Just As I Thought

Credit Card ‘Security’..indeed!

Today I hit the most frustrating situation in the world for me. I got declined on attempting to purchase something with my credit card.

Now, first of all, let me let you know that I have absolutely ZERO CREDIT CARD DEBT…and I actually did not get declined…I got the dreaded ‘CALL’ result on the credit card machine when the sales-person (who did not actually speak much english) ran the credit card.

‘CALL’ is not ‘CALL the credit police’, as it feels like it is…it is ‘CALL’ the card-issuer…because something is wrong. Most of the time it is simply ‘CALL’ us because we want to ensure that you actually have your card–or ‘CALL’ us because this is above your normal purchase amount.

In my case it was really simple. I am an American Express card user. Die hard, dye-in-the-wool platinum CHARGE card user. I do NOT carry balances…ever. I charge sometimes in the neighborhood of 20-25k per month on Amex–and pay it off each month. They love me (They would love me more if i rolled it over to their 19% ‘Sign-And-Travel’ credit line…but that is another story). They love me enough to waive the $395 annual fee for the Platinum Card. I feel wanted by American Express–as a result, until recently I avoided (actually I exited quickly) any merchant who refused ‘The Card’ (as we-who-love-American-Express refer to it).

Now, having said all that…My company provides a major service to Visa. As a result I feel the need to support Visa. So, I began to use my SouthWest Airlines Card. This is a card that in the last year has been purchased by two different banks…First USA then Bank One. It is a “rewards card”. That is, I get XYZ points for each dollar spent on the Visa Card. So, back to the ‘CALL’!

I went out to buy a Sofa Bed. I found the most beautiful leather sofa bed from Copenhagen here in San Francisco. It is not the normal type of sofa bed. See it here. It is over 2 times as much as the others I looked at, however, it takes one finger to open. The entire sofa back and cushions are attached and all you do is stand in front of it, grab the top of the sofa with your finger and pull forward. The back cushions of the sofa roll forward, the seat cushions roll under and the bed automatically comes out. The cushions end up underneath the mattress, as does the back cushions of the sofa–this is another reason that the bed itself is so comfortable…it has the added softness of the cushions underneath. Tucked inside the back cushions of the sofa (which are now at the foot of the bed) are the pillows, blanket and sheets to the bed. NOTHING has to be removed to open or close the bed. IT IS GORGEOUS!

Actually, it is SO ‘early-adopter’ …so ME! (actually, so GENE too!).

So, I bought it (or tried to)–for $2400.00!

Herein begins the ‘FUN’!

After handing my Visa card over to the sales associate I waited…and waited…and waited for the card to clear. You know something…it is so funny sometimes how people can be so much like a robot. They type in the figures, swipe the card, get the result, and you get ‘The Face’.

The FACE! The face that says ‘LOSER’! I get offended easily…for the smallest reasons! I shouldn’t I know–but I do.

This time, the FACE says: ‘Uh Oh! What do I do’. (Their face, not mine). My face is saying: ‘Okay, dipshit…learn english, then tell me what that damn machine is saying’.

Back to the machine. It says ‘CALL’.

CALL. That is it. I tell the associate to call their merchant number on the back of the credit card machine becuase this is a large purchase and they may want to verify me. The associate calls. The person on the other end attempts the charge again and this time says: ‘DECLINED’. I am used to American Express where you never have a pre-set credit limit. So, I hand her another Visa card and they try again. This time it goes through. (This time I used my Bank of America Visa).

After I finally bought my sofa bed, I called SouthWest (Bank One). They tell me that the ‘SECURITY SYSTEM’ flagged my account for that purchase–as it was above my ‘average purchase amount’…they THINK. Then they tell me that the associate should’ve called THEM–Bank One…not THEM…Merchant Services. I got really ticked off! Bank One never told me to let a merchant know to call them! They never told the merchant to call them directly. The machine just said ‘CALL’.

So I demanded that they give me the SouthWest points I would’ve earned if they would’ve approved the purchase. I also asked that they do a FREE balance transfer from BofA to their card to transfer the balance (Bank One has a longer grace period). They actually agreed! They also said that their policy was indeed, incorrect in not telling the merchant what to do. I can’t believe it!

I just wish they did not inconvenience me by putting me through this–all for the sake of my ‘SECURITY’.

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