In Which I Go Sleuthing: Postscript

posted in: Personal | 2

A few weeks ago, I checked my voicemail because the box was full. (As an aside, if you ever have an urgent message to get to me, voicemail is not the way to do it. Send a text message or email me — I am quite frequently very remiss in my voicemail checking.) One of the messages was from my contact at the Palladium-Item.

She said (paraphrased): “Because the person was an independent contractor, we will be unable to reimburse you for the $14. You’ll have to get it through the courts.”

If you recall in the Epilogue, I had been told that they would take care of it and reimburse me. So why the sudden change of heart?

I told Mel about it and she was determined to give them a piece of their ear (She wants me to note that, in the past, she has made waitresses cry. Seriously.). I’m no stranger to the “angry e-mail / phone calls“, but I really didn’t know that I’d be able to do anything about it. What was I going to do, write a letter to the editor to complain?

But that’s exactly what Melissa did. I don’t have the full text here, but basically she complained about the lack of redress, particularly “if you can’t trust the people who deliver your newspaper to not steal your phone, who can you trust?”

She received a reply e-mail from the current Editor who said he would promptly look into the matter and “take care of it.” The next day, we were told that they have credited our account for the $14. Not exactly the same thing, but considering that we owed them $22 (which I intended to not pay until this situation was resolved), I am willing to accept that as fair. 

My contact at the Palladium also emailed Melissa and told her that the carrier was no longer on the route (I don’t know if that means “fired” or not, though) and that she apologized for the “miscommunication.”

Not to beat a dead horse here, but what exactly was the “miscommunication?” Was it simply a lack of initial communication with the editor? Should I just have gone straight to the top? I suppose I was working under the assumption that we’re all adults here and that they care enough about their constituency to just bite the bullet and fix the situation here. It was a pretty paltry amount of overages, and really, reimbursing me for the amount would have simply been a symbolic gesture that “Hey, we’re sorry it happened, let me go ahead and fix that for you,” and we could have gone our separate ways. Sort of like when a restaurant server accidentally spills a beverage on a guest, and the restaurant picks up the dry-cleaning tab. (yeah, yeah, I know that this was an independent contractor and not an employee, but that’s just legal hairsplitting — from the consumer standpoint, they are functionally the same)

If it had been a significant amount of money, I would have pursued legal action and simply notified the Pal-Item of what happened. But such a small amount really doesn’t justify a lawsuit — even in small claims court. It would be like filing a suit against a Don Pablo’s restaurant for a server fraudulently “padding” the tip on a credit payment.

I am grateful to the Executive Editor, Mickey Johnson, for taking care of this properly (and to my wife, of course, for contacting him in the first place). The redress seems both reasonable and fair for both parties.

I think we can finally close the book on this one (I hope?) If this goes any further, it’s going to require its own Tag!

2 Responses

  1. Thomas Kemp

    In the meantime, the Pal-Item has reduced its value by more than half – both in content and also as a local employer, making the “credit” worth very little indeed.

  2. Melissa

    I agree that the credit is worthless since I don’t want the paper delivered to our house anymore at all. As a former employee of the Pal-Item, I have defended the paper in the past — but I haven’t seen anything worthwhile on the front page (or any of the inside pages) for so long now. It’s a shame because I know that they do have talented writers on staff.

    I also want to add that they would not publish my letter because they have a policy against printing letters that allege any criminal activity has occurred unless the matter has been resolved in court. After they carefully and tactfully tried to explain this to me, I was asked to send an email to the viewpoints editor to say that I’d “reconsidered” my letter submission — just to “close the matter on their end” — you know, since the matter has been effectively resolved.

    I have a feeling that what happened with the refund is that the circulation supervisor who returned the phone to us was hoping that no one higher up would find out about what happened — so she simply dismissed you when she couldn’t put the refund through by herself.

    I’m just glad you didn’t drop your wallet when you were locking up that day.