They fuck you at the drive-thru.

That has been something my sister and I have been saying ever since Lethal Weapon 2. Joy (my sister) ran with it first, and I picked it up from her because nothing quite describes a a shitty situation where your recourse leads to a pain in the ass then “They fuck you at the drive-thru!”

Back in March I got my Home Owners Association (HOA) bill for 2009. Normally it’s supposed to be ~$240 (yes, really low, but the fact that my part of the ‘neighborhood’ sees very little of that money, if any, is another rant), but there was a $36.91 late fee from the year before. Admittedly, I was late paying last year (there is no doubt about that, and I own up to it), and they taked on the late charge plus the interest accumalated on said late charge on this year’s bill. Completely understandable.

The bill was due “no later than April”, so at the annual HOA meeting (held on April 9th) I took $300 with me to see if I could go ahead and pay it off in person. I neglected to bring my bill (I ran straight from work), but I was hoping it wouldn’t be a problem, but Bob (the HOA treasurer) couldn’t take it.

“Hi Bob, I was wondering if I could pay my HOA bill tonight.”

“Do you have your bill?” Bob asked, put off.

“No, sorry, I left it at home, sorry. But I can give you $300, because I know it’s under that, and you can apply the rest to next year. Or just keep it, I really don’t care.”

“I really can’t take cash if you don’t have your bill.”

“I trust you. You can write up a receipt if you want.” I really didn’t care about the $21. I just wanted to pay it off.

“I just can’t take the cash.”

“Okay, I’ll cut a check this week, then.” I said. I kind of understood, but at the same time, what’s the big deal, but what can you do.

“Be sure you do that. Because we are going to start talking to lawyers real soon about people haven’t paid. We can put a lien on your house.”

I didn’t see why that was necessary, but the best way to describe Bob is a short-sleeve-tie-wearer. A little bit of power goes a long way with people like this. I bit my tongue and said thanks.

And, of course, it slipped my mind for a month because every time I see something shiny, I get distracted.  I eventually wrote a check on May 16th, and sent it out to them and waited for it to clear. And waited. And waited.

It hadn’t cleared by June 8th, so I shot out an email:

“I mailed a check a few weeks ago for my annual dues, but my bank does not show it has been cashed yet, and I wanted to verify that it was received. It would have been check number 3780 in the amount of $276.91. Much thanks!”

Later that night, I received a reply from Bob (the bolding is not mine):

“Your check has not been received and, therefore, has naturally not been cashed. It seems that you have had much more difficulty in getting a payment to us than most others and I’m really not sure as to why that might be!

To confirm, checks should be sent to [address of HOA]

Further, the amount now due totals $311.28, consisting of $240.00 (2009 Annual Assessment that was due no later than 04/08/09), $11.28 in Accrued Interest, and $60.00 in Accrued Collection Costs. As you also aware, $36.91 of this sum is applicable to the late payment (08/21/08) of your 2008 obligation, which was due no later than 04/06/2008. And, for your information, interest will continue to accrue at a daily rate of $0.052603.

Our recommendation is that you immediately send a payment, in good funds, in the amount of $311.28. We are in the process of referring all delinquencies to the Community’s attorney for legal collection action, including lien and possible foreclosure action, and once this action has begun, legal costs will add a substantial amount to the total now owed. If you do not trust the U S Postal System, we would recommend that you take the item, correctly addressed, to the [city] Post Office and ask that it be properly placed in our P. O. Box. Again, though, time is of the essence and if payment is not immediate, legal action will begin.”

That first line really pissed me off. Yes, I was late in 2008, I own up to that. But there is no need to be an unprofessional douche about it, especially considering I did make an attempt to pay him already.

I wrote out three replies, but never sent them, because sometimes my brain manages to stop me before doing something stupid. He’s a little man with a Napolean complex, and I know that he was begging for a reply like I was ready to write so he could use that HOA power to make my life miserable. So I didn’t reply at all (and I said “NO” to his requested read receipt. Take that, Bob!), cut another check and dropped it off at the post office the next day. A week went by and I hadn’t heard anything. So I sent out another email.

“I was wondering if you could verify if the check I dropped off at the post office last Tuesday was received. Check #1001 in the amount of $311.28.”

I got a reply later that night:

“We received the check and it was deposited on Monday, June 15. Thanks for your response.”

Well that was weird. What happened to the bolding, threats and snide remarks? It was complete night and day from the first email. Did Bob suddenly wake up and not have a power trip? Did Bob suddenly take classes on professionalism? Did Bob suddenly become a nice guy? I had so many questions running through my head, all of which were answered with an envelope that showed up in my mailbox from the HOA a few days after Bob’s email — an envelope with my first check sent and a post it note that said:

“This check arrived after we cashed your second check.”

Really, Bob? Really? My original check, the one that you “never receieved” and “naturally” was not cashed arrived after my second?

Did he honestly expect me to believe that? And it wasn’t him that fucked up?

I would hope that Bob would learn something from this, but since he can’t even man up and own to his fuck up, there’s little chance in that.

I so want to respond to but not only would it be useless (except the small satisfaction I would get from it), but I don’t want to open up a can of worms making living here hell. I think that’s what I’m most pissed about, the fact that I can’t call him on it because I oh so want to. Stupid self control.

Yeah, they most certainly fuck you at the drive-thru.