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Donna has recently begun handling the affairs for her ninetyyear-old aunt who has Alzheimer’s disease and is on a fixed income. As Donna was paying the bills for her aunt, she discovered that auntie was getting her natural gas for heating her home through IGS, a third-party provider, and paying 46% more per cubic foot than the regular utility provider was currently charging. Donna was outraged that the company was still charging such exorbitant rates when gas prices had fallen over the last couple of years. She called to cancel the third-party arrangement and ask for a credit for the difference in rates for the current bill. She explained the situation to the customer service representative who said IGS can’t give credit, but suggested she speak to a supervisor. When Donna spoke with the supervisor, Mike, he said it was up to the customer to check the rates because IGS does not give credits, and that auntie had a contract so there was nothing he could do. Donna explained that since her aunt has Alzheimer’s, she wouldn’t have understood what she was agreeing to and certainly wouldn’t be able to stay on top of current rates for natural gas. Mike said he was sorry, but there was nothing he could do. Donna then calmly told him that she was going to write letters to the state attorney general and the public utility commission, as well as letters to the editors of every major newspaper in the state exposing how IGS operates and warning people to check their bills. Mike asked that she hold off on the letter writing until he could check and see if there was anything that he could do. He said he would call her back with an answer within twenty-four hours. Within twenty minutes, he called her back saying IGS would be issuing a refund check for the difference of $263.34 within four to six weeks. Donna was happy with the refund but wondered if she should still write a letter to the editor to warn others that they should check their utility bills.

1. What distributive tactics were used by Donna and Mike? 2. Was the use of distributive tactics appropriate in this situation? Explain. 3. What might Donna have done to keep from threatening IGS to publicize the situation? 4. Should Donna write the letter to the editor to warn others or does she have an obligation to remain silent since they gave her a refund?

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