Well. The Macy’s misadventure turned out better than I imagined possible.
First crack out of the box this morning, I presented myself at the business office in the nearest Macy’s, which happens to inhabit the snooty Biltmore Fashion Square. I will say, I was primed for battle. But through a great effort of will, I determined that I would be…well, at least polite. After a brief search, I found a tall, silver-haired fellow secreted away in a windowless, crowded office way in the back of the third floor.
I explained the circumstances: Charge forgotten after no statements had arrived; bill sent to a collection agency with a Better Business Bureau grade of “F” because of its disastrous complaint record.
To my surprise, this gentleman turned out to be a mellow sort of a guy, the type who probably never gets visibly frustrated or annoyed, even when confronted by an eccentric old bat the first thing Monday morning. Better, as it developed, he was a man with a Rolodex full of direct lines to human beings. And, best of all, he was an area supervisor.
As he’s punching buttons to make his way through a phone-tree maze, he says, “You know, they’ll want a photo ID.” No problem: I produce my driver’s license, which gets added to the mound of paper now littering his desk—including the correspondence from the collection bureau. He gets someone on the phone; then proceeds to call someone else.
“What’s your address?” he asks.
“Nine ninety-nine Erewhon Road,” I say.
“Hm,” he says.
He gets off the phone from another factotum. Then he says, “Here’s what’s happened. They’ve been sending your statements to the wrong address.”
“Yes. Look: the address this credit bureau has, which is the same address our credit department has, is on Erewhon Street, not Erewhon Road. Your driver’s license says you live on Erewhon Road.”
Oh. Em. Gee. My strange neighbor Manny lives at 999 Erewhon Street, two houses away from me. He’s been peeved at me ever since the roofers parked a load of asphalt shingles meant for my house on top of his roof.
It turns out that Manny and his wife have been marking misdelivered correspondence “refused” and returning it to the senders. Cute, huh? Considering that they walk their two dogs past my house to let them shit all over the yard about every third day, you’d think they could bestir themselves to carry a piece of first-class mail over and drop it in the mailbox.
Mr. Supervisor speculates that the reason the physical plastic credit card got delivered is that the post office will not return credit cards, so they probably took the time to look up my real address. As for the dunning letter from the collection bureau: that was raw luck. He thinks probably it fell into the hands of a postal carrier who happened to know the customers on his route, and who also could tell the difference between a road and a street.
Marshaling his vast collection of direct lines to actual human beings, Mr. Supervisor made a couple of calls and within five or ten minutes he had erased the black blot on my records and arranged for me to pay the bill right then and there, in person. Not only that, but he came up with a charge of $23, not $28.
The take-away message here is to resolve issues in the corporate bureaucracy, avoid the punch-a-button maze whenever possible and seek a face-to-face meeting with a live human being.
What a relief! It felt a lot like the way you feel when you finally manage to dig a mean splinter out of your foot.
Much cheered, I decided to take a tour of the Biltmore shopping center, where I used to hang out pretty regularly, back in the palmy days when I could afford to shop in places like Ralph Lauren. Coveted a few iPhones and iPads and drooled on an iMac with a gigantic screen (actually, it’s almost affordable).
The new accountant says the S-corporation can and should be spending a few bucks on business-related items for its proprietor. No question it can afford a new iMac. She even thinks it should be paying for a cell phone (!!). I wonder if it could afford an iPhone.
Over to Williams-Sonoma, purveyor of so many of the now aging accouterments of my nifty little gourmet kitchen. Did I mention that during the past Week in Hell, I destroyed my favorite 8-inch sautée pan? Yesh. It’s pretty much wrecked.
Williams-Sonoma has one just like it, only in All-Clad instead of Cuisinart, the maker of the deceased gem of a fry-pan. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it…that one plus another All-Clad the size of the nonstick 10-inch Calphalon number that’s about worn out would come to around $225. Plus 9.3% tax. For a mere $90 (not counting almost ten bucks in tax), I could get two non-stick Calphalons in exactly the sizes I want. But they have that annoying brushed slate-colored stuff on the outside, which over time collects a patina of grease that will not come off. Oh, covet those shiny All-Clad things!
Frugal Scholar also covets All-Clad and, like me, picks them up at thrift stores and estate sales. And, she notes, at interesting cut-rate sites like this one. Yea, verily: there’s the beloved little pan! As an irregular, forty-two dollah! This outfit has more 10-inch pans than you can shake a stick at, but Williams-Sonoma’s, at $120, comes with a lid, which none of the online models do.
Moving on, I visited a few more of my old haunts and realized the place has changed hugely since the last time I idled away an hour or two there. I have got to get out of my garrett. The world is starting to pass me by.
That notwithstanding, I believe I’m going to permit a little passing by this afternoon. I’ve lost count of the number of evenings in a row when I’ve sat down to dinner at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., after having parked myself in front of the computer somewhere between four and six in the morning. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well last night, with thoughts of some shady collection bureau haunting the night. The day is too beautiful to kill in the office.
The journalism students’ papers (both sets of them) are read, and a start has been made on the freshmen’s papers. The little McBoingers don’t have a major paper due for another two or three weeks, and so they can wait a few days to get their present magnum opus. So, I am knocking off the work for the rest of the day.
That decision having been taken on the way home, the minute I walked in the house the phone rang, and lo! There was a prospective client calling from Virginia, seeking a project manager. A project manager for big projects. Technical projects. That would be the sort done by professionals, not self-published tracts by some wretch who thinks the hoodoos in Sedona were put there by space aliens. Did I add paying projects to that?
So between now and tomorrow Tina (who when last heard from was talking about waiting table again) and I will need to organize something persuasive about ourselves and line up some live references. This is the sort of client that, if we can manage to do a decent job, could keep us in beer and skittles for quite a while.
Macy’s in New York City. Mike Strand. Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
All-Clad 8-inch frying pan. Shamelessly ripped off the Internet
Cathedral Rock, Sedona. Tomas Castelazo. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.