Monday, October 13, 2008

So, today my card was declined.

Office Lady: So, we have some payment plans, she picks out papers from clear boxes on the wall, and once that's settled we can set up your next appointment.

Office Lady: now these hours, some of them will be for time spent on phone calls, time reviewing files...

Me: I understand, and I am cutting her off when I say this. I have a lawyer and an accountant. I don't expect them to do all the work I pay them for in my presence.

Me: I don't need to see the payment plans. I'll pay now. We'll make the appointment now.

Office Lady: Okay, but there's no rush.

Me: I know this might seem somewhat impetuous to you, but I made this decision a year ago and I've been saving the money. So, I'll pay the full amount now. and I put my credit card on the table.

Office Lady: okay, then let me recalculate. I'll take off 5%.

Office Lady, says something polite, and swipes card through little machine that looks like a black printing calculator. Same kind of machine as they have at the orthodontist.


Office Lady: Oh dear, your card has been declined.

Me, having flashbacks, to times this has happened before. Usually this happened before because Captain Awesome was out doing some awesome thing for his company, out of our checking account. I have no idea what my face did at this point of the conversation. I am trying to figure out how this could be happening.

Office Lady: Let me just run it again. Sometimes it just doesn't go through.


Office Lady: Oh dear, your card has been declined again.

Me, thinking this was never going to happen to me again, ever in my life.

Me, wondering if people whose cards have never really been declined, have this reaction too, or a different one.

Me, thinking about how much money is in the bank. A lot. If it really is gone, where would it be?

Office Lady: I'll just go downstairs and use the other machine.

Me, somewhat aggressive: Has it ever, ever been the case, that when you go downstairs, the answer is different? No matter which machine you send the message from, the answer must come from the same server. The same answer.

Office Lady doesn't answer.

Me: I'm not sure what the problem is, but another machine isn't going to make any difference.

Me: I'll go to the bank. I'll bring you the money now.

Office Lady: oh, that's not necessary. You can send the money later this week. You don't need to pay now.

Me: I'll go to the bank now. I don't know where my checkbook is anyway.

Office Lady: Actually, it is a bank holiday today.


Me, peeking into my purse. Perhaps for my keys, I have had enough. But there, at the bottom, between the crumpled grocery receipt and the unopened package of screws, is the checkbook. Where were you when the PTA donation committee came by?

Me: Look, here is my checkbook. I will write the check now. It will clear later this week. I don't want another errand to run later.

I write the check. The amount is some ridiculous number, like a Sudoku game on some smaller square, where no two digits can be used twice. It was a different number, but a number like this, before she took the 5% off. I suppose it is supposed to make me feel like the number has been exactly calculated, that each penny reflects some costful effort they will expend on my behalf. It makes writing the check more onerous, since each place value must be written out on the line, and it will all barely fit in.

I am sure Office Lady is assuming this check will bounce. I am sure she thinks I am playing my part of some elaborate game, the game where her previous move was to offer to try the credit card machine downstairs.

I sign the check and leave.

I consider, briefly, going straight home rather than to the mall next door, where they sell the jeans I need. At home I can get online and see what's up at the bank. At the mall, I may get to play card declined again. At the intersection I decide a normal person would go ahead and buy the jeans, since I'm on this side of town. Stick to the original plan.

The card works fine at the mall. I give it a workout.

At home, online, I see that my money, more than enough to cover the check, is still in the bank.

Perhaps the fraud department doesn't like Sudoku numbers anymore than I do.


Anonymous said...

well, duh. sounds like you were rude. the rest of us need to hear the payment options. i would have made your card go beepbeepbeep too.

just another groupie said...

Oh I hate that feeling! (I don't really love it that anon was rude, either).

And I go to that exact place--where is all my money?

The last time it happened I went on line to see what had happened and when I logged in I got a message that said, "This account does not exist." I had to drive across town to the bank and go through the drive through just to make sure I still had an account. Turns out they were having computer problems. Which is a little unnerving in and of itself.

Riche Girl said...

and the message said THIS ACCOUNT DOES NOT EXIST?

I would have had a heart attack! Yikes!!

Lyn said...

This is the everyday people version...

At Target. Debit card won't read on the customer reader. Cashier takes it and tries to run it through. It's declined. I know there's money in there for $30 at Target. I know the card works, just used it 30 minutes ago. Ask her to try again. Says in a loud voice: "Running it again won't change it. It says it's declined."

Pay with check.

Head straight to bank. Bank shows plenty of money to cover $30 Target bill. Bank CSR says that Target never tried to access the account!!! At least I will never see the other people in line ever again.


Jen said...

Just fyi, most debit cards have a daily & transaction limit - usually $500. Anything larger will get denied, whether you have the money or not. Annoying!

Nouveau Me said...

Jen, it WAS a debit card. You're brilliant.

I'm pretty sure my mad spending at the mall totalled less than $200.