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  • More Visa Adventures

    April 25, 2008

    Sadly, what you are about to read is a true story. But it keeps Antique Daddy employed and Antique Mommy in new shoes.

    The other day as I was paying bills, I noticed that I had a late fee of $15 on one of my credit card statements. $15. That presented a dilemma: Is it better to pay the $15 and go on my merry way figuring I’d blow $15 somewhere along the way sooner or later? Or should I stand on principal and sacrifice what little sanity and free time I had on that particular day to a Visa call center?

    I was in kind of an ornery mood and I figured it was worth $15 just to mess with some call center agent. So I called those people who are everywhere you want to be, except perhaps where accounting logic resides.

    After spending 20 minutes keying in my credit card number, being transferred, telling some stranger what my mother’s name was before she married my father, being transferred, telling another stranger what the last thing I purchased was, verifying my credit card number that I had already keyed in at least twice before and then getting cut off, calling back in and starting over, I was connected with Jason whom I imagined was a scrubby clean boy with freckles and right out of college with a degree in communications and a minor in philosophy. And it went like this:

    Thank you for calling Visa. This is Jason. How may I help you?

    Hi Jason. This is Antique Mommy and I’m looking at my credit card statement and I notice I have a late fee of $15.

    Yes, ma’am you do.

    Well, I didn’t pay late. I always pay the amount due in full and never late. I never pay anything late. Ever Jason. All the labels on the cans in my pantry face forward, and the spoons never mingle with the forks in the silverware drawer. I don’t pay late Jason. Ever.

    Well. Um. Okay, well, just a minute. Let me get back to another screen. Okay, I see. Okay, yes, here it is. Yes, you have a $15 late fee.

    Yes, Jason, I know I have a late fee, that’s why I’m calling. My question to you is how is it that I have a late fee? I didn’t pay this bill late. In fact I paid it two weeks before it was due.

    Um let’s see ma’am. Yes, you paid in January. I see that. And then you paid in February. And then it looks like your March bill you paid two weeks before it was due.

    Jason, since I paid early, don’t you think, if anything, that I should have a credit and not a late fee. I didn’t owe anything so I didn’t pay anything.

    Well there you go. You didn’t pay your March bill.

    Because I didn’t owe anything. You owed me. Technically you owe me $15 because you didn’t pay me on time.

    Um…. (click click click…. clickityclickityclick click…) Okay ma’am? Because you are a valued customer (which we all know really means “nutcase”) as a courtesy, I’ll wave the fee this time, but in the future..

    Jason, thank you so much. And next time? I promise that the next time I don’t owe anything — as a courtesy — I’ll be sure to not pay anything on time so I won’t get a late fee for not paying what I don’t (click) Jason?…Jason?

    Originally published April 2006.

    39 Comments »

    1. LeeAnn says:

      Oh I hate making those phone calls- talk about an exercise in frustration! It is a good way, however, to vent some steam when I’m having a rough day with the kids!

      😉

      April 25th, 2008 at 2:21 am

    2. mamaspeak says:

      🙂 loved this the first time I read it too. So much so that I reread it anyway.

      April 25th, 2008 at 2:53 am

    3. Renna says:

      When YOU tell it, it sounds funny. ;-Þ Of course, we all know it ain’t funny a TOLL when you’re on the phone dealing with those morons, whether it be a credit card company or a phone company who interpreted your phone call requesting a change in service to mean you wanted them to DISCONNECT your service, and then they want to charge YOU to reconnect it even though THEY made the mistake.

      Yes, we’ve all been through it…sigh.

      April 25th, 2008 at 2:59 am

    4. Renna says:

      Okay, my phonetic spelling of what should have sounded like my southern expression a-tawl (meaning “at all”) came out sounding like something you have to pay on the highway. I did not mean ‘toll’. ;-Þ

      April 25th, 2008 at 3:01 am

    5. Tonggu Momma says:

      Glad Jason was never able to do the math, but “valued” you anyways. Sheesh! A reminder to all of us to check those statements.

      April 25th, 2008 at 3:41 am

    6. Brigitte says:

      At least Jason spoke english!

      I once confused the bank by making a monthly payment “too early”, where they insisted I’d overpaid one month, then didn’t pay the next month . . . Noooo, those were two different payments, see how they are labeled with different months and are each for the exact same amount?

      April 25th, 2008 at 5:29 am

    7. Donna W says:

      I hate those telephone encounters where you have to jump through hoops to finally get to speak to a real person! It’s enough to send me into a corner, sucking my thumb.

      April 25th, 2008 at 6:42 am

    8. Hanlie says:

      Well at least you and Jason spoke the same language! Here in South Africa you’re lucky if you get connected with someone you can understand or who can understand you!

      April 25th, 2008 at 6:50 am

    9. Deanna says:

      I had the same kind of conversation with my cell phone co. yesterday. lol I (briefly) worked in a call center and was constantly called out for ‘spending too much time with the customer’. Huh? This is a ‘customer service’ job, right? Apparently, I was wrong….

      April 25th, 2008 at 7:12 am

    10. Amy Nathan says:

      Well I’m glad it was posted before because otherwise I had freaky scary deja vu.

      WHEW!

      April 25th, 2008 at 7:58 am

    11. chaotic joy says:

      Hee hee hee. Thanks for the laugh. Sorry you had to go through it though.

      April 25th, 2008 at 8:40 am

    12. Margie says:

      I work for a company that had major credit card abuse from a former bookkeeper. It was a nightmare dealing with credit cards companies just trying to get previous statements not to mention straightening up the messes. I can certainly empathize.

      April 25th, 2008 at 9:14 am

    13. Kara Messner says:

      What a funny story that we have ALL been through at one time or another in our lives. I don’t think most of us could tell it as funny as you do though. Good laugh for the morning.

      April 25th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    14. Doug says:

      Hanlie, that’s not limited to South Africa. Many US call centers are actually in a foreign country, often times India. And even though most speak some level of English, understanding the accent is difficult at best. It can be especially entertaining if they are going from a script. Their questions and answers can be complete nonsense.

      Last night our cable was acting weird. I actually got a CSR that was in my city, that was not working from a script and actually had a sense of humor. It’s sad when that situation is out of the ordinary. At least while she was working on the issue, we had a pleasant conversation.

      April 25th, 2008 at 9:43 am

    15. Happy Geek says:

      Thank-you for a very good laugh.
      I loved it.

      April 25th, 2008 at 9:55 am

    16. Shawna says:

      You just reminded me that I needed to post a loan payment! Thanks! =)

      April 25th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    17. Renee says:

      Antique mommy this very thing happened to me not too long ago. I never pay my credit card bill early anymore, and actually I don’t use credit cards or any kind of debt anymore. So once it is paid off, I will NEVER have to worry about it again! mwuahahahah…hahahaha…hahahaa

      stupid credit card companies…they’re thieves!

      “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

      April 25th, 2008 at 10:25 am

    18. Kara says:

      LOL! I think the worst part about calling customer service places is jumping through hoops just to get a real person on the line. Glad they gave you the money back.

      April 25th, 2008 at 10:31 am

    19. bee says:

      I think my blood pressure just went up while reading that! Oh, they gripe me so!

      April 25th, 2008 at 10:36 am

    20. Quirky says:

      Those credit card people must be related to my insurance people. Now THAT’s a fun phone call…just like this only you’re trying to actually get them to pay for something, which makes them confusing AND hostile.

      April 25th, 2008 at 10:48 am

    21. MarathonMom says:

      I love talking to Chaz in Bangladesh! I have had the same Visa for 20 years! And just like you I have always paid on time. When I call I imagine that the lights dim and waiters in formal attire start rolling out carts of pastel petits fours to all the Visa workers there at the Visa HQ – which is right next to the newest Taco Bell/Pizza Hut there – since I am one of their best customers. I will put in a good word for you with Chaz.

      April 25th, 2008 at 10:54 am

    22. Kelly @ Love Well says:

      Alas, I agree with the other commenters. This post is dated now, AM, since all major U.S. companies have outsourced their “customer service” calls to India.

      Jason is now Jagannath.

      April 25th, 2008 at 11:31 am

    23. Jenny 867-5309 says:

      Oh you had me howling on this one!! So really…you got a Jason? I always seem to get Fredrico in Bangalore.

      April 25th, 2008 at 11:33 am

    24. Jenn C says:

      Jason must have been fired from your credit card company’s customer service department and hired by mine. Either that or ALL the agents in CC customer service deparments go by the name of Jason. That way, no one can pin anything on anybody, ‘cuz Heaven knows it’s ALWAYS the customer’s fault.

      April 25th, 2008 at 11:47 am

    25. Amanda - VintageDutchGirl says:

      A little bit of ornery goes a LONG way 🙂

      April 25th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    26. Linda says:

      I just love the phone menu’s that you have to go through and all the info you have to enter to only tell the live person (when you finally reach them), all the info again.

      Love your writing!

      April 25th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    27. Tracy @ My Cup Runneth Over says:

      Thank you for entertaining us at your expense! Hilarious. =D

      April 25th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    28. Annie says:

      Don’t you just love despair.com? When hubby and I were first dating, he took me to his office. I went to his cubicle and he had a bunch of them on his wall. I loved this one. “I am only working here till an opening in McDonalds come up” Both he and I are in consulting by the way and I love the quote.

      April 25th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    29. Shanna C says:

      I’m an off & on lurker and full-time fan of yours…you are such a hoot. I can hear Mr. Rogers singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” in the background of my mind, and wishing you lived next door! And your Sean reminds me of my Matthew when he was that age. Oh, and on the credit card late fees…mine are always legit.

      April 25th, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    30. Blog Antagonist says:

      Why is it that stupid people always work in call centers?

      April 25th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    31. Joy says:

      Ugh, I’m exhausted reading that! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made the same call… and yes, they think I’m a nutcase too! Especially when my voice starts rising to a pitch that even dogs can’t hear!

      April 25th, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    32. Tami says:

      Isn’t it totally ridiculous that your Visa adventure is among the Normal – To Be Expected – when calling customer service at almost any corporation!! =) Surely a good portion of your “listeners” could copy & paste this story onto their own website, change the names, and still be in “right field” !!!

      April 25th, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    33. Sue says:

      ACK. ACK. ACK. ACK.

      April 26th, 2008 at 1:10 am

    34. Muddy says:

      When I get someone with an accent so heavy I cannot understand them well, I ask for someone else. I say that Im sorry, but I cannot understand them and that I need another English speaking customer service representitive. The person on the other side of the line is somewhat speechless, but always gets me someone else.

      Interesting too, that I live about 10 minutes from a citi call center-here in the USA…so I guess not all have been outsourced, just seems like most.

      April 26th, 2008 at 1:34 am

    35. Ortizzle says:

      Oh, bless yer heart. Sounds like a conversation I just had with the bank. They charged me two annual membership fees for my “leisure card” rewards card. Except I only had one card, not two. So they did me a favor and removed one of the charges. Because they would just rather not have some of my well-chosen words on their recorded customer service conversations. Not, in any case, because I was, uh, right. 🙂

      April 26th, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    36. Joanna says:

      Be glad Jason spoke English. We’ve been playing phone tango with our cable company. When they want to bug me golly gee the girl can speak English and nasty all at the same time but if I want help not only can they not speak anything I can understand but they don’t have the authority to fix the problem either.

      April 26th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    37. Sally says:

      Reminds me of the time I tried to contact the gas company to change the heating bill back into our name at the rental property we own, after our tenants moved out. I could not reach a live person and kept getting the automated menu choices. After entering in the property address about a zillion times, I kept getting the same recording over and over telling me that service at that address was no longer in our name and then it would promptly cut me off. Yes, I KNOW service there is no longer in our name, that was what I was trying to change………after about 100 tries, I finally was able to reach a human who was able to take care of it. I hate those automated menus just as much as customer service reps who have no idea what is going on….

      April 27th, 2008 at 8:44 am

    38. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

      Oh, my, I had a similar conversation the other day with Twyla. I am LOL. They do have a script, and they don’t deviate.~~Dee

      April 27th, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    39. jodi says:

      I am amazed by all of the negativity expressed in these comments about call center employees. I am a manager at a call center for a major Visa issuer. I am also a long time reader of this blog and am suprised and disapointed to see that this sort of superior attitude has infected the blog of such a wonderful Christian woman.

      For the record, we are not all idiots. A fair number of us are college educated women with families who need a flexible career that will allow us to be home with our children when we want to be. Clearly, Jason did not understand the situation with your payment and needs to get some uptraining. Maybe he was having a bad day or misunderstood the question. Maybe he is having some family issues or is distracted by thoughts about school or an upcoming wedding. Whatever the reason for his less than stellar answer, labeling him as stupid and painting all of us with the same broad-stroke of “why are all call center employees stupid?” is offensive and dissapointing.

      Also, a large number of people in foreign countries (like India and Mexico) are answering the phones in call centers and providing you service. Apparently, this is upsetting to many of you. Why is the idea of people answering customer service calls in India less ok than them working in sweat shops to make your $7 Walmart T-Shirts? I am tired of hearing people say “if the person has an accent, I tell them to transfer me to someone in the US” or some variation on that theme. One of my favorite people at MY call center is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He has a VERY heavy accent, but is QUITE “Amercian”, and he has to deal with customers who demand to be transfered to an “AMERICAN” on a regular basis. This is hurtful to him, and damaging to his pride – all while he is working very hard to bring his young bride and 2 year old daughter to the US so that they too can live the American Dream.

      I really like this blog, and many of the blogs written by folks who commented here, which is why I am personally hurt and disapointed by many of their comments.

      April 28th, 2008 at 9:08 pm

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