January 14, 2010

Why can't our credit cards take better care of us?

With our frenetic travel lifestyle, Esperando and I have a real issue managing to keep our credit card accounts from being frozen by the bank. I am sure it is confusing to fraud divisions worldwide, as we, especially Esperando, travel so much. Our cards get charged in each new location. We are constantly calling up credit card companies to verify charges we have made.

We keep telling them, “We travel constantly, couldn’t you make a note our file that we travel all the time?”

“No, no, never, we could never do that,” they say.

But, when we say, “Oh, he is in Mexico now, next week he will be in Korea, and the week after that he will be in the U.S.”

They say “Oh, we will make a note of that in the file.”

I can’t fault the card companies, although lately they are getting much worse about freezing our account to the tune of every 4 or 5 days. The other day it was two of them in a row. It was sort of embarrassing. I was at the pharmacy trying to pick up a prescription. The first card I tried wouldn’t go through, and then the other wouldn’t work either. I am sure the girl at the drive-up window thought that I had stolen them or that I hadn’t paid my bills. I was amazed to have two cards rejected in a row. “You’re kidding!” I said.

When I got home I called the first card. Esperando had been charging airplane tickets for Korea. It was a pricey item and the card company declined to pay it as fraudulent, so the airplane tickets were hanging in limbo. In their favor they had both called and emailed him; unfortunately at the time he was on an airplane so he couldn’t respond either communication. After I got that straightened out, I called the second card company and I couldn’t remember my social security number properly. I gave her two variations before I could remembered the right one. (Travelling erodes your brain.) That really set the alarm buttons off. I had to answer five more security questions and I was very hopeful I could manage those. Luckily for me they were things I could answer, not some esoteric question such as ‘if you could meet anyone living or dead, who would that be?’ (Yes, we did have question just like that on a recent credit questionnaire. I was going to enter Cleopatra because I had been reading about her at the time, but realized that probably wouldn’t stick in my mind so I went with Jesus Christ instead.)

It’s the little things like this that really screw up the flow of life. You know that TV ad where everyone is using their ATM card, a long line of people buying things and the flow just keeps humming along? Then some jerk wants to pay cash and puts a big wrench in the flow of operations. That ad implies that credit cards make life move along smoothly. I wish I could say that was true but it just doesn’t work for me.

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