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Monday, July 14, 2008

Buzzing Around a Bee Problem

For the past two years I have chaired a committee for the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association that provides "Goody Bags" for the short course we offer in beginning beekeeping every January. I requested a donation of items for the bags from the National Honey Board last fall. They gladly complied and sent me items donated for the bags.......

and have continually billed me for the items on a regular basis ever since. Each time I get a bill, I call and get it supposedly straightened out. Today I received a bill with a large red notice that said:
Final Notice Before Credit Bureau is Notified.

In assertiveness, the general policy to is to start with basic assertive statements, increasing the intensity as needed. Originally I called and said, "I'm confused. I requested that you donate these items to my club. Your representative acknowledged that this is something the National Honey Board is glad to do to support new beekeepers. To my surprise, I have received a bill for the donated items. I don't want to pay for items you donated to us."

That phone call included basic assertive statements:
"I requested that you donate.....
"I received a bill for the donated items.....
" I don't want to pay for the items.....

The second time I received a bill, a firmer assertive statement was warranted. In that phone call, I said, "We wouldn't request items from you for the goody bag, if we expected to be billed. We are promoting your organization by putting these items in our Goody Bag. I don't think I should be charged for your donation to promote your organization."

(Although this isn't exactly an escalating assertion, it does state rather directly that we would not ask them for items which we would have to purchase.) An escalating assertion has a consequence in it. This is mildly escalating because there is an implied more support for their organization from our bee club, or at least from me as a Director on the board of the bee club.

Now not only is this the third time I have been billed, but the bill from the National Honey Board included a threat. Most situations escalate in a balanced way. The National Honey Board has threatened me, so I will respond at the same level by including in my letter an escalating assertion as well as a confrontive assertion.

I wrote the following letter which I will fax to the National Honey Board tomorrow:

National Honey Board
11409 Business Park Cir
Suite 210
Firestone, CO 80504

July 14, 2008

Re: Invoice XXXXX

To Whom it May Concern:

I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association in Atlanta, GA. Each year we hold a short course for upcoming beekeepers and each year we give the attendants at that short course a “goody bag” full of beekeeping items. Every year we request a donation from the National Honey Board of pamphlets appropriate for the Goody Bag.

I was chair of the Goody Bag project for 2007-2008. I called the National Honey Board in the fall of 2007, requesting that you donate something for the Goody Bag. The person to whom I spoke said that the National Honey Board regularly does this for clubs and would gladly send me some items. She asked how many I would need and I requested 65 items of whatever you chose to donate.

I received the items in December 2007. Since then I have received three bills for the items you supposedly “donated” to our short course. When each of the first two bills arrived, I called the National Honey Board and explained that you had donated the items. Each time I was assured that I didn’t need to worry about or pay the bill and that you would make sure that I was not billed again.

Today I arrived at home to find a bill stamped: Final Notice Before Credit Bureau Is Notified.

I feel deep regret that I ever called you to request your help with our short course. You told me yourself that you donated items to clubs for the purpose of short courses and would be glad to donate the items to me. Now you are threatening to report me to the credit bureau for not paying a bill that I do not owe.

If I am the chair of the Goody Bag committee again (I’ve done it for the past two years), I will not ever again request anything from your organization and I will not be speaking kindly of your group going forward.

Please CANCEL THIS BILL and do not even think of reporting me to the Credit Bureau. And since I keep receiving bills despite your continued verbal agreement that I do not owe the money, I would like a written letter to acknowledge that I do not owe this money.

Linda D Tillman, PhD


A confrontive assertion is one in which an agreement was made and the other party has broken the agreement. In this type of assertion, you state what the agreement was, how it was broken and what will be the consequence of the breaking of the agreement. You can find all of those in the letter.

I want the situation to end, so I requested a written response to my letter since speaking to them and receiving verbal reassurance does not work. Also if they do in fact report me to the Credit Bureaus for this $18.75 bill (!) I will have something to submit to the Credit Bureau to rebut their claim.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Father's Day Fiasco

My father who is 87 is a man who has everything he wants, so when holidays like Father's Day come around, it's hard to find something that he will enjoy. He does love chocolate, though, so this year I decided to give him Chocolate of the Month through a company called C&H Clubs.

A couple of holiday seasons ago, I gave a monthly beer subscription to my son-in-law and he really enjoyed it, so I thought chocolate might bring the same enjoyment to my dad.

I went on the website and purchased the subscription, indicating that I wanted a notification email sent to Daddy on the day before Father's Day.

Here's what happened:
  • No email arrived, so when Father's Day came, luckily I called to wish him a happy day, and found out in the phone call that he had had no notification. Instead the email arrived on Monday, June 16, the day after Father's Day.
  • The email read, and I quote: "Happy Father Dr. Clifford" While I do hope he is a happy father, it should have read, "Happy Father's Day." And if they had used his name, it should have read "Dr. Tillman."
  • OK, so that's not too big a deal, but then I received notification via email that the chocolate had been shipped. Mother and Daddy did not receive it on the day Fed Ex said they had delivered it.
  • My parents live on acreage that is sort of below a neighborhood. Their street address is on the street, so while they have a next door neighbor, his house is next to their driveway, but their house is about 100 yards away from the street. The day after the Fed Ex delivery, their neighbor walked down to bring them the chocolate which was for my father. The neighbor, thinking the package was for him (?), opened the chocolate and ate a few pieces.
So for Father's Day, my father received his gift late, opened, and partially eaten. He was not notified about his gift until the day after Father's Day, and the note was written in such a way that I suspected the company of outsourcing their gift notification to a non-English speaking company.

I sat with this for a while, but decided to call The Gourmet Chocolate of the Month Club to complain. The man I spoke to felt really bad about all of this. He put me on hold to see what he could find out. While he was away from the phone, I decided that I would be happy if he would extend Daddy's subscription for a month so that he could have his full subscription of unopened chocolates delivered to him.

I was all ready to be assertive and ask for a month's subscription when the customer service rep, Sheldon, returned to the phone. He acknowledged that they didn't keep their outgoing emails long enough to be able to look at the faulty email and sending date, but he apologized for that and said that he would like to offer to extend Daddy's subscription for one month beyond the end date to make up for the faulty partially eaten June delivery!

Mission accomplished!