trying to get a letter from them for over 4 months. That isn't going to happen unless I can force a manager to do it. I believe that it would take me sitting across the table from someone giving him or her a good solid stare and making them believe that I'm not going to go away until they provide the letter.

The wrestling match that I'm having with myself is whether I stand on principal with both vendors or simply roll over. Rolling over is pretty easy but it does nothing for the next guy in line with either vendor. If they can do things like this with impunity, there is no reason for them to change.
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