Phoning It In

I took some pictures on Saturday that I want to show you, but first I want to share my dumb mistake with you so you hopefully won’t make it too* (see update at the bottom of this post – I heard from the company and they assisted me with the issue after posting this).

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Earlier today a friend of mine told me about this new service she was trying out called Plate.com (not gonna link to it, sorry). Think of it as Stitch Fix for food. Kind of. You sign up and get an assortment of meals sent to you based on your preferences. I’m summing up here, but my friend is a real foodie so I figured if she was liking the service it was probably legit. I went to their website and found I couldn’t even snoop around a little without giving them my email address and registering – not my favorite practice in the world, but some online stores I like do this, so it’s not totally foreign to me. I give them my email and hit ‘register,’ and the next page that pops up asks immediately for my credit card number – this is still before I can view anything on the site except a brief explanation of how the process works. Knowing that it’s a bad idea, I am curious enough to ignore my instincts, enter the card info anyway, and click the ‘next’ button, where I am asked to check off boxes about what I like to eat (the choices were only poultry, seafood, beef, pork, or vegetarian). I click all the appropriate boxes and then BAM – I’m instantly taken to a shopping cart where three meals have been entered in the basket, with a delivery date and everything.

I didn’t pick these dishes, and one of them in particular didn’t sound like something I’d want to eat. But now I could go to their menu, which was surprisingly small although the meals sound fancy; the cheapest one was $12 a plate. Then I found out I had to order a minimum of 4 plates to place an order, so the total here was pretty high. Compared to Stitch Fix, where I pay $20 a month for the service and even that gets deducted from anything I buy, not to mention that I don’t have to buy anything out a shipment if I don’t like any of it, this was sounding like a very different sort of service indeed. Almost $60 just for one week’s worth of food, that I still have to cook after it comes to the door. No thanks.

Then I finally get to read more of the details, and discover that I’m going to be scheduled for weekly shipments unless I clarify that I want to receive them less, and if I cancel an order once it’s been created I’ll be charged $72 to do so. But wait a minute – hasn’t an order already been created for me? Uh-oh.

As things begin to sound more and more shady, and I realize I don’t even care for much of what they’re offering anyway, i decide to cancel my account and get the hell out of there. In total I was probably on the site less than ten minutes. I got an email that my account was canceled, but was also informed that, since I had already scheduled one order, I would be receiving that shipment and then no more. Seriously? I didn’t even want was in the order in the first place. I clicked back to the site where I tried to cancel the order, and you guessed it, a dialogue box informed me that if I did cancel it I’d be charged $72. To cancel an order I didn’t create and didn’t want. In the span of less than ten minutes I’d managed to get charged by this company basically for the privilege of viewing their site.

Except I was the one feeling stupid, because I should have known better. I started to write up a lengthy email complaining, but then I saw where because it was my first “order” I was given a discount, and the total charge was $24 (which they’d deducted from my bank immediately, of course). Rather than deal with the hassle, I am going to let this one shipment come in and chalk it up to a lesson learned. I went and read a lot of Yelp reviews (after giving them  my card information, yep) and found a lot of stories similar to mine, as well as instances where people canceled their accounts only to mysteriously start getting shipments and charges again months later that they have to deal with all over again, so I’m definitely going to cancel this debit card now and get a new number, so they can’t get shady with me in the future. Sigh. It’s always something. Moving on.

Saturday night our art students opened a show at a gallery owned by St. Thomas University in town, so I ventured down there with my boss to check things out. She is from another state and hasn’t been in Texas too long, so while we were there she wanted to wander around the campus and we took a little tour (I also took photos of the students and their artwork, but I’ll be sharing those on my private blog with friends instead of publicly). I didn’t have my camera with me, so I did the best I could taking shots with my phone. Here’s just a few (many of them didn’t turn out all that great):

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Mandala next to the chapel

I didn’t feel like the color in these looked very good, so most of them I processed in black and white.

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Chapel of St. Basil

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It was a nice day as it’s yet to reach the blistering temperatures we’ll probably be enduring by the end of the month, and it has been a long time since I’ve wandered around this part of town myself, so it was fun to see all the changes that have been made to the place (way back in the day, UST sponsored the Houston Poetry Festival when I used to attend – it has since moved to the UH campus downtown).

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Reflection shot, with some chapel detail in the background

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This was the first time in quite awhile that I stopped and thought about taking pictures while out somewhere; lately it hasn’t even occurred to me to do so. I’ve been pretty busy and my mind has been on other things most of the time, so perhaps the fact I finally thought of it again means things are starting to open up again. There are only about 4 more weeks of school until summer break, so that could be it – but these next 4 weeks are pretty brutal, so this could be just a temporary thing. Once summer’s here for real though, I’ll be ready to take more (and better) shots.

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As far as the campus goes, it’s lovely; I don’t know much about it and am too lazy to look anything up, but it’s in a pretty part of town with old houses converted into school buildings, including one former residence of Howard Hughes, and old trees everywhere. So there you go.

I went shopping with a friend on Sunday and took a few more cool pics (with the phone again), but I ran out of time to process them and will have to share them later. Happy Monday everyone, and try not to get ripped off by any food services this week!

*UPDATE: I don’t know if someone from Plate.com read this post or if they were just responding to the little comment I left them when I canceled my account, but their customer service department emailed me today and said they’d refunded my $24 and would not send me a shipment. They were very polite and reassured me that I would not receive any more charges from them. Just wanted to let you all know!

14 thoughts on “Phoning It In

  1. What a hassle. I was waiting for your note to cancel the debit card. I would bet you could even have your card cancel the charges, I’ve been able to do this, no problem , with Chase/Visa.

    • I thought about canceling the charges, but the company is probably going to send the shipment and then it would turn into a thing with them about the charges for this one order. So I am going to take the path of least resistance and wait to cancel the card until that one charge clears. I bank with WellsFargo and it was my debit card, and they are super-easy to deal with when i’ve needed to dispute things, though. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Marey: With Chase, “disputed” charges were cleared from the account no
        matter any status of the transaction in question.. Note John’s experience with
        Case and their refunds . I again, would bet WF would do the same regardless.
        Give it a try. What’s to lose ?? Tks.

  2. Mary you are so incredibly talented with a camera…. I was thinking the first photo- the one with vibrant colorful red flowers and (patio?) area was going to be my favorite. But then I saw the one with the shaded images reflected in the glass with the beautiful cross reflected above them and I thought, wow, what a sensitive eye you must have because that photo is filled with so many things. I didn’t think it could get better until I hit the bottom and saw the tree over the brick wall. Wow. You need to do that more often.

    Anyway, if you want to help other people from being swindled report that website and company to your state’s attorney general’s office. Otherwise they are going to keep victimizing unsuspecting people. My Chase bank sent me an email a couple of months ago to call their fraud department. Which I did and was told that some company on an island between Italy and Libya had been taking $18 a month from my debit card. They asked if I knew anything about it and I said no. I seldom travel and refuse to get on a ship. Chase put a stop on any future withdrawals from that company and actually refunded all that money back into my account – whatever $18 times 6 is… That money came from Chase, not the swindling company. I thought that was really great of them. Anyway we had to cancel my debit card and get a new one. It was a pain in the butt because I do have several legitimate payments coming out of that card every month automatically. So I had to contact all those companies with my new card info to keep from losing service. I actually didn’t think about and didn’t discover it until my Virgin Mobile phone service was cut off.

    • I have had to cancel my debit card numerous times so it’s old hat to me now. I use PayPal now whenever I can and do not leave my card number on file online, but before I was doing that my card number go stolen many times. Fortunately I check my account online regularly so I saw the withdrawals and was able to call Wells Fargo; they immediately refunded the money before even starting to research the problem. It’s time for me to change my debit card anyway as it’s about to expire. But for all of us, checking our balances online is a good idea from time to time because it happens in all sorts of ways. One time I had to completely shut down an account, not just get a new debit card, because someone used the routing number on a used check to make all sorts of transactions. That was the biggest pain to deal with, but in the end, I got my money back and a new account opened. It’s always something! Glad your bank caught yours!

  3. I can’t stand being taken for a fool by these online companies. it really makes my blood boil. This one sounds particularly horrible. I hope you made your friend “pay” LOL.

    • I told her about it, but she’s still advertising it on FB trying to get referrals…ah well. Anyway, the company refunded my money and was nice about it, so in the end it worked out. 🙂

  4. Great photos done with such expertise, as usual.
    I bank with Citibank and I called to lift a hold on a company I had blocked last year. (Skype)
    I got into a lengthy conversation with a rep and he informed me that you should change your credit cards and ATM’s every 8 months, since there is so much hacking out there. Granted, if you are like me, that means a lot of work changing auto deposits from others and things like auto loan payments. He said it’s worth it in the long run.

    • It is a pain – but I’ve done it so many times it’s old hat to me now. It’s definitely a good idea to change them regularly. We also have two bank accounts, and the one that doesn’t hold a great deal of money is the one that I use online; that way if the debit number does get stolen they won’t get much out of us!

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