Is coronavirus an excuse for this missing refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

Frank Rabusin filed a complaint with Schneider Electric back in October. His claim was approved and the company promised him a $240 check. Now, months later, the refund is still missing and the company is giving him a coronavirus excuse.

Can we find out what’s going on here?

Question

In early January, Schneider Electric agreed to pay me $240 to resolve a problem with an APC battery backup device that toasted my router, telephone and modem. I filled out a release form and have been in contact with them, but so far I haven’t received the money. It’s the principle now, not the money, that irritates me.

I just received an update that offered the excuse that my missing refund has something to do with coronavirus.  Schneider Electric estimates that it will take an extra 6 to 8 weeks. The company added, “We suspect checks could be delivered much sooner and will provide you updates as they become available. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

This has been dragging on since October. How can coronavirus have anything to do with it? Can you help me get my $240 back, please? — Frank Rabusin, Cool, Calif.

Answer

I’m sure that in the coming weeks, months and maybe even years, companies will use the coronavirus excuse for many things. But your compensation check shouldn’t be one of them.

That’s not to say the coronavirus isn’t a serious and disruptive issue. But I’m looking at your file. You reported the issue to Schneider Electric back in October. You signed your release in early January. Unless Schneider Electric is headquartered in Wuhan, China, it’s not coronavirus that’ caused the delay. (It isn’t.)

Your paper trail — the correspondence between you and Schneider Electric — shows you asking politely and repeatedly for the promised refund. Eventually, the company just stopped responding to you. That’s unacceptable.

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No, coronavirus is not a valid excuse for your missing refund

Contacting the company was a little bit of a challenge. You sent your claims to a main address, [email protected]. It also has an online contact page that you used to file your first claim. But other than that, there was no way to reach out to the company for an update. You simply had to wait. (Related: This is how coronavirus will change travel.)

Your case is why my team of researchers publishes the names, numbers and email addresses of the customer service managers at the major corporations in America. Schneider Electric isn’t on our list yet, but after your case, you can bet it will be. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

Why the delay in paying you? Companies have to do their due diligence when paying claims, verifying that you have a valid claim and sending your request to the accounting department. But I think 30 days is plenty of time. Schneider Electric was just holding onto your money because it could.

I contacted the company on your behalf. A representative told me “it is likely the check was lost during delivery.” Schneider Electric cut you a check for $240, as promised.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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