Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sorry, Macy's

Bought some earrings at Macy's the other day.  They were kind of expensive.  The lady at the jewelry counter said I'd get 20% off if I applied for a Macy's card.  I shop at Macy's a lot, so figured, "what the heck."

Now, I actually considered my credit report in connection with this.  Because, y'know, I will (hopefully sometime soon) be buying a new house, and I know that Macy's will make an inquiry as to my credit, and I know that such inquiries alone can kick your score down a few points.  But it's only a Department Store card, and I don't have any Department Store cards, so I figured that nobody would think I'm trying to get more credit than I need or anything, and decided the discount on the earrings would be worth it, all things considered.  So I applied for the card.

I have a credit monitoring service, and a few days later, it duly notified me of the inquiry on my account.

A few days after that, it informed me of my new accounts.  Plural.  Two of them.  A Macy's account and a Visa account.  From the same bank.

Nobody told me I was applying for a Visa card.  Didn't want another Visa card.  Get "pre-approved" Visa card offers all the time and throw the damn things away. 

Took a look at the "fine print" they'd given me when I applied for the Macy's card, and it said that if you apply in the store, they will first consider you for a Macy's Visa card, and only give you a regular Macy's card if you don't qualify for the Visa.  Oddly, this little tidbit was not pointed out to me when I signed the little screen saying, "yeah, I'd like to apply for a Macy's card, please."

An inquiry on a Visa card is not what I want on my credit report.  More importantly, I don't want another Visa card on my credit report.  I don't want people to think I'm overextending myself here, and have tons of credit that I can fall behind on (at 22% interest).  I'm furious.  I wanted a Macy's card, not a Visa card, and this was a total "bait and switch."

I wait until I receive my Macy's Visa card in the mail, and call the enclosed phone number.  It tries to send me through the automated system to activate my card.  I play dumb and it finally gives me to a customer service representative.  She asks what I want.  I say I'd wanted a Macy's card and they sent me a Visa so I'd like to cancel it please.  She asks my account number.  My name.  The last four digits of my social.  My phone number.

Why do you need my phone number?

She's having trouble finding my account.  I tell her I've never activated the card, which probably explains this.  She says it does, and that she'll find it by my phone number.  I give her my number.  She asks if she can put me on hold.  She does.  I hear the hold music for about two minutes, then a click.  She's hung up on me.

Now I'm outraged.  I call again, sit through the recording again, get another agent again.  (Notice that the agent who hung up on me had my phone number, but did not attempt to call back.)  New agent asks what I want.  I say I'm trying to cancel my card and the last agent put me on hold and hung up on me.  New agent asks why I'm cancelling the card.

"Because I wanted a Macy's card and you sent me a Visa."

"That's just a solicit."

"Pardon me."

"We just offer you the Visa card because you qualify for it.  You don't have to get it."

"This isn't an offer.  This is a Visa card.  I'm holding it in my hand.  You opened a Visa account and sent me a Visa card."

I'm getting a little annoyed here.

"OK.  I can close that for you.  Or, I can just close the Visa one and you can keep the Macy's card."

Now, let's be clear here.  I would've been happy with a Macy's card if they'd just sent me a Macy's card.  But, y'know, they may be recording my call for quality assurance purposes.

"This is an unfair business practice.  If this is the way you people do business, I see no reason to continue giving you mine."

"Unfair business practice" is a term of art.  It refers to California Business & Professions Code, section 17200, which prohibits "unfair business practices."  It's the thing that people like to base multi-million dollar class actions on. 

She immediately changes tune.  Says she will cancel "both accounts."  Offers to send me a letter confirming the closure of the accounts.  Does not need my phone number to do this. Apologizes for the last agent hanging up on me, saying it was "unacceptable."  Wishes me a nice day and everything.

Too bad, really.  I would've liked a Macy's card.


helmswondermom said...

Good job!  I hope it doesnt' affect your credit rating.

saxprincesslea said...

When signing up for credit cards you MUST READ EVERYTHING.  There is a box you can check near the end of the application to specify if you only want a Macy's Card and not the Macy's Visa.  Please be a smart consumer.  That is all.

nzforme said...

>>There is a box you can check near the end of the application to specify if you only want a Macy's Card and not the Macy's Visa.<< -- Saxprincesslea

Actually, there isn't.  There is no "application" that you turn in.  The application is done at the store, electronically, and all you give them is your signature on the little credit card screen.  There is no check box on it, and no option to select only the Macy's card.

I subsequently read the "terms and conditions" from top to bottom and it simply said that the application is considered to be one for a Macy's Visa and that you will be considered for a Macy's card alone ONLY if you don't qualify for the Visa.  There is NO WAY to apply in the store SOLELY for a Macy's card -- and nobody tells you at the store that you are applying for a Visa.  CLASSIC bait-and-switch.