Lazy Sunday

I’m working on a new cat installment, due to the wonderfully nice reactions I got.
Although posting pictures of kittens in a baaaaabyanimals lj community is sort of like posting pictures of cheeseburgers and cake in a fat people community — you’re just asking for a positive reaction.
But I have no qualms with this.
And I’m lucky Scamp likes having his picture taken more than I do.
But this entry is not about happy things, oh, no.
It’s a cautionary tale of how much businesses are moronic jerks.
How to Screw Up Your Credit Rating
or
You’d Think I Was the First Person to Ever Move

Let me start off this story by being very vain.
I consider myself an intelligent person. There are a lot of things I don’t understand about being an adult, but no one who is one got an instruction booklet either, and I’ve always figured I would be able to pick it up as I went along, and as long as I was responsible and followed the rules, I’d be all right.
Wrong.
The tale begins a half a year ago with something that, admittedly, was my fault.
I was in the midst of working with theater arts camp and although I tried to keep on top of everything, one bill almost slipped underneath my radar.
It was the morning of Friday, July 1st, and my electric company’s bill was due on the 5th.
Usually I mail bills out a ridiculous number of days before they’re due, just because I’m paranoid like that, but when I’m busy with work, I tend to walk around my house with my eyes closed just to try to get some extra sleep.
I don’t want to point any fingers or get any companies in trouble, so I will simply refer to this electric company as “DUQUESNE LIGHT (pronounced “Doo-kain light”), whose website is right here, and I hope all the employees die mysteriously but painfully, although it wouldn’t be my fault, ha ha, hello, FBI.”
Back to the story, it’s Friday, and I realize I haven’t sent my check yet, so I hastily and sleepily chuck it in the mailbox in morning before camp. It’s later that day that I realize that Monday is the 4th of July and thus a holiday, thus my check may not get there until much after the 5th, since despite being not 5 minutes from my apartment, the mail system apparently has to send my bill to Siberia before bouncing back to right down the road from me in 3 to 5 business days.
Now, this little company, being trendy and “net savvy” has a little thing on their website where you can pay your bills online! I’ve heard of some of my friends doing this, and my mother, too, who sometimes cannot locate the Alt key, so I certainly wasn’t one to be out of the loop of online bill pay.
I decide to real quick sign up for this service and pay my bill immediately online, operating under the assumption that when my check gets there, it will not be late, but actually an early credit towards my next bill!
Am I Susie On-Top-Of-Shit or what?
“Or what” is the correct answer.
This next part is also my fault, which I completely own up to.
I paid that bill successfully, but I did not read the fine print which stated that when I signed up for online bill pay, I would never receive another paper bill.
We-he-hell, I waited and waited at the beginning of August for my next bill to come in the mail, and it never came.
I figured that the check I had sent for July to be applied to August had sufficiently covered it, so I wasn’t too worried.
On a whim one day, I decided to go through my email client’s “Junk” section, and found a whole slew of messages from this company telling me my bill was due.
Although it certainly was Junk, I needed this info, so I signed on and paid my bill (which was significantly more than July’s bill, since I ran the A/C on Fucking-High every minute of every day because it was so swelteringly hot).
Not a huge deal. No credit screwing there.
This is all exposition.
The death-wish-inducing hatred comes here.
I’m about to leave the state of Pennsylvania.
I am terrified because never before have I been in charge of things like closing a cable bill account and an electricity account and making sure my post office has my forwarding address and everything, and I am freaking out about it all.
I return my cable modem and I pay all my bills. Luckily my cable bill charged for months in advance, so I could pay my last bill while I actually lived there and ask them to shut it off the day I was moving out.
But since all the electric company’s Mind-Reading Abilities were neglected in favor of having a stockpile under the category of Asshole-Being Abilities, they couldn’t predict my energy usage, and I would have to pay my bill later on.
“No problem,” thought I, a silly, silly ignorant youth. “I’ll just check my inbox now that I know I’m to expect it, and pay the bill when it comes!”
I lived in my parents’ house in Pittsburgh before I moved, and come the online bill did, so I clicked the “Pay Now” button and forked over the last month’s electricity bill.
Being the superparanoid and insisting-upon-control person I am, I made about 4356786 calls to Comcast and Duquesne Light BEGGING them to tell me if there were ANY outstanding payments, and if I could indeed, go on with my life.
They told me I could, and DL informed me that as long as I paid my last month’s bill, I was all square. I told them I had, and they wished me a good day.
LIARS.
A couple days before I left, I had to close my checking account, which, again, I was terrified about, because if some other idiot were not as punctual as I am, perhaps I had an outstanding check not cashed yet or a payment that was still, for some reason pending.
I checked my online bank statement and saw that everything was paid up except for…guess what!! My Duquesne Light Bill!
It wasn’t due yet, but it would by the time the account from which it was pulling would be closed.
I quickly called the DL hotline…the next day, silly! It was only 5:00 PM, and their Customer Support line, as we all know, is only open from 8:00 AM to 8:15 AM!
I paid with my credit card which would travel across the country with me, and although I had the nagging feeling that I had an extra $177 floating around in cyberspace, (since I had now paid that bill twice) but I thought that I had squared everything up!
Wrong again!
While in Denver, I got a lovely call from the Collections Agency! A wonderful agency who has the magical power of making whoever they call feel like white trash!
I calmly (ha) told them that I, in fact, HAD paid the bill — twice in fact! Once online and once by credit card.
They told me that they didn’t know what I was talking about, but they had tried to access my checking account and it was closed, and they don’t even accept credit cards, and would I mind running frantically to the post office and mailing them a mail order, in effect paying this bill for the third time? Kthx.
I did as I was told, saying loudly to the woman, “FINE! It’s only MONEY.”
I also tried asking a bunch of times what she thought might have happened, but for some reason, she wasn’t very helpful.
So, I’ve arrived in California.
Be happy that I’m omitting the part where a completely different (but probably in cahoots) company cut my credit card off in Vegas because they thought it was stolen, since they called my house in Pittsburgh to confirm that I was in fact in Vegas, but I didn’t answer, so they cut me off. This makes perfect sense.
If I wonder if my friend is in another state, the first thing I do to get in touch with them immediately is call their home, and if they’re not there, I decide that they’re just probably hiding somewhere in their house, because why would anyone go to Vegas, tourist capital of the United States?
Wait. I didn’t omit that at all, did I?
So I get to California. Right.
Suddenly, from whom do I receive an email but Duquesne Light!!!
Another bill? Well, sort of.
A bill for -$177.
And, the plot thickens, my mom gets a bill AND a Past Due Notice (complete with White Trash feeling) forwarded to her from Comcast for $200!! (PS — My monthly fee was less than $50.)
I call Comcast and they tell me to ignore it.
O…kay?
I call back another day, thinking this is some trick by EVERYONE IN THE WORLD to ruin my credit, and this guy tells me also to ignore it and that it is automatically sent to everyone who cuts off service.
“Did I do something wrong? Not inform the right department?”
“No, it happens to everyone.”
“What if I had — silly me here — paid it?”
“We would have used your payment to purchase an Xbox 360.”
Okay, he didn’t really say that, but I never did get a straightforward answer, and I really think that’s what would have happened.
Now, my mom has been waiting for approximately two months for some sort of magical statement from my health insurance — who were very nice up until this point, so I will refer to them by this codename: “Shmue Shmoss Shmue…Shield..”
This magical statement says, in effect, that although I gave them six months of notice, they will act like a typical agency whom I do not owe money, and drag their fucking feet so that I have a lapse in coverage of at least a month and at most, forever.
We knew I was going to have a lapse in coverage.
My company’s HR lady told me to my face.
“You will have a lapse in coverage of about two months while you trade from Pennsylvania’s health insurance to California’s.”
“But I’m taking a leave of absence. I still work for the company, and it’s only going to be three weeks.”
“You will have a lapse in coverage for about two months. Drive safe.”
Not making that up.
So I have to wait for Pittsburgh’s Shmue Shmoss to verify that I don’t live there anymore before California’s Shmue Shield will believe that I’m here.
I think if I stood outside Shmue Shield’s building here and pounded on the window, screaming loudly, they would all put their fingers in their ears and say “La la la, We don’t hear anything!”
So my mom keeps insisting that Pittsburgh hasn’t sent them anything, so I finally called them up (at 7:30 AM! Because they’re only open from 10:30 AM to 10:45 AM EST!) and they said they would send it in 3 to 5 business days!
“From now?”
“Well, yes.”
“Wasn’t it supposed to come much before now?”
“Yes. I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.”
“And…what if I *hadn’t* just happened to call you up and specifically ask your company to do its job?”
“I would ask our CEO, but he’s busy playing Quake 4 on his new Xbox 360.”
So, I got that little problem tied up in a pretty bow, unless, of course, it still doesn’t come and we begin this delightful dance again, but I’m sure you all are wondering, “Have you gotten your Duquesne Light credit back?” or “What happened with them anyway?” or possibly “Is this post over YET?”
Here’s what happened.
It seems that the snazzy online billpay DL uses is way too snazzy for them and they use a third party.
Well, the third party are lazy asses, so when I clicked the misleading “Pay Now” to suck money from my checking account, well, it didn’t, and it wasn’t going to until 2 days before the bill was due, or in Laur-man’s terms, 2 days after my checking account was closed.
They also have no access to my actual Duquesne Light account, so when I called DL to pay by credit card, they kindly didn’t inform the creditors that I’d paid up already. The third party paid for me, looked in my checking account, saw nothing, and made me freak out and run to the post office to send them a money order to cover the difference.
Then, when DL got the 2nd payment from the creditors, they credited my bill for the next month, forgetting that I had closed the account and moved, those silly ganders!
So when my mom told me day after day that no check for $177 had arrived for me, I finally called THEM, TOO, (at 7:30 AM…) and they said it would arrive in 3 to 5 business days.
“And what if I hadn’t called and asked for the money you owe me?”
“Well, it would have sat in the account for about two years, then it would have gone to the state.”
“Are you making that up? Because I am totally posting this on my website in hopes that others are as incredulous as I am right now.”
“No, that last sentence I said was verbatim, although you’re making this part up for comedic effect.”
“Well, I’ll be.”
So, that’s the end of my tale.
I’ll spare you a follow-up post and let you guys assume that all these things really come to pass — I eventually get health insurance, I don’t owe Comcast $200, and I get my $177 from Duquesne Light, and life turns out to be awesome.
In a small happy end, I contacted all parties involved in every debacle, and everyone says that this will have no effect on my credit, rendering the title of this piece untrue, but the second title very, very true.
You’d think I was the first person in the world who ever moved anywhere.

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