Friday, February 24, 2012

I feel swindled...and that makes me feel like punching someone in the face lawyer I won't name names.

I wrote a post about the lemon tree earlier today? It was a simpler time then. And I had more money in my bank account.

Earlier today I wanted to write a post about how happy I've been this week.  I quite enjoy my new job even though I feel exhausted at the end of every day and am frequently so busy that on my way home from work I realise I desperately have to go to the bathroom. You know, because I was so busy I forgot to go during work hours - this is sad, but the truth.

I was going to write about how bright life was and how much our little lemon tree has grown - and I with it.

I don't feel that now. My jaw is tight with anger and my eyes are puffy from crying. Inspector Climate and I had a meeting with my lawyer today. I've always said good things about my lawyer. See, we're trying to get my spouse visa in quickly so that all those tests I did in September - November (medical, finger prints, Australian police check) are still valid and maybe just maybe if the immigration gods are smiling down on us, I won't have to take them again.

And so Inspector Climate has been working on all the parts of this visa while I've been recovering.  He wrote our love story (5-10 pages); my lawyer asked to bring in copies of all joint statements, marriage certificate, travel itineraries, two letters that have been certified by people saying that we're in a real relationship, copies of greeting cards that people sent through. Of course when we got there the legal aid was all "did you bring the originals?"...Hilarious, no said I. When we talked you just said copies.  My jaw was already tensing.

But the real pain. The pain of bad decision making on my part. The pain that hurts so acutely that even writing this makes my eyes tear up, my fingers bang louder on the keys, and my nose start to run...that came when we started talking about the invoice.

I had a meeting with my lawyer two and a half weeks ago to discuss everything I needed for this visa (this is where the aforementioned copies come in).  And I asked him several times to talk to me about how much it was going to cost.

Conversations that went like this...

Me: I know the visa costs $$$$ and so if we use you in total it will be $$$$ + $$$.

Lawyer: No...Not that much. Only $$$$.

Me: So, how much will it cost me in total.

Lawyer: if we do it for you it will cost $$$$.

Me: So, I'm looking at $$$$ if you do it for me in total?

Lawyer: Yeah, something like $$$$.

Can you see where I'm going with this. We went around and around talking about the price.  Me asking in TOTAL how much the visa and his help would cost to lodge my spouse visa.

So today when the invoice came in and it was 2 x $$$$. You can imagine my surprise. The cost of this whole thing was DOUBLE than what we'd been talking about. DOUBLE. What the fuck?

Are you kidding me?

I see now what he was saying. He was telling me what the total of his fees would be outside of the cost of visa itself. I get that now. But that was never explained. And when I said TOTAL. I meant the motherflipping total.

The money I've spent today could've been a trip to Vietnam. Inspector Climate and I say all the time that puppies are expensive? Well, I am sure this would have been the maintenance of a puppy for at least a couple of years. It was two years of yoga passes.

I feel...betrayed. Who doesn't invoice things BEFORE they start doing the work. Who doesn't invoice THE FUCKING TOTAL...

We didn't know what to do and sat in their meeting room, I can't speak for Inspector Climate, but as I held back tears, I felt like a child in a grown up world trying to understand something I'm not old enough or capable enough of comprehending.

I'm so angry with myself that I didn't ask to see things in writing first. That I didn't ask more. Press harder.  

And now, on top of this hurt. This feeling of being completely swindled, I have to go back in next week with all the originals of the documents...Just thinking about it makes me stabby.


  1. Did you get a written costs agreement or schedule of fees? As far as I know all lawyers provide those....

  2. Ugh... sorry to hear this. Pretty much all the lawyers I've ever dealt with were crooks, and I'm sorry that you have to deal with this. Because $$$$ sounds like a lot of money, and 2 x $$$$ sounds like way too bloody much when it sounds like you're doing most of the dang work anyways.

  3. Good grief. I don't understand why lawyers seem to have such a difficult time in clearly conveying the amount of money they're going to charge you! I guess it's probably all a giant sneaky scheme to suck extra money away from you, but still. It's dastardly, not to mention rude!

    Giant hugs. If you want/need to rant to someone outside the whole situation, you know where you find me <3

  4. It sounds like you went to the same lawyer for your immigration that I went to when I broke up with my ex boyfriend. They told me it would probably cost $$$ to draw up our separation agreement and it ended up costing $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, which was a VERY significant percentage of my part of our financial settlement. Oh joy.

    That was several years ago and I am still feeling a bit sour about it as I type this.

  5. First of all, I just wanted to say your lemon tree is adorable! (I'm combining my comments for both posts into one :)

    So, so sorry to hear about the lawyer experience. It's especially difficult when you were trying so hard to get the real total last time you met. Ugh.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear how stressful (and expensive) this is for you. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be. Don't be too hard on yourself though...what they charge for fees and Visas etc. is so completely ridiculous. It's a scam in itself and you are just an innocent victim.

    Hang in there. Hugs from the Alps xx

  7. I am so sorry to hear this. I've been there and it hurts, both emotionally and financially.

    Don't beat your self up about it. From the sound of things, he was pretty sneaky about not letting you know the total price before hand, which should really be illegal.

    Know that you will learn from this and it won't happen to you again. Being a 20-something puts us in so many adult situations that we may not be ready for, but the only way we can learn is by taking things head on and you are doing a great job. Hang in there!


  8. Yikes! What a whammy! I hope you know everything now and there isn't any other hidden cost.

    Stay strong!

  9. I'm with teachergirlblogs: Don't beat yourself up over this. It's a lot of money you weren't expecting, period. But reliving it over and over and making it exclusively your fault? That is just unnecessary punishment.

    Don't forget that Husband and I paid our lawyer up front. It was expensive AND they didn't do anything for us. Our lawyer wasn't even available most of the time. It's not just you darling. Go easy on yourself and try your best to move on.

  10. Oh no!! I'm so sorry. It is a horrible feeling when money issues read their ugly heads. I promise that it will all be okay and it will all work out. This is a huge undertaking and you're doing an amazing job. Keep your head up!!

  11. Uuuuggghhhhhhhhhhh....why are lawyers so dang evasive & expensive? I'm sorry love. Hang in there.

  12. Ridiculous. There must be some type of business practice law over there that requires invoices before service, no? I was going to say have a lawyer check into it but ...

  13. Ugh this is awful.
    I feel like I could have warned you that lawyers charge as they go. I had to deal with some legal costs a little while ago and I swear the lawyer charged me for her time to photocopy things, to sign things, to read things. Every minute is accounted for.
    Luckily for me it wasn't double, but next time I go to the lawyer I'll be asking for all ridiculous costs "I want to know the cost of everything, even how much your electricity costs and if I have to pay for that or the rent of the hamster turning the wheel!"

    If you have to deal with it again, maybe ask them to give all the menial tasks to the aid? They're paid less so it will cost you less.

    And don't feel bad about feeling like a child in a grown up world. You know what happened to me recently? I went to a college to see what courses I needed and when I was told I'd have to upgrade one course, I burst into tears. Yeah...
    So don't feel bad. Visa stuff is tough!!!

  14. Please don't hate all lawyers - I'm one of the good ones! Might I suggest trying to negotiate with him - something along the lines of "Hey, remember when I asked you the TOTAL total and you said $$$$, well, I interpreted that as $$$$ and frankly, that's all I can afford. Can we meet halfway? Or maybe a payment plan"

    And as your wise U.S. Bloggy Aunt, let me tell you that you won't even remember the money stress in a few years!

  15. Lawyer-man and his kind should be burned alive. He obviously intentionally deceived you because he knew if he told you the real total, you would have dropped him like a hot potato. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about this. Let's hope that there is some good that comes out of this.

  16. Oh no!! So sorry to hear this, but dont beat yourself up! Sounds like lawyer dude was shady and intentionally tried to mislead you! Is there any hotline you can call or recourse you can take? It s just not fair!

  17. Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry!!! Gav and I have only started the fiance visa process (um, surprise, I'm newly engaged as of last week!), and getting the info we need is sometimes like pulling teeth.


    I suppose there isn't room to get them to talk about it further? Ugh. Gross and so wrong.

  18. Oh D, I am so sorry! I totally know how this is about lawyer fees. I had to go to court recently and what I was quoted was NOT what I ended up having to pay. It was shocking and I cried the entire car ride back home.

  19. I am so sorry. It sounds like the lawyer was deliberately misleading (and possibly more than a bit incompetent). Don't feel like a little kid in a world you don't understand; lawyers (at least the ones like yours) live in a world of their own invention that the rest of us would never want to be a part of.

  20. I'm so so sorry to hear this :( It does sound like he may have intentionally misled you.

    Something similar just happened to me, and it was the exact same process. I asked about the total cost and was completely misled. I just got the invoice and I'm not entirely happy but I have learn to be more assertive. It's such an expensive lesson though. I'm sorry this happened to you in particular given how much you've been through in the process already :(

  21. Lisa - Not until he had already started doing the work - but even the invoice didn't have any totals on it and was really confusing (sad but true).

    Carmen - That's kind of how I feel about it too. But we might have decided to go with the doubled amount anyway, it just would've been nice to have known about it prior to the meeting.

    Melbourne on my mind - Thank you! I'm finally over it all. It only took two days.

    Belinda - Aw, I don't blame you at all! That would make me sour too.

    E - Our lemon tree is adorable! I love Lemon Tree.

    Crystal - Yes, the price of the visa is ridiculous itself.

    teachergirl - Yeah, I was lulled into a sense of false security by how nice he was being "we'll give you a discount!" BWAHAHAHAHA

    Ellie - It should be just a flat fee now.

    poptartyogini - Thank you.

    Mrs C - It was pretty awful.

    Bridget - HAH. The truth is that we just want to get this OVER with and make sure my spouse visa gets done properly and quickly.

    Shannon - He doesn't charge as he goes - it's a flat fee to do the work.

    Zadge - Normally I would, however, we didn't handle it very well when it was sprung on us and I signed a bunch of documents and stuff.

    Azra - I'm not sure I would've. Using a lawyer is an insurance plan if this goes wrong - and since applying for visas is so expensive anyway. I need that.

    Oneika - While the money part of it sucks, it IS in fact what he told me at the beginning and it was I who misunderstood.

    Heather - CONGRATULATIONS! THAT'S SO EXCITING. it's shit isn't it though, the visa process. The US visa for spouses is so much cheaper than the aussie one.

    Crazy Shenanigans - It sucks doesn't it?

    Jane - It is true I don't want to apart of his world.

    Vanisha - I definitely think that is part of it! I expected this part to be easy. We had done SO much of the work already. And then it just smacked me in the face.

    Mrs Pancakes - IT WAS HORRIBLE.

  22. That is a bummer! I would be very ticked if that happened to me! I hope it gets all worked out.

  23. ohh, this sucks. I hope everything will work out, it must be so tiring getting all this visa worked out. Hope you are able to enjoy the rest of the weekend:)

  24. I'm so sorry, that is really frustrating and upsetting. I would have thought when you said total it's the total overall as well. I always get upset when I feel like I've been wronged or cheated too.

  25. Oh my goodness... this is worse than a sucker punch! I am so so sorry! I would be crying, too :(

    But it will ALL be worth it if it works out, right?

    I will be praying for you, sweet girl. It will all work out!

  26. Whoa, what a creep. That's so horrible he'd charge double than what you agreed upon and horrible it wasn't in writing. I'd be fighting that invoice with all that I have and do everything to make sure he doesn't win! And definitely not begin the payments until after his work is done!

  27. Ugh, lawyers! SO SORRY!

    I ma sure the visa stress is also just adding to that feeling of being swindled. be strong and you'll see, things WILL work out.

  28. Oh, how sickening :( I am so sorry that you're having to deal with this added financial stress. I've never worked with a lawyer and I'd be just as in the dark with all of the financial aspect as you were. Ugh.

  29. OMG! And he is charging for every phone call and everytime you "drop something by?"

    Is this the end of the charges? Will he take partial payments?

  30. Money makes everybody cry, darling. You're not alone.