2019-01-09

Without Paperwork, Nothing Can Happen


I used to pay a monthly subscription fee to "Hand & Stone," a massage spa. That monthly fee covered one massage per month, and possibly other discounts that I never took advantage of.

Some months ago, I cancelled my subscription since daily foam rolling eliminated my need for a monthly massage. I had a lengthy conversation about this cancellation over the telephone. This is to be expected, since the whole grift with subscription services is that they want to keep you holding on to your subscription, no matter what. After having settled the matter, though, we hung up the phone. As far as subscription cancellations go, it was a pleasant conversation, and I thought I'd heard the last of it.

The other day, however, some three or four months later, I received a message asking me to "update the credit card on my account."

I called them back, and the manager answered the phone. When I explained that I had already cancelled my account, and that there would be no need to update my credit card or charge me again, she told me that she had no record of my cancellation. Fine, I thought. That's just a misunderstanding. So I explained again that I had cancelled my subscription, and she explained again that she didn't have record of it.

Then she told me that if I didn't update my credit card, I would be sent to collections.

Upon hearing this last part, I had to interrupt her to verify what she had told me. I asked her to confirm my understanding of the situation: That "Hand & Stone" would continue to charge my credit card even though I had cancelled my account, and that if I didn't pay them I would be sent to a collections agency. She confirmed that this was correct.

At that point, I told her, "Since you don't have a valid credit card on file, and I believe I cancelled my account, why don't you just not charge me?"

She told me the reason was that she didn't have a record of it.

It is truly a bewildering thing to behold a world in which you can verbally state to people that you no longer wish to do business with a person -- a world in which a person is incapable of doing business with you, because they do not have a reliable way to charge you any money -- a world in which no actual services are being rendered because you have not entered the business establishment to collect those services -- and yet that person will nonetheless claim that they are incapable of not charging you money, incapable of not sending you to collections, because they didn't update their records.

When did this happen to human beings? When did we become so tied to paperwork that all action is impossible without it?

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