December 5th, back in Calgary, time to pick up my Damage Deposit from Emerald Property Management. I left no forwarding address, had none, told Marty (the onsite landlord) that I'd pick it up from their head office next time I was in Calgary.

Monday, December 5, this is the next time in Calgary, after a cold night in the Jeep (frozen, -26, didn't unpack the back properly and every time you touched something you got colder and colder, up at 6:30, down to Beano for the long morning coffee and attempt to warm up, waiting for Emerald to open), 9:30, finally, and I go to pick up my cheque.

The landlord - Marty - and I agreed - when I left, it wasn't perfect - perfect for me, not for them, didn't steam clean the carpets, the drapes, didn't clean the inserts on the stove, he estimated the deductions, maybe $75.00 for miscellaneous cleaning, tops, $100 for drapes and carpets, max, cheque would be ready in 2 weeks, 10 business days. 

So I'm expecting the cheque to be ready. Oh yeah. Cheque will be ready, it's December 5th, after all...I've been gone over a month. And with that cheque I'll pay child support, do some Xmas shopping, maybe have a meal, and with luck enough gas to get back to the Koot's. (I hadn't picked up the restaurant gig yet.).

I'm at the office at 9:30 - 2nd one there, there's an irate middle aged couple ahead of me, various grievances, an indifferent receptionist, I wait my turn.

They're pretty irate and she's as sympathetic as she can be while putting it all down to "understandable mistakes...paperwork...misunderstanding...you know, we have a lot of tenants...". She's not taking their side, and they're not too sympathetic, but even just eavesdropping you get the clear idea that they've fucked up, repeatedly, big time. And they're gonna do it again. It's a busy little office, people forever coming and going, mostly staff, I don't understand this property management thing but is sure involves a lot of support personal nowhere near the properties to be let...

Finally, my turn. The couple before me, their own experience, it's made me a bit suspicious. I get my cheque, in a white Emerald Envelope. Leaving, on the way out the door, I open it, check the amount, just to be sure before I get to the bank...

WHAT THE FUCK!

I swallow my irateness, all the venom that's rising up, the sarcasm, the bile and vitriol, address the secretary: "Excuse me, this appears to be incorrect, is there anyone I can speak to about this...?"

There's no "appears to be incorrect", it patently is, and my moving out of province has made me an easy target for predacious landlords...

She searches for the number, asks where I live, I give her the old address, my old contact, Marty, apparently he's not the main contact...

She's busy. While she's searching and making calls on my behalf she answers no less than a dozen other calls, all of which seem to be escalating complaints of the sort the couple ahead of me had, mislaid postdated cheques, premature eviction notices, lack of essential services...no one in their right mind wants her job...

Finally she finds it, the number of my contact, I make the call, leave a message.

He calls me back an hour later. "Sorry for the misunderstanding..."...the cheque was only for $100.00 because the other $625.00 was mailed out to my last known address. Really? Really? I mean, why would you mail my damage deposit to the one address you knew I had moved out of? And why would you only mail a portion of it - $625.00 - and keep the other $100.00 at the head office? And - not to be too difficult - why are the cleaning suites/cleaning carpets, drapes fees so out of line with what I was quoted by Marty, the actual, onsite landlord who presumably would be doing all of the above?

He hasn't got any answers...he'll get back to me.

A couple of hours later he does. I've got nothing better to do than drive around Calgary and wait - at the moment it's appearing as if I'll be staying, the gas money to return home, I squandered that on the kids dinner the night before, this cheque, it was gonna pay my way home. Maybe. Not likely. 

The reason is...well, there's no reason. They estimated the costs. Took a wild guess. They haven't got the bill yet for the cleaning of the carpets and drapes or the estimate of the time it cost to clean the place from Marty. I'm annoyed, seriously annoyed, I know I'm being fucked...they'll just mail me the remainder, do I have a forwarding address?

NO I DO NOT! And I emphatically underscore the fact that I'm not returning to pick up another cheque, that it's been over 30 days since I vacated the premise and therefore they should have all bills for all related expenses, this is bollocks (politely), but I want my damage deposit back, NOW!, ...

He argues, can't do it, needs to check the charges, I tell him to call the companies, they've done the work, they'll know the billing, I'm returning to BC tomorrow and I want my cheque, and finally, after far, far too much wrangling I get my damage deposit back. Some $961 odd dollars. Fair. But, really, why should one have to argue that long, that hard, for what's rightfully theirs? The reason, simple, if you don't question it they will fuck you, don't question the charges, the incompetence, and the money is theirs, SYSTEMATIC AND PREMEDITATED INCOMPETENCE! 

Marty, the old landlord calls me in January to tell me that my damage deposit is ready, he has the cheque, I'm not Emerald, I should be, I just tell him that I've already gotten it...