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A cautionary tale: Hang onto your receipts

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

“Get a receipt and hang onto it.” Those were the words the guy who was installing my phone, internet, and TV... stated as he was finishing his work this past October. He had just placed the equipment from the former service provider into the box I provided. I was well aware I needed to get a receipt when I dropped off the items. In fact, only days prior to changing the provider for home services I made the decision to stop internet service at my cottage - and I received a receipt for that modem.

Then in November I received two statements from my former provider...one related to my home services and the other for cottage internet. Because I had been paying with my credit card, both fees had been automatically deducted. I made a phone call...gave the person at the other end the dates I had discontinued those services, gave them the reference numbers on the receipts to prove those dates, and requested they send me refunds. I placed the receipts back in a desk drawer...while recalling the guy's words, “Hang onto the receipt.” The refunds arrived just prior to Christmas.

Christmas came and went...and with my being a bit busy I didn't take time to toss old receipts. As it turned out it was good that I let a bit of clutter collect. On January 14th I received two separate statements from that same company...one listing charges related to the home services and other related to internet at the cottage. However, this time the billing was not for the services. They were charging me for the equipment (that had been returned) and the charges were to be automatically put on my credit card.

The amount on the home services statement was $573.85. It would have been well over $600 but they deducted the refund amount...even though I had received a refund cheque. That was a big shock, and then I was shocked again. The amount to be charged to my credit card related to the cottage modem was $69.00. I remembered exactly where I had put the receipts for the equipment and I immediately got on the phone.

After spending a bit of time...first answering the questions to prove I was indeed the person making the call...the person on the other end first took the reference number for the returned equipment related to the home service. That charge had not been placed on my credit card. I breathed a sigh of relief...since $573.85 is a chunk of change. However, I was informed the charge for the cottage internet modem had been added to my credit card. I was then assured that the charge would be reversed in four business days. Five days have passed. I will check tomorrow morning and if I don't see $69.00 added I will be making another phone call.

I am quite happy with the provider I currently have. The monthly fee is locked in for a couple of years. It is internet service that is most useful for me. I do check some information on-line while writing... if not able to research everything in paper print. My column is then e-mailed to my editor. I keep filling my brain matter with information. While I do read hand-held paper books, I also read on-line, and an on-line subscription to newspapers insures that current news is always available. When I watch TV it is most often to catch the news..keeping updated on world and local happenings.

These services have very real value for me. That said...I am so thankful I did not toss those receipts. I would have been out of luck without the reference numbers...since it would seem that not all companies keep good records.

The fellow told me to get a receipt and hang onto it. That fellow is definitely my hero. Somehow he seemed to know things could happen. I will keep those receipts for quite a few years.

Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears in the Amherst News.

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