We got a letter last week from our home owner’s association. Never a good thing. Your heart kinda sinks before you even open it. Who knows what kind of nonsense that envelope contains?

Well this time it was a letter saying that we hadn’t paid our May or June dues along with a $15 late fee. Um… what!? It was kinda funny cause both my husband and I jumped on our respective computers and began researching their claim. We met back in the kitchen with our new found info. I had the dates the payments were deducted from our checking account and he had the bill pay conformation numbers. I thought we were set.

First I called the number on the letter. It goes straight to voicemail of course. While I was waiting for someone to call me back I called the bank and they said the bill pay payments they had sent hadn’t been cashed. So I put a stop payment on those. I guess that was good news because I was afraid they were going to have cashed the checks and then still say I hadn’t paid. And there isn’t much you can do to fight your association. So if they say you owe the money, then you kinda just have to pay it. I hate feeling powerless and this is a situation where I feel I have no power whatsoever. It’s not like fighting with a company where you can just take your business elsewhere, or even just fight with them and the worst thing that can happen is they report something to your credit. The association can take your house. Your children’s bedrooms, the tiles you laid yourself, the rug where your baby took their first steps… they can just take them.

Then I talked to the association people. They have no idea why my payments weren’t received. I happen to know why but I’m not about to offer info to these fools. I told them I have been paying this bill the exact same way for 4 years and I’ve never had a problem. They agree with that information, but still don’t know why these payments weren’t received. So I ask to have the late fee taken off. I mean, I did nothing wrong here. I made my payment, it’s not my fault they are too unorganized to realize it. But of course the person I’m talking to can’t take off the fee, so she transfers me to someone else’s voicemail, who will probably never call me back.

Here is what I think happened to my payment: In January we got a letter saying the payment address had changed. We made the adjustment. Then in March a new management company took over. I can only assume at this point they changed the payment address again. I don’t know that for sure, but it makes sense. Another assumption I’m making is that they kept the old PO Box open for a few extra months to ease the transition. Of course, it would have been helpful if they had, you know, told someone. I know for a fact that I’m not the only person to get this letter. So that is what I think happened. And it’s pretty sad that I can figure that out and they can’t… they work there!

So at this point I’m going to let it go. I doubt anyone will call me back to remove the fee. I’ll pay my $15 punishment for living in an association. I should think of a way to get my money back. Maybe I’ll kill that spindly tree in front of my house and make them come replace it.

Update: After I wrote this article someone actually called me back. She said to fax in info from our bill pay payments that weren’t received and she would take off the fee. Shocking! So I guess I don’t have to kill that tree after all. darn!

pic by: caribb