The Contiguity Error

Two things happened yesterday that only happen very rarely. First came the refund request.  Someone had ordered a one-year subscription, and after the first issue, they weren’t satisfied, and wanted their money back.  It’s Rattle‘s policy not to give refunds, but when you order online, part of the terms and conditions of our credit card vendor is that we have to offer the option of returning the copies.

This is the first time anyone’s actually requested a refund in the last five years, but oh well,  it had to happen sometime.  And then I read what they typed in the explanation box: that the product “didn’t work.”

Huh?  How does a book “not work”? Obviously this person isn’t illiterate, because he can type out the phrase “didn’t work.”  So I scratched my head, became mildly irritated, and replied passive-aggressively, that I’ll give him a full refund, but don’t understand how a book can “not work.”  Happy holidays!

Then, about an hour later, came the hate mail:

just watsed [sic] a few dollars on the piece of shit u call a fuking [sic] poetery [sic] magazine. it sucks majorly! you fuking [sic] bunch of idiot fucks.

That was the entire email, with no signature, from a generic yahoo account that doesn’t register anywhere in our records.  I think the “fuking” is a typo, though I must admit I’m not always up on my internet parlance, so dropping the “c” might be 3l33t, like his abbreviation for “you”.  (It does save a couple microseconds…)

He really stole the us.

Being lazy, and remaining in his register, I replied with a quick, one-handed “lol”, which was accurate, though in retrospect I would have prefered the hyperbole of an “rotfl” or the honesty of an “irlol”.  Or maybe the joy of an lolcat. (That’s really our cat, Dante. Photo by Megan.)

Obviously this is the same guy, right?  Hate mail is rare, refund requests are even rarer.  They happen on the same day, an hour apart.  What are the odds?

One of Aristotle’s Laws of Association is the Law of Contiguity, the idea that things that occur in proximity to each other in time or space are readily associated. Usually contiguity is just common sense–you see lightning and then hear the thunder, obviously the two are connected.

I was so sure of the connection between the hate mail and the refund request, that I considered looking up the guy’s phone number and giving him a call right then, asking if he still had the nerve to call me a fuking idiot (and thus learning how he pronounces “fuking”).

Luckily, Megan was there to remind me that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, because if I’d made that call, I really would have been a fuking idiot.  When I came in to work this morning there was a message on my voicemail from the refund requestor.  He explained that it was a mistake, he loves Rattle and wants his subscription.  He was trying to get a refund for a computer part he’d bought from another company through our credit card vendor, and he’d entered in the wrong order number.  Turns out he rocks majorly(!), and thought my passive-aggressive email was hilarious.

So it turns out we’ve still never had to refund a subscription.  And the email asshat is just some asshat to boneheaded to request one.

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