Saturday, January 24, 2009

In which I rant about the credit card company

"I want to pay off and cancel my cards please."

"Oh I am so sorry. Can I ask you why?"

"Because I went on line two weeks ago and paid off the ENTIRE balance and now I have a statement saying I owe you $100."

"Let me check on that for you. Oh, those charges are blah, blah, blah."

"I get that. I want to pay off the entire balance and close the account."

"You have been with us since 1998. blah blah blah. Excellent customer.. blah, blah, blah."

"Uh huh. I want to pay off the account and close it."

"I have numbers you can call for those charges, and if you want I can mark them as disputed. You are completely protected from all fraudulant uses of your card."

"If I do that I can't cancel the card, right?"

"Well you have been a valuable customer with us since...blah, blah, blah. I can wave the $10 charge for paying by phone."

"That would be wonderful."

"So do you just want to pay the finances charges of $80?"

"No. I want to pay the FULL balance. I want it at zero. I want to know that I do not owe you any more money and I want to know that there will be no more interest or finance charges or anything."

"You can pay off what you owe now but if the company that is charging you membership fees sends in another charge, there will be finances charges. Do you want the 800 numbers to call them."

"I have them on my statement. I would like to pay off the full balance."

"So just the finances charges and I will mark the other charges as under dispute?"


Finally he does it.

"Thank you. I would like to cancel the account."

"But I thought you were going to call the companies that are charging you the membership fee?" He sounds betrayed.

"I don't want to go through this with two more companies. I haven't the foggiest idea who or what they are. If they want my membership I'm sure they will contact me. I just want to cancel the account."

"You have been with us since 1998 and are a valued customer...blah, blah, blah."

I hand the phone to Roland. "Would you please tell this man that we want to cancel the d*mn account?"

He tells him. He assures him that we mean it. I hear Roland telling him that yes this is what I want. I take the phone back.

"I would like to cancel the account."

"Are you sure because, blah, blah, blah..."

"I want to cancel the account."

"You have been a customer with us since 1998. If you are concerned about the membership fees, you can call the 800 numbers. If they won't stop charging you call us back and we will not accept any further charges from them and you won't have any further finance charges from us."


"Yes. I can do that for you. I have to read you this full disclosure statement. Blah, blah, blah... The account is now closed."

He sounded so sad there at the end.

Maybe they are going to make him pay the $10 fee for paying by phone that he waved.


  1. Ugh, this kind of thing should be illegal. Why is it so hard to cancel service (for anything!)? I wish there were some secret phrase to say that would make the endless questioning end.

  2. Anonymous1:04 AM

    Today my mom had to call one and after sorting out the problem (they had blocked access due to some charges from a company in India from which she had made some purchases) the lady kept her on the phone forever trying to sell her all kinds of programs...I finally got on the phone and told the lady that if she wasn't understanding in Spanish to please listen to me carefully in English and understand that when my mother keeps saying she is not interested....SHE IS NOT INTERESTED!!!!!! It's incredibly frustrating dealing with them.


  3. Hi there! Long time reader, first time commenter (just starting to actively jump into the bloggersphere!) But back to the original point...I had a very dear friend who worked in 'customer retention' for a cable company. She told me that they actually have training sessions where they are encouraged to sound as personally wounded by the customers decision to leave as possible!

  4. Don't you know that's custermer service at its best?

  5. I don't say this a lot, but that's actually one of the circumstances where I'm always tempted to think "what would my mother do in this situation?" Because this is one of the things that she's really good at. I can virtually guarantee you that Mom, at about the first "you have been a valued customer since 1998..." would have dropped her voice, put a sob in it and told the guy that she had terminal cancer and was really just trying to wrap up her affairs before she checks into the hospice. This also works wonders on timeshare salesmen - "I can't buy it, medical bills, I'll be gone before the week comes up next year anyway, I just wanted one last weekend with my kids at the beach before the end, and medical bills, couldn't do it any other way..." and then it looks like the waterworks are going to start and the overwhelmed salesman moves her out the door as fast as he can. I've never had the heart to try it, but it never fails to amaze me the way it comes so naturally to her.

    I've always thought that a person could earn a PhD in Philosophy if they could sort out all the ethics of the way Mom manipulates corporations whose business plan is to manipulate her.

  6. That is SO FUNNY!

    Evan works in "customer retention" and Direct TV an dwhat he has learned to say and so is really disturbing. He used to do sales calls and he said that if you asked to be taken off the list it tooks weeks to process the request. However they had a button for "hostile caller" that they would push for, well, hostile callees. That took them right off the list.

    I've always been tempted to try crazy. I imagine yelling at them about how long I have been waiting for them to call and when are they going to get their lazy butts out here to do something about the racoon in the attic? I think it would work, but I can't quite bring myself to do it.

  7. Well, it's funny when the person doing it understands the boundaries and only uses those sort of tactics on institutions that have consciously chosen and even studied to take a manipulative approach. It's less so when the person doing the manipulating does it more or less instinctively and it's her first choice for dealing with everybody and everything.

    So sales people who won't go away, I have the guts to respond by telling them that I'd like to take this opportunity, while I have them on the phone, to talk to them about Amway/Scientology/what are you wearing? I'm ready to make myself obnoxious, but I don't have the heart to try to work on people's better natures to get what I want.

    I love the raccoon idea! And the info from Evan about the hostile caller button is tempting, but I don't think I could go through with it - I keep thinking about the poor schlubs who just need the work and it isn't fair to them to take it all out on them.

    The raccoon idea though... reminds me of this National Park Service unofficial employees' journal called Thunderbear that my parents used to get. The magazine fell on hard times and its editor decided that one answer to the magazine's financial problems would be to reinvent itself as a religion to get tax-exempt status. He called the religion "Ursinianism" and its adherents would receive messages from the almighty through the medium of the magazine's mascot - a flying, bipedal grizzly wearing a NPS straw hat and a beer-can bandoleer.

    The benefit to Ursinians was that they could respond to door-to-door evangelists by testifying about the wonders of Ursinianism and assuring doubters that they would see the light as soon as they drank the communal bear juice. You go to the kitchen to get the juice (whatever's in your kitchen, but he recommends a mix of mostly carrot, some wheat grass) and they run away. Easy peasy.


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