On the chilly walk to the car on Tuesday, I chatted with a student about a phone call she’d gotten in which someone had asked for her debit card number. She said the same company had sent her a letter and that she’d bring it the next day for me to look at.
She did bring the letter, and it said she owed $800 in addition to her $800 down payment. We called the bank and found out there had been a charge to her account. The very helpful banker told us to contact the company, and if they wouldn’t refund the money, that my student could come in and fill out papers and that the bank’s fraud department would get to work.
My student is not a native English speaker and has only been studying English for a year and a half. She’s come so far, but not far enough that she understood a pushy phone conversation from a sneaky, greedy company. And not far enough to argue with that company to get her money back.
That was my job.
Let me give you some background on this. I HATE talking on the phone. I can stand talking to Dexter and my parents, but even if you’re my friend, I’d much rather e-mail you than talk to you on the phone. I can and do talk on the phone, but only with much trepidation, even when I’m doing something boring like asking what hours a store is open or if I can schedule an oil change. I was praying and praying that God would help me to know what to say and that he would defeat the evil people who were hurting my student (whose story is already so tragic).
Thankfully, knowing you are on the side of righteousness and that your enemy is evil gives a lot of confidence.
I jumped through the first hurdle–20 minutes of being on hold. Then, on speaker phone, I explained who I was and what I wanted for my student. The person I spoke to on the phone checked with his supervisor and said they could give only a partial refund to my student because her five-day window had passed. I calmly explained that the full amount needed to be refunded because the company had not explained what was happening to my student in a way she understood. We did this dance for several more minutes, until I asked to speak to the supervisor he’d consulted earlier.
I don’t think my heart has ever beat so hard. I was so full of anger and anxiety.
The supervisor was incredibly rude. After my short conversation with him, I wanted to pull out the curse words or my student’s sob story. I knew those would probably not get me anywhere, so I kept calm. And prayed and prayed and prayed. He made it a point to require my student to be the one speaking to him. He spat out a battery of questions about why she’d give her debit card number to someone without understanding and wanting the services they were offering. My student, although her English is developing, does not lack any attitude when she gets mad. She knew he was being rude and she said, as he continued to speak over her answers, “Will you listen to me?! Now will you listen to me?!” She rattled on, just as he had, explaining what had happened and why his company was being unfair.
A few minutes later, his rude interrogation stopped and we heard a click. At first, I thought he had hung up and that I’d have to be on hold again for another 20 minutes before starting over. But then I heard our original phone man explaining that they’d be offering us a one-time full refund as a courtesy…
Not sure how anything they do involves courtesy, but I didn’t think it was a good time to start arguing semantics.
Before she left, my student said, “This is a good lesson for me to be careful about my information!”
We’ll be checking to see if the money really does reappear in her account, but I’m praying that it does and that God has taken care of it all for good!
UPDATE 4/5/11: The money has officially been returned!