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Getting Payback


5. You Are Injured by a Trainer
Fill out a health-club incident report (if the trainer’s affiliated with one), visit your doctor, and collect medical bills. Send the trainer or club a written request seeking payment for medical expenses. If the trainer is a gym employee, the club’s insurance company will likely want to close the matter with a small settlement, says lawyer Jonathan Minkoff, usually paying less than your medical expenses. You might be better off suing (lawyer’s fees are typically a third of the amount recovered). Your chances of winning are higher in cases of gross negligence—say, a trainer having you use a too-heavy barbell above your head.

Hassle Log
Collecting medical documentation: 1 hr.
Writing letter to club: 30 mins.
Suing: 8 hrs.
Total: 9.5 hrs.

Worth the effort? If the injury’s minor, perhaps not. If it’s significant, absolutely.

6. An ATM Doesn’t Spit Out the Right Amount of Cash
If you’re a customer of the bank that owns the ATM, walk into a branch to file a claim, or call the bank’s customer-care number (check the back of your card) to report the mishap. Ask to speak with the ATM-disputes department. The bank can determine where and when the transaction occurred with very little information. If you’re not a customer of the bank, file a claim with your own bank, which will research and resolve the claim. You’ll likely receive provisional credit during the investigation and full credit once it’s complete.

Hassle Log
Call or visit to bank: 10 mins.
Waiting for claim to be resolved: 2 days to a few wks.
Total: Two days min.

Worth the effort?
Yes. While ATM errors are rare and it’s hard to prove a missing $20 or two, banks generally want to keep customers happy.

7. You Get Home From the Store and Realize You Were Charged Twice for the Same Item
Return to the store immediately and speak with the manager. If he leaves you empty-handed, bury him in phone calls. Call his supervisor, then the store’s regional and national headquarters, and repeat your complaint. If you used a credit card, call the 800 number on the back of your card and dispute the charge. Then stir up a storm of paperwork. File a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs at A mediator will contact both sides, and if an agreement is not met—which is rare—schedule a hearing with an administrative-law judge. Then call the Better Business Bureau (212-533-6200) and file a complaint. By this point, the manager is fielding calls from two bureaus, a credit-card company, and multiple bosses. He’ll prefer to just pay you.

Hassle Log
Calls to store manager and company supervisors: 2 hrs., at least half of it on hold.
Filing out DCA paperwork: 1 hr.
Complaining to Better Business Bureau: 1 hr.
Total: 4 hrs.

Worth the effort?
It depends on how expensive the item was. Balance its cost against the four hours.

8. You Step on Your MetroCard, and it No Longer Works
If the card is a regular Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard, stop by a subway-station booth and ask the agent to transfer your money to a new card. If it’s too trashed for the agent to read it, mail it to the MTA using a pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope and questionnaire that you can pick up at any station booth (assuming they haven’t run out) or download at mta .info. If the card is an unlimited monthly MetroCard, mail it to NYC Transit for a replacement (if you paid with a credit card, call 212-638-7622 to have your account credited). The envelope has to be postmarked for the day after the MetroCard stopped working. A new card should arrive within three weeks.

Hassle Log
Pick up envelope: 5 mins.
Fill out form and mail defective card: 15 mins.
Wait for new card to arrive via USPS: 3 wks.
Total: 3 wks. and 20 mins.

Worth the effort?
Yes. It sure beats dropping another $81 for a monthly pass.

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