Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Apology and Acceptance

Today brought a pleasant surprise. I previously received a notice that some out of state robot radar contended I had mildly exceeded the speed limit on a suburban street. I don't often speed, but I have little recollection of the matter one way or the other. As I was in a rental car, I did not get the notice of the ticket, and a later effort to try to notify me failed to reach me. To my surprise, therefore, November brought a demand letter from a San Antonio law firm on a ticket as to which I had not received notice. The demand letter purported to reserve the rights to take steps that I felt were inappropriate. Still, faced with the choice between filing a motion to reopen the matter in a distant state and the choice of just paying the ticket, I took the latter option.

Just prior to Christmas, yet another demand letter arrived, contending inaccurately that I had not paid the ticket. Because prior experience had shown that the collection firm did not man its phones with people who could actually address the issues, but sent me to deal with the court on payment issues, I wrote to the out of state court to point out the injustice. As a matter of good measure, I further made a demand under the local freedom of information law for copies of the collection firm's agreement, as well as a count of how many Texans have been visited with what I feel to be a flawed collection letter. I also called the collection firm to advise that the matter had been paid. That firm advised they did not have the records to check with this, and purported to place the burden upon me to resolve the issue.

Although I work as a trial lawyer, I dislike being confrontational as to my own personal business. I felt more than a bit irritated with the situation, but ensured I had my proof of payment and resolved to do what was necessary. In general, I felt firmly that I had been wronged, but disliked having to write to solve this issue.

Today, though, a court clerk and her superviser from the distant city court called to accept responsibility, apologize and explain. They acknowledged that I had paid. They acknowledged that I had gotten the letter in error. They also said that they had located a systemic error in their advice system. When I pointed out various other perceived flaws in the demand letter (pertaining to an assertion that they could garnish Texas wages I felt insupportable), they promised to consult with their attorney as to the demand letter flaw issue.

Although I remain unhappy with the collection firm's handling of this matter,
which I felt to be flawed in the extreme, the distant city court clerk's office impressed me. It's such a simple formula--when you err, admit it and apologize. It makes such a difference. I am glad that I will not be getting more erroneous demand letters. I wish, with hindsight, I had moved to set aside the case for want of due process. Sometimes, though, I think that life is too short.

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