When buying a gift at The Bay recently, I decided to use my Bay MasterCard in order to take advantage of a promotion and save 10% on the total. This was a mistake.
I hadn’t used the Bay MasterCard for a year and a half, since I was double-billed shortly after using it in the first month I had it and it took me numerous visits to the store, running in circles from store clerk to credit department, to get that little problem straightened out. (I should have kept my trusty old Bay department store card instead of being seduced by the shiny new one.) However, time had passed; hope springs eternal, and I felt sure that now things would work properly. This was, of course, ridiculously optimistic.
To make sure the account had not lapsed, I checked it online. The account was in good standing: $12,000 line of credit and no outstanding balance. I ordered the gift online and paid with the MasterCard.
Two days later, I received a phone call from the credit department, saying there was a problem with my account: would I please call them back.
Experience has told me that phoning and having to deal with a person with no prior knowledge of an issue is an exercise garnering about a level three point four out of five on the frustration scale. I therefore drove downtown to the gift registry department and explained my problem to a gift registry associate.
“Perhaps you mistyped the number?” she asked helpfully. “No,” I responded firmly: “I checked very carefully; here is the record of my transaction; here is my card; you can see for yourself.”
She took my printout and card and disappeared into the back room to phone someone. Several minutes later, she returned saying that my card was shown as missing a year ago and a replacement with a new number had been issued. “That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” I said, still cheerfully. “Please let the credit department know that I didn’t report it missing, I have not received a card with a new number and furthermore, when I checked online, my existing number was shown as being current and in good standing.”
She disappeared into the back room. Several minutes later, she returned saying that the credit HQ apologized; their records showed that the replacement card had never been issued. They acknowledged that this was their mistake.
“Well, what do we do now?” I asked. We went through a cycle of resubmitting the order, on the assumption that the block on the number had been lifted but, needless to say, that did not work. Back into the back room. Back out again.
“They say the best thing to do is to apply for a new account,” she said. “Fine,” I said, cordiality now becoming a bit strained. We were up to frustration level four. I completed the form. She disappeared. She returned, showing me a printout of my new account. I compared it to my card. The numbers were the same. It didn’t work.
We sat, looking across the desk at each other, both helpless in the grip of a bureaucratic machine that could not deal with this situation. “Perhaps I’ll just pay with my Visa,” I said. “You could give me the 10% discount, anyway.”
“Or,” she said, “you could apply for a Bay department store card. Then, at least, you could get the 10% discount on anything else you buy today.” “Fine,” I said. I completed another form. This one apparently worked. I received a receipt with my new account number. It stated that I could use the receipt in lieu of a card until May 31.
Naturally enough, when I tried to use the new number again a few days before the end of May, it did not work.
A the end of May, I received my new department store card. The accompanying letter joyfully congratulated me on being the proud new possessor of a department store account. My credit limit is $3,000.
I will probably cut up the new card and distribute the pieces between various garbage cans.