Not Funny Whem True

Not Funny When True

The Democrat’s Store

My shopping has been done for many years in a co-op. The store carries a large selection of products, although not all are top-of-the-line or the best value, but there’s still plenty to choose from. The store is the best in the area.

The co-op was recently audited by a large accounting firm. They found out that the company had been charging too much for their products, such as soup and soap. This money was somehow accumulating in the balance sheets in an account called a surplus that had never been used.

After the store manager had announced the findings of the audit, he informed customers that the company would refund the money and apologized for charging so much. The next week, I was able to see how much money had been returned to me. Because I used my store credit card to make all of my purchases, I kept complete records about what I bought and how much I spent.

Although the Customer Service Manager seemed sincere, it didn’t go as planned.

He first wanted to know how much I earn each year. “I’m not sure I understand why that’s important; you have overcharged me, and I am due a refund. The store promised me a refund.”

“Well,&#8221He stated, “Some of our customers need a refund more than others. If you are among the top 1% wealthiest of our customers, then we don’t think you really need a refund. You could afford the high prices we were charging.”

Happily, sort of, I noted that I didn’t earn enough to be in the top 1% of the stores customers.

“OK,&#8221He replied. He took out his calculator and added all my purchases to calculate the excess. It was a staggering number that I found myself getting very excited about. A thousand dollars was mys! “Yep, you’ve got 250 dollars coming your way.”

“What? I just saw you do the calculations. That’s only a quarter of what I was overcharged!”

“We can’t just go and give it all back! We may think of something that the store wants to do with that money later on.”

“But the store has all the money it needs. Everything that you planned to spend, you spent. This money is left over; there is no other need for the store to have it.”

“We’re still trying to think some stuff up. Sorry, you get 250 dollars. Do you want it?”

250 dollars was better than nothing I thought. So I smiled and stated, “OK, I’ll take it.”

“Fine,&#8221″ “Let’s see what we can do. We have many ways of refunding your money to you. Would you like some free diapers?”

“No, I don’t have any babies at home, so free diapers are no use to me.”

“Ah. Perhaps you would like some free dentures? We have denture cream, too!”

“No. I still have my own teeth. Don’t have any call for dentures.&#8221I found myself becoming a little puzzled. It seemed like I would get some of the money I had overpaid.

“I know!,&#8221Beamed the manager. “College textbooks!! They’re expensive if you have to buy them, you know.”

“Well, that’s possible. I have kids in college. OK. Where do I go to get the books?”

“Great… let’s see here… OK. Does your wife work? How much is your house worth? Are your kids in State colleges, or private schools? Are they maintaining at least a B average? Are they willing to come work for the Store for 4 years after graduating?”

“Hold it! What does this have to do with my free college books? You overcharged me, and now the only way I can get my money back is through free college texts… why don’t you just give me the books?”

Unperturbed, he went on. “What are they majoring in? We can’t give out textbooks for unworthy majors. Have they ever been arrested? Do they work during the summers? What is their income?”

“STOP!&#8221I shouted. “Just what in the blue blazes is going on here? You’ve been overcharging my neighbors and me for a long time; you didn’t even know it until the year was up and the accountants discovered the ‘surplus’. Then you tell me that you’ll give me my own money back, but only part of it and not if I earn too much, not if I don’t need diapers or dentures, not if my kids are taking the wrong majors in college. What kind of refund is that?”

“We call it a ‘targeted’ refund. We want to refund the money where we think it will do the most good.”

“But it’s not your money to make that decision with,&#8221I was a splutter. “It’s my money, and my neighbors’ money. Give us our money, and those who need diapers will buy diapers, and those who need dentures will buy dentures, and those who need things you haven’t thought of, or don’t approve of, can get those things if they choose.”

“Sorry, but that’s the way management wants it.”

“Well, then, I want to talk to the owners!”

“But you are one of the owners. And your neighbors; after all, this is a co-op.”

“Well, then, who picks the management team, which decided to limit the return only to people and activities it approves?”

“You do.”

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