Domino Effect of Corporate Neglect

The Domino Effect - Good or bad, it is always there. We've all been affected by it - most of our day, there's not a moment that is not touched by it.  Today was one of those days where reminders of it were all around me.

This morning I went about my routine of barely awake, sipping my coffee, checking emails, and also taking care of any business I needed to start my day - today that included checking my balance on my bank account. You see, last week, my bank made an error and failed to enter a deposit I made as a cash deposit, but rather one with a float - a hold that they place on check deposit - because of that simple error when inputing data into their computer system, it has wrecked havoc on my account - A mistake that as of yesterday the Vice President of the bank fully admitted happened - an apology was issued, and credits to my account were given....however, in the rush to fix that error, he made another one - he forgot to tell the department that returns checks, not to return one - that the money was in the account and has actually been there since last week. This morning is when I discovered his "oops".  Now, had this been the first time it had happened, I would have been less ...well...bitchy. But it has happened before, and just last October.

So, needless to say an email was zipped off to him (yes, I keep that email address handy) and within a few minutes I received an answer back "Uh, give me a few minutes to check" - five minutes later came the apology and explanation and proclamation "We will pay all fees when they come in and credit your account" 

The "No Shit Sherlock" response email I worded was without swearing...although I must admit it had some rather classic sarcasm, however it also sent another message...DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW THIS LITTLE MISTAKE TO YOU HAS A HUGE NEGATIVE IMPACT ON MY HERE AND NOW!

Of course he doesn't - I am nothing more that an account number to him despite the fact I have had this account with the bank since the early 90's. He had no idea that the bank's original mistake I discovered on the weekend...a 3 day federal holiday weekend, meant I couldn't write a check until it was resolved, which meant that the three dollars in my purse had to buy toilet paper, cat food, gas, food, and everything else...which of course meant..NOT that meant digging in couches, searching drawers and everywhere I could think of for change to pay for those things...He is clueless on my situation, that I am the only income in the house ...and it raises two children with NO child support....nope, my account number, and the data in front of him just says..."Wow ...oops!"

So, as those emails fly....Thank You God for my sense of humor.....I am scanning my Facebook account and I see the following article from NPR

Bank Overcharged Military Families On Mortgages

"The banking giant JPMorgan Chase is admitting it made some very big mistakes. As first reported by NBC News, the firm says it overcharged more than 4,000 active-duty military personnel on their home loans and foreclosed in error on 14 of them."

The piece then goes on to speak about how the families will get refunds. 

Wow - 
Special, no? 
How mighty friggin' generous of JPMorgan Chase. 

Think they realize the Domino Effect on these families, and their communities? I wonder just how the stress impacted these families on-top of the worries of being active many of them had to reach out for help elsewhere, to other family non profits whose funds were probably already many marriages were damaged from the financial strain on top of everything many children had to go without while their parents scurried to pay for the roofs over their heads? Really, DO THEY HAVE A CLUE? Do the even care to? 

Then, I went over some emails I received yesterday but at a time where I couldn't concentrate on them due to my own stress and work - they were on this propane shame that plagues our country and no one there also seems to give a damn. 

One was from a gentleman that contacted me last week about a situation with a Virginia based Inergy Propane company, Blue Ridge Propane - 

He had relayed to me how he was charged over $920 for 215 gallons of propane...well over a dollar more per gallon than most area competitors. I phoned that company on Monday to ask some questions, and I must say that the manager actually answered some of my questions...including informing me that he offered the family a contract ...2 a lower rate of 3.55 a gallon...he didn't mention when that rate would be expired. 

Yes, your eyes are not fooling you ..this is of course my own opinion but I see an offer like that as

"Yes Sir...we screwed you sign on the dotted line and you will only have bend over part way next time...we'll handle the rest! Now say Thank you to our stockholders!" 

He scanned his bill and emailed it to me - I've redacted his account number and personal information, but here it is - note that according to the EIA the average rate for propane in Virginia at the time was $3.03 - Also note that most other companies I've phoned for rates do have a minimum amount of propane to be delivered and so far that number has been around 200 gallons (click on the pic for a larger image) 

And, like so many of the other stories I've read and heard about when it comes to Inergy Propane, because this consumer made a little noise the Division President phoned to apologize and made an offer to quiet him down (my opinion) - Over and over this gets reported, whether it's the Attorney General of Michigan, or of Vermont , this company appears to say "oops" ,,never really admits wrong doing - offers to refund a little...and then moves on and elsewhere telling consumers to bend's their turn to pay for a mistake. Again, that's just my opinion. 

Which, well, according to another email I received last night seems to be the opinions of others...

Ironically, this gentleman expressed to me a situation in all places...MICHIGAN...

Now, warning, I haven't checked the facts on this email yet, but I do have the original email and this story was in follow is what a consumer in Michigan reported to happen when he attempted to end his relationship with Northwest Energy...aka....Inergy Propane

"In July 2009 I decided I could not sign this new contract and so I made the switch to a different propane supplier (a locally owned and operated business) and at the time had a $197 account balance (credit) for the unused portion of my prior pre-buy contract.  I knew from other customers I had spoken with that if I simply called Northwest and asked them to come get their equipment that they would try to charge me a $100 “equipment removal” fee, even though that’s not in my contract and the Michigan Attorney General has already warned them that it is illegal to do so.  Since they already had $197 of my money, it would have been very difficult for me to prevent them from doing so without obtaining legal assistance.  So before telling them I was cancelling my service, I first asked for my $197 balance to be returned to me.  They said that they couldn’t do that without a written request from me.  So I sent them a letter requesting a refund of my outstanding balance.  Next, they said that there would be a 60 day waiting period and a $50 “check cashing” fee if I really wanted my money back.  None of this was in my existing contract, and when I pointed that out to them, the office manager’s response was “I’m not a lawyer – I can’t interpret what’s in your contract, and neither can you.  I’d suggest that you contact a lawyer if you want to know what’s in your contract.”  So I sent a letter to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, and copied Northwest Energy on it.  WOW!  I received my refund the same day they received my letter, along with a very friendly telephone call from the regional manager explaining how it had all been a “misunderstanding” and they never intended to charge any check cashing fee or impose any waiting period."

It does have the same elements of the other complaints I've read...and now have personally seen here in my own area - especially at the end, that little call from the "regional manager" ...Division President (I think is the official title)  - I don't know about you, but I am seeing a pattern M.O. of doing business... This article also points to that --->>> here

So, what is the Domino Effect? 

Well, when I drive through the rural roads in my county, many of the homes using propane are beat up and worn - It doesn't take a genius to figure out that behind each one of them is a story, a story that speaks to just exactly how examples like above can make or break a family...may mean a child goes without..

This, to me, is a major issue for many in this country - And I will say that Inergy Propane is not the only one out there placing more emphasis on growing their pocketbooks rather than being part of a solution. Again, my opinion. I am at the point where I think there needs to be some congressional hearings into this...them, and the other major corporations Amerigas, Ferrellgas and Suburban Gas - Domino Effects can work from the little guy pushing that first one.....and it can be as simple as just speaking out. I mean after all, if you're paying attention - pay attention to the pattern of behavior -those who do speak out, are getting those phones calls...Attorney Generals who file actions are seeing actions coming back to the consumers in their states........hmmmm...get the picture? 

Ok, Inergy ...take a breath...time to point fingers at your propane buddies.... 

Ferrellgas - News Video on "gouging " and LIHEAP (oh,,,we will be speaking more on that program!) 

The following video is just some fun - Please know there are many propane suppliers out there that do care about their customer, and who are locally owned and operated - pull out that phone book...make those calls - ASK QUESTIONS!! If they don't answer them - call the next guy - switching out now may save you in the long run!!! 


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