Sometimes I just know things are going to go wrong. My internal red flags go up, and they keep waving, trying to get my attention.
They’re usually right, and they were this time too. Just not in the way I thought. In much weirder ways.
Last month I wrote about the freelance job Husband secured, and that we were waiting for a check to arrive before we fronted money from our pockets for a photo shoot. The check, for 50% of the contracted amount, arrived just in the nick of time and was deposited to our business account within fifteen minutes of the postal worker placing it into my slightly dewy (hey, it’s Florida) palm.
I was still nervous that the check wouldn’t clear. Just because a bank makes it available doesn’t mean the other party’s bank can’t refuse the check. Banking regulations require banks to make the money available to depositors within a few days, but if the maker puts a stop payment on it, or if it’s written on a closed account, or if the wrong person signed the check, or if for any other reason the bank decides not to honor the check it could take a week or more before my bank is notified, and then another 3-4 days for them to notify me via a bounced check notice.
Oddly, no one at the bank – not the teller, the head teller or even the bank manager – could tell me how long to wait before I was sure to be safe, though the manager did keep saying, “I wish more people cared so much about making sure they were writing good checks!” That’s disturbing on more than one level, isn’t it?
So, fast forward to yesterday. The first check has cleared and the project is over. They tell us they’ve overnighted a check to us (and faxed Husband a copy), then asked us to overnight the completed product back to them that day. It does not include an expense reimbursement for the photo shoot, which they agreed to pay and we invoiced them for separately but at the same time we invoiced the final payment.
Red flag alert!
Husband talks to them, and they balk about paying the expense (they didn’t use most of the footage from the shoot). Husband made a deal with their local representative that he would pay us for the photo shoot (next week some time, hopefully) and release the final product once we get a tracking number for the check. I’m not holding my breath on that expense payment. The dang red flags are blinding me at this point.
Fine. Whatever. I’m not happy about it, but it’s Husband’s call.
So, we’re waiting for the check, and it’s not arriving by the 3pm FedEx promise deadline. Or 4pm. Or 5 pm.
Red flags waving faster than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.
We find out that there’s a weather delay in Memphis and we will not get delivery until today. Husband decides to go ahead and FedEx them the final product. I have visions of a FedEx envelope empty but for the “April Fools!” scribbled on a used tissue.
Now, you’d think FedEx would have us as one of the earliest deliveries, since it was already a day late. Customer service and all. But nooooooooo. I’d set it up to get e-mailed status updates, and at 3:06 pm I get an e-mail that the check was delivered at 2:59 pm. Yahooooooooo……….???????????????????!!!
Um, it was?
Red flags a-wavin’.
I didn’t hear the truck. Contrary to what some people think, I don’t nap the afternoon away (well, not every day). I was pretty sure I hadn’t been napping seven minutes ago, unless I’d suddenly been afflicted with narcolepsy.
I walk to the front door and open it. Nope. No package. I go to the tracking site and it says that the envelope was left at the door. Hmmm. My dog didn’t hear anyone approach…
So now I go outside and look around my front patio. I think perhaps the driver went to the wrong house, so I check my neighbors’ patios. Nope.
I go back inside and call FedEx. And as I’m making my way through the FedEx automated phone maze I hear a truck pull up.
I rush to open the front door, and it’s obvious that he was not going to knock; he was just going to leave it.
“I know what you did, ” I say. He looks stricken. “I know that you said you delivered it at 2:59 when you weren’t anywhere near here. It’s now 3:14. That’s fraud, dude. ” FedEx has a policy that they will refund you if they’re late, and at this point they were 24 hours and fourteen minutes late. FedEx guy would get in trouble for delivering late, so he fudged it.
I told him I was going to call FedEx, that he better make this right; I’m pretty steamed. I’m irate. I’m offended.
The guy gives me a million mea culpas, and takes full responsibility. Tells me he’s totally wrong, it’s on him. Tells me he’s going to call his supervisor. He’s shaking.
The wind so totally went out of my sails. I’m a sucker for a guy who takes responsibility.
I realized that our client was getting their money refunded anyway. I realized that this guy could get fired. I realized that my next package could get accidentally “lost” if I made an enemy.
And he took responsibility.
So I told him I wasn’t going to turn him in. And I warned him that the next time the person could very well be even more of a bitch than I am, and he could very easily get busted. Seriously. And I sent him on his way.
Part of me wishes that I’d turned him in. What he did was just so wrong.
At least we got the check. And in 3-6 months if it doesn’t bounce I’ll even write checks against it.