[conspire] OT: The 'Don't deal with crooks' rule, extended edition, in action

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Mar 22 01:40:58 PDT 2011

Back in the 1980s, I'd been working as a staff accountant at a firm in
Emeryville that shall go nameless....  Well, gently caress that last
bit:  Let's name it.  Garza & Associates, owned and operated by one
Frank J. Garza, Jr. who I just learned was recently sentenced to 30
months in Federal prison and restitution of $2.8M, after pleading guilty
to two counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

(Let me just say:  I love you, IRS Criminal Investigation Division,
local FBI offices, and US Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello.)

Garza also 'vanished' for some time, six years before the guilty-plea
agreement.  Fascinating story:

As I was saying, in the Reagan Era, I worked for these clowns until 
I had an abrupt departure with them over practices I considered
unethical, and I vowed to learn from the exerience with a rule for
living:  Don't do business with crooks.  Once you determine that an
individual or business is fundamentally shady, don't contend with them,
don't fight with them, don't try to turn them in:  Just politely end the

Some of the dealings I felt were shady that lead to my departure were 
minor (but I won't mention).  Suffice it to say that, immediately after
I informed Frank that, no, his firm might not use some proprietary
software I personally owned (Procomm Plus) in a way that violated my
licence agreement, suddenly the firm wanted to see paper proof that I had
passed the CPA examination, and were quite astonished that I was able to
produce it the next day.  Two days later, I was informed that I was
being laid off, but when I put in a claim for unemployment insurance,
the claim was initially denied as the firm asserted to EDD that I'd been
terminated for cause.  I immediately scheduled an administrative hearing
where I'd have disproven the assertion, but one day later got a new job
elsewhere, and so dropped the matter on these general grounds:  Get
shady people out of your life as quickly and cleanly as possible.

Rolling forward the calendar to today, I just received a solicitation
for renewed business from Discover Card.

  Dr. Mr. Moen:

  When you closed your Discover[tm] card account, we were disappointed.
  But we're not giving up!  Discover is determined to earn your business
  back.  In fact, to prove we should be your card of choice, we're
  making you a special money-making offer.

I had a $5000 limit Discover Card from 2000 to mid-2005.  They were
semi-satisfactory, but I noticed a problem:  Even though I always mailed 
the account's full balance immediately upon receiving the bill, 
routinely 2 weeks before its due date, they were frequently credited as
late payments -- adding interest charages and late fees.  Payment
location was in Salt Lake City, Utah, not Ulan Bator, so it became
increasingly difficult to believe that USPS was the problem.  Until
2003, it was possible to avoid the vagaries of mail by paying at Sears
stores, but then their business relationship was apparently severed, and
I was back to mailed cheques only.

Trying to be charitable, I thought:  Wait, it isn't _necessarily_ them
being crooks, is it?  And then, thinking some more:  True, but
ultimately it doesn't matter very much, as it's outcomes that actually
count, not good intentions.  The interest and late fees were no less
objectionable if the firm was merely ineptly tardy in visiting the SLC
post office, instead of actively _planning_ to steal my money.
Incompetent is pretty much just as bad as dishonest, if the results are

So, my revised rule of thumb became:  Don't do business with crooks, or
with people functionally indistinguishable from them.  Then, I opened up
a vim buffer and wrote a letter:

  Discover Card
  P.O. Box 30395
  Salt Lake City UT 84130-0395

  Re: Discover Card A/C #NNNN NNNN NNNN NNNN

  Dear Sirs:

  Please close the above-referenced credit card account, effective
  immediately.  Please report this event to the credit reporting 
  agencies as closed by consumer.  Thank you.

  Best Regards,

Sent off, certified mail with return receipt, and my business
relationship was done.  

Six years later, they desperately want me back.  What the gently caress?

Any good business-development guy will explain it:  All other things
being equal, your best customer prospect is anyone who's been a customer
already.  And hey, all I said was goodbye, so nothing ventured....

I suspect _most_ people would get at least minor satisfaction from
sending a second letter, especially given the postage-prepaid envelope.

  Discover Card
  P.O. Box 30395
  Salt Lake City UT 84130-0395

  Dear Sirs:

  Back on June 14, 2005, when I summarily ended my five-year business
  relationship with you, there was a darned good reason:  You folks
  had a suspiciously frequent habit of crediting my extremely timely 
  if not extremely punctual payments as late, and it happened
  consistently enough that it seemed like no fluke.   I closed my 
  business relationship with you because of the obvious conclusion 
  of your firm being either crooked or incompetent, and either way
  just not the sort of organisation I wanted in my life.  

  More recently, Web-searching the terms 'Discover Card' and
  'class action' has suggested that my perception was more than

  Before you say 'But that was us in 2005, and we're fine and decent
  people now', consider that there are a large number of credit card
  companies in this world, and I'm not a reformatory for morally 
  challenged corporations.  Have a nice corporate lifetime.

  Best Regards,

However, I'm not going to send that because information has value, and I
see no reason to give it for free to a company I don't like and would
prefer to dissolve so its assets can be repurposed by better, successor 
firms that might learn from their experience.

More information about the conspire mailing list