First things first…I would like to thank the academy for sending a little Ryan Reynolds my way last night during the Oscars. I’m still basking in the glow this morning. YUMMY! Oh and Academy, just a suggestion, for future years, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin? I have one word to describe this duo…AWESOMENESS! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Now onto our regularly scheduled programming…
I had a moment last week that I am NOT proud of, but feel others can learn a lesson from my ignorance.
A little background information first:
When I was growing up, my parents, a teacher and a financial wizard, always preached the importance of good credit scores. My brothers and I always heard things like, “money doesn’t grow on trees” and “what, do you think I am made of money?” We got an allowance but only when we actually did our chores. When we asked our parents to buy us something at the grocery store, they” always said “No” and we never complained. We understood that things were tight, and there were rules to follow when it came to money.
Unfortunately, I have learned nothing from my childhood upbringing!
Nothing, because I am the mom that tells my kids that money doesn’t grow on trees but still dishes it out like it does. When I ask them if they think that I am made of money, they always respond with "No, but you give us more that dad does.” And, I tend to give them an allowance even though they don’t always do all of their chores. But worst of all, I say things like, “now I expect you to save some of this money and then spend the rest on toys that I won’t buy.” But have I ever not bought them a toy they wanted? Not that I can recall. I have become a huge pushover when it comes to teaching my kids the value of a dollar. But I justify it by thinking to myself, hey, “at least they like me more than their dad.” But the reality is they don’t like me more than their dad…this habit of mine, pleasing my kids, is what I like to call a “reality of my divorce” or “divorce guilt”.
Anyway…back to the story.
Because my parents were so good about instilling in me the value of a dollar, I am a wiz with my credit card spending. I have two credit cards. One with a very low interest rate that I use daily and one that I use just enough to not be penalized, but mostly have for emergencies. It’s the one that could be dangerous because there is no credit limit. But I have it just in case… Most of my day to day spending is done on my debit card. But I do use my the low interest credit card for purchases from time to time throughout the month. However, my rule has always been that I only spend on my credit card(s) what I know I can pay off on a monthly basis. It’s worked for me. I have a great credit score and have never had an issue with this plan.
…Until last week!
I paid my credit card off in mid February and for some reason, I logged into my credit card account online a week later. I can’t remember why, but I did. To my shock there was a charge on my card for $20.95 to a company called 24PROTECTPLUS. The balance was supposed to be zero, so the charge caught my eye. Huh, was my initial reaction. I had no idea what it was. So I called the credit card company to get some more information on the company that made an unauthorized charge on my account. The girl on the other end gave me the information and said, “Ms. He Who Laughs Last, do you realize that this company has been charging your account monthly since January 2008?
Wait! What? Huh? I was livid! I had no idea.
My credit card company sends me an online statement every month that I automatically pay from my checking account. I always know about what the dollar amount is that I charge on my credit card and have never thought to look at my day to day activity, because I have never questioned what my credit card company says I owe. It is always very close to what I “think” I owe, so I have never felt like I needed to question my statement.
So I take action. I call 24PROTECTPLUS and as expected, I get what sounds like a pissed off teenage girl with a freaking attitude. Granted, my attitude wasn’t much better, but I had a little over $600 of unauthorized charges on my credit card from this company that I have already paid, obviously I was a little irritated.
Here is how our conversation went:
Irritated Teenager: “Thank you for calling 24PROTECTPLUS, how can I help you?” (snap, snap, chew, chew, blow bubble)
Irritated Customer (me): “My name is Ms. He Who Laughs Last and I need to talk to someone about refunding some unauthorized charges to my credit card account.”
Irritated Teenager: ”I see you were charged $20.95 in February Ms. He Who Laughs Last. I will be happy to refund this to your account today.”
Irritated Customer: “What? That’s it? You guys have charged my credit card over $600 without my authorization and that is the best you can do?”
Irritated Teenager: (annoyingly snapping her gum) “Ms. He Who Laughs Last, it is not my fault that you aren’t aware that we were charging your credit card monthly. Our confirmation emails clearly state that your lack of a reply to this will give us permission to charge your credit card for our services.”
Irritated Customer: “What exactly are the services that I am paying for?”
Irritated Teenager: (throwing out a huge sigh like I was putting her out) You signed up for our 24 hour medical assistance package that will allow you to obtain your medical records whenever you may need them.”
Irritated Customer: “Seriously, that’s what I apparently signed up for because I didn’t respond to a confirmation email you sent me?”
Irritated Teenage: “uh huh.” (very professional)
Irritated Customer: “I did not in any way authorize these charges, please credit my account all the way back to January of 2008 when your company started taking money out of my credit card without my permission.”
Irritated Teenager: “I’m sorry Ms. He Who Laughs Last, I am not authorized to do that. You will need to speak to my manager. But before I transfer you, would you please rate the satisfaction of my service for you today?”
Irritated Customer: “Hell NO I won’t! Put your manager on the phone.”
Irritated Teenager: “Fine!”
After about ten minutes on hold another teenage girl (who is probably working for $2 an hour) gets on the phone and says:
Irritated Teenager 2: “Ms. He Who Laughs Last, we will be happy to credit your account $620.50 for past unauthorized charges. My ID# is 12345. You should see your credit within the next 1-2 business days. Have a nice day.” Click!
Irritated Customer: (WTF? I say to myself as I listen to the tone of disconnection)
I am now pissed at the lack of respect I have been given by this company. I decide to wait my standard 24Hours before I call back, you know, just to give myself some time to cool off. That was Friday.
I called my credit card company back the following Tuesday morning before calling 24PROTECTPLUS and low and behold the credit of $620.50 had been applied back to my credit card already.
I was shocked that I actually got the credit to my account and that I got it so quick…no questions asked, no paperwork, no proof from my credit card company, no required letters of request…Nothing! That can only mean one thing…this company 24PROTECTPLUS makes its living off of unsuspecting customers like myself, and they don’t want to get busted for running a fraudulent business, so when people figure out their scheme they pay them back quickly and quietly, without a fight, to avoid any potential law suits. It’s a sad sad world that we live in!
This time I was lucky, but I have definitely learned my lesson when it comes to credit card purchases, online shopping, online banking and bill pay.
Do your homework people!
This has been a public service announcement.