‘Till Death Do Us Part

I shredded my Macy’s/American Express card. This wasn’t an attempt to rein in our credit card spending or even to reduce  my number of credit cards.  It was my way of “divorcing” a partnership that doesn’t work.

In December, I was shopping for a dress for my mom to wear to a gala we were both attending.  Since we don’t live in the same city, I went to Macy’s, a store in common to both our locations in case an exchange or return was needed.

I found a great dress and opening a Macy’s credit card account offered significant savings so I did.  My purchase was charged to my new account and a few days later, my new Macy’s/American Express card arrived in the mail.

I had not realized when I signed up for the card that it was one of the partnership cards popular with retailers who do not elect to have their own credit service.  The Barnes & Noble card is a Mastercard.  It’s not only good at the store (Macy’s, Barnes & Noble etc.) but anywhere the partnership card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) is accepted as well.

My first statement came and I went on line to set up the on line bill pay.  The statement balance was set up to be paid a couple of days ahead of the due date.  The next statement arrived and did not reflect my payment.  In fact, it showed a “late charge” and “interest due”.  Pulling my copy of the on line confirmation I had received when making the payment, I called the 877  toll-free number for Customer Service.

After I explained the problem to the Customer Service representative at Macy’s, I was told – not once but repeatedly – that I had “entered the wrong account number” which is why my payment was not reflected on my statement.  No, I did not make a typo, the number printed on the card is in fact, NOT my Macy’s account number.  There is also NO behind the scenes tie between the number imprinted on the card and my store account to insure proper credit of payments.

The late charge and interest were immediately removed so why did I shred the card and close my account while still on the phone with Customer Service?

Two reasons; the first was being repeatedly told that this situation which caused me to have to waste 20 plus minutes on the phone was “my error” and second, the realization that the system in place would allow this problem to reoccur on a regular basis.

What would happen when I charged items both at Macy’s and other retailers in the same month?  What would that statement look like?  How would my payment get applied properly?  Would I have to make 2 payments, one with my Macy’s account number and another with the American Express number on it?  Typically I go on line and set up bill payments without the actual statement in front of me – where would I get the mysterious Macy’s account number if it’s not on the card in my wallet?

The “Customer Service” person could not answer any of these questions and admitted the failing of the system which did not marry the two numbers together internally.

Many businesses, large and small, see partnerships as a great way to offer additional services, benefits and conveniences to their customers.  You may be considering such a partnership for your business.  If so, be sure the fit is right – for you and your clients.  Like any good marriage, the outside world does not need to see what goes on behind closed doors but it’s critical that the partnership work and that it appear seamless to the customer.


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One Response to “‘Till Death Do Us Part”

  1. Kathy Says:

    BEWARE THE MACYS “AMERICAN EXPRESS” CHARGE CARD!! On October 15, 2011 I purchased $79 in clothing at a Macy’s store. I was asked if I’d like to get cash back by opening a Macys charge card (American Express) using it for my purchases. I agreed, and signed up for the card. Eight days later, before the ending of the billing cycle, I used my checking account to electronically pay my Macys bill in full. I thought that all was well. I made no further purchases with the card.

    On January 16, 2012, out of curiosity, I went online to check my Macys account. It showed a balance due in an amount of over $300. I thought that, perhaps, someone had fraudulently used my card. I called Macys customer service. I was told that my card actually has two account numbers; one for purchases made at a Macys, and the other for purchases made outside of Macys. I was told that, while my purchase was at a Macys, my payment was applied to the account for non-Macys purchases. Therefore, that account had been accruing late penalties and interest charges. The representative advised that he would remove the late penalties and charges (and advised that I then had a credit balance of $11). Again, I thought that all was well. WRONG.

    Several days later, I received, in the mail, a letter from a collections agency, demanding that I pay a Macys bill of $300+. I called the collection agency, and explained what the Macys representative had told me. The representative advised that they would note their files. I asked if a negative report had been sent to the credit reporting agencies. She said that it had. I had to demand that they reverse the negative report, and, after speaking to a supervisor, the representative said that the report would be reversed, and that it would take up to 30 days for the credit reporting agencies’ records to reflect that. Several days later, I received in the mail a letter confirming that Macys had sent a request to the “national credit reporting agencies” to remove the negative report. Again, I thought that all was well. WRONG.

    Last week, I received in the mail an offer to apply for a Mastercard account. As I plan to travel to Italy, and my only credit card, an American Express card, would not be accepted by most (European) vendors, I was glad to be able to have a credit card that, if I should need it, would be accepted. So I applied. I was rejected, and was told “the reason for the rejection will be mailed to you.”

    So, two days ago, I checked my credit report. It shows “negative information,” from, you guessed it, MACYS. (I have never been late or missed any payments in my 60 years; I felt very shocked and distressed.)

    Today, I called Macys customer service. They said their records do not show the letter they sent to me in January (advising that the negative report would be removed). At first, I was given the same ol’ line: “we will send a letter to the national credit agencies within the next 7-10 days, and then it will take up to 30 days for them to remove the negative report. I asked to speak to a supervisor who said the same thing. I got quite upset with her and demanded that someone personally take care of it NOW, that I have no confidence that “a letter” would be send, that they have damaged my excellent credit history, and that they owe it to me to closely and personally take care correcting all of their mistakes. The supervisor assured me that, this time, it will be taken care of. NOT going to think that all is well until I again check my credit report, in 30 days, and see that, finally, all is well. Keeping my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed.

    If all is not well, I am going to have my attorney contact them. I will also contact Michael Finney, a consumer reporter for ABC News, Channel 7, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have him investigate.


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