When I received my business license renewal in the mail on May 15, 2014, that very day I filed a renewal application on-line and provided a credit card. I'm very good with paying fees on time as I've done since 2009. After I filed, I received a confirmation email of the transaction having no reason to suspect the credit card wasn't charged so I didn't look at anything but the email's subject line. I then waited to receive my license renewal in the mail.
I waited until the deadline of the renewal to call the city's 311 help line and got a reference number for my question as to where my renewal was. I was told by the help line representative that the business renewal people were two weeks backlogged and to wait another two weeks and she would also leave a message to call me. So after this information I naively believed, I waited another two weeks.
When I went down to the City Hall's Tax Assessor's office I was told I never paid and a $122 late fee was assessed. I told the lady I paid and had evidence of an email so she offered me a fee waiver request form. I then filed my first fee waiver request along with my enclosed email evidence of confirmation and a my reference number from the city phone call alleging a backlog. I waited another 6 weeks and never heard a thing so I went ahead and filed another fee waiver request. Once again no one responded as to why I wasn't provided with a refund.
After waiting another two months for some kind of response I finally contacted the city's attorney's office that responded it would investigate. Here's the letter I received today, I don't know why it's dated October 8 since I just received it today:
I received a short paragraph letter from a Ms. Stephanie Profitt who said the investigation was completed and the fee waiver was denied. Ms. Profitt didn't provide any explanation. I was asked to call with any further questions so today I left a polite voice mail that went something like this.
"Hi Ms. Profitt, my name is Cheryl Meril with Nob Hill Notary Services. Today I received your letter responding to my request for a late fee waiver. Since you provided your contact number and asked me to call with any questions I'm calling to let you know I would like some explanation as to why my request was denied. From my point of view I provided a lot of evidence that I paid on time."After I left the message I realized I meant to say "provided my credit card information on-line along with the application for business license renewal on time." I technically didn't pay on time since they claim I didn't pay but I had no knowledge of it because I wasn't informed the payment didn't go through. In the email it had confirmed my application was received but added "if you did not pay. . " providing a clever infrastructure for suggesting the payment didn't necessarily go through. In other words, they didn't write, "make sure to check your credit card statement that the payment went through" that in itself is ludicrous as a system of confirmation for payment.
I later spoke with a client native to San Francisco who had called me over to The Battery Club to notarize and wait for one of his extremely wealthy billionaire clients. He told me this kind of thing's been happening a long time in San Francisco's city government.
If my small business acted this way towards clients, my business would surely get a bad rap, so why not the wealthy city of San Francisco that thinks it can afford to pay off $3,750,000 settling with deranged Satanist musicians over their own negligence? See blog post San Francisco Satanist Musician Gets $3.75 million Out of Court Settlement with City of San Francisco Over Pitiful Bike Accident
In my opinion, the City of San Francisco entraps small business owners with an underhanded web pay system to enable them to obtain nearly triple the original fee claiming late payment. My opinion was confirmed by a longstanding local business owner whose a native San Franciscan. So the reason for this blog post is to alert San Francisco's small business owners to make sure their credit card gets charged in the transaction that the city will not provide a receipt on-line nor acknowledge the payment went through or not as is the standard protocol to entrap in order to triple the fee.
At this point, I'm not going to continue to fight this $122 fee head on any longer, only through educating others of these underhand tactics the city uses to get more money. In the meantime I forgive my apparent enemies San Francisco's City Government.
Meanwhile I read last night about how Laura Alber, whose the new CEO of Williams-Sonoma with a degree in psychology at 46 years old, is No. 20 on the list of top paid executives in Forbes, receiving $13 + Million a year. This while the City of San Francisco's charging small business owners for bogus late fees. Ms. Alber, who began with the company two years prior to my employ being burned out there, claimed she and the CEO of the company at the time, Mr. Lester, were very close. The way she was groomed for her new position indicated favoritism and politics involved. People play politics, it's a game they think they can win. See Fortune's Biz Person of the Year - November 13, 2014
Stealing money from small business owners through entrapment is a crime, not politics.