by Scott Gill
I accused America Online (AOL) once of theft; threatened to call the police. The “pilferer” on the other end stammered and meandered in his testimony, but I had enough, this time the “big boys” were gonna face the “collector” and experience a little of their own medicine. Now, I didn’t just jump to the conclusion that (at that time) one of the largest internet providers had “jacked” $25.00 from my bank account, it took some arguing and debate before I finally lowered the hammer.
I had spotted an unknown draft from my account, and having no clue about the expense, I called my bank. They investigated and informed me it was AOL and not some unidentifiable Target purchase. I’d never used AOL, never desired to, so I was more than a little perplexed. I called the company, told them my situation, and asked for my money back. The response was not what I expected. The guy said no. Said I must have signed up for the service or they wouldn’t have my information. Said they could not give my money back.
It is frustrating enough to deal with companies who make a mistake like that in the first place. I mean, they want their money when it is due and slap you with a late fee when it arrives seconds after the date. Yet, when they withdraw too much, I have to wait 10 business days to get back my money they mistakenly over-drafted. My mistake, I pay, their mistake, I pay. Why can’t I charge them late fees; send them to the collectors, ruin their credit score? But, I’m reasonable, so I explained again how I was just as shocked because I knew AOL would not normally have my information unless I’d given it. Then I asked again for my money back.
Rudeness grew and he blamed the situation on my kids, which I found funny because they were all under 10 at the time and couldn’t give my credit information. Then, he blamed my wife but Angie had no idea of the mishap, and like me, had been happy with our current service. I argued that the mistake must have occurred somewhere else and I would be happy if I could get my $25 back.
Once again, refusal.
He offered to cancel my subscription but I couldn’t get my money back, they just had no ability to refund. Ringing blared in my ears and my teeth grit as I asked him if AOL was in financial trouble. He giggled a little and said no.
“Well with four kids I’m always in it so I need MY money back!” I barked.
The barking didn’t work, the bearing the teeth a wasted exercise. He stood resolute, hoarding my measly 25 bucks like Silas Marner. My Rubicon had been crossed; my inner Socrates unleashed.
Me: “Can I ask you a question?”
Me: “I was always taught to not take things that weren’t mine. My dad called it stealing. Now, have I told you could have my 25 dollars, or did you just take it?”
AOL: “Sir, we didn’t take your money…”
Me: “My bank says you did. You said I couldn’t have it back, which means that you do have it. So how did you not take it?”
AOL: “Ok, yes, we do have it.”
Me: “Then I need it back.”
AOL: “No sir.”
Me: “If you have something that is mine and you refuse to return it, in most cultures that is stealing. Big AOL is stealing from little Scott Gill.”
Me: “Was the money mine? Yes. Now it is missing. You have it. I’ve asked for it back. You’ve refused. That’s stealing. I’m calling the police.”
Me: “It’s that simple. I never gave my card, somehow you have it, and I need my money back. You’ve refused. If we were on the street right now, you’d be a pickpocket. So, I need your name so I can report you to the authorities.”
AOL: “Sir, you money should be back in your account momentarily.”
And it was.
Scott Gill is a coach and English teacher at J.W. Williams Middle School. His debut novel, Goliath Catfish, was released in July 2012. Scott is a member of the Texas High School Coaches Association, the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Scott lives in Rockwall with his wife, Angie, and their four children.
Learn more about Rockwalls newest author at scotttgill.com