I’ve labeled this picture, “Where There is Darkness, There Can be Light,” to symbolize a true financial story about one of my clients whom I helped while I was a financial counselor at the Submarine Base in Groton, CT. Although initially dark, there is a happy ending to this story. I took this picture at the 2017 annual Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade.
A recent graduate of the sub school came to see me for some financial guidance. I’ll call him Jack who had recently turned 19 years old. He was visibly shaking as he sat in front of my desk. I said, “Jack why don’t you start talking, and I will listen for as long as you need me to listen.”
Short version of his story – Jack had a $250 cap for downloading music with a large telecommunications company. Jack continued by telling me that he didn’t know how it happened, but he download $3,000 worth of music. I could see his eyes start to fill with tears when he told me that there was no way he could pay this bill. Momentarily recalling the teenage years of my son, now a successful adult, I told Jack that I would use all of my resources to resolve the matter for him.
I had already been counseling at the base for a few years. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had a lot of power as a financial counselor on a military base. I also realized that this was another case whereby I had to use that power!
The first thing I did was to use my computer to find the CEO name and address of the telecommunications company. Having that information, I proceeded to call the customer service department of the company in question. I was on the phone for nearly an hour being transferred from one supervisor to the next. When I was connected to the supposedly last supervisor, I proceeded with my speech. I said that the company could adjust the bill to $250 and write off $2,750 as an expense on its income statement. For this particular company, the write off would be considered an insignificant dollar amount in accounting terms.
I continued by telling this last supervisor my plan of action:
- I was going to write an article for the financial column I created for the subase newspaper, The Dolphin, telling my client’s story and the lack of compassion for this young submariner soon to be deployed. I was also going to send the article to every installation in the US and overseas.
- I was going to send a copy of my article to the CEO of the telecommunications company in question.
- I also wrote articles for Navy’s Facebook page, and indicated that I would be sending them the article as well.
There was a moment of silence, and then the supervisor said, “Just a moment, please.”
It didn’t take her long to get back to me indicating that my client’s bill would be reduced to $250.
Needless to say, this young man was overwhelmed with relief. After completing a session with me, I gave all of my clients a choice of either a mini kit kat (many were watching their weight, the reason for the mini) or a smiley face sticker. He chose the smiley face sticker, and I ate the kit kat as my reward for the victory!
I’m not going to end with any financial advice. Just to say, look at the picture. The background is black, but there are some beautiful shining lights. Be grateful for your blessings during this holiday season.
Thank you for reading my blog, and may you be blessed with peace and joy in 2018.