Sump Chump: Part Three

This post will make more sense and be more enjoyable if you read Part One and Part Two first.

Part Two left off with the reconstruction project manager not being able to contact the carpet guy who seemed to have fallen through a crack in spacetime...

sump, Minnesota, basement flooding, heavy rains, blog, September 2016
I was working overtime Monday through Wednesday the week of Thanksgiving and that made the "getting things done" time frame even tighter. No matter what, Thanksgiving was going to happen. So, we had to have a backup plan in case the carpet didn't get done in time. The backup plan ended up being moving the items from the main floor to the basement on the un-carpeted floor.

Our project manager wasn't able to get a hold of the carpet guy all day Tuesday. I was starting to doubt that we'd have it done the next day, but I was hopeful. The next morning, Wednesday, I hadn't heard anything so I called him at nine-fifteen. He hadn't heard back either and told me he was going to go to the guy's house and that he would call me back in a half-hour.

I don't remember if it was a half-hour, but he did call back and told me he had talked to the carpet guy. Our project manager has little control over the carpet guy since he's a subcontractor, but he told me that he did tell him to "get over to the goddamn house and lay the carpet." The manager had promised it would be done by Thanksgiving and was determined it would be.

The carpet guy and his helper arrived shortly before noon with the carpet. He told my wife some tales about why he hadn't been there and then got to work. They were still working when I got home at three and didn't break until six that night for "lunch." After an hour, they came back and didn't leave again until nine-thirty. It was a long day, but they were gone and we could move our crap downstairs. It was nice that they offered to help, but other than just wanting them to leave, we really didn't want to worry about the what-ifs of them spilling or destroying our stuff.

The basement was finished minus the paint touch-ups that were needed after the carpet had been installed. The already late night turned into an even later one considering we worked on moving things downstairs after they left. Thanksgiving was going to happen as planned after all. The whole fiasco wasn't over yet, but we had made a giant leap. Almost there. Almost there.

I wasn't  happy about the carpet installers pushing my studio desk further into the utility room or moving my drums over to get to the bathtub. They never mentioned or asked to do this, and regardless of our answer, it would have been the polite and respectful thing to do. I let our project manager know about that when he stopped by the following Tuesday to start wrapping up the project. The painters had come by the day prior for touch-ups. Apparently, as he and the painters both told us, this is common after the carpet is installed. We gave our project manager a form his company needed to sign, and after some light conversation, he left.

The comptroller of the reconstruction company sent us a message that Thursday letting us know that he had sent the form to the bank. It waives all liens for work completed. We technically hadn't payed them a single penny, so they must have felt pretty confident we would. I knew we would. 

We received word from our contact at the bank that they received the form, and we could get the second check for the house damage endorsed at one of their branches. We still had a form to sign and send to the bank stating that we acknowledged the work was complete. We promptly sent the final form, and then endorsed and deposited the check. Almost there. Almost there.

That same Thursday, we got a phone call from someone at our insurance company asking to meet with us. We had never met him or spoken with him before. According to him, they like to do a follow-up every so often as a quality check. We set up an appointment with him for the following Monday so he could go over everything with us, allow us to ask questions, see the work done, and make sure the adjuster did a satisfactory job by double checking his work. 

My first thought after my wife got off the phone with him was that they were checking for fraud. Maybe I lack trust. Maybe I'm smart. Either way, he was nice and didn't stay long. He asked a few questions to familiarize himself with our situation and went to work measuring the basement with a laser. Those seem to be the way to go with the pros. We didn't have any questions for him so off he went.

Really, we had everything almost completely wrapped up as of the publishing of this post. All we had left was to submit the receipts for the replacement of personal property that was damaged. We had very little damage, and we have been lucky for that. We had two years to submit the receipts, but I would just rather get it done and move on. We had already "replaced" what we were going to, even if it wasn't a replica of what we had. Ultimately, we were going to be the ones living in that house with that furniture, and I don't want to buy something just because we had an old one that got damaged. A corner desk with a hutch was useful to me fifteen years ago. It isn't now. We'll see how we make out when we turn in the receipts.

sump, Minnesota, basement flooding, heavy rains, blog, September 2016
Three months. Well, almost. That was what it essentially turned out to be. By the time we were done with the previous paragraph's actions and the other tasks associated with the basement, it was about that much time. Our garage was still a mess as a result, and the basement was mostly back under control from moving most of our things back down there. Almost there. Almost there.

I'll have to leave you on that note, unfinished and with a little speculation in your mind as to how things ended up. Maybe, I'll spill the beans within another post. I don't expect there to be much trouble, but I've been wrong about that throughout this process. The journey has been long. 

If you think this whole process wasn't really a big deal, then maybe I didn't stress or point out how much it sucked along the way. To drive home that point further, and because I hear that laughter is a good form of medicinal healing, I leave this post with a true, short story of what it was like trying to pay the mitigators for their work. That company = never again.

The Credit Diablo

If this whole mess wasn't enough, another mess of a different flavor popped up along the way. As I've written, we didn't really have a great opinion of the company that did the mitigation. The two men that did the mitigation work were really nice, seemed knowledgeable, and worked hard. There was no problem there. However, all of the trim that was removed and was going to be tossed was left in our basement, and the invoice they sent us specifically stated its removal.

Also, we weren't terribly happy about the multiple emails we received all within a week stating we had an invoice due. Each email was sent by a different person, each with a unique message, and all with a slightly different looking invoice. The last one looked like they were claiming we were one to thirty days late on payment even though the due date on the invoice stated we had a whole month to pay the bill. An email to our insurance agent pretty much took care of that. We were even assigned a person to contact at the mitigation company if we had any more issues. This would come in handy later.

So, forward we went. The trim was picked up, and we didn't receive anymore "harassing" emails. After we were able to cash that first insurance check—a week before the bill was due—I called their office to pay with my credit card. I wanted to get the rewards money for doing so. It's part of my credit card strategy—get paid for using my credit card but pay it off to avoid paying interest. I gave the polite woman my information and hung up not thinking twice about it.

I received a phone call from her an hour later saying that my card had been declined. I thought it was odd, but after checking my email, I saw that my bank had sent me a suspicious activity notice. I called the credit card company, and I tried to sort it out with them. They told me that the merchant would need to contact them. I called the mitigation company back and was essentially told by their person-most-likely-to-handle-billing-issues that it would fix itself in twenty-four hours. It did not. 

At this point, we called the contact we were assigned that would handle any issues that came up. And, at this point in the credit charge fiasco story, things started to get messy and forgotten when it comes to every detail and the order in which they took place. However, it took a full week, Monday to Monday, for the whole situation to play out.

It took multiple calls to my bank's credit card customer service, a trip to the bank to talk to a banker, and in the end the actual fix came via the mitigation company's and the credit card company's IT departments collaborating on what went wrong and how to fix it. *What the fuck?* Yes, exactly. How could we possibly have such bad luck with this one company?

sump, Minnesota, basement flooding, heavy rains, blog, September 2016, credit card diablo
Initially, I thought my account was frozen, but it was just actually billed over my limit due to the issues I was having with the mitigation company. So, when I found that out, I payed off what the balance was (minus the suspended charges) to allow my card to accept new charges. Billed over your limit? Yes, you read that correctly, and shame on me for thinking you wouldn't pick up on that.

Even though all of the people I talked to told me a different set of instructions for how to fix it, somehow we all got further in getting it fixed. Even our mitigation contact was being given the run around, and we were both trying to figure out how to get to the end of the mess. I do have to credit (pun?) him with his vigilance and care in making things right. It's people like him that win customers back. Except for us. There will be no repeat business, ever. Still, we are very appreciative we had him to call throughout our second experience with that company.

But hold on, the story isn't over.

When the dust settled, and we could all breathe a sigh of relief, I could sit back and understand what had happened. It's still hard to laugh about it, but it got easier by the day. I'm still upset about the entire basement catastrophe, but there was nothing I could do about it but learn and try to turn it into a positive. Anyway, I know the issues with paying the bill via credit card turned out to be some weird, unexplainable ju-ju.

When my card was initially ran, the card readers connection was lost. There was no indication that the charge had gone through. So, the person ran it again and it was declined. After, I got that call I mentioned. The mitigation company (aka the merchant) couldn't back out the charges on their end, because they weren't showing any charges in their system. However, on my account—and from what the bank could see—I was charged twice for the same amount.

Everybody we had talked to couldn't see the whole picture and neither could my contact and I. But, at some point it clicked for someone. On the Friday of that week, I was told that IT had gotten involved. I checked my bank account Saturday morning before leaving for work, and it still wasn't fixed. I didn't even bother looking Sunday. Monday morning the charges had vanished. Hooray!

To my wife and my inner self, I jokingly contemplated trying to charge the bill again, but I figured it would be like running into a brick wall after breaking my arm running into the same wall only moments prior. I decided a check would get the job done and hopefully without incident. Ironically, our bill was due Sunday the sixth, and it was Monday the seventh when I wrote the check. The check would most likely not reach them until the next day. I called our contact and left a voicemail getting him up to speed on all of this. Apparently, he didn't get that voicemail and called me the next day, so I told him again. He asked me, "You don't want to try and charge it then?" NO, I said. We then both laughed a painful, tragic laugh that echoed cavernously throughout eternity.

A week later, I had found out that I received rewards money for BOTH charges that were erased. Was it worth the hassle? Absolutely not. However, I'd rather GET the rewards than NOT get them. It did bring a smile to my face, if only because of the absurdity of the preceding events.


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