I certainly don’t want you guys reading through my posts and thinking that I spend my days being angry all the time. I’ve noticed that sometimes I tend to go off on a rant and I’m certain that from an outside perspective, it seems as though I complain and harp on things almost as much as I encourage others not to do those very things. I’m no Bruce Banner, but sometimes specific interactions illicit an angry response whether I like it or not. I had one such interaction yesterday, which was precipitated by an appointment I had made for November.
In the interest of avoiding certain liabilities, I won’t name the business or even the nature of the services the business provides. But none of you are dumb and will likely figure it out. Suffice it to say that this is a business where one needs to book an appointment in advance and apparently requires a cash deposit. Given that my birthday is in about a week and half, I thought I would avail myself of this service and do something for myself.
I researched the local businesses that provided this service and decided to start with a location that was not far from my home. In fact, it was only a five-minute drive straight south from the main drag near my house, so convenience was a bit of a factor. I enquired about the service I required and the gentleman in question (and I use the term lightly) indicated that he was booking well into months from now, and the earliest he could fit me in would be early November, thanks to a cancellation. When asked if he had anything sooner, he indicated that he did not as they were EXTREMELY busy and had bookings coming out their posteriors! Fair enough.
I stated I would take the November appointment and simply cancel if anything changed. The guy explained he needed an eighty-dollar deposit, which would be applied to the one hundred and forty dollars and hour required when I attended my appointment. I specifically inquired what my timeline would be to be able to cancel the appointment, to which he replied as long as I gave him a couple of days to fill the appointment slot, it would be fine. I used the ATM he had inside the shop, as this was a “cash only” business, and withdrew eighty dollars at the cost of eighty-three dollars, thanks to the ATM fees.
I left the location a little uncertain. My goal was to treat myself to something for my birthday, and November happens to be two months BEYOND that day. Plus, I felt the inherent cost of the service was a bit steep, especially considering what I was asking for. I have a well-known dislike of money and consider it an unwanted necessity of daily life. So I tend to cheap out a lot, especially if it’s something for me. I wasn’t certain if I wanted to pay THAT much for something that in my opinion, should have cost less. So, I did what any responsible consumer would do: I shopped around.
Obviously, I should have done this prior to accepting an appointment. My fear was that if all the similar businesses in the city were just as booked and busy, I would have a hell of a time getting my goal accomplished if I didn’t tentatively accept a date somewhere. But I found a second location that booked me in for a “consult” visit to discuss exactly what I wanted and how much it would cost. That appointment was yesterday afternoon…
The second location was excellent. After a brief five-minute consult, I discovered that my total cost would only be about a hundred dollars and I would be booked in as an end-of-day session within the next week. I was elated. Not only was this much less expensive than the first location, I could potentially get my birthday gift in and around my actual birthday instead of two calendar months later! The only problem is they needed the hundred dollars as a deposit prior to booking the appointment. It also had to be in cash. What is it with all these “deposits?”
I decided that I would attend the first location, cancel the November appointment and get my eighty dollars back. Then I could return to the second location and deposit the hundred dollars and pop in next week. It was a pretty sound plan. But as I always say, life doesn’t care about your plan. I was about to receive a rude awakening.
I walked into the first location and spoke with the same individual that I had booked the appointment with. I explained that I needed to cancel my November appointment. We briefly discussed the matter and he agreed to cancel the appointment. Then he thanked me for coming in and sat idle for about ten seconds, making direct eye contact. I explained I needed my eighty dollars back, to which he told me I wouldn’t be getting it.
The exchange went a little something like this:
ME: “Excuse me?”
HIM: “Well, yeah. Deposits are non-refundable. It’s part of our shop policy.”
ME: “That makes sense for someone who books an appointment and never shows up or cancels the day of. But I’m cancelling two months in advance. You can’t keep someone’s money and provide NO service whatsoever. You aren’t losing out here, you can fill the spot. You just finished telling me last week that you were EXTREMELY busy…”
HIM: “Look, I don’t know what to tell you, man. If you ever decide to come back, we can discuss a deal where I might not require another deposit…”
ME: (pushed ever so slightly over the edge) “ANOTHER DEPOSIT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? THERE’S NO WAY I’D BE COMING BACK TO THIS BUSINESS!!!”
HIM: “That’s cool, man. Because you aren’t welcome back, anyway. You can’t come back, even if you want to.”
ME: “So, you’re honestly keeping eighty dollars of my money without providing any service…?”
HIM: “That’s the definition of a deposit. Shop policy.”
I walked out with steam coming out of my ears and flames burning in my eyes. I was P-I-S-S-E-D. Modern life and modern society has a significant way of fucking with a man’s Zen. It only took me a few seconds to regain my calm, but it did nothing to eliminate my soured mood. I was out $80 that I needed and could have used for the second location. So not only have I lost the money, I won’t be getting my gift to myself.
Maybe I’m the asshole, here. Who knows? I’m too subjective to say for sure. Maybe it was a lack of communication. I could have possibly explained that I specifically meant my deposit when I asked about a safe window to cancel. Of course, the guy could have clearly explained that I wouldn’t get my deposit back, regardless of when I cancelled. There was likely some blame on both sides of the equation, but despite the fact I don’t necessarily believe the customer is always right, I think a bit of customer empathy was called for in this instance. ☯