I was having trouble a couple of weeks ago reconciling a statement sent to us by one of our regular vendors. Last month's check seemed to have been applied to random invoices, resulting some some items being prepaid and some being overdue.
I called the company and asked to be transferred to the accounting department. I got Holly's voicemail:
"Hi, you've reached Holly. I'm in the office today, but not at my desk so please leave a message and include your account number. Bear in mind that I am REALLY busy, so I might not be able to get right back to you."
O-kay. Essentially tell me right in your message that you are not going to call me back. Nice. I left a message explaining the problem and asking that she phone me. That was on August 7th.
On August 12th, I figured I'd enough time had elapsed even for a busy person to find a moment to call me back, so I left another message.
On August 15th, I left another message saying that I wouldn't be able to pay the invoices until I was able to get the statement straightened out. I thought that might get her attention.
Apparently not. She never called me back.
Today, I called and asked to speak to the accounting manager. He was smart and helpful and said he'd look into it and have someone call me.
So, Robin called me back later in the afternoon.
"Andrea, I did review your account and there were some errors on our part, but well, frankly it looks like there are some errors on your end, too."
I was skeptical, not because I don't make mistakes, but because it's really, really hard to make a mistake when you pay the balance on the statement in full. Robin elaborated:
"Well, there's a credit memo here for $xxx.xx. Maybe you can tell me what that is?"
"That's our 3% discount we take for paying in full by the 10th of the month."
"Discount on what, exactly?"
"Uhhhh... on the total amount that we owe for the month."
She digested that. I could hear her adding machine working fast and furious in the background, verifying my math.
"Humph. I see. Well, we just didn't have anyway of knowing what that was. So, that's why your statement is off. We just didn't know what that was."
"That's the way we've always done it. It's never been a problem before. Is there another way you would prefer to have it done?"
"Well, I don't know. It's just no one here in the office could figure out what that amount was for."
"So, when I sent in the remittance stub with my check with the words '3% discount = $xxx.xx' written on it, that wasn't clear enough?"
"I'm not actually the person who handles that."
"Well, who is? Holly?"
"Sort of. We both work on it."
"It's funny, but I've been trying to get a hold of Holly for 3 weeks and she's never returned my calls."
"Maybe she just didn't get your message."
"I left 3 different messages."
"We're really busy here in the office. Maybe she didn't have time to call back."
"In three weeks? Not even a courtesy call to tell me she's busy but she got my message?"
"We're really busy...she probably would have called you back but no one in the office could figure out what that credit memo was..."
"Yeah, or SHE COULD HAVE RETURNED MY CALL AND ASKED ME ABOUT IT."
"We're really busy. We didn't know what it was."
And on and on. I'm tempted to not pay the statement this month. When they call to demand payment, I'll just say, "Yeah. I've been busy and well, I just didn't know what it was."