The Strange Goings-on on 34th Street
By: Beth Schmidt
Odd. I haven’t used my Macy’s card in about a year. But I check. And, yep, instead of my beautiful zero balance, there’s a charge for 50 bucks with the description “Hotline.” The bill also includes a “Have a question about your bill? Call Macy’s Customer Service!” So I do.
I’m on hold being bombarded with two-second snippets of songs followed by minute-long advertisements. Then, I’m arguing with an automated voice.
Hi. I’m a machine pretending to be a person with bad hearing who, golly gee, didn’t quite hear what you just said. Could you please try again to tell me your social security number?
And I say (again), I’m not going to give you my social security number. Let me talk to a person.
It feigns confusion. I repeat. It repeats. I repeat. And, then (machine pretending to be a human with a prefrontal lobotomy) it suggests I speak with a person.
I’m on hold a while longer.
Finally, a How can I help! and my explanation and Oh, you have to call the hotline company for that. Right. And so I call the hotline and a machine asks me to say my ZIP code and my house number, which I do. And then a person gets on and asks me to say my ZIP code and my house number. (123 Deja Vu Lane?)
She asks me many questions. They have no record of me. I am put on hold. I am transferred to The Analyst. She asks me the same questions and more questions including, “Does 2009 Main Street ring a bell.”
[An aside to the Piker Family: Does it ring a bell?! HA!]
Uh yes; I used to live there. And, suddenly, The Analyst is done with me and getting off the call and I’m sputtering like Ralphie on the Santa slide as the boot comes down.
Me: Wait. Wait. I didn’t have a Macy’s card when I lived there.
Analyst: The charge is for a card protection service that was initiated through Kaufman’s.
Me: I cancelled my Kaufmann’s card years ago.
Analyst: Kaufmann’s bought Macy’s.
And I want to say I know that you stinking smarmy dipwad; my point is, Why the heck am I suddenly being charged for a FREE service that I had on a different card from over 20 years ago? but, The Analyst, she is gone. And I am left with original tele-person who desperately wants to update my address in their system. I inquire why she would bother. I don’t want this service; I’m not paying this charge; Why do you need my current address; And why am I suddenly being charged for a free service that I had on a different card over 20 years ago?
She can’t answer me that so I say, Okay, let’s just cancel this then. And she begins a sales spiel about how this service can protect me from fraudulent charges.
She. Has. Absolutely. No. Idea. How. Funny. That. Is.
She explains that I’ll get a refund and I inquire how that will occur. Do I pay and get a check? Do I not pay and get a credit? I do NOT want to end up paying any finance charges on this.
Her patronizing response? Oh, you’ll have to discuss that with Macy’s.
I will indeed have a chat with Macy’s. Or, at least, I will have a chat with a machine pretending to be a person who is bummed out about me canceling my credit card.
Beth Schmidt began writing at age 8, when she penned the story Kooky House. Unfortunately, she spelled it Cookie House and readers completely misunderstood. As spelling and grammar improved, she did a stint composing very dramatic teenage poetry before going on to earn a writing degree. Subsequently, she has supported her writing habit by taking on various jobs in ad agencies and corporations in the Pittsburgh area. Life Preservers is one woman’s view about the things that keep us afloat: family, friends, community, humor. And sometimes cussing.