Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hide your money in your Tempur-Pedic

It's 112 in Dallas, Texas.

And humid.

Hotter than Satan's taint.

Has been for awhile.

I choose to live here, so I have no reason to whine. But it is friggin' hot.

And I've got a bug that makes my head hurt and my stomach doing things it shouldn't.

I'm in a real bad mood.

Which brings me to money. My and your money.

Whose is it?

Due to one really stupid investment I made a few years ago, I had a significant tax loss last year.

Significant is relevant.

One woman's $100 is another man's $10.

We filed the tax return on December 31, 2009.

The refund was due in six weeks.

Well, then the IRS said they needed another form.

The exact same information, just on another form.

Filed as asked.

The refund was then due six weeks later.

The IRS said they needed one more form.

Same exact information, this time on 1040XD.

Filed as asked.

Six weeks later, no refund.

The IRS then needed form number 1040XDS.

Same exact info.

Net, net. The U.S. government has owed me money for a long time. And they are figuring out how to take their sweet time returning it.

I cannot properly explain how many hours I've spent on the phone with the lovely employees of the IRS. Who proceed to explain that my form has not yet been received. Because it takes them six weeks to process any incoming forms.

God help you if you owe the IRS money. I never have. But my understanding is they are quick to come get it. Whether you are right or wrong, if the IRS believes you owe money, they will come get it.

My accountant tells me he has never seen anything like what is going on now.

Our government is acting like the worst account payable ever.

Stall. Delay. Forms. Stall. Delay. Forms.

They have our money, and they are in no hurry to give it back.

And so, they create convenient roadblocks before checks are written to the public. The folks that created the money to begin with.

If you are owed money by the U.S. government, which we pay for, they are now floating our money because of lack of funds and overspending on their part.

This ain't right.

And the business world is doing the same thing.

The usual business of money flowing thru has slowed dramatically.

So, the CFO's of the world have figured out how to make the best of a bad situation.

Sit on other folks money. And charge them fees for it.

I opened a bank account with a large bank that uses a stagecoach as their logo. They should have used the stagecoach robbers.

I opened the account in California when I lived there.

Upon returning to Texas, my local stagecoacher told me I should change my account to a Texas stagecoach account versus a California stagecoach account.

"Why?"

"Because the California stagecoachers will charge you more to use your money."

"But I thought you were all on the same stagecoach."

"Not hardly. We are still separate banks."

I should have run away right then and there.

So I listened to this knucklehead. The Persian born, London educated, personal banker.

I switched the account.

I suspect he got a $5 spiff.

All I got was pain.

The stagecoach now proudly reports their improvement in profits based on overdraft fees.

When Alibaba tells you your accounts will be made identical and everything will flow thru as before, he couldn't give a shit less when it doesn't.

"Oh, Mr. Burks, you must understand that it takes our central processing unit 60-90 days to convert all of our accounts."

"Omar, where the fuck is your central processing unit? My money is somewhere in your financial ether."

"I'm not sure, sir. But believe me, it will all work out."

At $35 per bounced check from the old account to the new account, the stagecoach racked up a big bounty.

Except I pulled all my money out of that account. They are now trying to collect from themselves I guess.

And then there is American Airlines. I love that company. They do so much good.

But, they have their CFO and their processes.

Last week I booked a flight using an unused ticket from last year.

Which means they had $400 of my money since December.

So I used the unused ticket to book a flight next week.

And, since I'm such a bad customer, I had to pay $150 to rebook that ticket.

I've only flown 3 million miles with them.

I can understand why they would want to punish me.

So, I gave them my debit card to pay for the $50. The fare is $300. The change fee is $150. My credit was $400.

Guess what?

They charged my debit card for the new ticket and the change fee.

When I figured out what they had done, I called.

After twelve voice prompts, I got to a human being.

She looked at the record and admitted that they had screwed up.

She told me she was crediting my debit card that moment for the difference.

That was fourteen days ago.

I still don't have the refund.

I called today and spoke with a lovely agent who then put me in touch with her supervisor.

The supervisor was kind enough to tell me that she understood the frustration of not getting your money back promptly.

However, she also told me that, "I needed to understand the thousands of American Airlines customers that were a due a refund. The process is manual, has to go thru Wichita, and I had unrealistic expectations."

Wow. What a lesson.

When I book a ticket on American using a debit card, they suck that money right up.

They push a button and it's done.

But not so fast, Mr. 3 million miles.

You have to understand the issues faced by our folks in Wichita.

I now clearly understand their issues.

She told me that "normally", I should expect a refund in two or three billing cycles. Meaning two to three months.

Since I spoke with her, and had such a lovely time, she said she would put my request under "Priority".

I think "Priority" in her world means screw him. Put him at the end of the line. We'll see.

Regardless, thousands of folks are owed refunds by American Airlines. And American is sitting on the money as long as they can. Earning interest nightly.

This ain't right.

And then, there is the master of confusion and sucking money out of unsuspecting customers.

ATT.

Their Chairman once said years ago, "Where there is confusion, there is profit."

Think about that the next time you try to decipher your phone bill.

I went to the ATT store this week.

Learned I had more options on my home phone than Obama.

So I canceled all of them. But the nice fellow informed there was a fee to cancel the services I had been paying for and never used. We had a sweet interchange, and thankfully, he waived the fees for me.

Then I had them study my cell phone bill.

I was paying for the privilege of roaming in Tunisia.

So, I canceled that too.

I think.

We'll see when the bill comes. If I can read it.

So, as a closer, they tell me they can save me money on my tv.

No longer can I put up an aluminum Christmas tree and get the local channels.

I have to pay someone.

I don't need or want 600 channels of bullshit.

So, I tell the nice folks at ATT that all I want is local channels and ESPN.

Well, that will cost you $120 a month, but if you will add the NFL Ticket, it will only be $49.99 a month.

What the . . .?

So I cancel Dish Network.

Sign up with ATT.

It was less than the current Dish Network deal.

Only one problem.

I didn't want to give them a card to charge forever.

In order to sign up, it was $19.99.

I handed the young nerd a crisp twenty.

"Sir, we can't accept cash."

"Why?"

"Because we are reselling Direct TV. And we have to process a payment thru our system in central processing and they can't process cash."

"Oh. Then stick it in your ass."

So, I have no TV at my house.

Guess what. It's wonderful.

I can get all the news and sports I want off the internet.

Except I'm paying some asshole in central processing at ATT for the privilege.

Anyway, I think it's time we go back to a cash based society.

Cash your paycheck. Pay in cash. The green folding kind.

It sounds redneck, but it is then your money in your hands.

When our money is all digitized, we're screwed.

Because it is no longer our money. It is "theirs".

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