Usually stockholders give management a hard time and tough questions at annual meetings, but a Marriott Corp. stockholder and supplied named John Wells gave that company a check for $4,084 last week.

President J.W. Marriott Jr. probably would have preferred a diatribe.

Wells said the check was the latest of a number of duplicate payments that his food-service-equipment firm has received for bills that Marriott already had paid.

Wells said he has been complaining to Marriott management for some time "about the way you pay your bills."

"It's not that you don't pay on time," he said, ticking off instances in which Marriott has paid his bill, then paid it again a few weeks or months later. Each time he sent Marriott a personal check for the overpayment and told them what had happened.

"I was assured there was no way a duplicate payment could occur," Wells said. "The computer would catch it."

So when Wells got another duplicate payment last September, he held onto it and waited for the computer to discover the mistake.

Seven months later, the company still hasn't asked for its money back, so Wells showed up at the meeting with a check and warned, "I'm certain there must be others."

"We appreciate you and your honesty," replied Marriott after the other stockholders had stopped chortling. He said the company is implementing a new payment system that he has been assured will prevent overpayments. "After your comment today, I can be doubly assured," Marriott said.