Thursday, April 18, 2024

This Is How Big Corporations Rob Us And Make Us Feel Helpless

Apparently, seeking justice while being poor doesn’t work.

Photo by Benjamin Zhao on Unsplash

I started learning to drive during the covid time. 

I have been meaning to learn to drive because it’s a necessity in the part of the world where I live.

Well, the word “necessity” can be a bit too much, but it indeed makes life much easier if you can drive instead of having to wait for public transport, which isn’t great in the city where I live.

I cleared my theory exam, but I couldn’t reach it until my practical test. I booked my practical exams, however, the awful experience I faced with my driving instructor made me stop it. 

I won’t bore you with what went wrong because I wrote here about this in detail.

Not Everyone Can Climb Mount Everest And That’s Okay
It’s my story of building shame

But the harrowing experience left me not wanting to drive at all.

The point is, at this stage, I have already spent around 6000 Euros including the exam fees which I couldn’t get back. 

Even though I wasn’t fully prepared, I still wanted to take the exam just to see where I stand and especially since I have paid for it already. My instructor refused to take me to the exam center.

Those of you who live in the US might be wondering why I need the driving school, an instructor, or even a driving school car for the exam because in the US the rules are much simpler. You can just learn to drive from someone who has a driving license.

That’s not the case here in the Netherlands. It’s just a big business which involves thousands of money.

The twist

So last January I decided enough is enough, whatever money I have lost, I can’t get it back, but I am not losing my sanity and money anymore.

So I called it quits.

I still had 10 more lessons left and I was sent a bill to pay 700 Euros more.

Now let me elaborate, I had initially signed a contract for a fixed amount of lessons. After that was over, my instructor told me that I needed another 15 loose lessons. These are extra and don’t come with a contract.

You could choose one, three, ten, or as many as you need.

Before I could even decide if I really want to go for these extra lessons or not, I was sent a bill for all 15 lessons.

The mistake I made was, I paid for 5 lessons out of those 10 lessons. I should have confronted them immediately that I didn’t sign up for those extra lessons and I wasn’t going to pay.

But at that point, I didn’t realize things would turn out differently and I would have to discontinue. 

After those five lessons, things became extremely bitter and stressful. The constant arguments between me and my instructor became too much. I was also going through big life changes.

My instructor stopped giving me lessons and didn’t take me to the exam center. So I let my driving school know that I wasn’t going to pay them for those extra 10 lessons which I didn’t get.

We had a heated exchange of arguments several times for a couple of months when I tried to explain in vain that it wasn’t my fault that the lessons had to be stopped. I wrote to them several times that they should cancel that bill for those extra ten lessons. But I didn’t receive any response.

I thought I have done my job and that’s the end of my story.

I was being foolish.

This is how they rob us

A few months ago, they started calling me again. Every time a new person would call and ask me why I didn’t pay. I would explain to them my entire story and they would sound sympathetic. 

I would implore them to please send me a confirmation email about our discussion and they would say they would, but they never did.

In a few weeks’ time, someone else would call me up again and the same thing would repeat. 

Every single time they sounded sympathetic and promised me that they would take action against the instructor and that they would write all these details in my case. But apparently, they never did.

Since last month, I started receiving emails about paying up my dues or otherwise they would take action against me.

These are all those “no-reply” emails where you couldn’t just write back and explain. 

Seeking justice is a luxury

I panicked and started looking for legal options.

In the Netherlands, there is something called “Juridish Loket” where you could get a lawyer for free or almost free. But the catch is that your family income has to be really low.

I am not rich, but I am not that poor too. Well, I have been unemployed for ages, but my husband has a job (and I have a job too now). 

Not being able to earn for a long long term has taken a toll on my self-worth and financial well-being.

When I started learning to drive I was unemployed. I used my husband’s hard-earned money and felt this constant guilt that I wasted so much money without getting any results.

In short, even though I am earning money now, it’s only been a short while and I am constantly stressing about losing my job and having to go back to that life of no income of my own.

So I worry a lot about money.

But my family income is not that low that I can get free legal aid. So I contacted a lawyer. 

The lawyer’s fee made me feel spellbound. It’s 175 Euros an hour and he charges for every 6 minutes. So if he takes one and a half hours just to draft my mail, then I would have to pay him around 262 Euros. That’s just drafting a mail, and hoping that he doesn’t take more time than that.

It’s also not all about money

And there’s no way to know that that’s all I would have to pay.

What if just sending a mail doesn’t work?

What if the driving school still charges me?

What if it goes to court?

What if I am found guilty actually?

I am not only paying those 700 Euros but also the lawyer’s money and God knows what else.

But that’s not just it. I am working for a fintech company right now, and a lawsuit against me on financial grounds may end up with me being fired.

Fighting for justice takes a toll

I have been dwelling on this for a long time, since the end of December 2021. It’s been over a year and I am still fighting because right and wrong matter to me a lot, more than you can imagine.

In my mind, I wanted to see justice being sought.

I came to know from some other people too that they had faced this similar experience from the same driving school.

So I wanted to set an example that these big institutions will think twice before robbing us, fooling us, or taking us — the common man — for granted.

But I failed.

I couldn’t fight anymore. I thought I have already lost 6000 Euros. What are 700 more Euros compared to that, compared to what I was going through? This constant panic that I was in for the past year was making me feel miserable.

My mental health is more important.

So yesterday, I paid up those 700 Euros.

I lost my fight against injustice. To be able to fight for justice, you would have to be rich. And fighting for justice takes a toll on your mental health.

Did I do right? Should I have gone the legal way? I don’t know.

But you know what, I am feeling much better since yesterday evening even though I lost the money because I have one less battle to fight.

Back To Top