Photo courtesy Burke Smith Law (www.bankruptcy-lawyer-omaha.com)

How I found $97.08 out of nowhere

I remember the day clearly.

I pulled over into the apartment’s parking lot, and took out my phone. After listening to my bank balance, I knew something was not right. I definitely should have more money than the amount I heard on the automated machine.

You know those times when you are running low on cash and with every amount that you spend you know how much you have left in the bank. Your savings may be zero, but you know you have a little something in your checking account. That day, I was doing the math in my head while driving that afternoon.

I also had a few things I was thinking of paying that month, but the most important was my trip to New York City that summer. I was simply hoping I’d make enough from work the next week to get my ticket — because I had checked Google flights a few days before, and I had found a $96.00 one way ticket that I was planning to pick up before it was no longer on the site.


The search

I turned to patience, for I know the many headaches it’s saved me in the past.

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape one hundred days of sorrow — Chinese proverb.

So while sitting in that parking lot, I calmed down, but left the car running still — it was a hot day, and I needed the AC to keep me cool. I called the bank and pressed the button that lets me listen to all of my latest transactions. One by one, I heard charges that I recognized — gas at the Interstate 35 gas station, groceries at the HEB supermarket (it’s a chain in Texas), a burritos or some food I had bought, and some more; just regular stuff — and then I heard $16.00 from Audible. Hold on, I thought. Wait a minute. I don’t recognize that.

Okay, let’s dig into this.

I called my bank again, and this time I waited patiently to speak to a representative. ( You know how they sometimes keep you waiting on the phone till you give up, or you have to go do something else, so you end up not calling back?).

So this time, I waited and finally someone answered. I patiently walked through my transactions one at a time with her, and we came to the $16.00 charge. I explained to her that I didn’t recognize that charge and asked her to reverse it.

“It’s already processing, and there’s nothing I can do here on my end,” she said. “If the charge is an automated charge that’s authorized by you, there’s nothing I can do. Plus they have been charging you since November.”

“Hold on. Since when?” I quickly asked.

“November,” she repeated.

“Again, what’s the company’s name?” I asked.

“Audible. You can call them and dispute it, and they can refund you back the money if you did not authorize it,” she advised.

I made a quick scan, mentally, of my online transactions, and it immediately hit me that I may have authorized it. I think I may have agreed to this charge when I bought something on Amazon and decided to try Audible free for 30 days — because Audible is owned by Amazon, and they have trial offers on Amazon. I’m not sure I remember correctly, but the deal was 30 days free and then you get charged monthly.

I had totally forgotten. Life took over, and I lost track.

“Okay, thanks,” I said.


The call

I googled Audible and found their customer service number online, and called it. I spoke to a seemingly kind gentleman and explained my situation.

“I just got of the phone with my bank about a charge from Audible. I don’t remember the date exactly, but I may have signed up for it online, but honestly I have not even used it once. And I understand I have been charged a monthly fee since November. I’d like to have you look into it and reverse this for me,” I said.

“What’s your email,” he asked. I gave it to him, and he looked up my account.

“Yes, I see your account. You did sign up on Amazon,” he said.

“Sure. I don’t doubt it, but again I have been so busy I have not even used it — not even during the trial period. But I’d like to have it reversed.”

“Okay,” he said. “We can do that. Let me see how much it is.” He totaled 4 months and decided to refund about $64.00 back into my account.

I did the math in my head, and realized that’s not for the 6 months I was charged. I quickly protested and said that’s not the total amount for 6 months.

“Yes, I know, but I have power to only go back to 4 months of refunds.”

“Okay,” I said. “I really do need all the monthly payments refunded back to me. Is there a supervisor that I can speak to?”

He asked me to hold on a minute. So I did. (When doing this, it’s very important to be very patient and not to get upset. That ruins everything.)

After a few minutes, he told me he will add the remaining 2 months of refunds. For which I greatly thanked him, and asked him to please close my account. Which he did.

“Please expect the refund in your account in the next 7–10 business days. Also, you will receive an email confirming this.”

“Thank you,” I said.

Sometime later I got this in my email:


The takeaway

This is not in anyway to make the company look bad. From my experience, and from what you can also tell, that’s great customer service from the company, and that shows I can trust them — many other companies will have you jump through hoops to make this refund, frustratingly before making this refund. Or will completely refuse to give it back.

What if I had not noticed, or called? It’s my fault, completely, and the company will simply keep doing business as usual, charging me.

But the key point here is that how many people lose money to companies simply because they forget a subscription, don’t check their monthly bank charges, or simply don’t know how to call up a company and dispute a transaction or admit a wrong or oversight, and ask for a reversal. How many people do you think lose sight of this over the years? Many. Plus a little monthly charge over a number of years adds up pretty quickly.

When it comes to money, Warren Buffet’s makes a very interesting comment about it:

Rule number 1: Never lose money.

Rule number 2: Remember rule number 1.

That says it all.

And you know what’s funny about my refund? That’s almost the exact amount I needed for my plane ticket to New York that Summer. See, I’m a believer and trust in the favor of God, and I know it was all Him that made this happen — he prompted me. Yet I had a part to play. I had to follow up with a call, dig through my transactions, discover the charges, call up the company and explain my situation and request a refund.

What if I didn’t do that? That will be $97.08 and more, in the coming months, that may be lost.

I’m guilty of this as many others, but how many of us know what’s really going on in our accounts, line by line? We are busy running around to earn a few bucks here and there, but what if we are losing something a little bit at a time in our accounts?

It’s worth a check.