Monday, May 27, 2013

Thank you

Life is pretty much humming along, and I appreciate that the sacrifices made by the service members and their families are what makes my humdrum daily life possible. Thank you.

If you'll excuse me, I have a few trucks to take care of. Please don't limit your appreciation of everything that our service members and their families go through to keep us home and safe to just one day and a post on a blog, no matter how heartfelt. Thank you. If I never hear taps again it will be too soon.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Better Safe Than Sorry

I was looking at my checking account online early this morning and noticed a charge I had not authorized from a place I have never heard of. Something called the Crystal Hotel in Miami, FL, for $1.73. They reversed the charges immediately, but it made me sit up and take notice. I called my bank's fraud line this morning and had my card cancelled. The bank was able to tell me that it is a hotel but I haven't been able to find it online. Hopefully some clerk was in a rush and entered the numbers incorrectly and this is all for naught.

We have had our money stolen via our debit card before. The last time my husband and I took a vacation we took our kids up to my in-laws in Virginia and then drove down to Atlanta and spent a very nice week at a posh five star hotel downtown. We saved up for over a year to pay for it. A scam artist in the form of a parking lot attendant got hold of the numbers from my husband's debit card and proceeded to bleed our bank account by having the card run through a hotel in some minuscule podunk town in South Carolina. Just getting it straightened out enough so we could check out of the hotel in Atlanta took several hours of phone calls that went all the way up to a corporate manager with our bank and required the police to verify our identities over the phone twice. Once we got back into town our local bank manager did verify that we were here, had a police report from Atlanta PD, and that we probably weren't at Jebeziah's No-Tell Motel in Bums' Rush, SC racking up charges. Apparently once our accounts ran dry they forgot to turn off whatever program they were using to automatically charge our card every hour to an hour and a half and it continued charging and bouncing until the local bank manager did something to block it. There were over a thousand dollars just in fees, and we were well over ten grand in the hole. Ultimately it took weeks to get everything figured out and get our bank account back into some semblance of normalcy. Fortunately I have a checking account that is seperate from the family checking they accessed and we were able to use mine in the interim so we were able to deposit paychecks and keep the bills paid and the kids fed but it was a very stressful time. We wound up mailing a few merchants money orders to pay for legitimate charges we made while on vacation that the bank mistakenly did a charge back on. Most of them were very understanding, especially since we were contacting them rather than their having to chase us down, but one quick lunch ended up costing us an extra $150.

Having my bank turn off my card and waiting while they mail me a new one will be inconvenient but it really seems the prudent thing to do.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I'm back again.

I miss y'all. My brain is stuffed full of maps, tow points, dispatching procedures (secondary tows vs primary tows vs priority accidents vs everything else we do), how to set up the charges, and more, and somewhere in all that I'm trying to keep the house from falling down about our ears. Right now my mind is kind of like a layered compost bin, pile the new stuff on top while the old stuff at the bottom disappears. I just hope I don't forget how to dress myself!

This week I've been called a crook and a liar, by two different people. The liar guy tried his best to get me into trouble with my boss and the motor club, all because he was irritated that HIS car broke down and I couldn't get a driver there on HIS schedule. Unfortunately being abused by the customers is fairly common. I understand that your car breaking down/getting stuck/being in an accident throws a wrench in your day. I know you have places to go and you want to get on with your life as cheaply as possible, but we don't have drivers lined up waiting for your call. If the trucks aren't moving we aren't making money. Just because our shop is right around the corner from your break down location doesn't mean that's where the trucks are and I'm not going to tell you where my trucks are coming from because frankly it's none of your business. If you call in ahead of time to let us know that your car is going to break down, be in an accident or that you're going to do something stupid like drive to work on fumes because you're running late I will make sure to have a driver standing by to go help you.

We aren't the cheapest in town, nor are we the most expensive. Our trucks are well maintained, our drivers are experienced and trained to the best of our ability. No matter what names you call me or how loudly you rant and rave and scream in my ear I'm not going to abuse our drivers by making them skip lunch or dinner or pull them in on their time off to go haul you out of your mess so you can get on the road half an hour faster. There are other companies that don't have as many calls as we do and therefor may be able to get there faster, but you can be sure that there's a reason why the motor club/shop/police officer didn't call them in the first place.

Other people are having crappy days too, and we prioritize everyone just about the same and try to knock them out in a timely manner that makes geographical sense. The only things that get prioritized first are accident calls from the various local police departments and children and/or animals locked inside vehicles. In the case of emergency lockouts we often end up doing them for free. Even then we get burned, we've had our insurance pay out on claims against us for damage to window and lock mechanisms that was done by helpful bystanders with coat hangers and police officers with their slim jims. The boss knows he should get release forms signed before he gets to work, but when faced with a baby or an animal wilting in a locked car his only thought is to get them out as quickly and safely as possible and the forms go out the proverbial window. Usually this only causes problems when the vehicle owner is someone other than the parents. Usually.

To the man whose son got his truck stuck out at the hunt club, I realize that you didn't like that the actual price was far above what we quoted you on the phone, but you were misleading when you called. He was indeed visible from the parking lot, but he was almost 50 feet off of the dirt trail and over half a mile off of a gravel road, in the rain, and he was in the middle of a plowed field, buried up to both axles. I know you didn't like the additional wait time added to the bill either, but we had to twiddle our thumbs for over an hour before the club manager showed up with the gate key. The driver was ready to leave when he told us how long he'd have to wait, but he asked us to stay because he wanted you and your son ejected promptly. Sure we could have driven around the gate like you tried to tell my driver to do, you guys sure left a clear path when y'all did, but our equipment is bigger, heavier, and can do a lot more damage that we're responsible for. I suppose we could have tried to save you a bit of cash by driving across the field instead of sticking to the trails, but our 14,000 pound trucks don't do well with a plowed field that's planted with game crops that reach halfway up the door, especially when the ground is soggy and sticky like marginal marshland tends to get when it's raining. We could have hooked up to the hitch or the bumper like you told us to rather than taking the time to dig it out some and hook it up properly, but my driver has 20 years of experience with tow trucks and I would rather trust his judgement than have you calling and yelling about the damage to his incompetence did to your vehicle. It didn't save my ears any because you still yelled about his incompetence because he wouldn't listen to you, but at least you weren't trying to hand us a bill. Oh, and cancelling the charge on your account when you got home? That didn't work either, we would have disputed it and then you'd have been stuck with interest and fees, but the club manager took care of it. Don't be surprised to find out you owe them a boat load of money on top of not getting your dues back.

To the lady who I called to inform that we would be 20 minutes late in jumping your car: you may have been screwed, SCREWED, as you continually screamed in my ear, but I daresay it was by your car and not by me. We were late, that is true, I wasn't able to call you earlier and let you know we'd be late, and you're right, that wasn't courteous, but I was busy diverting the driver away from your call (he was already within a few miles of your location, actually) to send him on a call for the State Patrol. I sent another, less experienced driver to you as soon as I could and called you as soon as I knew we weren't going to meet the ETA. I didn't give you any reason beyond traffic and that we had an accident call because, again, that simply isn't any of your business, but a dumbass had t-boned a minivan while both vehicles were at highway speeds. The minivan bounced off of a car in the next lane, and went hurtling into some trees. The passenger side looks like an accordion, the drivers side is in pieces that my driver picked up and put inside of it, the drivers side front wheel is between the engine and the firewall, and when my driver was dragging it sideways out of the treeline they discovered that the accident was a fatality, their dog didn't survive. The cover on the passenger seat is ripped and the seat back broken from the force of the impact that tore the fathers arm in half, but what gets me are the bloody hand prints he left all over the interior while fighting his way to get to his children. He managed it with his bare hands where the rescue squad had to cut them out. On second thought, lady, your day was sunshine and roses.

To the lady from out of state who was stranded after your son's college baseball game, you're welcome. I know it is scary being stuck with a car that won't work, alone, several hours away from home. You were in one of the worst areas of a bad section of town, but I didn't think you needed to know that. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation too, and hearing the relief in your voice when our driver pulled in was all the thanks I needed. I'm glad your son's team won and that we were able to get you on your way.

To the guy who has called us several times a day, for three days in a row? Yes we can ping a cell phone to locate a vehicle and it's driver but as we have all explained to you every time you call and ask, there has to be a person at the other end of the cell phone. We use a service that texts a code to that phone and the customer must be able to give us that code so we can enter it into our software and locate them. We can't just type in a number and track the phone to wherever it is, not even the police can do that if it's not on or has lost it's charge, which I would imagine it has by now. Your story keeps changing too, first your friend had the car and left it somewhere they were too wasted to remember, then you were driving it and it broke down and you left and went out of town to your brothers house and forgot where it is, then it was back to the friend but this time it broke down on him too but you can't get hold of him because his phone is in the car and you're out of town and can't go looking for it. I don't know what you're trying to do but we want no part of it. The office staff even had a short meeting about you.

To the teenage girl who locked her keys in her car at the mall and I had to call and extend our ETA, apologizing while I did it? When you said "why are you apologizing? It's not like it's your fault I locked my keys in the car and have to wait" I could have reached through the phone and kissed you! Keep that sensible thinking up and you will go very far.