Video: The Top 8 Ways to Know When It’s GO TIME – #2 When You’re Being Ignored
When you have a gripe and you bring it to the individual or company with whom you are dissatisfied, what happens?
People on the verge of a dispute normally take one of two roads; they may take the opportunity to be a champion of resolution and address your complaints head-on… or they just might take the stance of the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand and refuse to respond to your overtures.
So what do you do when you’re engaged with a conflict-dodging bird?
The first thing to do is to find a way to drag that person or entity’s head out of the sand. And if emails, phone calls, or threatening letters from yourself and/or your lawyer are met with radio silence, then they’ve left you with no choice despite your best efforts and intentions. If you’ve been working to find resolution without a partner on the other end, the nature of lawsuits is that it takes two or more people to get into the conflict, and it will take two or more to get out of it.
VERY IMPORTANT: If you reach this point and you are unsure that you can or want to pursue the matter all the way through to a courtroom, then stop right there. The threat of a lawsuit is an empty one if you don’t have any real commitment to follow it all the way through. So be sure that you are more than willing to take the matter all the way to the end – regardless of if you get what you want or not. Keep in mind Rule #1 and do an economic assessment to be sure that there’s enough at stake, and then it should be clear that it’s GO TIME.
Let me share a quick story that I experienced.
One day I got a notice from my mortgage company that they were selling my mortgage to another company, and that the following month I should make the next payment directly to that new company. In fact, the new firm that was buying the old mortgage was actually the same company, but they wanted me to make the check payable to a different name and send it to a different location. They also told me that I shouldn’t have to do anything at all to facilitate this transition; the new company would be sending me information on what to do before the beginning of the month.
You probably know where this is going… the first of the month came and went, by the 10th I still hadn’t heard from the new company and wasn’t sure what to do. The one thing I did know, however, was that I didn’t want my mortgage payment to be late. So faced with no other choice, I made the payment to the old company, assuming that since the companies were one and the same, they could figure out the accounting on their end.
This proved to be a faulty assumption, as soon thereafter I was contacted by the new company saying, “Where’s your payment?”
I responded in kind by telling them the truth – “I paid it to the old company, who is actually YOU.” I sent them proof of payment as well.
The response was not what I hoped for – I was told, “That’s the old company; that’s not us.” And then they refused to credit my account for that payment despite the clear and documented evidence I’d sent them.
Many months of conflict ensued, and although I got the original company to refund my payment, the new company persisted in saying that not only did I owe them that missing payment, but I also had to pay significant penalties and accrued interest AND if I didn’t, it would affect my credit rating. I tried to explain to them that it was unreasonable – that of course I’d make the payment but the additional charges were outrageous, and the threat to damage my credit was even more egregious – but they refused.
As I tried to elevate my case to higher ups through calling and emailing, the company went all Phil Collins on me: No reply at all.
Eventually I got frustrated enough that I decided to file a lawsuit against them in small claims court knowing that they wouldn’t want to litigate this issue though I was prepared to do so. After all, there was no real upside for them. Furthermore, the economic damage to me – the potential dent in my credit rating from a late mortgage payment – made it worth my while to take it to the next level.
As soon as I filed, I got a call from one of the mortgage company’s attorneys asking what this was all about. I explained what had transpired, and the lawyer immediately agreed that the situation was ridiculous.
She then posed to me the very simple question that I hoped somebody would ask me all along: “Mr. Slade, what do you want?
I told her, “I want to make my payment, I want you to correct my account, I don’t want any late fees or penalties, and I don’t want this to affect my credit negatively.”
She chuckled and then said, “That’s it?”
I laughed and said, “Yes – it seems simple and funny, but I’ve spent the last six months trying to do this and I couldn’t get anyone at your company to help me. I’m so glad you jumped into this, and it’s exactly why I filed the claim knowing that it wouldn’t be until a lawyer looked at this would they realize the mortgage company was in the wrong and a simple resolution was at hand.”
She agreed quickly; I tendered the payment, and the problem was resolved.
This was the best-case scenario, of course, but I had thought the situation through carefully and was fully prepared to go to litigation if necessary.
The moral of the story: ostriches may feel comfortable keeping their head in the sand, but it’s a smart bird that looks at all the angles and knows when it’s time to take flight.
When it’s GO TIME.