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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Bruns, CPA

Don't Ever Pay for Products or Services You Didn't Receive

One of main reasons I formed Personal Affairs Stewardship is so that I can help people with the sort of thing I have done for myself MANY times in handling my personal affairs. When a company you end up buying a product or service from fails to hold up their end of things, DO NOT PAY.

TIP: Try to use a credit card for expensive purchases that involve a service element to it. For example, you purchase products for your home and the service involved is a later delivery and/or installation. Delivery and/or installation is where things often go awry, so you need to retain the power to dispute the charges with your credit card company.

I'd like to share one of my many stories with this, and see if it inspires you to call me to help you get back money (or not pay for it in the first place) when you feel you didn't receive what you were supposed to.

Back in 2014, I had my basement completely finished and decided to upgrade my TV and surround sound system. I am definitely no tech junkie, and I really had no idea what was available 8 years after my last TV and surround sound purchase. Since I'm not one of those people who needs to have the latest and greatest technology every couple of years, I figured I would buy the best there is at this time with the idea of keeping it for at least another 8 years. to Big Box electronic store "B" I went.

At store B, the sales people were oh so willing to show me all of the "best stuff" available. I digested all of it as best as I could, but honestly, it was like a foreign language to me. I did make it clear that there were a few of my old products I wanted to make use of, and asked the sales person to ensure that these new products I was considering would be compatible with these older items I wanted to salvage. Of course, the answer was YES ! So, I agreed to buy about $7,000 worth of electronics, to complete my beautiful new finished basement. Included in this price was delivery and installation of all of the products such that after all was said and done, the system would be completely up and running.

So...when the delivery and installation commenced, the first time they showed up, they did not have all the products with them. "Oops, sorry".

FIRST PROBLEM I DID NOT PAY FOR: I would now need to take a second day off of work to be home waiting for them to arrive during their time window. Each day I take off is a vacation day, and this is worth money. The tallying up of money that will have to come off the $7,000 began.

At the second appointment, the installation commenced. After several hours, the installation was completed and all of the products were tested. Lo-and-behold, I was told that some of the new products were NOT compatible with the old items I was using. So I now became aware that the salesman at Store B either purposefully lied or was negligent in his assessment of product compatibility. Either way, this is:

SECOND PROBLEM I DID NOT PAY FOR: I tallied up the cost of the products that were either fully or partially incompatible. When I say partially incompatible, I mean that the product may have worked, but some features did not work the way they were supposed to. If I am paying $7,000 for products, they better all be working 100%.

After computing the amount of the $7,000 that I felt I should not pay for, I disputed that amount with the credit card company. I made sure I provided a very eloquent, professional and detailed argument. To show good faith, I paid the remaining balance. Pursuant to credit card company procedures, they got Store B's side of the story. As expected, Store B's response was filled with lies and non-accountability. I told the credit card company that I was not budging and to let Store B know that I was willing to go to court over it. I was warned that this could hit and hurt my credit report, but I was not fazed (the reason will be discussed in a future blog).

The power I had in this situation is that the amount in dispute was about $3,000, and I knew that Big Box Store B would not ever go to court over the matter and incur the expenses to do so, knowing that the amount I was refusing to pay was justified. I also made sure to let them know that their threats to send this to collections and hit my credit report did not concern me in the least. This response took away the only power they had in this situation, which prompts me to have you re-read the TIP above. You never want to be in the position, if possible, to have to go to court to get back money you already paid.

Shortly thereafter, Store B dropped the issue and stopped trying to collect the disputed money from me. They never even sent it to collections. JUSTICE ! I felt that overall $4,000 was a fair price to pay for the products and considering my lost vacation day.

Never let a company exploit you and get money from you that they didn't legitimately earn! Call me if you find yourself in this dilemma please. I want to help.

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