6.03.2009

I only share this in the fervent hope that it may be useful to you

Because I am like Colonel Brandon/Alan Rickman in that way.

So. Here is my advice to the world.

If you, by any chance, say, open a Bill Me Later account one October while doing Christmas shopping because Amazon.com promises you an additional discount on your order, that is fine. And then you pay off that initial charge immediately and put your new little Bill Me Later account in the back of your mind as something that was useful during this venture but should probably be cancelled at some point, great.

Except here's the thing:

When you start getting emails about your Bill Me Later statement, you might choose to just delete them, since you know you don't owe them any money.

And when you get statements in the mail from Bill Me Later you might just choose to shred them, unopened, while rolling your eyes at how paper-happy some companies are to send you statements when you don't even owe them money.

And then, perhaps in May, you will start getting these automated phone messages that are supposedly about your Bill Me Later account. You ignore these, because you have been getting a lot of spam phone messages lately on account of accidentally getting your phone number on some sort of "please call me and spam me all the time" registry. When the messages don't stop you listen to one and hear that your account is past due and you owe over $100 and you can easily pay this bill over the phone. This, to you, might be ridiculous on multiple levels. #1) You know you don't owe anybody $100 and #2) you're not about to give any financial information out over the phone, because you were not raised by stupid monkeys who were themselves raised on a diet of moron sandwiches.

While relating this last experience to your husband, he may tentatively say something like, "Um, usually if a credit card company sends you a statement it's because you owe them money." You might dismiss this with a charming and very French pffft and wave of your hand. Five minutes later he will go get the mail and return with a Bill Me Later statement in his hand, suggesting that finally opening one of these things might solve the mystery.

You open the statement, read what it says, and then your head implodes.

You may have guessed by now that this story is actually about something that happened to ME. And, as Jim Dale would say on the cancelled-tragically-too-soon Pushing Daisies, the facts were these:

I placed my Amazon order, it went through, I paid off the Bill Me Later charge. BUT, it turned out that Amazon split my order in two and sent a second charge of $9 (yep, 9 bucks) to Bill Me Later about a day after I paid my bill. And then that charge just sat there, gathering late fees and processing fees and I know not what. While I blithely ignored all the letters, emails, and phone calls. Because perhaps there are moron sandwiches in my genes.

I will try to spare you the scene that transpired after the full enormity of my complete stupidity hit. Needless to say there was much moaning, thrashing, wailing, gnashing, and words like "My perfect credit score!" and "But I didn't KNOW that's what the mail meant, I've never even had a credit card balance!" and "Ruined! We're ruined!!"

GH was actually incredibly nice about me ruining our credit score and, ultimately, our future lives and the lives of all our future descendents. Much, much nicer than I would have been if the tables were turned, which is something he probably hopes I will remember down the road.

Then I had to call and throw myself upon the mercy of their billing department. Which is where I met my new lover, even Alex. I explained my situation and he actually chuckled. At which point my heart began to hope again. He waived all the charges, saying this had clearly been a mistake and I hadn't known about the additional charge. He also assured me that nothing had been reported to a credit agency so I was just fine there. Aaaaaand gently reminded me that I may wish to open my statements in the future. Of course by that point he could have suggested 45 minutes of Nutella Paintbrush Time and I would have agreed.

So yes. I hope we have all learned something valuable here today.

10 comments:

Marie said... [reply]

Sorry that happened to you, never had one of those but am glad to know about this. You really did do a great service--nice to be warned that messy things like that could happen after you thought you had paid something off already--actually kind of weird in my opinion.

Jenny said... [reply]

"raised by stupid monkeys who were themselves raised on a diet of moron sandwiches"

WHERE?! does this stuff come from?
You slay me.

Natalie said... [reply]

I am sorry that I find hilarity in your obvious tragedy. But, it's not really my fault - your tragedy is hilarious. Glad it all worked out well in the end.

Audra said... [reply]

You would be amazed the fees that are waved upon asking and acting pitiful. I am glad you got your money back... and that is hilarious! Sounds like something I would do!

coolmom said... [reply]

Who raised you?

Maleen said... [reply]

Ha ha ha. I only laugh because I did something equally stupid recently. All the bills from my kids come from the pediatrician and I just pay up my balance every time I visit again. So I tend to ignore the bills in the mail because they are usually taken care of.

Except when you go to Instacare on a weekend for a ear infection, and then that is a whole different bill. So I was blithely ignoring all medical bills until my dear husband asked one day, as he opened the mail "Why are we getting sent to collections??"

Oops. My bad.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

I've discovered that if you're usually not a flake then credit card companies are generally willing to work with you when you call and talk to them nicely.

And Amazon totally messes with my budgeting procedures because they split things up and bill my card separately for each transaction and it drives me nuts.

BTW--my husband and I have been using the Chase Amazon card for a few years and we love it. After enough purchases you get a $25 gift certificate for Amazon. We put all our expenses on it and pay it off each month. It's awesome--we get free books almost every month. My kind of reward!

Bridget said... [reply]

Thanks for the laugh! What a great story.

One year I thought I paid my taxes, but apparently I didn't. I got a terse, angry phone call out of the blue, FOUR YEARS later saying I was in big trouble. The IRS wasn't nearly as forgiving as Amazon. I got the late fee waived but I had to pay interest.

Bean said... [reply]

Oh bummer! But yay for Alex...and yes, companies like Amazon would have only put something on your credit if you really did just ignore them forever.

chosha said... [reply]

I totally forgot to pay my tax bill last year (not a huge amount because we pay tax through the year through our salary, so it was just the difference to pay when they tallied it up at the end of the financial year). When I remembered two months later I was horrified. Luckily I quickly slipped in and paid it before anyone from the ATO noticed, so I didn't have to pay a fine or interest. Whew!

I'm super happy for you that your perfect credit rating wasn't ruined. That'll come in handy when you want to buy a home. I think GH deserves a bit of that Nutella. :)

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