Bend Over, This Won't Hurt a Bit, Lady
I finally persuaded the shiftless gorillas at the appliance repair place to show up at my house to fix my washing machine. It had stopped spinning and draining and I needed it fixed pronto. They'd stood me up yesterday and I was already a little miffed.
They showed up today and quickly diagnosed it as a faulty door switch, a part the guy said cost $45. Labor would be an additional $55. I said the part sounded a little costly, and the one guy who spoke English looked me in the eye and promised that $45 was the standard rate for the part--I could ask anyone.
The barrel he had me over was wide, so I agreed to let them fix it.
I brought out my checkbook and he told me he wouldn't charge me tax if I paid cash.
Hmm, I thought, his tax evasion scheme might give me leverage if I ever needed it.
The head goon left and his Spanish language-only guy remained.
In the 10 minutes it took to do the repair, I checked on the Internet. The part retails for $25.
After he finished, I handed the guy five 20's and asked for a receipt. "I don' got no receep, meese, ju can got juan at the store."
So I stomped over to the store and demanded a receipt from the head goon.
He told me his assistant said I was angry and asked why.
I mentioned the part rip-off and he snorted and said, "We gotta make a living, lady."
So I said, "Ripping off people is no way to make a living."
He said, "Well, I didn't rip you off."
I said, "Look, just refund $20 to me and all is forgiven."
He actually started laughing.
As he wrote out the receipt, I said, "Be sure to divide up the parts and labor," which he did.
As I was walking out, I said over my shoulder, "By the way, asking for cash in exchange for waiving the sales tax is illegal."
He said, "What you gonna do about it?"
I just kept walking.
As I rounded the corner, walking up the street toward my house, he ran up behind me.
"Ma'am! Ma'am!" he cried.
"Look, I'll refund your money, remove the new part and all you have to do is pay me a $15 service charge."
"Get serious. You ripped me off, you refused to do anything about it, now you want to cover your ass and act like none of this ever happened. Forget it."
He peeled off a twenty and shook it at me.
"Look, I'll give you this twenty and you just give me back the receipt."
"Sorry, too late."
He started moving closer to me and I raised my voice, "You come one inch closer and I'll scream until your eardrums shatter."
He backed off, since there were people out in their yards within earshot.
We parted company.
I called a few sales tax agencies and a local news station that has a great consumer fraud reporter. I outlined the plot, hiring an old lady, disabling her washer and calling in these crooks to repair it while they film it all on a hidden camera. He liked it.
These crooks may have ripped off the wrong person this time.
They're gonna get it.