Friday, July 20, 2012

Always Read the Contents Before Throwing Your Mail Away

Credit cards have always terrified me. The idea of spending money that I don't actually have is daunting and frankly, it gives me some anxiety. That is why I only have one credit card, and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I possibly can.

For this exact reason, I never hesitate to cut up and throw away any new credit cards that come for me in the mail, offering me some new low rate interest payment plan. "Ha! You'll never trick me!" I laugh as I snip those evil thieves away with my scissors. I feel a sense of pride at that moment, knowing that I haven't been duped into some scheme where I will just further myself into debt. It's liberating.

This is exactly what I did last week while visiting my mother. I had stopped over for one reason or another before heading to work and she handed me some mail. One of them was a Bank of America envelope containing "my new credit card!" I do not bank with Bank of America, so naturally, I went with the "DESTROY ALL CONTENTS!" decision instead of the "activate this card and enjoy!" decision. I did this with confidence.  

The one and only credit card that I have is through my own bank, and it is easily managed by the fact that I can pay it online through my bank account. It's as simple as transferring money from my checking account to my credit card account as a payment. Perfect for someone who fears credit cards, right? Right. Except for when, at 10:30 at night I shot up from laying in my bed happily reading and was overcome with the realization that I hadn't yet paid my credit card bill, which was due that day. I logged in to my bank account today to make that payment and my credit card account was nowhere to be seen. On the day the payment is due, because let's face it: my fear of credit cards means that I avoid dealing with them until I absolutely have to. 

In my panic, I called the customer service number for my bank and waited for twenty-five minutes on hold. 
During this time, I texted my boyfriend, "My credit card account has disappeared," and he responded with"What does that mean?"

That was the moment when a man with too deep and jovial of a voice to be working in customer service took my call. 

"Hello, thank you calling. May I have your social security number?"

I was suspicious, but I gave it to him. 

"Why thank you, and I'm going to have to ask you a security question, is that alright?"

"...Yes?"
-A moment to interject here: Why do I always get nervous about the security question? It's a question that supposedly only I should know the answer to, yet I am always terrified that I will fail this section of the customer service identification quiz! Am I alone in this? 

Back to the cheerful banker...
"Wonderful! How may I help you this evening?"

"Well, I went online today to pay my credit card bill... and my credit card account was missing."

Without taking a breath, he replied, "Yeeesss, that is because we no longer carry credit cards!"

"...I'm sorry, what?"

"Yes, we used to, but we've stopped, and now the credit cards are through the Bank of America cards-"

Fear and stupidity washed over me as I flashed back to earlier that week when my mother handed me my mail while I was visiting and I told her that it was all trash... I interrupted the banker "-which would explain the Bank of America card that showed up in the mail the other day-"

"-Exactly!"

"-that I cut up because I thought it was just some stupid card recruiting scam..."

And that's when my customer service operator began laughing heartily. It was not just a mere chuckle, but one of those laughs that comes out when you see a dog after surgery and it's wearing that shameful cone around it's head, and you can't help but find amusement in its pitiful state. I was that dog. 

"Oh, I am so happy that you just told me that!" He sighed, trying to compose himself. 

He continued to laugh while telling me he would forward my call to the credit card services line so that I could make my payment and get everything sorted out. I thanked him feebly, went through with the payment and then texted my boyfriend my response to his earlier question: "Ugh... I'll explain later. The upside is that I made the customer service guy for the bank laugh really hard tonight."

"That would be an upside," My boyfriend responded. 

I never did speak to anyone about getting a new credit card. Maybe this is good thing.