Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

An Update on Evil Psychotic or Bad Management February 26, 2008

Shortly after posting my previous blog, I received a phone call from my apartment manager. Michele was incredibly professional, almost friendly even. She let me know that the bookkeeper (who’d been out most of last week) had got back into the office yesterday, spent yesterday playing catch up, and gave her a call first thing this morning. They were prepared to send us our refund. Michele wasn’t sure if they were going to send it out right away or if they’d send it out with the rest of the bills on the tenth of the March. If we haven’t received our money by the 13th or 14th of March, we are to give her a call and see what’s up.

I wish so much that I could have heard that phone conversation. I like to imagine she got a royal chewing out. I’m a little concerned at the maliciousness of my thoughts. I wonder if I’ll still have this attitude towards skinny obnoxious women when I’ve reached my weight loss goals? I don’t have a problem with thin people. My good friend Chris is about a size 4 (I guess. I’m terrible at guessing sizes and so, Chris, if I’ve horribly misguessed, please don’t be hurt. You look great regardless of what size I think you are.). However, she had to lose thirty pounds before she got there and she works out regularly to keep her body fit. I only have a problem with thin people who didn’t work for it and then judge those who have to work to be fit.

Anyway, the “check’s in the mail” so that’s good news. I apparently need to forgive Michelle and Amber for being rude to me as I’m harboring a grudge which I don’t like. I like to be nice. I’m fat. I want to be fat and jolly, like Santa Clause. I don’t want to be fat and grouchy, like Jabba the Hut. Next time I refer to my apartment management team, hopefully it will be without the resentment I’ve expressed here.

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Evil psychotic or bad management?

As you may know, we recently moved into an apartment, from military housing, in the hopes that we would save some money. (If you don’t know this, check out this previous blog.)

Things have been going fairly well. A couple of things I forgot to mention in the previous blog. One of them was that when we signed our lease, we asked who the property management company was. We asked, not because we were that concerned, but because we’d had a bad experience with a company and simply wanted to make sure it wasn’t this same company. Bridgette said, nope it’s not that company but I can’t tell you who it it. We asked who the owners were and were again told that she couldn’t tell us that. Bridgette said, “That’s her policy. I don’t know why. I guess she doesn’t want people to know who she is.” We thought it was very strange but figured a little bit of internet research would shed light on the subject so we didn’t worry about it.

Another thing I forgot to mention on said previous blog is that we overpaid our first month. We moved in on the 10th and were supposed to pay $403 for the remainder of January. Well, when we set up our allotment…okay let me take a step back.

Military Partnership Program: If an apartment is a MPP participant, they agree to provide a special deal for military members. They do not charge the tenant or future tenant a security deposit, an application fee, or any other fees. In exchange, the military member pays for their rent as an allotment. An allotment is a payment that is paid by the military out of your check. So the military member never sees the money. Every paycheck, half of the rent is taken out and on the first of the month, the apartment gets a check for the whole amount.

Back to the story. Maison D’Orleans Apartments is a MPP participant. So we pay our rent as an allotment, as specified in our lease. When we set up the allotment, Israel set it up to begin in January, thinking, we get paid twice in January, $299 + $299=$598. Then they’ll get paid on the first of February. Yeah, unfortunately for us, the finance office is not in the business of telling you how things work. By setting up the allotment to begin in January, we were, in fact, setting it up as though we needed the month of January to be paid in full. So the last check of December had $598 removed from it. YIKES!

While we didn’t have to write them a check for $403 because they’d all ready received it we were concerned that we’d not see our money ever again. When I realized what had happened, about a week before moving in, I called, explained the situation and was assured by Bridgette, the leasing manager, that, though it might take a month or so, we’d be refunded the money.

After a month of haggling with them about the door (see previous blog), I went in to ask about our refund. As soon as I walked in the door, they, Amber, the assistant manager, Michelle, some blond who I assumed worked there because she was there all the time, and three maintenance men, began explaining how they would be getting to my door as soon as they could but they had a leak between apartments they had to find so they probably wouldn’t get it installed today. Yada yada yada. I said, “That’s fine. I’m actually here about some money you owe us and I was wondering about getting that refunded to us.”

Amber and Michelle both looked skeptical and seemed to by trying to blow it off like no big deal. I made it clear that it was a big deal to us and so Amber headed in to the office, I followed her and Michelle followed me. The maintenance men who were already in the office, remained. Amber rummaged around with some paperwork and said, “Yeah, there’s a credit here for a hundred and ninety dollars.” And then she just stood there looking at me.

“So, when can I expect a refund check?” I asked, trying to not reveal that they were making me very, very nervous. Both women are taller than me. Both are wearing heels. Both are very put together and by that I mean, gussied up. Both are thin and remind me of high school snobs. Amber is standing behind the chest high counter, Michelle is standing behind me in the door way, and the maintenance guys are standing to my left, watching us.

“It’ll be refunded to you when your lease is up, when you move out,” Amber said.

“That’s not what I was told when I called a month ago.”

“Who did you talk to?” Amber asked.

“Bridgette.” And upon hearing this, Amber rolls her eyes. You see, Bridgette got fired about two weeks ago. I don’t know why. The maintenance guy fixing some little things in the apartment gossiped to me that it was because she never gave messages. I don’t know. Maybe it was because she was a little too nice. So Amber rolls her eyes and I wanted to slap her and say, “Don’t roll your eyes at me. I’m not the one who hired her!” but I didn’t. However, when neither of them responded, I said, “That’s not acceptable to us. We’d like the money to be refunded to us now.”

“Well, that’s why you are supposed to pay the first month’s rent out of pocket so you can pay the prorated amount.”

I explained that, yes, we set up the allotment wrong. Blah blah. They countered with, well normally we would just credit it to the next months rent and you would only have to pay the prorated amount but they couldn’t do that because of the allotment. Blah blah. I countered with, well I want my money. (I hope I said it better than that but I might not have.)

Amber says, “Well this is our policy.”

I say, “I’d like to talk to your manager.” When I receive a blank look, I add, “I’d like to talk to the next person up.” Amber looks past me at Michelle, who is still standing in the doorway, as though she’s about to leave.

Michelle, I kid you not, scoffs, that little expulsion of air that accompanies a curled lip expression. “You’re talking to her. I’m the regional and that’s our policy.”

By now, I’m no longer being treated as a tenant. I’m being treated as someone they are threatened by. Gone is the thin veneer of professionalism and in it’s place is pure disdain and malice.

I, knowing a little about managers and policies, say simply, “I’d like to see that in writing.”

When my request is met by a blank look, I start to clarify (since it was such a confusing statement) but before I can say anything she says, “It’s…well it’s…a bookkeeping policy.”

To which I respond, “Okay, fine. I’d like to see a copy of this policy.”

After a bit more sputtering and stuttering, she says, “It’s not a written policy. It’s just a bookkeeping thing.”

I just want to repeat that in case anyone missed that “It’s not a written policy.” Do you read that? “It’s not a written policy.” Um, can you say “discrimination”?

Since there really wasn’t anything left to say, I said, “Okay,” then turned to Jael told her to gather her toys and we left.

Now, my ability as a writer is not what I wish it were because I’ve not portrayed the rage I was feeling. They purposefully physically placed themselves around me in such a way as to make me uncomfortable and off guard. They scoffed at my request. They implied that we were stupid for making a mistake. They tried to over talk me so that I couldn’t say anything. They implied I was retarded for believing anything Bridgette, the person I was supposed to trust enough to explain my lease to me, had said. They said the words “unwritten policy.” I left calmly and professionally but inside I was a boiling pit of lava.

Upon returning to our apartment, I began to take pictures of our door. I figured if we had to talk to Israel’s First Sergeant about the apartment management, we’d better have all our ducks in a row and have proof. I took a dozen pictures, inside and out, and a couple of videos of me bending the bottom foot of the door. I downloaded them onto my computer (which because I don’t do very often took me almost twenty minutes.) Just as I finished, there was a knock on my door and a maintenance man announced he had a door for me. Odd, just thirty minutes ago I’d been told there was almost no way they’d get to it today and yet, here they were, first thing. Strange, no?

Anyway, he replaced the door but as I left for story time, I took the camera with me, just in case. Upon returning home I began research to find the owners and management company. The property management company was easy enough to find. I Googled “Maison D’Orleans” and the third website was ApartmentGuide.com. I clicked on the tab labeled “Management” and discovered that they are managed by Evan’s Realty. Okay. Now for the owners. Tax records never fail. I looked up who paid the property tax’s for 2436 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, MS and found that it was Spencer E L Jr Family LTD PTN and/or Spencer Lumber Co Auburn, AL. Why the secrecy when the information is readily available online? I do not know.

The next day Israel and I went to the housing office and explained the situation. The gentleman we talked to was wonderful. He’s been working with military housing for about twenty years and he assured us that we were in the right and that the apartment managers did in fact owe us the money. As a MPP participant, they could not keep any money owed to us. If they did, it became a deposit, which they aren’t allowed to charge. He called them up and asked to talk to Amber. She wasn’t available so he asked to speak with Michelle. He explained why he was calling and was rebuffed. He explained that they were in violation of the MPP guidelines and that as such they could be removed from the list of MPP participants. Again he was rebuffed. She, apparantly, as we could only hear one side of the conversation, said to him, “That’s our policy,” to which he responded, “You may have a policy like that. We do not. That is their money and you have to give it to them.” She talked some more and said that no one else minded waiting until they moved out to have their money refunded to them. On and on. At one point, near the end of the conversation, our advocate said, “Okay, let me make sure I understand you. Your official response is that you don’t care.” She talked some more, back peddling I’m sure, and then he said, “Okay. You do that. Talk to your home office and see what they have to say.”

He advised us to give them seven to ten days to work it out and allow her to cool off. As he put it, “Michelle is not a happy camper right now.” No kidding.

We gave them 10 business days and then I went in again. As I walked in, I noticed that Amber wasn’t behind the desk. There was a new face. A nice looking girl actually, someone I would have like to have dealt with instead of Michelle, who, upon seeing me walk in the door, turned to riffle through a cabinet. “Can I help you?” asked the friendly looking girl.

“Actually, I need to talk to Michelle.” At this, Michelle turns to me and says, “They’ve not gotten back to me. I’ve left a couple of emails and haven’t heard anything.”

Then she goes on to say that Amber hates the Partnership Program and that’s why she said what she did. But the Michelle said it made it sound as though Amber had been the one talking to the housing guy. She said about one out of seven military members trash the place and then they, the apartment, are left with a trashed apartment and no deposit. They would just as soon be out of it.

As I continued on my way to the store, I thought about this and none of it makes any sense. You can’t fix a trashed apartment with $300 anyway. A deposit doesn’t begin to cover the expense of fixing an apartment. It barely pays to have the carpets cleaned. Why does the opinion of an assistant manager (Amber) effect policy for the whole complex? Does the home office hate the MPP? If so, aren’t there less damaging ways to leave the program? Why, if Michelle is the “regional”, is she at the office all the time? Does the “home” office even know this is going on or has Michelle simply not contacted them? Do they think we won’t sue for military discrimination? What the hell is going on here?

Israel and I discuss it at length. We’ve come up with a theory that makes it all make sense in a twisted sick sort of way.

What follows is theory so I’m going to put it in italics so as not to confuse the masses.

Michelle is mean. She’s also not very good at her job. She, and probably Amber as well, enjoys making people, especially overweight confident women, feel small and stupid. She made up a rule that her employees couldn’t tell people who the owners and management company are because she doesn’t want her employees to know, thereby hampering their ability to go over her head. She made a decision to not refund our money. Maybe it is unwritten policy. Maybe she made it up on the spot. Whatever the reason, she talked herself into a corner by saying the words “unwritten policy.” She has not contacted the “home office” at all in the hopes that we will just go away. Or maybe she hates the MPP and hopes we’ll get the military to drop them from the MPP participant list and then she can go to the home office and say, “Look what they did.”

What is our plan now? I think Israel is going to give Evan’s Realty and Mr. E.L. Spence Jr. a call and make sure that Michelle is in fact speaking for them before we take this back to the military. Because they are breaking their contract and the military will drop them from the list and I don’t think they’re going to like that. The kind of people who trash an apartment are also the kind of people who forget to pay rent. She said one out of seven. I’d say there’s at least a hundred military members here. That makes about 14 people who are dirtbags. Let’s say they have the same kind of unit we do and pay between $600 and $900 a month. That’s between $8400 and $12600. It’s not much but I bet they notice.

I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know it’s not over yet. So, do you think that the management is just incompetent or are they, in fact, evil?

 

Moving Weekend January 17, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal,parenting — Addicted to Yarn @ 2:48 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We moved this weekend – which if you read the newsletter we sent out you would know – and here’s the tale of it.

Thursday came and we began loading all of our earthly possessions into a U-Haul truck. We don’t own much but some of the things we own are very, very heavy. We have this tool box…but that story comes later. First things first.

The New Apartment: We got such a great price on this apartment because it was a non-renovated unit…meaning, it desperately needs to be renovated. The kitchen is like a nightmare from the 70’s. Dark brown everything (we are going to ask if we can paint the cupboards). But of course they’ve installed a dishwasher…which has to be open in order to open one of the drawers. The floor plan of this apartment is really strange, too. I’m going to start at the front door (although we can’t use it as such yet because the key doesn’t work in that lock). You walk into the living room. In the far right corner is a spiral staircase leading to the master bedroom and bathroom (the biggest bedroom we’ve ever had, which is funny because we can’t take any of our furniture up there). Straight ahead from the door is the dining room which connects to the kitchen on the right. The kitchen is a U-shaped kitchen…a dark hole. It’s small but I’ve trimmed back so much of my kitchen stuff that everything fits. Continue back from the front door and next you come to a hallway. The doorway to your right leads into a double closet…that is a closet rod on your left and one on your right. Continue through this closet and you enter the bathroom. Why in the world you enter the bathroom through the closet, we don’t know. Continue down the hallway and you enter the second bedroom, Jael’s room. Well, actually, it’s the storage room and Jael’s room. We’ve used a shelving unit and our dressers to block her off her own little space. It sounds all mean and stingy but she actually really likes it. It’s a lot more her size than a full size bedroom. And it’s much easier for her to clean up and to understand the concept of “only get out one thing at a time.” If you continue through her bedroom, you will exit the apartment through the second door.

You may be thinking something along the lines of “A door to the outside in a child’s room? That’s not safe!” Yeah, that’s pretty much what we thought. Especially since the door is a weather beaten, used up, piece of crap. We turn in a list tomorrow of all the things that need to be fixed or replaced and the door is the first one. If it’s not fixed within a week, we’ll have to take legal measures because it’s really not secure. But we did get a police lock and so we think we’d hear someone breaking in before they actually get through.

So at first we were really not impressed with our apartment. The management is out for themselves (revealed by the leasing agent refusing to go up the spiral stairs when she showed us the apartment, claiming she was afraid of heights. Upon further inspection we realized that two of the welds on the stairs were broken. I think it was a fear of falling to her death on a broken stairway that kept her from climbing them but oh, well), which is fine as long as we know it and we do. The apartment wasn’t very clean but that just means we don’t have to leave it very clean when we leave. As we get settled and get our stuff put away (and throw away a lot more stuff), we are liking it more and more.

The Move: We tried something new this move and we won’t do it again. We tried moving all the furniture in one go with a truck and then all the small things in the car. The reasoning behind this was the fact that we didn’t have very many boxes. So I thought I would move little stuff all day and unpack it each trip. Then the next day, Israel and I would move all the furniture with a rental truck. Boom. We’re done. Except that it didn’t work that way at all. What ended up happening was we rented a truck. We spent almost an hour getting the truck. The dude working there was sick, as in ill, and he’d forgotten to take his medicine the night before so that morning he’d taken two and he was supposed to take them with food but he didn’t. So he was basically stoned out of his mind. He sat there for about five minutes staring at my driver’s license with his fingers resting on the keyboard but not actually typing anything. Israel and I figure he took a little bit of a nap. But we got the truck and loaded all of our large crap. Then we unloaded. Oh, did I mention that our front door is on the second level? Yeah, a full flight of stairs to the apartment. I’ve never been so sick of lifting furniture in my life. We got to the front of the truck and five things were waiting for us. The washer and dryer, two big, heavy boxes, and the tool box. If my dad is reading this he knows what I’m talking about when I say the tool box is really, really, really, really heavy. Do you understand that it’s really heavy? I think Israel said he estimated it at about 600-700 pounds. So we drove home (to the house) with those things still in the truck, deciding to deal with them the next day.

The Move, Day Two: We loaded up the Goodwill stuff into the back of the truck (adding it to the few things left from the day before). We drove to the Goodwill drop off spot and learned that they don’t open in the winter until 9 AM. It’s just 8 AM and the truck is due back at 10:45. We’ve just driven about 5 miles (10 miles round trip) out of our way and now it looks like we’re going to have to do it again in an hour. Luckily, as we sat there beefing about it and trying to decide if we should just dump our stuff outside the trailer, the guy who runs it showed up and unlocked the gate. We unloaded the Goodwill stuff and headed to the apartment. The first thing we tackled was the toolbox. We needed to get it done ASAP, before our muscles tired at all. We moved the tool box by (I’m sorry, Dad) dragging it up the steps, one step at a time. I was on the top and Israel on the bottom and we just lifted the thing one step at a time. I almost cried at the top, my body hurt so much. But we got it done. Everything else seemed easier after the tool box was done. We got the truck returned on time (to a different guy, thank goodness) and decided to go pick up Jael from day care. She’d been there all day the day before and all morning this day and quite frankly, we missed her.

Day Care: We went to the room Israel had signed her into and she wasn’t there. That’s okay, they switch drop-in kids around depending on teacher to child ratio’s. Yeah, except that she didn’t know where Jael was. After a couple of phone calls, they were able to locate her but we, quite quickly, came to the decision that never again would she be placed in a situation where someone could loose her. So we took her back to the house and laid her down for a nap and began packing small stuff up. We made a number of runs to the apartment and then retired that evening, ready to begin cleaning in the morning.

Cleaning Day One: Military Inspection. It sounds scary. And until you’ve gone through one, it is scary. You read the list of things you are supposed to do and you don’t really even know where to begin. So we started at one end of the house and started cleaning. We painted over dark marks on the wall (and scotch tape residue that I couldn’t get off), we dusted mini-blinds. (But we didn’t wash them. SSSHHH. Don’t tell anyone.) We washed window sills. Israel cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen. To be honest, he’s much better at cleaning than I am. He’s does a faster job and the end result is just as good as my slow way (except of course that he’s done so much faster). So he did that while I took care of Jael and did the mini-blinds, walls, and shelves. I don’t remember if we finished up inside on Day One or if we finished it on Day Two…it had to be Day Two because we slept there on Day One. Okay, So we were pretty much done except for the floor and the outside.

Cleaning Day Two: The outside. We raked the front yard. We edged the front. We removed all the weeds from all the cracks in the driveway, sidewalk, and curb. We washed off the chalk art of one Jael Walker. We didn’t wash the walls or rake the back yard. We didn’t mow either, except for a patch of lemon grass. I didn’t want to dig it up because I didn’t have dirt to fill in a hole and I didn’t have sod to lay over it. So we mowed it and the inspector didn’t notice. But it smelled wonderful when Israel mowed over it. I wish I would have utilized it more while we had it but oh well. That all said and done, we finished mopping inside. We locked up and went home to, well, home.

First Night Sleeping in New Apartment: Some of you may remember how much Jael struggled when we moved from Knightsbride to Hilltop. How I had to lay down with her until she fell asleep. How I had to do that for about three weeks. Some of you may remember how we had to do a similar things in Monterey and when we first moved here. Well, not this move. She laid down and we didn’t hear a peep out of her. I think a lot of it was because she was just so tired. She played in the dirt, searching for rocks while we raked and what not. It was good for her. So she fell right to sleep. Israel and I each had a drink, he a dark beer and I a fruity, girly “malt beverage” and hit the sack.

Inspection Day: The inspection was at 1030. I dropped Israel off at work, came back to the apartment, fed Jael breakfast, went back to the house to mop again (we’d noticed some spots we missed the day before), went grocery shopping, picked Israel up for the inspection and got back to the house with about 20 minutes to spare. Of course the inspector was 15 minutes early so really, we were right on time. He walked through the house. He didn’t look at the blinds I dusted. He didn’t check the baseboards I’d mopped. He didn’t run his hands over the closet doors I’d cleaned. He shut the cupboard doors, poked his head in each room, checked out the garbage cans (which we had to clean and deodorize), and passed us. Just like that. We were done.

So there isn’t much more to tell. We still don’t have Internet yet (this is early Wednesday morning that I’m typing this) but we should have it by the end of today. Sometime between 8 am and 5 pm the cable person is supposed to be out here. Yeah, real respectful of my time. But I don’t have anything else to do today but hang around the house so it’s not that big of a deal.

Oh, one last thing. Yesterday, I backed into a fire hydrant. Scraped the side of our bumper and the edge of the wheel well. Bright yellow fire hydrant. “Hey, you got fire hydrant on my Chevy!” “You got Chevy on my fire hydrant!”