Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not Feeling Holly Jolly Towards Chase Visa

This Scrooge image once appeared somewhere in the Bear Valley News. Metaphorically, it represents not only the droopy dunce cap that finally broke the hat rack of my tolerance, but also shows my intensity of contempt. That's me...hating you, Chase Visa.

For years, we've been paying extra for membership to a credit card that gives us airline miles (usefulish) and extended warranties that we haven't used as well as supposed concierge services and other discounts we haven't found particularly handy either. In the past, when the CV Co. is afraid there's fraud-- like anytime (frankly, every time) we're on vacation-- store clerks end up giving us their patented lugubrious expressions of We Regret The Necessity/Are You Broke?, and haul us towards the shop phone to verify our identities and geneology on our mother's sides. We get temporarily annoyed, and forget to do anything about it after arriving back home.

Obviously, it's a frustratingly repeated inconvenience for those (us) whom we assume are regarded as good customers. We put significant dollars through this card annually, so whether or not we carry a balance, they're paid by merchant fees on every charge plus our member fees and any specialty transaction fees for cash advances, checks, etc. If they increased the intelligence put toward examining the pattern of purchase types and vendors rather than simply location, such analysis might reveal that the roving charges are likely from us, because whether home or abroad, we always go to TCBY or Frankenstein Nail Spas (or wherever). Not a crime specialist, it still seems unlikely to me that garden-variety thieves are mainly using our hot plastic for fine dinners and non-transferrable hotel room charges, but whatever.

When we do happen to buy something criminally fungible like a pricey new winter coat or electronics, we're also likely to have our charges held for verification. Believe it or not, this once happened when buying a large batch of socks. I don't know about you, but I don't usually ration purchases of black and brown dress socks, and buy up bunches at a go rather than pacing myself. Because the CV Co. phone lines were jammed (an overload of incisive fraud checking?), we couldn't even call through for verification, and had to use another card. This is all simply the CV Co. protecting us, right? Well, no. It's them protecting themselves since they're on the hook for fake charges in excess of $50, provided we report them in a timely fashion. Lately, the companies have all gone preemptive. Don't wait for the customer to notice, jump in and assist! Ideally, this would be handled so it feels like it's us and CV Co. working against bad guys, but it doesn't feel like that at all. And today was the dunce cap that broke the hat rack.

My very own Santa purchased my Christmas present yesterday from a place where many other people enjoy shopping, too, because of their cool, but entirely distinctive, stuff. (DANGER, thinks the CV Co. Popular places are mostly frequented by lowlifes!) After receiving two phone messages this morning alone, I knew CV Co.'s onslaught of concern must've been triggered by yesterday's Xmas purchase. So, I contacted my personal Santa to make the confirmation call such that my surprise--now wrapped and beribboned beneath our tree-- wouldn't be ruined. Unfortunately, when my Santa verified the charge from yesterday, CV Co. also wanted to go back in history and check other recent charges, too. Just for thoroughness, of course. After all, who'd be doing more and more varied shopping than usual near Christmas? However (wouldn't you know it?), I'd also recently purchased an Xmas present online. This one happened to be for the other holder of our card from a merchant's website which is basically like

In order to walk down memory lane, transaction-style, with CV Co, I had to be conferenced in to illuminate the more elusive mysteries. Though, before I joined the call, my own Santa specifically asked that they not repeat the location of the charge for my gift yesterday, here's how it actually played out:

CV Co. employee has both of us on the line, and asks:
"Other than the charge at [screamingly obvious name of the vendor of my own gift], can you verify the charge at [screamingly obvious place where I purchased gift]?"

We were both quiet for a second until I thanked the fine Fraud Protection Specialist for ruining Christmas.

Most of our friends suggest Amex, because for the membership price (should you wish their add'l services), the service is supposed to be way better. It's even reported they don't treat customers like morons or like we're the persistent problem with their business.

Kiss us goodbye, Chase Visa, you low-rent, tone-deaf, killjoy, picayune, idiot army of Scrooge-y Douchebaggingtons.

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