March 19, 2005

Ranting Corner

And what would a return to blogging be without a nice, healthy rant? Today: Chase/Bank One and the Amazon.COM Visa card.

Around the middle of last month, I was checking my credit card statement online and found three charges that were definitely not mine -- one from "JUNO ONLINE * SVCS", and two from "BILLINGAGENT COM". Having all the online services I need, and not being sure what BILLINGAGENT was at all (it appears to be a Netherlands-based credit-card agent for porn sites), I called the credit card company and reported the fraud. They closed my account, and told me they'd send me a new card within ten days.

[Side note: Bank One's 'fraud' department has blocked my card countless times for 'suspected fraud' -- leading to mumbled excuses and embarassment all around as everything's all queued up for that big-ticket purchase, only to find that my card is denied. Deadbeat! Bad-credit person! Yet the two times that there's been actual fraud on my card, I've had to call them and tell them what's happened.]

The card came in the expected amount of time, and everything was great ... except now I wasn't able to log into, the card's online-banking Web site. I call up their customer-service line, and was told that I had to wait ten days before I was granted online access for the new card -- that's just the way things are, there's nothing that can be done about it. So I dutifully wait my ten days, and then try to log in -- nothing! Oh, there was some kind of glitch, but they'll escalate my case to priority status; everything should be absolutely all ready in three to five days. Our apologies! Well, guess what? Since my three to five days ran out, I've had my case 'escalated' twice more, and I've been told to wait a week, another 3-5 days, or that "everything's fixed -- just try again in five minutes" (twice -- optimistic fellows!)

A few days ago, after trying the Web site again and still finding myself denied, I called the 'service' line yet another time, where I was told that, well, they were having systems problems, and that it would take 'about' two weeks before I'd have access. Having had enough, I reached out for the classic last refuge of an American in a snit: asking to speak to a supervisor.

The supervisor was, if anything, even less helpful than her underlings -- admitting no guilt, expressing no sympathy, inexpertly using the "well, I'm sorry if you feel like you have a problem, sir" deflection. I had to wait two weeks, and that was it -- there was a 'systems glitch' and it was just out of their hands. You might have already been told to wait two weeks, and I'm sorry if you feel like you were lied by the people who claimed to fix your problem, sir -- they might have thought they fixed things, but there was this systems problem, and how were they to know?

Anyway, I was told, you don't really need online access -- you can take care of all of your banking needs by mail or telephone!

Besides the fact that these people pimp the incredible convenience of their online banking all over the place, or the irony of someone representing the Amazon.COM credit card telling me I didn't need to use the Internet, has this woman used telephone banking in the last ten years? Instead of being able to easily see all of my monthly charges at a glance, I get to maneuver through the maze of press-this-for-that and listen to the schizophrenic robot voices recite line after line of charges until I (maybe) get to an ambiguous description of the one I want: "On ... MARCH ... FIFTEENTH! there was a ... CHARGE ... of EIGHTY ... SIX dollars AND FIFTEEN! ... cents ... described AS ... pet supplies and pet services!"

Well, we really (really, really) like the Amazon rebate certificates we get as an enticement for using the Amazon card -- but if they don't care about me, I don't care about them. It's off to the other credit card, which has a perfectly functional online presence, and which has never had any problems with fraud, either real or imaginary. We'll see if the folks have fixed their problems in two weeks -- or if I'm supposed to just wait two weeks/ten days/3-5 days/five minutes more.

Posted by Kevin at March 19, 2005 10:45 AM