“Remain calm. All is well!” – Kevin Bacon in National Lampoon’s Animal House

Bean countingJeanine and I went to Atlanta for the weekend and here’s my bean counting story: We bought two tall coffees and a bagel at the airport Starbucks before flying out of John Wayne. I handed the associate my Starbucks card and she realized it didn’t have enough money on it so I handed her my credit card and told her to reload it with twenty bucks. For some reason this transaction flustered her and as the line started form, I was getting agitated along with the 10 people behind me wanting overpriced lattes. She finally figured it out and voila, we were on our way to Hotlanta.

Fast forward to Sunday morning as we’re taking a stroll with my friend through historic Ansley Park… admiring the homes and chatting up prices of this one and that one. At the end of the outing, we hit a mid-town Starbucks and as I try to pay, the associate politely says, “Oh I’m sorry, your card is empty.” Inside my head, I wanted to scream but instead I hand him my MasterCard and explain nicely that I thought I did this yesterday. He refills my Starbucks card with another twenty bucks.

I try to let it go. Okay, so I was double billed… it’s not a big deal. In the back of my mind, I know I have the receipt and can prove to MasterCard that the first transaction didn’t register and they should dispute it on my behalf with Starbucks. But this is where time becomes money.

Ten years ago I might have taken the time to call MasterCard, but today I’m wondering if twenty bucks is worth my time and aggravation to set the record straight. We’ve asked this question before at Queercents: using the time/value equation or a formula related to your income that quantifies the time. John even pondered awhile back about when to pull the plug on bargain hunting if it took too much time.

So what do you think? At what point do you chase down the twenty bucks or just let it be? Perhaps it’s just the cost of doing business every now and then. This reminds me… sometimes I’m on the receiving end of the mistake… I recall taking a “gift with purchase” not too long ago at another Starbucks.

What I did learn from this experience in Atlanta is that I can go online and check the balance of my Starbucks card. I can also reload at their website instead of relying on some associate to get it right. Now that’s worth my time!