As I have mentioned previously, wasted people forget shit in taxis all the time, and now that I am with my new company, this is becoming an enormous pain in the ass for me. No longer can I just leave this crap at the dispatch desk and forget about it, now this bullshit is my problem, and it is already wearing thin. Phones are the most common item left behind, and even though I always tell everyone to check around their seat and make sure that they have everything like a damned Delta stewardess reciting her “Arrivals” script by rote, I have still turned up three phones in the last two months.
Now please understand, I’m an honest guy, and I really want to see people get their stuff back, as long as it isn’t giant imposition on me. Perfect example: I picked up a really drunk guy at a sports bar once and drove him home, and after I dropped him off, I stopped at a traffic light less than a mile from his house. I glanced over my shoulder, and saw a wallet on the floor. Sure enough, it belonged to the guy I had just dropped off, and thumbing through the cash compartment revealed there was roughly three hundred bucks inside.
So what happens to a wasted guy that gets shithammered watching football in a bar and loses his wallet containing $300, and may not even remember where he lost it? Well, if he was lucky enough to be driven home by me, he gets it back. I turned around and took it back, and I don’t even remember if the guy tipped me, maybe he gave me ten bucks, but it wasn’t enough to be memorable if he did. But the tip is not the point; my point is that I’m always happy to get someone’s property back to them, as long as it doesn’t cost me inordinate amount of time or money.
The last straw was a few nites ago, when after working an eleven hour shift, I got a call from a guy I dropped off an hour earlier who left his wallet in my car. So instead of going home after a really long night, I had to backtrack and go fifteen miles out of my way to return his wallet, and the guy who was staying in a $250 a nite hotel couldn’t bring himself to scrape together three bucks to cover my gas, and acted like I had inconvenienced him by making him wait out here while I was driving to the opposite side of town at 4 in the morning.
So, I’m over it… I’m done. Clearly what is needed here is a concise, concrete policy regarding the return of personal effects left in my car through passenger negligence. You wouldn’t know it from reading my blog, but I am very capable of writing letter-perfect, corporate-sounding text with impeccable grammar and sentence structure. But that makes for very dry reading, so on this blog, I tend to write like I speak, with runons and sentence fragments and questionable use of punctuation… just seems to help preserve the flavor of these moments. But in my previous occupation, I was responsible for writing text for product labels, brochures, flyers, websites, national print ads, and other materials that had to meet stringent USDA and FDA regulations, and oftentimes state-level agricultural regulations as well, and things got even trickier when the company expanded into Canada and I had to deal with foreign regulations. It was originally my intent to create just such a dreary and austere sort of document for my Official Lost Cell Phone Return Policy, but I kinda like the raw and plain-spoken style of my first draft.
So with that said, the next time some drunken jackass calls me about another fucking lost cell phone, I am going to request an email address, and here is the email I am sending out from now on.
Your comments and critiques are welcome.
So, you forgot your phone in my taxi… that really sucks, for you and me both. Even though I always tell people to make sure they have all their belongings, I still get phones and other items left in my car. And while I want to see everyone get their possessions back, there are few options to return them that don’t cost me significant time and/or money. My company utilizes smart phones, call routing software, apps, and GPS positioning for our dispatch system and I don’t have a company dispatch office with a “lost and found” basket, so returning your lost items falls to me personally. Reuniting you with your forgotten possessions is a giant pain in the ass for me, and it is not fair that I have to pick up the tab for your carelessness.
So with that in mind, here is my official policy for returning lost cell phones, which also applies to wallets, cameras, sunglasses, and any other items. All personal items misplaced in my car that you want returned will be cheerfully shipped to you via the US Postal Service. There is a $40 fee for this service. Reply to this email with a description of your items, where I picked you up and dropped you off, the make/model of your phone and any identifying markings, case, wallpaper, or features.
Also include a valid credit or debit card number, the exact name on the card, the expiration date, billing ZIP code, billing phone number, and the 3 digit security code from the back of the card. I will charge your card $40 and send a receipt to this email. This fee covers shipping, my time, and my gas to return your item. I am an honest businessman, duly licensed and permitted by the city, so this should not be a problem for you; there is a strong probability that you paid your taxi fare with a card in the first place. The next business day, I will ship out your phone or other items and provide you a tracking number by email, and your phone will be delivered to you in 2-3 days.
If you do not send me all the required information listed above or the card you give me is not approved, I will assume that you are pulling my dick, and I will dispose of your items as I see fit. No further communication shall be forthcoming.
This policy is not flexible, nor am I. Bitter experience has taught me that this policy is the only workable, honest, and fair practice. But before you object and offer an alternative suggestion on how best to reunite you with your phone, allow me to address some of the most commonly heard counterproposals in advance:
I’ll gladly give you fifty bucks to deliver it to me.
I get that a lot. Sometimes people mean it when they say this, but far too often, I’ve been met with hostility, aggression, and foul language, as though it is somehow my fault that you misplaced your phone while in a Jose Cuervo-induced stupor. And sometimes, people aren’t honest about paying me for my time and gas to deliver their phone. On one memorable occasion, I drove 40 miles, well into the next county, to deliver a phone to a man that desperately needed it for work and told me he would happily pay me $100 for my trouble. But upon arrival, I found myself surrounded by three menacing steroid goons that snatched the phone out of my hand and sent me on my way without a dime, or even a thank you. Four or five gallons of gas and nearly two hours wasted, for nothing. Sorry, but after that experience, my only delivery method is USPS. Period.
No problem, I’ll happily drive to your place.
No, you won’t. Some creepy hipster douchebag already blew that option for you several months ago. After making arrangements to deliver his phone the following evening for $20 while I was out working, this jackass took it upon himself to track his phone to my front door early the next afternoon, waking me up, disturbing my dogs, and freaking out my wife. That’s not going to happen again. All items are shipped USPS.
No problem, I’ll just meet you somewhere.
No, you won’t. I am not able to predict where I might be at any given time on any given night, and as I stated previously, USPS is my only delivery method. No exceptions. I am not carrying around your phone and meeting you in a dark parking lot somewhere.
What if I call you for a ride and you give it to me when you pick me up?
I am not carrying your phone around in my car, risking loss or damage to your property. USPS is my only return option. Is this sinking in yet?
This policy is unacceptable. I do not accept these terms.
That’s cool. If a phone is not claimed via the process detailed above within 14 days, I will destroy the SIM card to protect your privacy and noodie photos, donate the phone to a battered women’s shelter or the Cellphones For Soldiers project or some other worthy cause, and deduct it from my taxes as a charitable donation.
I’ll take this up with the owner of your company.
You already did. I own the car, I pay the bills, I determine the schedule, and I set the policy. There is no one up the chain of command to escalate this matter to or to make an appeal regarding this policy.
I’m calling the cops.
Good luck with that. I have no legal obligation to return anything I find in my car, nor do I even have to acknowledge finding anything, if I found anything in the first place. And if I did find items forgotten in my car, I could simply dispose of them in a gas station trash can and be done with them. I don’t need this shit. This is a courtesy and a service, provided only because you had the good fortune to be driven by an honest guy that truly would like to see people reunited with their possessions, without costing me undue time and money in the process. But if you do somehow manage to get the police interested enough to hassle me, I positively guarantee that I never saw your phone.
Fine. I’ll just pay your fee and reverse the charge after I get my phone back.
You are at liberty to try that, but I have already cleared this procedure with my credit card processor, and it is extremely unlikely that you will get a chargeback. Not only have I been an excellent customer for more than two years, but the steps I take to document the return of your property preclude the possibility of a chargeback. Besides, I’m the sober businessman, and you are the wasted and negligent bonehead that lost your phone in the first place. In more than two years of accepting cards through my processor, they have never approved a chargeback against me.
You’re an asshole.
Could be… opinions vary. Some people think I am painfully cool. But that’s really beside the point, is it not? You carelessly lost your phone, and I want to get it back to you. Who is the asshole here?
I’m looking forward to your response email with all the aforementioned information so I can get your phone back to you in a timely and expeditious manner.