Still taking in about 50 to 60 calls a day from customers of the Room Store. It’s non-stop and extremely maddening, considering that we have nothing to DO with the freaking Room Store. Bastards. You should hear these poor people. Many of them are Hispanic or African American, or lower income Southern “white” people, many of them with thick accents and some who can barely speak English. Honestly. I’ve never heard anything like it before. But then again, I had never heard of The Room Store either. [I joked the other day to a colleague after getting off a call that lasted almost ten minutes where I had to speak Spanish the whole time, “The f*&king Room Store should pay me a HUGE bonus for doing all of this. (Now that’s a statement overflowing with irony to say the least) To not only be taking their calls for them, but where else do you find a customer service rep who speaks five languages?!?!” Of course we aren’t going to be remunerated from these corporate clock sucking crooks and we know it. At best we will find a way to get this ever growing list to the Better Business Bureau and hope they actually do something about it].
The point of the racial reference is this: I’ve taken at least 200 calls myself over the last two weeks from these people. And I know nothing about The Room Store. But I know business. Having owned a multitude of them over the last 20 years, I know as much about target markets and demographics and micro-niche market casting as one needs to in order to make a few million a year from understanding and servicing your customer base. The Room Store’s target market appears to have been either lower income people or people of color or immigrants… or maybe it is just the nature of that particular class… lower income people; as in what they say about the immigrant and minority classes in America… how they are in the majority of those at the very bottom of money earners in the United States. Perhaps they are easy to deceive and manipulate, I do not know, for I have never had a business like that. But that’s exactly what we are hearing call after bloody call. Crazy deceptions and run around stories. Much like what the banks and the credit card companies do to these same people. And all it does is make us more mad as we continue to take these calls and listen to these people’s sad stories.
There’s also a large pool of elderly people. God bless them. They don’t even realize that I do not work for The Room Store. They just keep going on and on asking me more and more questions. No matter how many times I tell them that they’ve reached the wrong number and I am just trying to help them out by taking their name and number to pass on to the Room Store if we can track them down. See, from the outside it appears that what this company did is stayed open till the very last moment they could and continued to sell furniture to people, taking their cash, checks, and credit card numbers, knowing full well that they would never be delivering any furniture to them. Then overnight they closed. As for the people who purchased those worthless “extra coverage insurance packages” that those of us in the know never buy, those people are also in a similarly screwed place. They’re owed something and they’ve got no number to call to speak to anybody about it except ours — because the Room Store gave everyone the wrong 800 number to call to “file their claim now that we are bankrupt”.
Ah but the bastards had no idea that there just might be someone who gives a damn on the other end of that random 800 number they maliciously and erroneously passed out to their most infringed upon clientele. So here we are, knee deep in someone else’s dirty mess and frankly quite happy to be lending a hand. For they sure as hell aren’t.
I’ll tell you dear paged friend, we’ve received exactly ONE call so far from a person who I would say sounded “middle income” or remotely educated. A man who actually understood what was happening and appreciated the efforts we were going through as non-involved fellow citizens. The rest of them ask me questions like “So, uh, sir, what will happen next? Is someone going to call us back?” Poor fuckers. It’s always they who get the worst of it from the top of the heap. Now this doesn’t mean that people who shopped at The Room Store were all uneducated or lower income types. Not at all. But what it does imply is that the people who got ripped off are.
Because those are the only calls that are coming in. Hundreds of them. So it leads me to believe that the bigger fish, the more educated folk who understand how things work a bit better already took care of themselves long before any of this bankruptcy business went down. But these folks who are calling in now, from Texas and North Carolina and Maryland and South Carolina, they’re just clueless as to how this happened to them. And honestly most of them are still expecting someone to get back to them, as if any day they’re going to receive a call back from someone working at The Room Store who’s going to offer to give them all their money back. Even though they’ve filed bankruptcy. They just don’t get it. It is the poorest people who are taken the most advantage of in our society. And ironically made to work the hardest, and who pay the highest percentage of their capital in taxes. Simply because they don’t know any better, and because they do not have the money to do anything about it even if they did.
It’s got me to thinking a lot about how business and capitalism works in the United States. If I weren’t so tired, or had another way in which to discuss other than sitting here typing I would go into it more. But leave it to this: anyone in America can open up a business and start their own corporation. That corporation can enjoy all the privileges and benefits of a regular human being, even getting their own social security number (except it’s called a Tax ID Number), but suffer none of the consequences that a regular human being would if they broke the law. If they run their business into the ground and in the process steal a few million dollars from a few thousand people, they can file bankruptcy and be done with it. If they break any number of laws, whether it’s for billions of dollars such that we saw in the banking crash of 2008, or just a few hundred thousand, they can expect at the most to be fined.
If they cannot pay the fine, they can just file bankruptcy and again voila be done with it. No jail. No prison. No trouble. No nothing but a free ride down easy street.Try asking a judge for that if you get caught stealing money because your family is hungry. He’ll laugh as he sentences you to a few months or even years in jail. That’s the big secret that corporations know and regular people don’t. Bankruptcy is not something I personally believe in. I believe it to be a scam. A con. A scheme. I’ve had plenty of opportunities in my own personal and business life to do it, and I have never chosen that as an option. Instead I take the hit. The full hit. Even if it takes you ten years or more to pay back all your customers and creditors, you owe it to them and to yourself to do so. A deal is a deal is a deal. And your word is either good, or bad. No excuses.
By the time this company’s big creditors are done with them, the judge in the bankruptcy court who’s handling this case, will have no option but to put away a very small fraction of what they owe their actual customers and order them to do their best to pay all those people back as best they can with a little trifle of the large sums the people are actually owed. And the sad part is that there isn’t a damn thing any of them can do about it. Some of the smart ones can sue, or better yet put together a class action law suit and try to go for it that way. But that takes time. And money. Commodities that it appears that most of these people do not possess. What strikes one most appalling of all is that corporations are allowed to consider “salary and bonuses” as part of their everyday expenses. Creating a situation whereby the head man in charge of the entire scheme may walk away with ten to twenty million for his salary for that year, and maybe even a bonus for handling the bankruptcy “efficiently”, but he will not get into any trouble for swindling all the poor customers who got left out in the cold with empty promises and worthless signed contracts that the company is now no longer obligated to abide by or make good on.
That in a nutshell is American Capitalism. And it’s why each of us who live here owe tens of thousands of dollars each as our personal share of America’s debt (to who?) because we had to bail out all those banks and financial institutions who went bust and yet in the same year the captains of those giant ships of ruin walked away with tens of millions of dollars in their own offshore bank accounts. Watch what happens if any of us attempt to stand up for what’s right and just and refuse to pay a cent of it on the grounds that it wasn’t our business that fucked up and went under. Any one of us would go straight to jail. It’s a vicious system. What these men and women of finance — and others who scam the system to their own benefit regardless of the harm it does — are doing is bankrupting capitalism. Making it appear to be something that it’s not. Ugly. Selfish. Greedy. Self serving. There is no rule that states that those are inherent qualities of a capitalist system though.
And so the battle has just begun, three years ago to be exact. And I think it is just getting started. More and more of us are waking up and seeing things as they really are. And I dare say that my prediction is that in a very short time we are going to see waves of bold Americans refusing to take on this debt of these PRIVATE companies. What will happen then, one can only guess. But in the meantime, when we do have an opportunity to help, in any way we can, even if it is something as small as this Room Store fiasco we are dealing with, we should seize the opportunity. This considerable list will be documented and sent to every major newspaper in America along with the judge handling The Room Store’s bankruptcy and the Better Business Bureau.
These people should be taken care of. When the most basic trusts of capitalism are no longer believed in, people begin to do one of either two things: go crooked themselves, or demand a more socialist system. As a business man myself I would prefer not to see either option exercised in my lifetime here. I believe in the capitalist system. Any man or woman can thrive on it freely and without much restraint from big government. But they can do so fairly and equitably. It doesn’t have to be the way it’s been over the last decade or two. It’s a myth if anyone tells you that it does. It is just a few rotten apples spoiling the whole cart for the rest of us good eggs. That’s why every chance we get, when faced with a serendipitous opportunity to bend the rules a bit in our favor at the expense of another, we must always refuse to take that opportunity and instead do the right thing. Thereby showing the world that capitalism can be a good thing for all, and that in and of itself capitalism is not inherently bad. It’s just some people who are.