1 August 1967

Dear Dun & Bradstreet:

I was somewhat surprised and distressed to receive your notice of 27 July stating that I owe the Budget Rent-a-Car System the sum of $79.43. I say surprised, because I paid in full at the time I turned the car back on the evening of 30 June. My distress relates to the fact that Dun & Bradstreet, which I have always thought of as the symbol of dignified financial enterprise, has apparently come upon hard times and is forced to make ends meet by serving as a collection agency for miniscule sums such as $79.43. My sympathy goes out to you at a time like this, and I certainly hope the situation is only temporary and that you will soon be able to drop this undignified sideline for a more substantive role in the great world of finance.

As I say, I did settle in full with Budget Rent-a-Car at the time I returned their excellent little red Chevy 2-door Impala on the evening of 30 June. I did not, as your notice might imply, furtively leave the car on the Budget Rent-a-Car parking lot and escape without paying my just debt. Such a bit of bald skulduggery would be wholly incompatible with my docile and conformist character.

On the contrary, I spent at least 15 minutes in the office, and while an attendant was checking the mileage, examining the car for evidence of damage, filling the gas tank, etc., I had a very interesting and instructive conversation with the young man at the desk. I told him about my trip to the Olympic Peninsula and he in turn enlightened me about some of the more arcane economics of the car rental business, including the fact that such cars are resold after six months use. I mention these apparently extraneous facts only in the hope they may stimulate the recollection of the young man involved.

In any case, when he got the data on the mileage, gas, etc., he completed my bill, and asked if I wanted to check the arithmetic. The total seemed to be approximately what I had mentally calculated it would be, so I paid him in full, 70 some dollars (proabably the exact figure of $79.43 stated in your notice). I don't recall whether I paid in cash or by traveller's check. However, my brother-in-law [Hugh Worthington], a reputable citizen of Seattle, was with me and witnessed the entire transaction. I will be happy to furnish him name on request, although, of course, I don't want to involve him unnecessarily in this transaction.

After I paid the young man, he handed me a statement stamped "PAID". Fortunately I kept this statement and when I got your notice I fished it out of my wallet. I confess to being a little confused by the fact that the bill is made out to a Mr. Richard Rodgers rather than to me, and is definitely not the statement on which I was asked to check the arithmetic. However, this appears to be the crux of the misunderstanding, and I have every confidence that Budget Rent-a-Car, when it examines the copy of this document which I am attaching hereto, will be able to deduce what happened. Being unfamiliar with their possibly exotic accounting methods, I'm afraid I can offer no further information which might help to unscramble the mix-up.

I regret, of course, the embarrassment which this mix-up has caused -- to Dun & Bradstreet, to Budget Rent-a-Car and, of course in a lesser degree, to me since I didn't examine my receipt as closely as I should have. My own impulse, being a Caspar Milquetoast at heart, would be to pay the $79.43 again. It's a relatively small amount to pay for the 3-way face saving and mutual good will which would result. Unfortunately, however, my wife, who is a simple homemaker and doesn't understand these matters like we men of the world of business do, feels that since we have already paid the bill once we should not pay it again. This, I concede, is a very unenlightened attitude, but I'm sure you will understand that in the interests of my own domestic tranquillity I must regretfully stifle my better impulses and support her position.

I am enclosing copies of all the documentation I have relating to the transaction, and trust that the next communication I receive from you will indicate that this little contretemps has been resolved, and that we are all good pals again. Naturally I will not expect an apology since the error, I am confident, will be traced to computer failure rather than any human lapse on the part of the alert and courteous employees of Budget Rent-a-Car.

With best wishes, I am


3100 Shadeland Drive
Falls Church, Va. 22044

Dun & Bradstreet, Inc.
Commercial Collection Division
Box 418
Seattle, Washington  98111

CONTINUED -- Budget's response