Everyday Stories: Credit Cards

We all have everyday stories worth telling. This is the first in a new series featuring my stories along with stories by others when I receive them.

In the “Age of the Credit Card” we hardly use cash for anything anymore. In fact during Covid-times, many establishments do not even accept cash. I have gotten into the habit of using credit cards to pay on line for just about all ongoing expenses—rent, utilities, internet access, monthly parking, memberships, telephone, Amazon Prime, Blue Apron (meal deliveries), my weekly pledge to my church, and just about anything else you can think of.  I might as well throw away my checkbook since I practically never use it anymore.

Using your credit card and paying on line is  convenient  except when you lose your credit card, or worse, if it is stolen. I had my wallet stolen in Madrid when I had my pocket picked when Embry and I were traveling around the world in 2015, and it was a disaster. For some reason if you are out of the U.S. and not calling the credit card company on the phone number they have listed for you on file, the best you can hope for is getting a new card sent to your home address, then finding a friend who will get into your house, find the unmarked envelope with the replacement card, and then FedEx it to you overnight. We managed to accomplish this feat   for the Madrid incident, but it was a nightmare.

Oddly, over the past six months I have lost my credit card twice–the second time just three weeks after the first. Big mystery, but it happened. Probably should chalk it up to old age. The problem is that when you lose your card you have to notify all the places which have your old credit card information on file and give them the new credit card information—in my case probably around a dozen establishments. Having had to do this twice recently, I swore I would never allow this to happen again. That is why I now tape my credit card to my chest and remove the bandages each time I use the card, then rebandage it with the strongest adhesive tape on the market. It takes time, but it is a sure bet that I won’t lose my card or have it stolen.

Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. I am terrified that I will have to go through another drill of notifying all the people that have my card information on file.

That is why when a message popped up on my iPhone a couple of days ago that there were three suspicious transactions that needed to be verified, I immediately went into a cold sweat. One charge was to a gas station for $23.07 the day before, so I checked “valid” since I remembered filling up our car. One was for $15.36 at our local CVS the previous afternoon. Yes, I remembered that, so I checked valid for that one too. And then there was one for $30.02 for a purchase from Apple at 2:07 AM that very day, which I did not recall, so I checked “not sure.” It was probably one of those recurring charges that come through automatically in the middle of the night, so I thought nothing about it and went about my business.

Until I tried to use my credit card the next day and had it rejected.

I immediately called the number on the back of the card, then waited for 15 minutes before getting a live operator and asked why my card was rejected. She explained that I had checked that I was not sure about one transaction.

“Well, I am pretty sure it is ok since I buy a lot of stuff on line  from Apple,” I said.

She responded that being “pretty sure” was not enough, to which I responded that actually I was “very sure.” The idea of going through the whole ordeal yet again was more that I could bear.

“Exactly how ‘very sure’ are you?” she replied.

What the hell, I thought, so I announced boldly that I was 99.9% sure that the charge was valid.

“Well,” she said, “I am very sorry but we are cancelling your card and in approximately 10 business days you will receive another one in the mail. Being 99.9% certain is not sufficient.”

“No wait! Please! Don’t do this to me, I have thought about it, and I am now 100% sure that the charge was valid.”

“So then, what was it for?”

She had me. I had no idea what the charge was for. There was a short silence.

“Lots of stuff,” I replied.

“So you are now 100% sure you bought ‘lots of stuff’ on line at the Apple Store at 2:07 AM this morning?”

It had to be one of those recurring membership charges, didn’t it? What else could it be? I took a deep breath and said with as much self confidence as I could muster that I was absolutely 100% sure I had bought “lots of stuff” on line at the Apple Store at 2:07 AM this morning.

“Fine,” she said, I am now reactivating your card.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I replied, hung up the phone and breathed a long sigh of relief.

Then I wondered what if somebody nefarious actually had possession of my credit card information….


You are invited to submit an everyday story to me at Joehowell476@gmail.com.









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