Rosemont at Patwood – Where Service Quickly Ends! A Greenville, SC Customer Service disaster…at least that’s my opinion!

October 7, 2010

Sometimes we find the “Devil in the Details”.  I recall when I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer that it took a little time to understand just what I was facing and understand the “rules of the game” so to speak and how to deal with what was ahead.  Well…not that renting a temporary apartment while away from home is “Prostate Cancer”, but for sure when the ink is dry you do begin to find out truly what you are facing and the quality of the folks you’re dealing with.

Now, first things first, as a business ethics speaker I often write about experiences both good and bad.  My readers (which vary from time to time) know that I am willing to be transparent.  I make mistakes and find that accepting responsibility for them is healthy and beneficial.  But, there are times when I find that business organizations – like Rosemont at Patewood – create an environment that is customer friendly or intolerant and insensitive.  Those who fall into the latter categories challenge the very definition of customer friendly and customer service environments.

HERE’S THE STORY:

As Chief Operating Officer of a national company and international speaker, I travel alot.   In September (sometime toward the middle of the month) I rented a simple one bedroom apartment from the (what seemed to be) fine folks at Rosemont at Patewood in Greenville, SC.  The process seemed to be fairly easy.  To pay my first months rent I had to provide a certified check (which I admit made sense).  The lease paperwork was presented to me and within 10 minutes I had signed more papers than it took to buy my last home – actually my last two homes.  And like most people, I did not take the time to read every page.  BIG MISTAKE!!!   I readily admit my mistakes.  And as I started this – I said – THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS.

The move in was easy.  The apartment was old and certainly not up to what I would consider modern standards, but it was acceptable and clean.  There are some issues, like hearing the folks above me start their bath water at 5:30 a.m. each day and walk with some real heavy feet, but that’s apartment living (I guess).

Month two… (Now here’s where it get’s interesting)… I am out of town more than I’m in town – which I told the folks at the apartment complex when I moved in).  So, at the first of the month I am out of town – back on Sunday October 3rd and back out on the 4th.  I go by to pay my rent (because they can’t just draft it from my account – which would make sense in this digital age) and find that there is no DROP BOX.  “Wow,” I think to myself, “this is really inconvenient.  If there is no drop box and you are not here at the first of the month – how do you pay your rent?”

Wednesday evening the 6th I return at 9:45 p.m. – thinking, I’ve got to get them their check tomorrow – knowing that they open their office at 9:00 a.m. – typically long after I’ve gone to work.  AGAIN INCONVENIENT.  So, doing the right thing (I think) I defer an early morning appointment to bring by my check.  Again, thinking – “This is not very customer friendly.”  Well…THAT’S NOT THE HALF OF IT…

9:00 a.m.  I was greeted at the door by a smiling face telling me as I handed her the check – “We can’t accept that.  You’re late and we have to now have a certified check.”  Shocked at my initial greeting she proceeded to say, “The cut off is the 5th and today is the 7th.”  What she said was true.  Today is the 7th and the only day I was here to pay my rent was Sunday the 3rd and guess what – no one was there to collect it and there was NO DROP BOX within which I could leave it.  To add insult to injury – I was told that I must pay $145 in penalties for the two day delay.

“So let me get this straight – You don’t provide a way for me to leave my check (NO DROP BOX) when the payment is due and since I’m out of town and just back last night – I bring it by today and now not only am I late, but I must pay a penalty?”

Her response kindly stated was, “That’s right.  And I need a certified check – we won’t accept your personal check.”

AMAZING – LACK OF CONVENIENCE!

We’ll, again getting ready to head out of town, I go get cash and, take time away from work in order to take care of personal business.  I bring it by there office.  TO MY UTTER SURPRISE – I am greeted with, as I count out cash including my additional $145 fee, WE CAN’T TAKE CASH!  If I had false teeth I am sure at that moment they would have fallen out!  Talking about feeling a mind wabble – I am bringing by US Legal Tender and am told that cash is not acceptable.

DECIDE FOR YOURSELF…

  1. NO DROP BOX for rent collection
  2. NO BANK DRAFT OPTION which I would be the first to sign up for so that it is just “sucked” from my account
  3. NO WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT CASH for the payment of one’s rent

Perhaps many will disagree, but THIS IS A CUSTOMER SERVICE DISASTER and a business that, now given a choice, I would avoid like the plague.  I have no choice, but to again be inconvenienced, and work within their limited guidelines.   In fairness, I was told today I could pay my rent at their web site, but telling me today isn’t helping with the lack of convenience above and lack of communication on the front end when I could have been given that as a clear payment option.

In today’s environment, the customer is KING.  I believe in playing by the rules.  Likewise, I know that if the rules favor convenience and customer service you will have customers for life.  On the other hand, when the CUSTOMER IS INCONVENIENCED and the RULES BECOME SO RIGID as to make life less than reasonable (I mean there is nothing more reasonable than paying one’s rent with CASH) then it’s time to expose it for what it is.

The DEVIL is in the DETAILS!  CUSTOMER SERVICE IS LACKING and CONVENIENCE IS DEVILISHLY MISSING at ROSEMONT at PATEWOOD.  Be warned…

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Nadine Pinto, John Wofford, and Taurik David Griffin – Mauldin, SC Taxpreparers face Federal Charges

January 16, 2010

New IRS regulations have recently been issued to prevent this very thing – someone preparing a tax return and creating fake data in order to increase your refund. Information regarding the new preparer rules can be found here.

On January 12, 2010, Nadine F. Pinto, age 38, John S. Wofford, age 42, and Taurik David Griffin, age 32, all of Mauldin, South Carolina, were charged in 28-count Indictment with assisting in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns.

Authorities allege that the trio, while working at G&W Taxes, LLC, in Mauldin, created false entries in tax returns they prepared for certain clients, so as to qualify the clients for tax refunds.

It would seem pretty obvious that fake entries on a tax return would lead to a less than desirable outcome.  In the case of Pinto, Wofford, and Griffin – the likely outcome will be a prison sentence.  The IRS doesn’t take offenses like this lightly and, especially in light of the new regulations, it would seem that this trio would serve as a good example of what one should not do.

The maximum penalty Pinto, Wofford, and Griffin could receive is a fine of $100,000.00 and imprisonment for three years.  Of course, one is innocent until proven guilty.  But, let me state from experience, rarely does a US Attorney issue an indictment without a 90% chance of winning the case.

IF YOU KNOW any of the three and have comments as to their motive – PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT!


Dumb but Premeditated Fraud – Stephanie L. Mayer of Simpsonville, SC Pleads Guilty

March 20, 2009

As I leave Pittsburgh, PA from a speaking engagement on ethics and fraud, I couldn’t help but stop when I read about a 38 year old Simpsonville, SC woman and her attempt at fraud.  A “Bernie Madoff” she isn’t as her fraud lacked creativity and ended quickly.

Every choice has a consequence.  That is a statement that I speak often as I address groups nationwide.  Whether it is Bernie Madoff, his accountant (now charged with fraud), Robert Stanford, Gordon Grigg or a host of others, the reality is whether the fraud lasts for some time or is short lived – in the case of Stephanie L. Mayer – there is a consequence for choices that we make.  If those choices are unethical, then the consequences can’t be good.

According to the US Attorney’s office:

In February 2008, Meyer opened accounts at four brokerage firms including the ultimate victims, The Vanguard Group and Ameriprise jail-cartoonFinancial.  Meyer then deposited worthless checks into the accounts, which resulted in fictitious or “phantom” balances.  Meyer then withdrew $175,000 from the credited Vanguard account and $130,000 from the Ameriprise account before the fraud was detected.

Without intending to sound judgmental, the “real impact” of the current recession wasn’t felt till late summer ’08 or certainly the fall ’08.  Therefore, the question is – what motivated Mayer to take such radical action.  She had to know that passing worthless checks to set up brokerage accounts was a venture that had a short life.

Of course – as reported in the Greenville News – “Until June 2008, Meyer deposited $5.4 million in checks spread across the firms from bank accounts that didn’t have sufficient funds to cover the checks, according to the charges.  She also pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges for mailings to Minnesota and Pennsylvania, according to the charges.”

BACKGROUND OF A FRAUD:

Frauds, regardless of type, need three things in order to take life – (1) Need; (2) Opportunity and (3) Rationalization.  The question related to the Mayer fraud is what was her (1) need and (2) rationalization?  The obvious opportunity was the method of execution of the fraud – which was amateurish and dumb.  How Mayer effected her fraud shows her lack of experience and hopefully will be taken into account in her pre-sentence report.

Her guilty plea could result in a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00 on each of the two counts to which she pled guilty.  While, I would suspect that Stephanie L. Mayer is an amateur fraudster, in the current environment, I would not be surprised if she received a prison sentence of well over three years.

If you know Stephanie and might comment on her motivation – please know that YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.