Curse you, West Baron

Well, here I go again, the Charlie Brown of the Law Library world, still trying to kick the football that West so obligingly holds before me….

So I receive a refund check from Thomson Reuters. It describes itself as “Refund- Paid and Cancelled 6064973933″. Being a well-trained little West customer, I sign onto My Account, enter the magic invoice number and, what to my wondering eyes should appear but an actual invoice. For the new Rutter Group title California Discovery Citations. Which I purchased back in  May. Which I can actually see on the shelf from my office. Which, needless to say, I never cancelled.

Now here’s where I made my first mistake. (I mean, aside from becoming a law librarian.) Also printed on the check ( I should have stuck with commercial grunion fishing, like my mother wanted.) is the statement: For questions regarding this payment, please call Thomson Reuters AP Customer Service at 877-835-7103.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a Law Librarian. As long as you never have to deal with vendors. To quote the Bard, “A reshelving cart, a reshelving cart, my kingdom for a reshelving cart.”)

I knew better. I’m smarter than that. (It takes brains to catch the wily grunion.) I’ve been tricked before. And yet, in spite of every instinct, past experience, better judgment, I CALLED THE NUMBER!!!!

We didn’t discuss it, but I’m sure the weather is lovely in India this time of year. At least, I don’t think we discussed it, the gentleman who answered had such a thick accent I’m not entirely sure what all we chatted about. Eventually he was able to communicate to me that he had no information about nor access to information regarding the refund check and that the telephone number on it was a mistake that he had been assured it would be removed from the refund checks. I was able to understand this part of the conversation because it was identical to the one I had the last time I called the Customer Service number printed on a refund check. Six months ago. And on the one before that….and the one before that….and the….

So the polite Indian gentleman gave me the regular West Customer Service number, an unnecessary gesture as it is seared into my cerebral cortex from years of use, a number I wake babbling in the midst of nightmares….I digress…

I call regular old Customer Service. After only a seven minute wait, while music originally composed for use in North Korean POW camp brainwashing experiments played loudly in the background, a nice lady named Linda came on the line.

I explained the situation, that we had received a refund check allegedly for cancelling our subscription to the Rutter Group title California Discovery Citations, which we hadn’t. (I also mentioned the still incorrect help number on the check. And the Korean Torture Music.) She placed me on hold to research the problem. (Cue Korean Torture Music.) She came back on some little time later  and explained to me that the refund was because we had cancelled our subscription to the Rutter Group title California Discovery Citations. I explained again that, no, sorry, didn’t happen, please check again, also check that the Rutter title is still active, and about the hold recording…(Cue Korean Torture Music.)…She returned several choruses later, having discovered that the refund was in fact because we had a credit of approximately $300 for cancelling one subscription to the California Real Estate NewsAlert and one subscription to the California Real Estate Newsletter, and that was why we received a check for $137.19 which said it was because we cancelled the Rutter Group title….

I pointed out a number of issues I had with this explanation  – why hadn’t I received any notice of this credit*, why was it applied to an invoice without my permission, despite the fact that I have repeatedly instructed West not to do that, why did the refund indicate the subscription to Rutter was cancelled and, oh, by the way, we have never, ever subscribed to a publication called the California Real Estate Newletter because NO SUCH TITLE EXISTS….(CKTM)….several concerti later…

[* Side rant: Linda informed me that I could sign onto My Account and set up an E-Alert to notify me when West was holding onto money belonging to me and not telling me they had it, and then fill out and submit paperwork asking them nicely to please return it. Which is fine by me. I enjoy being an unpaid member of the West accounting staff and doing their job for them. Lord knows they need the rest.]

…Linda comes back. Sorry. The California Real Estate Newsletter actually another appellation for the California Real Estate NewsAlert, they just like to give the same publication a number of different pet names to avoid confusion. And the refund was for cancelling two of our three subscriptions. Except, I interjected, we only cancelled one of the three subscriptions…(CKTM)….

Linda tried her best. It took only 43 minutes altogether to get her to agree to void the refund check we received, reinstate our subscription to California Discovery Citations, have a new refund check issued for the correct amount and for the correct cancellation, correct our number of subscriptions to the NewAlert, rotate the tires, check the oil…She actually tried very hard to be helpful and I didn’t yell at her at all. Honest. I made it very clear none of this was her fault, it was just that she was working for minions of Satan determined to destroy the last spark of human feeling in an aging grunion fisherman…

At least now I understand why West’s prices keeping going up so much each year. It’s expensive screwing up a system that thoroughly.

I’m leaving now. The grunion are running. (CKTM)

Bob Ryan is a librarian at Hill, Farrer & Burrill, LLP in Los Angeles.

(Opinions expressed are purely my own and do not reflect the opinions of Mr. Hill, Mr. Farrer or Mr. Burrill, all three of whom are deceased and not expressing much of anything these days, nor of the firm which bears their names.)

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