I am upset, again, at the way my credit card account is handled. This afternoon the card was denied for a purchase. Of course the credit card is totally current and has never been late¹.
The battery on my car died last week (a story in itself). After six years it’s probably given me all I could ask for, so I had Steve at the Exxon station get me a new one. He installed it today and I gave him my First USA Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards VISA to pay. Perfect. No problem. Right through.
We stood around and schmoozed for a while and then, before leaving, I realized I might as well fill the car with gas. So I drove it to the pump, ran the card and… nothing. In fact we tried it three times and then tried running it through the reader in the gas station’s office. DENIED.
You tell me, what impression would you have of someone who handed you a credit card that had been stopped?
This time (this is not the first, second or third time this has happened) I had the presence of mind to pick up my cellphone and call First USA. After entering the account number, part of my mother’s maiden name and a bit of my Social Security number, a computer started reading off our recent purchases – asking me if I recognized them.
I did recognize most, but this is an account used by both Helaine and me. I had some idea what she had bought recently, but didn’t specifically recognize one purchase that was probably OK.
The problem in dealing with a machine like this is there are no gray areas. I couldn’t ask for more information on purchase 4. It was either yea or nay. I said yea.
It turns out going through this purchasing quiz was enough to restart the card, but First USA didn’t tell me that! I had to speak to an operator to make that discovery. She also told me this hold was caused by my unusual pattern of purchases.
I see their point. What could be more suspicious than buying a battery and gasoline at a gas station that I have gone to at least once or twice a week for more than a decade? How could I have been so foolish?
Astute readers might remember me kvetching about this card in the past. Then why, you might ask, am I still with it… it’s not like there’s a shortage of VISA issuers. The answer is Southwest Airlines and their mileage program. This might be the best free flight program around, and I’ve became a major Southwest fan.
However, if Southwest decided to move their business to a different card issuer tomorrow, I would shed no tears.
¹ – With Helaine running the finances we haven’t gotten a late notice for anything… anything… in well over 20 years. When I was single and ran my own financial life… well, it just wasn’t pretty.