A few years back I opened a TAB account. In the heat of the moment I was foolish enough to join the email list for regular TAB updates/promotions. Most mornings now when I switch on the computer, I find my inbox packed full of TAB ‘hints’, ‘tips’, ‘offers’ and ‘deals’.
A few Sunday’s ago the Souths Rabbitohs took on the Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL Grand Final. Unsurprisingly in the days leading up to this match, I was subject to intense TAB badgering. One such offer however, did catch my eye…
One week earlier, I had credited my account with $20. Three bets later, the balance read $51. Having experienced such a run of luck in the past, only to find that by pushing it I could lose that entire amount in a few hours, I simply glanced at my new account balance, smiled inwardly, also outwardly, and shut down my computer, leaving the new sum intact. Some days later I received an interesting promotional deal from the TAB compelling me to delve into those winnings.
…it was offering to reimburse any losing bet of up to $20 on the impending NRL Grand Final. Now, I’ve seen these kinds of offers in the past and paid them little attention but in true gambling spirit, this time I thought, ‘How can I lose?’
Questionable gambling logic notwithstanding, I did have a point. I actually could not lose. If I wagered $20 and won, theoretically, I’d come away with more than $20. Alternatively if my wager was unsuccessful, the TAB would cover my losses. First thing though, I carefully read every word on that promotional advertisement to ensure there was no clever word play or similarly devious trick designed to entrap impetuous punters – ‘up to $20’ was the only potential catch but surely there was no way they could mean ‘up to but not including $20’..? I wasn’t about to bet $19.99, anyway.
I was excited. I had quickly appreciated that this was no time for safe bets. I couldn’t lose therefore, I was going for gold.
I accessed the game in question and scanned the options; the odds. Head to head? That’s not how you make money. Winning margin? Better, but still not paying enough. No, if the TAB were assuring me of reimbursement, my bet had to be more specific.
$20 went on the Rabbitohs to win by 10, against odds of 15:1.
Nice. If I won, I came away with $300; if I lost, I was back to $51.
Come Sunday night, beyond all expectations, the Rabbitohs won by about 30 points – in truth I didn’t ever hear the exact score, I just heard that the Bulldogs took a walloping and left it at that. I didn’t give a toss who won the game, the only thing that mattered to me was that the $20 I had skimmed would be replaced, I assumed by that next morning.
Monday morning came; my account was still only $31. I placed a few bets; my account was $20. I decided to query the missing funds and typed out an email, addressed to the TAB help desk:
‘After placing a bet on last night’s NRL match-up between the Rabbitohs and the Bulldogs, and losing, as per your promise to reimburse any losing bets of up to $20, I expected that the funds would be replaced by this morning.
If Auckland’s recent power failure is hampering attempts to push through the transaction, that’s fine, I can wait.
Just see that I’m not waiting too long.’
After reading through the message a number of times, I was surprised at how uncharacteristically bitchy I sounded – especially in that last line. Regardless, I sent it off and continued the morning’s work.
Not half an hour later a response came through:
Thank you for your email, We normally allow up to 3 working days for these refunds to take place as they have to be processed manually which can take time, If you don’t see it in your account by Wednesday afternoon please contact us and we can follow it up for you.
Sorry for the inconvenience, If you have any further questions feel free to contact us.
Great, I thought, Wednesday afternoon. The system works.
Wednesday afternoon became Thursday morning and still, my account had not been refunded. Not until late Friday afternoon did I again contact the TAB:
‘Following the TAB’s assurance of refunds on bets of up to $20 on last Sunday’s NRL match; then after your further assurance that reimbursement would be complete by Wednesday afternoon at the latest, to my account at least, there has still been nothing.
Is the TAB facing hard times? Certainly shirking the refund of every $20 bet made that night must have been a superb way to raise takings…
In principle, if the funds have not been replaced by close of business tonight, not only will I be closing my TAB account, I will see to it that thousands more throughout Australasia follow my lead.
Wow. That uncharacteristic bitchiness was turning out to be not so out of character after all.
Again, the response was prompt.
‘I have forwarded this on to our Marketing team to look into for you,
Apologise for any inconvenience this has caused, If you have any further questions feel free to contact us
I checked the clock. 5:04.
Looked as though I’d be extending ‘close of business’ tonight, although confidence was dwindling that the issue of reimbursement would be sorted even by an extended close of business today, tomorrow or in fact, ever.
I then set about finding how to close my TAB account – I didn’t want to, but I had to stay true to my word because God knows I had talked a big game.
By 5:42, having come no closer to learning how to close my account, and having had no response from the Marketing team, I logged off for the day.
The next morning I was surprised to see in my inbox an email from the TAB. With some excitement I opened it:
Thank you for your email .
We can’t find the information where you were offered this promo however we have credited your account as a goodwill gesture.
Apologise if this has caused you any inconvenience
Kerrie, you duplicitous wench.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Anne Grey-Mann
Photography by Thea Al Beeches