Blending in with the wallpaper

It has to be one of the things we so enjoy about Hilton Head Island that it has acquired a familial tone to it.  We’re about as well acquainted as one may expect to be with our estate agent (whom we have known for well over a decade and whom we find to be singularly helpful and completely trustworthy); we’ve developed neighbourhood familiarity at a local beanery; we know our way about our preferred areas of the island without having to rely upon GPS; we recognize the inevitable changes and improvements (as well as confessing the aging of both ourselves and certain of our environment); and, most significantly we rejoice in being back, being home among steady and stimulating personalities and soul-stirring landscape.

Today we undertook what are traditionally the amusements and embarkations of those who are part of the local fabric; namely, a bit of exercise combined with moderate grocery shopping, answering email, a car wash, a casual lunch, addressing upcoming commitments, cooking, dozing in the late afternoon sunshine and reuniting for a delicious evening meal and sharing the latest personal intelligence with one another. We’re really beginning to blend in with the wallpaper!

The exception to this domestic tradition was a much anticipated conversation earlier this morning with ZIPS Car Wash.  Overnight – promoted no doubt by an excess of caffeine – I stewed about our existing car wash contractual relationship which automatically renews each month unless cancelled within a specified time.  The issue arises because the initial membership subscription for one month is $10 only after which if not cancelled, renews at the current rate of $50 per month.  It is foreseeable that most people who subscribe for car wash membership would willingly do so on such terms.  Our peculiar situation of course is that we’re only here for one month – and there are no ZIP Car Washes in Canada – so renewal is not desirable.  This preliminary matter (which is normally trifling and quite acceptable) acquired a more unpleasant feature when I was told by three people successively that one must be certain to cancel the membership within one week before the renewal date; then by another to cancel within two weeks “just to be sure” and then by a third to cancel within three weeks “to avoid mix-ups in the system”. In the depths of darkness in the middle of the night during a sleepless bout, this arrangement assumed disproportionate complications and suggested inevitabilities. Naturally the obsession was overwrought.  Although my early morning telephone call initially failed because the response was the office only opened at 8:00 am – and it was then almost 9:00 am – it subsequently succeeded.  I was able to cancel the membership as wished; I also received a confirming email.  I made it clear to the telephonist that we were cancelling not merely to take sole advantage of the introductory $10 offer but because we were leaving the national jurisdiction. This appeared to make a difference; and it defeated any possible suggestion that there was anything nefarious involved at our end (though I can’t imagine who would perpetuate any violation over such a small amount). Nonetheless it was all very unsettling until the matter was fully resolved. Coincidentally the car wash membership we have in Canada is now based upon the identical retail model and it too has given me pause for thought because, for one who sporadically leaves the jurisdiction, it imposes yet another bureaucratic obligation in order to remove oneself from unmerited abuse of one’s credit card no matter how trifling the amount. In the end I suppose even this type of annoyance and necessity is part of the web of daily living so it neither elevated nor lowered us in the conduct of our otherwise tribal activity

Post Scriptum:

By entire coincidence here’s a review I saw when submitting my own favourable return. It’s a reminder that if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! I appreciate the utility of automatic monthly charge but there must be a way around this predictable problem.

A few weeks ago I was trying to get my car washed. They had a very nice person helping at the “gate” I had a line of cars behind me. The lady helping was trying to get me to sign up for the membership that they had a promotion on. I told her several times I did not want to be on it but she was nice and a good sales person and kept repeating for 10$ you are saving a lot of money. So again under pressure from all the cars behind me, and wanting to get through, I signed up for it, gave my information and signed the sheet.

A few weeks later I get my credit card statement and see a $45 charge. I called and explained I was told it was a $10 deal and not a $45. They canceled my membership for me but would not refund me the charge because “I signed the waiver.” It was several pages in like .5 font that explained the $10 was just for that month. I explained that with a line of people behind me I did not read the small font on their multi page waiver. They didn’t care though

I am very frustrated. This seems like a very simple thing to fix on their end by refunding me the charge. They are refusing and now I am not coming back. I used to use the car wash all the time as my car is dirty from work. I will happily drive a few minutes further up the road to the other car wash. A simple fix could have kept me a customer for a long time but they refused.