Friday, 10 June 2011

Everyone MUST pay!!!

I have hit a BIG snag in my 2012 plan and it may just cost me the whole London Marathon place, unless I cross everything very tightly and wish on several shooting stars all at once in unison with pink pigs flying overhead and chocolate bunnies dancing in the moonlight. (not sure about the chocolate bunnnies but the thought was pleasant)

"So what's the problem?" I hear you ask. Well. When my 2011 Marathon acceptance magazine came through I happily immediately withdrew as the written text said to do this if you knew you would be ill or injured and that an email would arrive in May 2011 to offer entry for 2012. I knew already I was entering for 2012 so magazine in hand, withdrawal completed on computer, why wait? I had checked all the info on the website, there was no mention of having to pay.

I then sat back and waited for my email to arrive and after 27th May the due date, came and went, I had still heard nothing, so I thought I had better phone them up to check.

"According to our records you haven't paid so therefore you haven't received an email link" I was told.....Aaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh what????? "I was never asked to pay" I said. Well says the man at the other end, "you got a magazine didn't you? it said so in the magazine, so if you want the link, you have to pay for last year and then we send the link so you can pay for next year". Hmmmmmmm I had thought at the time that maybe not having to pay twice was too good to be true. No such thing a as free London Entry postponement.

"So..." he continued "....if you send a cheque for the £28 for the 2011 entry we can send you the link to pay again for 2012" (I am mildly paraphrasing now as I was getting very twitchy and could see my London 2012 place slipping away rapidly).

I found him extremely intimidating as he spoke accusing me of ignoring the payment bit, which I genuinely didn't know I had to do. Then I found the magazine. It clearly says about withdrawing and states the place for the following year will be open provided the entry dates are adhered to and the relevant fee paid. This does not state for which year the fee is relevant. Nor was there anywhere in the withdrawal process that checked whether I had paid for my entry if I wished it to be carried over to 2012. Nor was there anywhere that stated YOU MUST PAY FOR THIS BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE. (That would have been good and clear eh?) I had to put the phone down on him I was getting very frustrated and I found his attitude very confrontational.

Then I had a eureka moment.

I do not think I received a payment email for 2011 because I withdrew my entry before they were sent out. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it. I really have no recollection of an email arriving asking me to pay for an entry I had already withdrawn from. If indeed I did receive one I would have ignored it as nowhere in the withdrawal process did it say I needed to pay after withdrawing. Oh dear......I knew that if I entered and got injured just before the marathon I could defer my place then and would obviously have paid for it. But I didn't want to run for 2011 so I assumed the withdrawal meant I had withdrawn free of charge and transferred to the following year. Bad explanation I reckon and interestingly I have written to tell them this, so watch next year's acceptance magazine for more clarity (I hope). And maybe he was really just informing me that I did now have to pay to secure the place then get another entry payment in, but there might have been better ways of him saying it.

Anyway I re-composed myself and phoned again to speak to the same fellow, who calmly listened while I suggested I may have found the reason for my non-payment. He advised that if I sent a cheque now, outlining what I had mentioned, for the 2011 entry I still had time to get the link and enter for 2012 as that has to be done prior to 24th June.

Panic time, letter written with long explanation (I must learn to start being more concise) and now need to cross everything for the link to come through so I can pay yet more money to enter and claim my 2012 place.

If only I'd listened to people at the time expressing their surprise at my insistence for non-payment, and in future I might be tempted to enter first and pay the fee, then consider deferral later.

Hang on ...what am I talking about?? There isn't likely to be a next time is there!!!

There was something to be said for the old system where you sent a cheque then you knew that if you had a place it was paid for and if the cheque got returned or just not cashed, then you weren't in (follow that if you can?). So much more simple than leaving people to try and understand their stupid explanation of the rules. I wonder how many others may have been caught out by withdrawing prior to the acceptance/payment emails coming through and thinking "well I've withdrawn so why pay?".

A further check to the online marathon site and their info is slightly updated but still ambiguous, but hey I should be thankful that I chose to phone today and not after June 24th.

Anyhow, please cross everything, I only have 2 weeks to make sure I get my place, otherwise I may just have to change my blog title.

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