Cold as Ice


We got targeted twice this week. Once successfully, once not so much.

As I’ve written about recently, we are selling our condo, a unit we bought a few years ago as a rental property. But the ridiculously high HOA fee has kept it from becoming anything resembling profitable.

I’ve written about how the HOA, even in those months when there isn’t a special assessment added onto it, is $600 a month. We just couldn’t charge rent high enough to cover the mortgage payment and the HOA fee, especially when it was family living in it.

And we were just recently notified that the HOA has raised the fee to $700 a month. That, of course, has to be revealed to any potential buyers.

Anyway, there have been a lot of showings, and with the days getting shorter, a lot of those showings have been in the late afternoon and evening when the lights are especially necessary.

So when we got a call from someone at Xcel Energy saying that, due to two unpaid billing cycles, plus taxes and fees, the power was going to be shut off at the condo unless we paid $498.22, we got on it. With the girls moving out of the condo, changing names on the account and all that, it was likely that the notices were missed or lost. Zelle was suggested as an option for immediate payment, and I had a Zelle account, so we made the transfer.

I received a receipt stating that they received the payment, but that we were still in danger of losing power unless we paid the $500 deposit. My first thought was, “How did we have power in the first place if we hadn’t already paid the deposit?”

Linda was feeling suspicious, too. She made some kind of excuse and hung up, then called Xcel Energy, asking to speak to someone in the billing department. Turns out the account was up to date. No shut-off notices had been sent out, no danger of losing power.

And no chance of getting my money back.

Once a Zelle transfer has taken place, it’s done. No stop-payment. We’re just glad our belated suspicions kicked in before we lost another $500.

On Friday, I received an email from Epic Games, an online gaming company. I’ve been perusing writing and graphic design job listings, looking for something I can do remotely when we move. Epic Games was looking for a graphic designer, and they had seen my profile on the job site.

They wanted to do an online interview through ICQ, which I was up for. I was expecting a video interview, but it turned out to be done by exchanging text messages. Anyway, I connected with them, answered all the typical questions that are usually asked. The job was explained to me, and they asked if I could handle the responsibilities, which I answered in the affirmative.

I was feeling pretty good about how the interview went, but I knew that they would put me off for an indefinite period of time while they conducted additional interviews.

Instead, they started explaining that it would be necessary for me to have a good bit of equipment that I don’t have, including a Macbook Pro, a Wacom tablet and CorelDraw Suite (which I didn’t even realize was still around). Not to worry, though. They would supply the necessary funds.

They asked what bank I used, which I felt safe answering since they didn’t ask for routing or account numbers. I was already feeling suspicious about it when they continued going on about work hours, benefits, etc.

“So, just like that, I’m hired?” I asked.

He explained that they weren’t asking for my banking information, and that they would email me a check for the equipment, which I could print out, endorse the back of it, and deposit it into my bank myself through mobile banking.

Well, I had never heard of checks being emailed, printed on a home printer and deposited in the bank, so my suspicions were deepening.

“Excuse my skepticism,” I said, “but I won’t be giving notice at my current job just yet.”

He replied that that was fine. They just needed me to sign the letter of employment that they emailed to me and return it to them.

Meanwhile, I went to Epic Games’ website, and sure enough, they have a page with a long listing of available jobs, including for various designers. When I clicked on one of them, it brought up a form asking for a lot of information, including schooling, current and previous employers, etc., things that this guy hadn’t asked anything about.

He was in ICQ the whole time I was on during the interview process, and a message at the top would always say that he was online. He asked two or three times about the employment letter, and to let him know when I had signed and returned it.

I replied with a link to the Epic Games job listing stating that, “I'm curious why Epic Games' employment page asks questions about previous employers, schooling, etc., and even asks for a resume, but I got the job after a few minutes of texting.”

As I watched and waited for a response, the message at the top changed to “Seen a minute ago.” As I went about my business and checked back, the message had changed to “Seen five minutes ago” and finally “Seen a long time ago.”

Some people really have a high suckage capacity.

The good news is that we now have a contract on the condo. A couple with a new grandchild in the area is paying cash for it. That means we can close sooner, and it means that they won’t have a mortgage to pay, so the $700 HOA fee will just be like a low rent payment.

And they’re interested in the furniture that we moved over there for staging. We were hoping that might happen – we made it known that most of the furniture was available if the purchaser was interested. That way, we won’t have to move it back!

So, despite some of the cold, heartless, selfish bastards in the world, some things are working out in our favor.