Many consumers and employees may sometimes gets stiffed by big corporations because they aren’t willing to put up a fight or simply don’t know their rights. I’m sure consumers probably lose a lot of battle against big corporations because we feel so helpless going up against a giant, even if we know we are right.
I want to share with you two stories of how being proactive and knowing your rights could help save–and even make– you free money.
Car Insurance Mistake
Two weeks ago, I was shocked to see a $320 charge on our credit card for a rental car company. I immediately contacted my bank’s fraud department, who informed me that I should contact the merchant since I had recently done business with them three months back.
When I called them, I found out that they were charging me for the rental car we had used for two weeks in October when I crashed my car. The insurance company was refusing to pay the claim so the rental company charged us. Furious, I called our insurance company. It took about three phone calls of runarounds before I was finally told by an insurance agent that we didn’t have rental coverage and that’s why they weren’t paying for it. However, the rental company told me that the insurance company had approved the rental car. With no options left, I left a voicemail for the man in charge at the insurance company informing them that I shouldn’t have to pay for their mistake. I then went online and printed out all our claim information, including the approved claim for the rental car.
I started gathering my documents in cases I needed to take them to small claims court. Call me crazy, but I wasn’t going to pay for someone else’s mistake.
The next day, I received a call back from the insurance company, and I let it go to voicemail so that I would have tangible proof. More proof for my case. The insurance agent asked me to give him a few days to sort it out, but admitted that they had approved the rental car even though we didn’t have rental coverage.
After a few days, I called back and was told that a check for $320 should be mailed to us within 7-10 days.
I’m glad I didn’t have to go to small claims court, but I was prepared to fight. I think a lot of other people would have just let it go.
Making $1,000 because of my employee rights
About two years ago, I was laid off from my job and wasn’t given my final paycheck. Under California law, you are supposed to receive your final paycheck on the last day of unemployment, and you are also supposed to get paid your unused, but accrued, vacation days. When I was laid off (over the phone, mind you), I asked for my vacation time, and they said because I had been an employee for less than six months, I was not entitled to be paid for my vacation time.
I spent the next five days going back and forth with them until their lawyers confirmed that I indeed was supposed to receive my vacation time. Any normal person could have left it there, and just been happy with their vacation check.
But not me. I knew my rights.
Because they had not paid me onmy final day and given me all the money that I was due–they broke the law. And under California law, I am entitled to a day of wages for every day my final check is late–including weekend days. So I went onto my local government website, and filed a grievance claim. I had to go to court for about an hour one time, but eventually I received a full five days’ worth of pay, which to me was a lot of money at the time.
And all because I knew my rights.
I share these stories so that you never again think of just letting something go. Most of the time, it’s not as big of a time commitment as people think it is. To me, $320 is definitely worth fighting for and so was a $1,000+ check.
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When I was on maternity leave with my first child, there was a discrepancy with HR - and, like you, I let an important phone call go to voicemail so I could have documented proof of whatever they said. Also like you, the other party admitted they'd been wrong on that message, and it was the turning point in my case!