Show Me The Money

November 9, 2010 at 10:38 PM | Posted in The Corporate World | Leave a comment
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I had been so focused on the actual event–this thing I had to deal with–that I was surprised when this thought crossed my mind:  “I am SO going to blog about this.”
I don’t go looking for shit.  Shit comes looking for me.

We finally got the money from this insurance policy of my dad’s, three and a half years late.  A little bit.  My sister and I each received half, but we split the total three ways, with our brother.  Still, what was left was a hefty chunk.  And after all that time, it had accrued interest.
That part didn’t surprise me.  What surprised me was that *we got the interest.*  So each of us got almost 2 grand more than we were going to get originally.  I believe the correct phrase here is “Boo-yah!”
I’m not sure what my brother is doing with his chunk of money, but I think my sister is going to have herself committed.  Here’s hoping.  As for Detroit and I, we’ve been planning for a long time to remodel the kitchen.  Of course this money, even with the added interest, is not enough to out-right have our kitchen done.  Besides that, I had to pay a couple of bills.
And we were hoping to get new computers.
But the plan for the kitchen involves us doing the work ourselves, and we had been shopping around to get an idea of what we wanted and what it would cost.  The previous week we found the floor we like.  Boom.  Done.
We had an idea of what we wanted for the back splash, but we weren’t finding it.  We know what we want to do for cabinets–I’m going to make them.         Appliances?  We’ve been looking, but–
Detroit said that the Maytag warehouse store is having a clearance sale.  Okay, let’s go.  Actually, we went to a Sears outlet store in the mall first, and came away unimpressed.  Off to Maytag.
Well, the bottom line there is that we changed our color choice from black to white, for a couple of reasons.  First, our refrigerator is fine, and it’s white.  Second, we found a stove that was really damn cheap, and it was white.  Essentially, for the price of a stove, we got the stove, the dishwasher, and the OTR microwave/convection oven.  That’s a good deal right there, I don’t care who you are.

First Pass
After making that purchase, we wanted to check out the computers.  I had previously seen a sale at Wally World for this weekend, an early Black Friday sale.  The laptop I wanted was 398, and the one Detroit wanted 288, on sale from 398.
Now, why didn’t I want the 288 one also?  Personal preference, Jack.  So back off.
We selected our items, plus picked up an All-In-One printer for 32 dollars.  We rounded it off with two laptop cooler/support trays, and a USB mouse for me because I don’t like the mouse pad on the laptop.
Why yes, we would like the service plan for each of the laptops!  But no, not on the printer.  For 32 bucks, if I have a problem–hell, if I run out of ink–I’ll just buy a new printer.  Thank God for US commercialism and waste.
The card was declined.
This was my debit card, attached to the account with all the money in it.  It should not have been declined.  We ran it as credit first, then tried again as a debit.  No go.  We surmised that maybe I had a daily spending cap on my card.  Okay, we could try again the next day–Sunday.
Although–
My idea was that all of this is on the card, not necessarily the account.  I could write a check.  I told Detroit to go back and gather the stuff again, and I would run out to the van and get my check book from my bag.
Except I didn’t have my checkbook.  I then remembered I took it out and put it in a a drawer, because I so rarely needed it that I didn’t want to always be carrying it around.  I called Detroit, and told her I would meet her at the door, and we high-tailed it out of there.
Total time, including drive: an hour and half

Intermission
Sunday, we go out and try again.  But first, I got online and tried to find some information.  I looked on the back of my debit card for a customer service number, and there isn’t one.  THERE ISN’T ONE.  Everyone else has a number to call on the back of their card.  What the fuck?
I go to the bank’s website to search, and there’s no information.  None.  Nowhere.  There’s a number to call if your card is lost or stolen, but my card was neither lost nor stolen; I had it right there in my hand.  Since it was a VISA debit card, I went to VISA’s website and looked.
It took several layers of clicking to get to a page with a phone number.  When I called an explained, a very nice woman with an Indian accent said that my bank serviced its card through Wells Fargo.  She gave me the number, and then also connected me.
I sat on hold for about 15 minutes before I realized that I wasn’t on hold, I was disconnected.  I called the number.
Now I had actual hold music, which is proof that I’m on hold.  When I finally talk to someone and explain, she says, “No.  No, that is not–No.  We don’t do that.  We only service Wells Fargo NA.  Not this other bank you speak of.  Only Wells Fargo NA.”  Shit, I had been lied to.  So the question remains:  Who did service it?
And why was there no phone number on the back of the card?
Total time:  half an hour

Second Pass, Third Pass
Undaunted, we drove out again.  This time, I have my checkbook with me.  As a way of checking, I stopped to buy a couple of sodas–the card did not go through.  Dammit.  Ever the optimist, I reasoned we were still good because I had the checkbook.
And also ever optimistically, we had all the items rung up again–both laptops, the service plans, the mouse, the printer, and the two laptop coolers.  Oh, and a pack of socks.
You’d think there would be no problem writing a check for 963 dollars, but it didn’t go through.  They use TeleCheck or something like that, so there is instant verification–or in this case, instant denial.
Stupidly, I thought, “Well, if there is a 24-hour limit, it hasn’t been 24 hours yet from yesterday.  Why don’t we go to lunch and come back later?”
Well, it was worth a shot.  In the meantime, however, we drove around, we found a tile store that was going out of business, and after we ate we went there.  We found our back splash tile.  Not exactly our choice, but damn close.  And for the price, we were on it.  We expected to pay three or four hundred for the tile, and we got it for ninety bucks.  We needed a win that day, so go us.  Life’s tribulations make the small victories ever so sweet.
Or, in other words, if you set your sights low enough, and you’ll be happy just to be breathing.
Total time just for this: about an hour and half again.

Bright Lights
Monday, I am resolved to talk to people here at the bank.  What’s this?  When I come in there is a message on my desk phone.  I never get calls.
So, there is a fraud department, I guess.  Not direct employees of the bank, but someone we farm out the service to.  They called, left a message with a callback number and a code.  I returned the call and went through the process of verifying who I was, but not without a little uncertainty–I mean, who can be sure anymore?
They called, of course, on a Sunday and left a message on my office phone.  My office is at a bank, if you recall, and generally not open on Sunday.  They didn’t have any other number for me, apparently–I guess that’s my fault.  However, again, I repeat and maintain:  IF they had a goddamn fucking number on their fucking shit fuck debit fucking card, I could have and fucking would have fucking called them to straighten this fucking bullshit out.
The lady was very nice, and explained that the bank pays them for the service of monitoring for fraud, I’m sure set up according to some computer algorithms, because I doubt that a person is watching the transactions slide by on the screen.  So when thousand-dollar purchase shows up at a Maytag store and then an hour later there is not one but two attempts at a Wal-Mart for almost a thousand, alarms go off.
Actually, alarms went off for the first attempt, and that’s why there was a second attempt.  And then an attempt that night at a gas station for ten bucks.  “Yeah, I was trying to get gas.  To get home.  I was almost stranded.”
So while their may be a daily spending cap or something like that, all of that was superceded by the fraud alert, which stays on until they verify from me that it is not fraud, or a stolen card.  Yeah, it’s me.  Yeah, I meant to make that purchase, and yeah, I have the goddamn card in my fucking hand as we speak.
Okay, then.  They will authorize the release of the lockdown on my account.  That means I can get my money?  My money, that belongs to me?  I can have it now?  Thanks ever so much.
Time spent, about half an hour, for this part and the next.

Polite and Cordial
I still needed to talk to someone at the bank, but I wasn’t sure who.  I wrote an angry letter, then a more calm and professional one.  I actually talked to Bunny, because I had called her Sunday night a few times.  I had hoped that she could loan me the cash to at least get the laptop that was on sale.  I called her about 3 times and texted her, all around 7 pm.
She texted me back about midnight.  “I’m home if your still up call me.”  Terrific.  I had been asleep for two hours at that point.  But in the morning she called me, and I told her the story.  She gave me a line on who I should talk to.
I sent Jordan my highly edited, less angry email.  Shortly thereafter, he called.  He expressed his concern and condolences, and for the most part made me feel better.  He acknowledged that the whole thing about not being able to contact someone was a problem that they would definitely look into.  But there should be no problem today.  Everything is cleared up.  You are good to go.  Like a chalupa.
At that point my exasperation began to wane.  It was over now, anyway.  The weekend was over, I could access my account–it was all good.

The Second Battle of Bull Run
Except I didn’t get that laptop–the one Detroit had picked out–for the sale price.  That’s 110 dollars, that’s a lot of cabbage.  But I’m not done yet.  Before I left work, I looked up the number to the Wal-Mart.  I left work early, because I wanted to make sure I had time.
Now, this Wal-Mart is near the Pizzarama that I work at.  I headed to Pizzarama, basically, and called Wal-Mart while I was in the car.  I know from experience that if you call a Wal-Mart, they don’t want to answer the phone.  If they do answer and you ask for a manager, you could conceivably be on hold for days on end.
I was actually on hold for a solid 20 minutes before a manager picked up.  I had to check on occasion to make sure I was still connected, because there was no hold music–and you know how a cell phone goes dark after a short time?  Was I waiting for nothingness?  I pressed the volume button and it lit back up–and showed me I was still on hold.
Kristin finally took my call.  I told my sad story, and she sympathized.  I asked her if there was any way I get that sale price today, that I had missed over the weekend?
She agreed to allow it, and said she would let the grunts in Electronics know.  Of course, by this time, I was pulling into a parking spot.  Happily I went in, grabbed a cart, and began to gather my items again.
The clerk remembers me, and knew where to go to retrieve the laptops.  Up to the checkout we go, he rings the stuff up, I run my card, and–
Denied.
Not so fast, there, Bastardi.  It’s about 4pm, on a weekday, and the bank is still open.  I make a call.  Jordan isn’t in but I get connected to…Candy?  Candy.  After telling my tale so many times, I get pretty good at getting to the point.  She puts me on hold to look into it.  She comes back on and tells me she needs to talk to someone “downstairs,” in the Retail Department.  I hold.
They think they have it cleared up.  I run it.  Nope.  I hold again.  She comes back, says, try just the one thing, because that amount is tripping the system.  We do just the one laptop.  Nope.  “You’re kidding.”
No.  No, dear, I am not fucking kidding.  As much as I am usually filled with laughter and joy, you’ve pretty much managed to suck the mirth right out of me.  And not in a good way.
She comes back, says they have it figured out.  Give us about ten minutes, then try it.  And call us back, let us know how it went.  I told the clerk, and he suspended the transaction so that he could move on to bigger and better things.  I browsed for a while, watching the clock.  After about fifteen minutes, we were ready to try it again.
Denied.
How pissed, exactly, do you think I am?  How embarrassing is it, to continually try to run your card and have it denied?  She said, “Hold on.”  In a few minutes, she came back, and said, “Try it again, and keep me on, because I want to know what’s going on.”
Yeah, you and me both, sista.
Denied.
“You’re kidding.”  She said it again.  No, still not kidding.  Still not fucking happy.  Still not going through.  She started to say, “You know, we need to–”
I interrupted her.  “Listen…I need to go to my other job.  It’s about a quarter to five.  You do what you have to do to make it work.  When I get off work, about 8, I’ll come back by and try it, one more time.”  I paused.  “And if it doesn’t work, tomorrow morning I’m coming in and taking my four grand out of the bank.”
She said, “Well, obviously, you have to do what you feel is necessary–”
“I do.  It’s my money, and it’s being held hostage.  I want my money.  It’s mine.”
From the phone call to Wal-Mart, to when I left? About an hour and a half.

A Musical Interlude
I went into work at Pizzarama with a pissed attitude.  As I briefly told my story to Rob the manager, a thought occurred to me.  I’m bringing this up with these people tomorrow.  “You know, I’ve been in restaurant management for 20 years.  I’ve given away several thousand dollars’ worth of free food to customers, to make them happy.  What are they going to do for me?  What are they going to do for me to keep me as a customer?”
Rob’s reply, and my thought was the same:  Nothing.  Not a damn thing.

Outside the Box
I called Bunny, and this time she called me back before midnight.  As we have occasionally done in the past, I asked her if I could get cash from her tonight and pay her back when they give me access to my money.  Sure.  I want to at least get the one laptop that is on sale–the one for Detroit.  At this point, I’ve already invested so much time and effort and stress into this that it’s almost not worth it anymore, except I don’t want to lose and I don’t want this to be wasted time.  I can’t give up now.
We communicate (sort of) about when and where to meet up.  She fails to grasp that I am in St Charles, that I am talking about St Charles, and the Wal-Mart in question is here in St Charles as well.
“Oh.”
“I don’t even know if the one on West Florissant has it, much less will they give me the sale price.  I know the one in St Ann doesn’t have it.”
“Oh.”  The gears in her head are spinning, as are mine.  Because of her busy schedule doing God knows what, we agree that the best thing is for me to come to her, grab cash that she will take out at the ATM, and then go and do what I have to do, or fuck off, or whatever.  I’m going to meet her at her catholic church/school gym where she is a coach for the girl’s volleyball team, between 8 and 930.
Of course I get off at 7, an hour early.  I drive back to town, calling Bunny.  No answer.  I’m early, can I find her early?  No.  You know, she has kids, you’d think she’d be more responsive to the phone.  Damn caller ID.
I drive around, I drive to her house.  Dark.  I drive to the school–there are cars in the lot, but not hers.  I park.  I wait.  She said 8, but I know how her clock is.  Still, by 815, there’s no sign of Bunny.  I take off, and drive towards her house.  About halfway there, I get a call.
I bet I passed right by her.  She’s at the school.  Instead of 300, she has 280, which is the max she could take out.  Okay.  I do the math on the long drive back.  the laptop is 288.  What’s tax?  I find one of the declined receipts, and the info is on the bottom.  7.5%  Shit!  It just keeps going higher and higher, doesn’t it?
Seven and a half percent on 288.  Well, 7.5 times three is…15, plus 7…22 and a half.  That’s 310.50 as a total.  But–it’s 12 bucks less than that–not quite a buck less in tax.  So I need 310.
I can use my card–my other card–if I have to.  But I have some cash.  Not much from tonight, but it helps.  With the other cash from the previous night, I’m good.

Mission Accomplished
It’s about nine when I get there.  I’ve been running all over, it feels like.  When I get there, the clerk I had been dealing with was gone.  Darn it, I wanted to offer him some closure.
Instead, it was this other freak…
Bob.  Bob was about 30, and obviously single and probably a virgin.  Bob was nice, but Bob shouldn’t talk.  I bought the laptop with cash.  Done.  I have 90 days to get the extended warranty, so give me a couple of days on that.
But I told Candy I was going to try it, so let me try it.  I grabbed one item, the mouse, and rang it up.
The fucker went through.
Well, okay then.  Let me try to get the other laptop.  By itself, with no warranty, it would be under 500, something that they had indicated was a trigger.
It was during this exercise that Bob decided that we had bonded.  We talked (he talked) about politics, GW and his father, and their father, Prescott Bush, and JP Morgan, and Rockefeller, and how, adjusted for inflation, some 1st century BC king was the richest man who ever lived.  Terrific.  I’m interested, really, but he’s spouting these facts with a goofy smile and some spittle, so he’s hard to take seriously.
Meanwhile, the card is denied.
It went through for the 10 dollar item.  But not this.  Hmmm.  Okay, I’m done.
Bob said, “Did you want to try it again?”
“Nope,” I said, grabbing my two items out of the cart.
“I can call a manager and do–”
“Not necessary,” I said, as I made sure I had both receipts.
“But we–”
I said, “Just let it be.  I did what I was here to do.”  I left.

I Believe the Word You’re Looking For
I said, as I came in the door with Detroit’s laptop, “Is ‘tenacious.'”
She was very happy, and I’d like to think she was impressed as well.  I never gave up.

All’s Well That
It’s not over yet, however.
Tuesday, I came in to work, still pissed about the card.  I had a couple of points that I wanted to make to someone–anyone:
*I’ve given away a lot of pizza to customers over the years.  What are they prepared to do for me?  Anything?
*Is it because I’m an employee that I won’t get treated as well as a regular customer?  What would they do for a regular customer?
That might be it.  I talked to Jordan in person.  Candy was busy, interviewing people I guess.  And anyway, I needed to talk to this other person whose name I can’t remember that handles employee accounts.  Jordan said he would have her call me or come over and talk to me or set up an appointment.
That was about 930 this morning.  It’s almost 2, and I’m getting ready to leave.  And I haven’t heard from anyone.  I feel like I’m getting shit on because I’m an employee.
When I leave, I’m going over there and taking my money out.

Anti-Climax
I walked over to the main building, and went in the lobby.  I snuck a peak around the corner–Jordan was gone, and Candy was in her office talking with someone with the door closed.  I guess that’s it then.
I went up to the teller and asked if Jaime was there–she’s the lead teller.  I wanted to tell someone…But she’s not in.
But what does it matter?  “Can I help you?”
Yes.  Yes you can.  We made the transaction–I didn’t take out everything, but I took out everything to the nearest hundred dollar.  I asked her, “Can you send an email to Jordan for me?”
“Sure.”
Tell him what, exactly?  “Tell him that I got my money, and no has contacted me, and I’m *still* not very happy.”
I had my cash.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.

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