Thursday, November 01, 2007

Who put the Hassle in No Hassle?

This morning, I decided to cancel one of my credit cards. I haven't used it in months. I'm not even sure I've even used it this year, in fact. I have no need for it, nor do I foresee a day when I'll have a need for it. My other cards more than cover my needs. My Discover Card even has a whopping $10,000 credit limit--Lord knows what I'd need that much credit for--but somehow, over the years, I've managed to collect four different Mastercards and I figured it was about time that I retired one of them. (The others I want to keep since they can also act as debit cards and let me access the money in those accounts easily.)

The card is a CapitalOne Platinum "No Hassle" card. It has a $5,000 credit limit. I've had it since 2000, and this particular card I have in my hands expires July 25, 2010. Says so right there on the card.

So I called the 24-hour customer service number listed on the back, typed in my credit card number, last four digits of my SSN, and a bunch of other stuff to verify who I am, navigating my way through several layers of menus before finding the one to cancel one's hard. Clearly, "no hassle" does not apply to people who want to cancel their cards.

Finally, it put me on hold, with some 80s music playing in the background, which went on for several minute before a live person picked up. I knew what to expect--they were going to try to convince me not to cancel. I've canceled cards before, though I usually do it in writing so as to avoid the hassles of the hard sell. The one time I called to cancel credit cards in the past, the cards weren't even mind--they were my step dad who died. When they ask why I want to cancel the card, I'd tell them because the account owner is dead. That got things done real fast. =) My error in this case, was to admit that I was still alive and just didn't want the card anymore.

"But you're a customer in good standing!"

"It costs you nothing!"

"But you've got a platinum card!"

"We recommend you keep it for emergencies!"

And I continued to say no, no, no!

"But you have 5000 points on it!"

I do? *raised eyebrows* I didn't know that. Must have given it to me many moons ago for some silly reason.

"Can I redeem them or cash them out or something?" I asked.

"Yes, let me transfer you to the rewards specialist (or whatever they're called)."

So I'm on hold again, listening to more 80's music. I wait a few minutes before another person picks up, who asks for my account number, last four digits of my social security number, blah, blah, blah. (Gotta make sure it's really me, after all!)

"I'd like to redeem or cash out my rewards points," I tell her.

"You have 5000 points, but you need 20,000 points to get a $100 gift certificate."

"So is there anything I can get for 5000 points?" I inquire.


"Okay, then, can you cancel my card now." =)

"I'll have to transfer you to someone who can do that."

*sigh* I knew that was coming.....

Once again, I'm on hold for a few more minutes, before someone who probably lives in India answered. "Hlo, cn I hlp yu?" I swear he spoke with half his vowels missing, and I had a hard time understanding him.

"Yes, I'd like to cancel my card."

"Wht reson do yu wnt to cncl fr?"

To make a long story short--and it was some effort to get through that thick accent--he told me he had to transfer me to someone who could cancel my card. Hello?! That was supposed to be you!

"Lt me giv yu nmbr to cll n cas yu git dscnntd," he told me. "Ar yu rdy?"

I take down the number, thinking, just knowing, at some point, this call would magically get disconnected through no fault of their own.

Then he finally transfers me to a supervisor. I'm on hold for another couple of minutes before she picks up, and the connection seems to fade in and out during our conversation. More than once she asks, "Hello? Can you hear me?" More than once I said the same thing.

"I want *crackle crackle* card," I say. "CANCEL card!"

I repeat the account number several times, and it's not coming up for her, so then she wants my full social security number, zip code, blah, blah, blah to look up my account.

"Hello?" she says. "Can you hear...." Dial tone. I have been disconnected.

I try calling the number the Indian guy gave me, and it asks for me to type in my account number, blah, blah, blah. I don't really feel inclined to follow directions anymore, and just start pushing numbers randomly. I mean, sure, I could type in my account number, but why bother? Every single person I've talked to has always asked me to repeat it anyhow.

"Please wait for a service representative to answer your call....."

I was hoping the special number I got would put me through to a live person immediately so I could skip the menuing system, but that did not appear to be the case. I hung up.

It's lunch time, and I'm ready to get something to eat. I'll try canceling my card again later, but I'm smarter now. I won't fall for that whole "But you have 5000 rewards points!" trick this time. Nope. I'm even thinking about telling them I just died. Tragic car accident last week. "I'm the brother and just canceling all of the cards in Ryan's wallet."

On a related note, despite how hard it is to cancel credit cards, I am rather fond of them. I love my credit cards. Often times I go weeks without so much as a single dollar bill in my wallet, relying purely on credit cards. Nowadays, the main one I use is from PayPal, and it's attached to my PayPal account that so many of you premium members help fund. =) When I use that card, they give me 1.5% cash back, which I think is pretty good. My Discover Card, for instance, only gives me back 1%, and then I don't get the money until I've gotten at least $20 worth. The PayPal credit is immediate. And I don't have to send in a payment every month--it's just taken directly out of my PayPal account.

I love my credit cards, though. As long as one doesn't carry lots of debt on them or buy more than they can afford, they're nice little toys to own. =) (I always pay off my credit cards promptly.)

Back in my college days, I took an HTML class, and we had to do a project called "What's In My Pocket?" Basically, we were to make a website about stuff that was in our pockets. You'd think this would be boring, but with a little imagination, you can make the website about anything. "I turned out my pockets and.... a grain of sand FROM HAWAII came out!" Then you could babble on and on about your trip to Hawaii. Pretty simple.

I didn't choose a grain of sand, though. No, I picked out.... my credit cards. I had four of them at the time, and wrote a story about every single one of them. Three of them are all true. One of them I completely made up from the depths of my imagination, but I'll let you figure that out on your own. Not to worry--those pictures of my credit cards--I changed all the numbers so they weren't my real credit card numbers, and in any case, only one of those four accounts are still active today--the Discover Card. (And look--back then, it only had a limit of $1,900! My how things change.....) The rest have long since been retired for whatever reasons.

Anyhow, hope enjoy reading about What's In My Pocket? It's no Atlas Quest, but it was one of the first websites I ever made. There are some pretty wonderful pictures at the bottom of the AT&T Universal card I took in Sequoia National Park. For those of you who met the Flying Brain, there are pictures of her in the Discover Card story.

I'll let you know when I finally succeed in canceling my CapitalOne "No Hassle" credit card, though. =) Stay tuned!


ArtGekko said...

"What's in your pocket?"

Are you sure there wasn't a marketing major in the class who went on to bigger (I won't say better) things and turned that into the ubiquitous, hassle-free tagline of "What's in your wallet?"

Small, small world.... ;)

StarSAELS said...

Capital One is "no hassle" until you check your credit report. Our local (although nationally syndicated) consumer guru told us that Capital One, unlike every other credit card out there, does not present your credit limit to the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus then automatically enter the balance at the time as your limit, and it looks like you maxed out your card... when you haven't. Ouch

dbltall said...

The made-up one is about the zillion pounds of sugar, isn't it?
The one about trying to get pictures of bears has the ring of truth.

Isn't it ironic that the automatically-generated Google ad is for Capital One credit cards?

Ryan said...

Well, then, my "maxed out" card is showing a credit limit of $0, and has been for quite a number of months now.

And yes, the sugar story was made up. =)

On a related note, I just tried calling customer service again, typed in my card number into the telephone, and got a message saying that the card was marked for cancellation! Woo-who! Turns out I did succeed in canceling the card the first time I tried, but I got disconnected before I realized it. The message continued on about waiting until the end of the billing period to make sure I didn't have any unpaid debts, and they'd send a confirmation via snail mail to make sure I really wanted to cancel it, but as far as I'm concerned, this account is CLOSED!

Stayed tuned for my banking woes, however.... There's another story there. ;o)