Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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It's the Principle!

August 2, 2017

When people squabble over small amounts of money they often claim it isn’t about the money; it’s the principle. Money has never been my life’s focus and I’ve dismissed these people as being foolish. Well, here’s yet another example of my hypocrisy.

           

Last May my mother cancelled her cable service, but accidentally overpaid on her Direct TV bill. She received a statement claiming she had a credit of $32.40. Mom’s retirement complex covered the cable for the television in her living room and she’d only been paying for the cable in her bedroom. Since she no longer had a TV in her bedroom and wouldn’t be incurring any more expense with Direct TV, she asked for a refund of her $32.40.

           

Nothing happened, in spite of Mom’s overwhelming persistence. She made numerous calls to customer service, all to no avail. When she passed away last December she still hadn’t received her refund.

           

As executor of Mom’s estate, I now receive her mail, and every week a statement from Direct TV lands in my mailbox, informing me of this credit for $32.40. I don't use Direct TV and asked for a refund, again without success.

 

I asked for a supervisor and was told our case was under review. I asked why? No answer.

           

“How long will this review take?”

           

“Just a couple of months. According to our computer records, your mother only contacted us about this refund in May.”

           

“Yes, my mother contacted you in May. She died waiting for her refund.” A stretch, but I’d already figured out I wasn’t getting anywhere.

           

“May was only a few months ago. You need to be patient,” I was told.

           

“Let me be sure I understand correctly. According to your records, my mother contacted you about her refund in May?”

           

“That’s correct.”

           

“Please read me the year she requested her refund.”

           

A bit of silence, then, “It says she contacted us in 2016.”

           

“That’s over a year ago. I’d say we’ve been more than patient. I want a check cut and mailed immediately.”

           

“Sorry, can’t until the review is completed.”

           

I can’t say I haven’t had any success; A refund still hasn’t arrived, but I no longer get statements from Direct TV in the mail.

           

They don’t know who they’re tangling with. It isn’t about the money.

 

It’s the principle!

 

 

 

 

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Comments

21 Comments
Sad that a company worth billions is playing games with a measly $32. Maybe you can get on one of those court TV shows like Judge Judy.
By: PT Dilloway on August 2, 2017
I would contact your local TV affiliate and share your story. I'm sure you also have a consumer protection agency that could be contacted too. Keep us up-to-date, Steve!
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 2, 2017
I'd complain to the Better Business Bureau. Threaten them small claims court. Lite 'em up on social media. Throw a hissy fit (as my grandma used to say).
By: Rick Watson on August 2, 2017
I'm sure they wouldn't have been patient waiting for your mom to pay her bill every month.
By: Ellen Abbott on August 2, 2017
You're right...it is all about the principle. Stand firm. And like Rick said, light up social media!
By: scott park on August 2, 2017
That is just crappy. Don't give up. Pester them daily. They'll pay you just to shut you up.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on August 2, 2017
My "anger index" probably needled up a couple of points in just reading your account. Mindless, thoughtless functionary process and bureaucracy is infuriating. Imagine how nasty the corporate mentality would be if your mother had been $32 behind. Every once in a while you get a glimpse into why and how people can simply go off in rage! Stay on them like a junk yard dog. And while I detest bullying, this kind of public shaming can have an affect.
By: Tom Cochrun on August 2, 2017
That is sad. Wonder how patient they would be if you owed them. I agree with Daniel. Call your local TV station "fixer" guy and put them on it. Bet it would be solved soon. .
By: Arkansas Patti on August 2, 2017
good grief- Direct TV would be having a hissy fit if your Mom ever missed a payment. At this point I'd want interest plus the $32 bucks.
By: Kathe W. on August 2, 2017
On the other hand, sometimes sticking to your principles is not worth the stress and aggravation . . . and it's better to just let it go.
By: Tom Sightings on August 2, 2017
Bureaucrats who keep our money but would sue in a heartbeat if we kept theirs are a bane. Get after them on Facebook and Twitter and i'll bet they will give you the money just to stop the bad publicity.
By: messymimi on August 2, 2017
Why can some businesses make things so impossible? Why does it take so long to make a very simple decision and transaction? They probably couldn't explain this.
By: red Kline on August 2, 2017
Direct TV has the absolutely worst customer service. Lightning struck our house a year ago and our Direct TV went out. Everything that had been damaged was replaced and working within day. We did not get our Direct TV back for eleven days despite the fact I called them every day and listened to their recordings over and over. Finally, my husband went to their offices to deal with them. I just hope we don't have to deal with them anytime soon again. You will be very lucky if you ever see your mother's refund.
By: Kate on August 2, 2017
Yes, call the TV station! Point out the absurdity of them sitting on this for over a year.
By: Val on August 2, 2017
Oh, don't get me started! Cable companies, telecommunications companies... the worst!
By: Mitchell is Moving on August 3, 2017
Oh man how extremely annoying!!!
By: The Bug on August 3, 2017
DirecTV sucks when it comes to customer service. I have it because Willy Dunne Wooters wanted it for some football deal. Otherwise, I wouldn't have anything to do with it. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on August 3, 2017
Dealing with cable companies is the worst!!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on August 3, 2017
Send a letter every week to Mike White CEO at their corporate headquarters. Until you get a response.
By: cranky on August 3, 2017
What a crock! Sadly this kid of thing happens all the time - and nothing ever changes. Your readers have had some good ideas re: how to handle this situation. If you have the time I do think you should call your local TV station, the Better Business Bureau *and* rip DirectTV a new one on any'/all social media sites you use - especially FB and Twitter. Sometimes the only thing these giant corporations respond to is a shame story.
By: Chris on August 5, 2017
I do believe a modern-day hissy fit that will involve a hashtag DirectTV something or other is on the order!
By: Pixel Peeper on August 5, 2017

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