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

Ehud Kaldor ehud.kaldor at gmail.com
Tue Mar 22 08:24:56 PDT 2011

not that it's not a good story (and it is, and educational), but the sad
truth is that had you sent your email, it would have probably be read by
some low-paid sorter, who would have tossed it in the 'replied No' pile for
resending. the romantic idea of some clerk rushing into the CEO's office
crying 'we have an unsatisfied customer!' is a nice revenge fantasy, but
from my experience is only that - a fantasy.

learning the lesson and filing for personal use was probably the right thing
to do...


On Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 1:40 AM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> 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.
> http://sanfrancisco.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel08/sf020108.htm
> (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:
> http://articles.sfgate.com/2002-11-24/news/17569938_1_grand-theft-richmond-police-department-arizona-courts
> 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
> relationship.
> 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
> identical.
> 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,
>  [signed]
> 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.
> Like:
>  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
>  justified.
>  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,
>  [signed]
> 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.
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