2002-10-23 email to Tigger
Background, part one: there are all these leftover tents and stuff in the back yard at Red House (which is now painted green, actually... and Mr. W.B.'s bathroom mural is now painted white), left there by former occupants of the "Tipi Village". The Tipi Village was started during Brian Pope's tenancy, but of the 5 "problem areas" I'm aware of, only one of them dates from that era. That one, along with two others, I consider to be L&B's responsibility -- the first one they bought from Brian Pope, and the other two of those 3 were set up either by them or at their direction. The remaining two (of the total five) were set up by/for Frank Owens, who originally moved there during BP's tenancy, although they were set up after I started working there (I don't remember if it was before, during, or after Dan's brief "official" tenancy).
Background, part two: as part of the effort to make RH rentable (at $650/month with storage shed), Livia (at owner RBW's request) is having these messes disposed of. The Grievers are taking care of _some_ of it, but it's not clear that they're willing to take care of completely cleaning up all 3 of the sites I consider theirs. Livia was going to check into that. But in any case, at the very least the other two sites were remaining, and she got an estimate for having them removed (since she doesn't have time or truck) which came in at $900+.
Background, part three: Rebekah was talking at one point (perhaps more) about holding me responsible for the mess and suing me to have it removed. I'm pretty certain she has not a leg to stand on, so I'm not so much worried about it as I am P.O.ed at her for trying to foist off her problems and bully me (and Livia) into shouldering the burden of the cleanup when she could have had much more help from us and the Grievers if she had instead been pleasant about it.
[ ... ]
One, I don't think she should be paying to have the back yard cleaned up. I kept coming back to this point, but in stolid Livialike fashion she kept saying "but if I did this and that and that then it could Just Get Done...". So I don't think I got through on this point.
[ ... ]
Anyway, that's _that_ issue.
The one I originally wanted to write about was the Grievers.
For awhile, Lynne was using the Red House check card to make purchases and then putting deposits in to cover them. This was originally done with my consent because they had helped cover some orders.
I had asked that she please send me an accounting, after each batch of transactions, listing the amounts debited (and preferably listing the payees) and deposited so I could keep our records in synch. I think maybe after the first one or two batches I was able to get her to send me these accountings -- though I also seem to recall it was a bit like pulling teeth. No more since then.
Then I got some windfall cash (long story... it wasn't even mine, just a postponed repayment of a loan, really) right around the time the RH was burglarized -- and in the rush of dealing with all the excess headache of moving stuff and getting set up at Hull Road while also keeping business flowing, I didn't have time to keep up with the bank balance and all the details of debits and withdrawals and such, so when cash got low I would just deposit some more of my windfall.
I was stunned to find out several weeks later that I had put $3000 into the Red House bank account and it had simply vanished. For complicated reasons, I couldn't stop everything and figure out where it went right then -- but a month or so later, Lynne started making noises about RH owing them some money, so I did a reconciliation starting on July 1 to see if they'd put in more than they'd taken out and if so how much. Turned out they were pretty close to being even -- though they hadn't always kept current, at that particular moment they were maybe $3 in debt to RH. Not worth worrying about.
I said as much to Lynne, and she said _her_ records indicated RH owed them several hundred. So I left her with a copy of my figurings on a printout and asked her to look at it and tell me where it disagreed with her figurings.
Several weeks (I think) go by, and she starts saying that we "really need to talk" about her figures so we can "get this whole thing straightened out". I try to insist that she should just send me her figures -- or else a list of which of my figures she disagrees with -- and we'll take it from there, but she makes a huge fuss about how that would take HOURS and HOURS to type in and if we could just sit down for a FEW MINUTES we could have the whole thing worked out, and how could I possibly think of making her take hours and hours when all I have to do is just sit down with her for those few minutes?
We got into a huge email argument about how I didn't feel comfortable just sitting down and I was really going to have to insist on seeing things written down... I may have forwarded you some of that... but basically I don't seem to have been able to have any effect on her position.
Then, a little while later, I was in NC and B & I were getting ready to place an order for merchandise -- my calculations showed that, as long as Lynne was going to make a deposit to cover the few small incoming debits I was seeing (somewhere in the $50-$100 range), there would be enough for the order. I asked Bubba to check with Lynne to see if our figurings agreed, and to please let me know by 1 pm so I could handle it a different way if we didn't agree.
As it happened, Lynne was on the phone, and I was going out... he said he would let her know that I needed to know by 1 pm. And so I went out on my errands.
When I got back around 3 pm, I asked B what the situation was. He said he was just about to place the order -- from which one could only assume (right?) that he had checked with Lynne and she had agreed to make a deposit to cover the debits. (Note that this was long after Lynne had said she would stop making debits because we needed to have a "settling down" period before they could open their own business account so they could use their own check card instead of RH's...)
I think the first hint of trouble was when our supplier (with whom the order had been placed) called and left a message... Suspecting the worst, I checked the balance online to see if maybe the deposit hadn't made it in time -- and found not a deposit but an outgoing check (i.e. a check written from RH) for $350, bringing the balance down wayyy below $0 (and incurring lots of fun $30 NSFs in the process).
So then I go refiguring the situation and work out that RDA now owes something like $500 (original $100 of debits, plus $350, plus some other new ones). I'm immediately furious at Lynne, because this seems quite clearly over the line, and I send email saying no more check card usage (except for Bubba placing orders for vbz, pre-approved by me) and no more checks. (This, at least, seems to have worked so far.)
And I send the latest version of the spreadsheet.
Lynne (and B too, though it later becomes apparent he's just repeating what she told him) comes back with something about how _her_ figuring shows that RH owes _them_ something like $1000, and how she always put in money to cover the money she spent.
Mystified as to where this $1500 discrepancy could have come from, I figure the spreadsheet back to June 1 and find that they owe me even more -- like another $800 or so. I then make a rough calculation of what their share of sales should be, in case they were counting that -- nothing there; they lost about $200 (mostly unsold merchandise).
In fact, my figures showed that if it hadn't been for RDA's debits, there would have been about $800 in the account -- a reasonable amount to operate on. Instead, I'm left with a negative balance and can't place orders...
Again, I insist that she needs to show me her figures; again, she insists that it would take too long... it might have been at around this time that she suggested that if I couldn't remember all the details of a face-to-face conversation that I should record the conversation, transcribe it, and email it to myself...
Now, having been down in Athens twice now (most recently for almost a week), this conversation which we desperately need to have still hasn't happened -- even though I made it plain I was waiting for her to let me know when she was ready.
So... what I was originally going to pose to you was this: Is it not the responsibility of an individual or (especially) a business, in the event they believe something is owed to them, to be able to produce a list of the items for which they believe they are owed, with individual amounts and a final total? And, in the event that someone (call this Party B) claims that the aforementioned individual or business (e.g. the Grievers or the RDA -- call them Party A) owes _them_ (B) money and can produce an itemized statement with individual amounts and a final total, is it not the responsibility of Party A to examine Party B's statement themselves and draw attention to those items with which they may not agree?
It seems to me that their insistence I need to "sit down with [them] face-to-face" and work it all out amounts to my holding their hand while they get their facts straight.
I was thinking that when Lynne finally said it was time to sit down, what I would do as we were going over the line items is type up a spreadsheet of the amounts being discussed -- the exact same spreadsheet which Lynne was claiming was far too difficult for her to create -- and show them exactly what I was asking for, while producing it at the same time so that it would be a moot point.
But we couldn't even get to the point of doing that.
So what the heck do I do next? I start thinking of things like formatting the spreadsheet as a bill and sending it to them via registered mail, so that their acceptance of it becomes legally binding or something -- but when one gets to that point, it seems like the real thing to do is talk to a lawyer and find out if that's really the thing to do.