A Monday (and a Tuesday) to Remember… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Monday (and a Tuesday) to Remember...


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A Monday (and a Tuesday) to Remember…


I see a white envelope on the kitchen counter that says, “To be opened only by Arthur Morris.” So I opened it.

This office has been advised that you conducted a private commercial operation on Bosque del Apache NWR during the period November 28-December 2 without having obtained a Commercial Use Permit from the US F&W Service. It is alleged that you never applied for nor were granted a permit for you Instructional Photo-Tour. This offense carries a maximum fine of $10,000 USD or 1 year imprisonment or both.

Attached is a US District Court notice of violation for conducting a private commercial operation on a National Wildlife Refuge without a permit. If you wish to contest this issue, do nothing. In 90 days you will receive a summons to appear in Federal Court at the Peter V. Domenici US Court House located at 333 Lomas Blvd in Albuquerque, NM.

A very official looking US District Court Violation was indeed attached.

First reaction: heart rate increased a bit. Then I thought to ask, “Is it true?”

“Jen, please see if Bosque cancelled one check or two for the recently-concluded Bosque IPTs.” “Two Daddy,” she said after a short search. Next I checked my e-mail and found the one with both permits attached.

I called the refuge at 11am (9am Mountain time) and left a message for the Federal Wildlife Officer who had sent the letter. Later that afternoon I received an e-mail that said in effect, “Sorry. We were wrong. Never mind.”


I decided to upgrade the two long legs of my Namibia flights (JFK to JNB and back) to business class. “That should be a simple matter I thought.” I called South African Airlines (SAA) to do the upgrade. “Since you purchased the ticket from Expedia only they can make that change.” So I called Expedia. It took close to an hour to finally have the agent tell me that they could not do the upgrade and that I should call SAA. So I did. Again they told me that Expedia must be the ones to make that change. So back and forth I went, receiving a different fairy tale each time.

Each call to SAA lasted 10-15 minutes. Each call to Expedia last 40 minutes to an hour. I’d guess that on five of the calls to Expedia I got either a dial tone or a welcome recording after 40-50 minutes> After the first time that that happened I would ask the Expedia agent to take a callback number and call me when I got cut off. Nobody ever called me back.

On Monday night after more than an hour on the phone, most of that of course on hold, the Expedia agent said, “I’ve got it. I can do it. The cost of the upgrade is a bit more than $11,000. I had figured that it would be about $6,000 and SAA had quoted me $5814 several times. I was confident that the smaller amount was correct.

8:30am on Tuesday:

I called SAA first and was told to call Expedia and tell them that all they needed to do was to put the record in OSI. So I did, and after about 35 minutes I was told that that was not possible but that they would try to get help from “their team of associates.” So I called SAA–this time on a second line–while holding for the Expedia manager. Again SAA told me, “We cannot do that. Only Expedia can do it.” I said, “That may very well be true but Expedia is not capable of doing the upgrade. I was on the phone with them for more than 7hours yesterday. I called you guys 7 times and them 8 times. They are on the other line right now and I am on hold. Please, I need your help. I am in a Catch 22 situation. They can’t do it and SAA won’t do it. I want to give you or them close to $6,000 for a seat that is available and nobody an help me.”

“I’ve been sick for seven weeks. I have been on the phone for about nine hours. I am near tears. Please help.” Just then I got a busy signal on the Expedia line and let the SAA agent know what had just happened. She said, “Hold on a minute.” I held for about ten minutes. When the agent came back she said “Credit card please.” I said, “When can I kiss you?” “She said “Now.”

I got the e-mail confirming my upgrade within the hour. I am proud of the fact that I never once raised my voice or cursed anyone out (though I will admit to thinking about the latter). As I say often, I am one determined S.O.B.

Back to Monday after lunch at about 1pm:

My personal line rings and I pick up only to hear a recorded message. “This call is to let you know that the Internal Revenue Service has instituted a lawsuit against you in Federal Court because of criminal non-payment of taxes on your 2009 through 2013 Federal Tax Returns. Please call 1-210-807-8097 immediately.” I called and was cut off. I called back and nobody picked up. I called an hour later and had a really garbled conversation with an “IRS agent” who said that six letters had been sent to me by Certified Mail and that I had ignored all of them.”

First reaction: heart rate increased a bit. Then I thought to ask, “Is it true?”

Things seemed really strange. I e-mailed and called my accountant, Robert H. “Chip” Jackson, a retired IRS agent. He called me back at about 6pm and after I explained the whole thing to him he laughed and said, “It is a scam. The IRS never does anything by phone.”

All in all it has been a Monday (and Tuesday) to remember.

The Work

To learn to question your own story, visit www.TheWork.com. Byron Katie will teach you to do The Work her way and find peace. Remember, happiness is a choice. And so is aggravation.

Care to Share?

If you have had a memorable experience recently, please feel free to share it with us by leaving a comment.

On Tuesday I purchased my affiliate loaner Canon EOS 5DS R camera body from B&H. On Wednesday I got an e-mail with a $325 B&H gift card as a result of my purchase. Wow! I am not sure how long this offer lasts. If you call to find out please remember that you must hang up and place a web order (no matter what the salesman tells you). Many thanks for that. If what you have been learning here inspires you to purchase a 5DS R (or a 5DS) please remember to use the logo-link above; it will not cost you a penny and helps me out tremendously. Many thanks, artie

ps: as of this minute, 10:57am eastern time on 12/17/15, the “Receive 10% Reward line was still showing up right under the price. Hurry! And please remember, web orders only.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

35 comments to A Monday (and a Tuesday) to Remember…

  • avatar Deirdre Sheerr-Gross

    Artie.. How awful!!! How utterly frustrating.. and potentially upsetting…
    You’re a wise man to be able to remember the strength and clarity of Byron Katie’s Work… It’s amazing what we assume is true… and isn’t…

  • avatar Tim Harding

    A similar scam has been reported recently here in Canada as well. Folks are getting phone calls from someone purported to be a CRA (same as IRS) agent notifying them they are in tax arrears. The calls up here are very threatening, with the caller telling people that police are on the way and they will be arrested and their homes confiscated if they don’t wire money ASAP. Total scam.

    As far as your Bosque letter goes, it seems suspicious to me that the started with the phrase ‘This office has been advised…’. Sounds to me like someone has it in for you (a competitor?).


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sounds like fun. When I replied to the Bosque letter, I did ask, “So who ratted me out?” No response…. The letter was very much real but you would think that as I have gotten every required permit since they began charging, that they might have called me before hauling my ass into Federal Court. I did suggest that to the officer who sent the letter. I have know him on a first name basis for about two years. He did give me a break on a speeding ticket on Highway 1 a while back so I guess that we are even now 🙂

      Funny thing about the $150/workshop fee is that ever since they started charging conditions at the refuge have been going downhill steadily, or about ten years now.


  • avatar Frank Sheets

    Holy “you know what”. What a wonderful couple of days (right!). I would have stopped answering calls and not open any more mail. Laurie travels a lot and has had nothing but bad luck with Expedia. Later.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      🙂 See you in San Diego. I am flying SW. And how’s this for news, they have a non-stop back to MCO!

      later and love, artie

  • Hi Arthur! Sorry that you got upset with that scam call from “IRS”. I have gotten one and new it was a scam for two reasons: First, IRS never calls you — they mail; and Second, the phone number was not an 800 so it was not Federal.
    Never call back a scam phone number and never phone text back on a phone text scam. Those are usually a text that someone wants a photographer to shoot a family event for 9 hours (!) and wants help getting a coordinator for food, DJ, place, and will pay you to do it all. Ha Ha! What a fake!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. I posted this so that more folks would be aware of the IRS scam business.

      Here’s the rub, I searched for an hour for a phone number or e-mail so that I could notify the IRS CID, the Criminal Investigation Division. I only hit stone walls as my accountant had predicted would happen.


  • avatar Alan Lillich

    We have learned to only book flights directly with the airline, or a partner – e.g. we might book Alaska or BA flights through American if there is an AA codeshare. We use services like Expedia only to research fares, never for booking.

    • avatar Alan Lillich

      P.S. I hope you did not give that fake IRS agent your SSN. Do you have security freezes in place with the big three credit bureaus? Do permanent ones, not time limited. That prevents a lot of the bad fallout of identity theft. Thieves can’t get loans or credit in your name because the lender can’t get a credit report.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Did not. But I did correct my former address and gave him the new one, but no SS#.


        ps: which 3? Visa, Master, and Amex?

        • avatar Alan Lillich

          The security freezes are done through the credit reporting companies Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Having a freeze in place also means that you can’t get loans or new credit cards. Ask your lender what service they use then either do a temporary general unfreeze (easier, lasting usually a week), or a temporary specific unfreeze for that lender (a little harder and you have to get the lender info right).

          If you do some reading you’ll find this is generally considered the best thing you can do to limit the damage of identity theft.

          Another thing to do is not call back numbers left in phone messages. If a message is supposedly from the IRS go to irs.gov (or whatever) and look up the real contact info.

          • avatar Alan Lillich

            Another financial security tip is to use virtual credit card numbers for online or phone purchases. As far as I know Citibank is the only one to offer this. You go on line and create a virtual credit card number that is valid for 2 to 12 months and you can set a spending limit on it. This is a regular 16 digit number, expiration date, and 3 digit CCV number. It is tied to your physical card account, not a fully separate account. Once a merchant uses it the virtual credit card number is tied to that merchant. So even if the merchant is hacked and the virtual number stolen it can’t be used with other merchants. Yes you are protected by law from credit card fraud over a pretty low limit ($50 I think), but this eliminates a lot of worry and hassle should a number be stolen. And thwarting thieves is always a good thing.

          • avatar Deirdre Sheerr-Gross

            Thanks Alan… Excellent info about protecting ones credit from theft…
            I’ve spent sometime thinking about this…. I’ve got the lock on my info at Equifax… but not the rest… Appreciate it…
            Hi to Pat.. Great to see you two at Wakodahatchee last spring.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I might add that Alan is both quite a smart guy and quite practical as well. I will listen.

      Alan, what do you do if you need to fly multiple airlines to get where you are going?


      • avatar Alan Lillich

        Thanks for not starting out “Although obnoxious at times, …”

        We try to book through as few airlines as possible but that often does not work for a full trip. For example although American and LAN are both part of OneWorld you can’t book all the way to the Falklands through American. On the 2012 South Georgia trip we booked with American one way to Santiago and one way from Buenos Aires, with LAN for Santiago to Mount Pleasant, and Aerolineas Argentina for Ushuaia to Buenos Aires.

        When booking a codeshare or partner flight call the booking airline and get the record locator for the operating airline. Then you can reserve seats and do other management directly with the operating airline. A codeshare is when the flight has a (usually 4 digit) number with one airline but is operated by another. For example, Pat is flying from Portland OR to San Jose next week on AA 7104 which is really Alaska 408 (we had an American rebate coupon). We have booked BA flights on aa.com that are sold directly as BA flights.

        When you do book directly with one airline you can usually use your frequent flyer number for a partner. We booked a trip to Hawaii this summer directly with Alaska but gave them our American frequent flyer numbers so that we got credit for the miles there.

        We have found that a great way to fly long haul business class is to buy miles. There are usually great sales around December. Right now you can buy 125,000 miles with American and get 75,000 bonus miles (yes, 200,000 total) for $3700 (plus some tax). As of just now you could book business class from SFO to Bologna for 50,000 miles per person per direction. So round trip for two costing about $5000 – you pay some tax when using the miles too. More expensive than coach, but half the cost or less than buying business class directly. The deals you get vary a lot by airline, start and end, date of travel, and date of booking. It only works for one big trip per year though because the airlines limit how many miles you can buy per calendar year.

        • avatar Alan Lillich

          To be more clear about the first paragraph, sometimes we can book multiple airlines in one reservation. When we went to the UK in June we had one reservation made on aa.com that covered the AA flights between home and London plus the BA flights between London and Edinburgh. That only works of course among partner airlines.

  • avatar John Zimmerman

    Hi Artie,

    Back in 2012 I went to South Africa, flying SAA. I booked business class from the start with a travel agent. Going there via JFK was no problem. On the way back, I confirmed my seat a day before leaving South Africa. At the Airport on departure day, they claimed I was not in their system and that there were no business class seats available for that flight and they offered me a seat the next day. You can’t argue with them because they don’t care. I flew home economy and it took six months before my travel agent was able to get me a refund for the difference without an apology. The reason I fly business is mainly because of the my bouts with Claustrophobia specially on long flights.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for the heads-up John. And a belated Happy Chanukkah to you and yours. a

      ps: FWIW, the folks at SAA at JFK were all very nice. Too bad it took them 1 1/2 days to do the simple thing that I wanted them to do from the start 🙂

  • avatar Mike Cristina

    Yes, buying through expedia, etc, often seems like a good idea, until you have a problem or need to change something. We find it better to deal with the airline directly. Now, if all airlines would adopt Southwest’s business plan…

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I love SW too but even they screw up on occasion. They lost both of a friend’s bag on the way to Florida on the way to the Galapagos…. She did not get them until she returned home…. a

  • Yep-just about everyone I know has received the IRS phone call.
    My experience with flying recently shows prices at the airline sites are usually same as rebooking sites(Expedia,etc)and certainly for me easier to deal with !
    I could not have been as patient as you apparently were-Mellow Artie ?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      That’s me, Loving What Is artie 🙂


      ps: The airlines are generally $5 less per leg than Expedia.

  • avatar Loren Charif

    How about this..when a governmental or regulating authority makes a “mistake” like that, they have to pay YOU the amount of the fine? Glad you got it all sorted out and you still have your sense of humor.

  • avatar Glen Graham

    Tis the season A.M.! I’ve gotten that IRS recorded call before and just laugh and hang up. That letter though must have put a pretty good lump in your throat for a moment anyway. You are due some good karma payback soon! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Sounds like a day (or two) to forget. Are you going to use Expedia again?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I may when I need to book with multiple airlines but I will be more inclined to try though the airline’s web site first…. a

  • Wow, what a day. I too have received the IRS call. It got my heart racing for about 10 seconds, then I realized it was a scam. Our newspaper here in Columbus, OH, published that our AG has received hundreds of complaints about this very same IRS scam. I feel for those that have been scammed.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I think that by being somewhat belligerent when I was talking to the “agent” that he may have decided to forego and attempt at continuing the scam… a