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What's Going On Here? : Camp Foster Red Cross Did Me Wrong

By: Cass Kanevil

Date Posted: 2000-01-22

Dear Cass,

I've got a problem for you! I am a military wife and mother of 2, and I am working towards getting my home day care license. Let me tell you the runaround I am getting from the Red Cross at Camp Foster. The Red Cross offers the CPR/First Aid training classes that are necessary for me to get my certifications and licenses. Unfortunately, the assistant manager that works there has got me feeling very much intimidated and frustrated.

In November, I signed up for and paid for a particular CPR\First Aid class that is mandatory for me to take. For some reason, I was charged more than others for this class. I explained that I was in the same situation as another friend of mine that wasn't required to pay the full fee, but the assistant manager insisted that my fee was not reduced. Well, I had to miss this Saturday class in November because my husband was called in to work and I needed to be home with my children. So, one week later, I had to take my Provider Class, which happens to be at the Red Cross Building, and while I was there asked to sign up for the next CPR class. I was told that there was no problem, I wouldn't be charged again, I could just show up for the class.

Once again, my husband was needed at work on the date of the class. I'm sure this can't be so unheard of, we're all military here and our husbands are called in to work at times we don't expect! Today, I called up the Red Cross and explained that I needed to take the next class available and that I had already paid for the class in November, but was unable to attend. The woman I talked with put the assistant manager on the phone. I told him that I'd need to sign up for the January class. After a few minutes of re-explaining the situation, I was told repeatedly I'd have to repay my fee.

First of all, I feel like he's overcharged me for this class, but now I have to pay double because of situations out of my control-my husbands job. Is this guy so out of it that he doesn't realize what the community is like here and that the military members support their jobs first and the family and their responsibilities come next? I got angry with him on the phone and he told me that if I didn't change my tone with him then our conversation was over. I apologized, and he said "I'm sorry, this conversation is still over", and then the call ended. He had spoken to me like I was an idiot.

Next, I called the Red Cross at Kadena. I explained the whole situation to a lady named Nancy. Nancy was unbelievably helpful. I explained to her that if I had an extra fifty bucks laying around, then I would've been able to afford the doubled price for Camp Foster's Red Cross classes, BUT I DON'T! She told me that I could bring in my receipt and she'd help me out.

Being a home day care provider is not the easiest job in the world and I feel that I'm providing a very valuable service to this military community by offering my home to working parents in need and providing an honorable environment to their children. I believe that this assistant manager of the American Red Cross, Camp Foster, should realize this when he's speaking to people, and not talk down to others like he did to me.

D.C., Camp Foster

RESPONSE by Cass Kanevil
D.C., I feel for you. Having to deal with "control freaks" at times when you need their help is not only frustrating, but degrading as well. I wonder if rude employees ever consider how much better it would be if they ended their work day knowing that they earned their paycheck with dignity. I hope that Mr. Jimmy Finch, who is the assistant manager of the Camp Foster Red Cross, hears D.C.'s words and feels her frustrations.

In fairness to Mr. Finch, his employer, Theodore Joyner, and the Red Cross, I emailed them a copy of this letter to give them both a chance to respond. Mr. Joyner replied immediately to my email. He was extremely concerned that this customer felt that she was not given quality service at their office. He stated that he takes great pride in making sure everyone is pleased with their service and is treated with respect.

As soon as he received a copy of D.C.ís letter, Mr. Joyner held a meeting with Mr. Finch. Without going into specifics or stating the explanations and excuses that Mr. Finch gave for this customerís comments, I'll just say that he painted a completely different picture, saying that he followed normal procedure, with regards to the fee, and the manner in which he treated the offended lady.

Although there are 2 sides to every story, I find it difficult to believe that this military spouse would make up something like this. I've often been taught that when it comes to customer service, "the customer is always right" (although it's almost impossible to find businesses that practice this). And if she feels she's been wronged, then she probably has been. Perhaps Mr. Finch did everything he was supposed to do (procedurally) and can prove up and down that this customer was in the wrong; but the manner in which he dealt with her may have been somewhat out of line.

One suggestion might be for the Red Cross to post its procedures with regards to class cancellations, refunds, fees, etc., in their office so that customers don't have to rely on Mr. Finch to explain office policies. As such, they can read it for themselves.

Mr. Joyner explained that his office works closely with the Child Development Center and that they are constantly scheduling classes to meet the needs of the local community. He states that the Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that provides a great service to our military community. He also added that people who feel they have not received the professional service they deserve, should bring the problem immediately to his attention.

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