Monday, February 01, 2010

Not-so Top Billing

I'm not a confrontational person, on the whole.  It takes quite a bit of incompetence to get me riled up enough to react.  This is the story of what happened over the last weekend and culminating today that pissed me off.
I'm still a registered student at UM-KC.  I need to pay for one single credit hour for every semester until I finish all of my doctoral projects and receive a degree.  This I do.

The university sent emails in late October that my time for registering for the Spring semester was fast approaching.  By early November, I had the ability to log in and reserve my spot in my class for next semester.  I didn't register at that moment, because I was busy being out of the country.  By the time I returned, I still had plenty of time left.

According to the university records, I registered on December 29th.  Fast forward to last Friday.  I receive a call from the Cashier and Collections office on campus.  It doesn't say what it's about, but they never call to say the university owes me money, so...  Anyway, I could not return the call until today, so I checked my university account.  A new statement, saying I owe money on February 20.  So I should be good.

Incidentally, my voicemail transcription service renders the original phone message somewhat roughly, as you can see.

I assure you that the "castration collections" office did not call.

Today, I call.  I get Jim, the fellow who left me a message on Friday.

Me:  Hi, I received a message that there was something wrong with my account.
Jim:  Of course.  Let me see.
  [he checks his computer]
Jim:  Of course.  We require a 25% payment by tomorrow.  All right?
Me:  [confused]  Actually, I have this statement from your web page that says my minimum payment of $110 isn't due until the twentieth of February.  It's my most recent bill, from January 27th.
Jim:  [a pause]  Yes.  I'm referring to an email we sent last week.  Of course, we require a 25% payment by tomorrow.  All right?
Me:  [even more confused]  But...  you didn't answer my question.  This bill doesn't say anything about a payment due in February until the end of the month.  And the email from last week just says the total amount and the minimum payment that are due at the end of the month.
Jim:  Of course.  You see, we require a 25% payment by tomorrow.  All right?
Me:  [now thoroughly confused, takes a careful pause]  Thank you.  Goodbye.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who doesn't speak English, but has learned to ape phrases?  That's what this felt like.  Except that Jim didn't have an accent.  I didn't expect to have an experience like calling tech support in Zimbabwe.  I honestly don't know what his problem was, but talking to him made me damn mad.

So I immediately drove to the office, stopping only at the computer lab to print out the current month's bill.  I spoke with Terry at the cashier window.

Me:  I have a question about my account.
Terry:  Ok.  Computer says you owe $310.90.
Me:  I received a message saying that I owed a percentage by tomorrow.  Why would that be?
Terry:  Hmm.  You weren't technically registered in time for the January billing period.
Me:  So... why would they issue a February bill giving me until the end of the month?
Terry:  I don't know.
Me:  So do I need to... [pause, lost for words]
[Terry gives a small shrug of helpless sympathy]
Me:  I'll just pay it all now.

So I guess I fell into the crack in the university billing, except that the university doesn't allow cracks in their billing.  I owed them money whether (or in spite of whether) I actually knew that I owed it.  So I came home and wrote a letter to the head of the cashier department.

Luckily, it had started to snow on my way back.  That calmed me down.  And the more I calmed down, the more it snowed.  Obviously, there's a lesson in that for the future.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know, "castration call center" seems to be apt, in this case.