‘A good laugh is sunshine in a house.’ William Makepeace Thackeray
I opened my email account a few weeks ago and was a bit shocked to see a legal notice there from a credit card processing company that I use on one of my websites. It was very official looking and it was informing me that the ongoing dispute which had been filed against me several months ago was now being escalated to yet another level of involvement.
As I scanned through the document trying to make sense of what I was reading, there was no readily identifiable information for me to grasp…. Just invoice numbers, numeric identifiers, and a bunch of legal ease describing dispute resolution policies. My first response was that all of the legal hyperbole I was reading was perhaps a scam; someone trying to frighten me into paying a fine for something that was fictitious in nature. Although I had no intention of paying any fines, my curiosity was enough to cause me to pick up the phone and call the number given in the email. The conversation that followed gave me enough detailed information to ascertain that apparently this was at least a partially legitimate matter. Someone had ordered a copy of my book ‘Will You Dance?’ on my website in late April. It had apparently never arrived to the purchaser, and over the course of the last several months, this book buyer had become so irritated that their product had not arrived, that they had initiated a rather aggressive counter attack upon the book’s publisher ‘The Wandering Feather Press.”
Well crap, this was not good! ‘The Wandering Feather Press’ is just a slick pseudonym for ‘me myself and I’…. and when I looked at the date that the book order had been placed, it corresponded squarely with the week that our youngest son had become ill and landed in the hospital for 7 days. I knew without even having to double check, that this order had gone wholly unnoticed by all those nice folks at ‘The Wandering Feather Press’ because I was ‘them’ and book sales were the last thing on my mind during that stressful time.
I quickly went about delving into the order history on my website to figure out who the jilted customer was so that I could make things right. I was intent on sending their book out ASAP with a note explaining my errant sales behavior. As I typed in the customer number it took a few seconds for the name to populate. Once it did, I could hardly believe my eyes. There blinking in black and white letters before me was the name of my beloved 84 year old Aunt. ‘Tia Jeanette’ as I call her, has been a mainstay in my life all of my 48 years. She has been a friend, a second mother, and a beloved great Auntie to my kids. She has always had more spunk that most people half her age, and she is never someone who you want to place limits on. (Just ask her cardiologist… this is a whole other story, but if I had time to tell it, you would totally get what a bad a** she is….)
Anyhoo…. I had to laugh out loud once I understood who my miffed customer was. My own blood was bringing me to the bench in cyber court. I picked up the phone without hesitation and the conversation went like this:
Me: ‘Hi Tia…. It’s Annette.’
Her: “Oh hi honey! I’m so glad you called! I’ve been thinking about you? How are you? How’s Brian and the kids?’
Me: “Well…they are all good, but I have had better days….”
Her: ‘Oh no, what’s wrong? (With genuine deep concern in her voice….)
Me: ‘Well I just got a dispute letter from my credit card processor. It appears someone is really going after me for having faulty business habits…’
Her: ‘’ You have got to be kidding… Why would someone do that to you honey?’
Me: ‘ Well apparently someone ordered a copy of my book ‘Will You Dance?’ a few months ago and it never arrived… and now they are hotter than a pistol about it.’
Slightly confused silence…
Me: With great restraint I manage to say flatly….’ Tia… you could have just called me and told me your book never arrived. You didn’t have to send the Feds after me….’
Her: Through rolling laughter she began her rebuttal: ‘ Wait a minute! I wasn’t after you honey! I filed a complaint against that damn publisher. They took my money and they never did give me a book.’
Me: Laughing hard now….. “Do you know who ‘they’ are?’
Her: ‘Oh, honey, It’s some long name…. you know, the people who publish your book…’
Me: ‘Ya I know who ‘they’ are… ‘They’ are me, myself, and I….…. – I am that big long name, ‘the Wandering Feather Press.’…
Her: ‘Oh no! I know how busy you are so I didn’t want to bother you with this, so I went after those buggers on my own!’
Me: ‘You sure did, Tia…. and you got ’em good!’ Hahahahahahaha!
We had a great laugh as I gave her the gory details about my little secret. As I explained to her that I myself alone am the author, the publisher, the distributor, the sales force, the shipping agency, and the dispute resolution team….. her notion of a ‘big box store’ kind of publishing company appropriately adjusted itself to reflect more of the ‘neighborhood lemonade stand’ version that we at ‘WFP’ (as we are known as in the industry), strive to embody!
However, the matter still had to be formally settled. I got my dispute resolution team together (Brian and Ajay) and we met this testy customer yesterday morning for a good old-fashioned round table discussion. I hand delivered the book to her, and she officially brought an end to all legal proceedings by buying us breakfast.