I've met a Max, a Peter and now a Jeremy, all in the same sing-song voice of the Subcontinent. My Master Card is issued by a Nevada bank and yet each time I call, it is a "Frank" or a "Sam" or a "Jason" who answers. I know these are not their real names because I know my call has been routed to India. I know that because the agents' English is too crude to communicate anything tricky to. My prescriptions, for instance. I order them from Vancouver, B.C. but they ship either from the U.K. or Australia. This means I have to call Master Card and warn them that a foreign charge is about to occur and that I made it. Who knew that involving three countries could cause so much non-understanding? Three times in a row they have refused the charge. I call again and tell Leslie or Sarah that I called seventy-two hours ago and confirmed the charge. Promises are made, then broken. Finally, my Canadian pharmacy put the script through in India, where the charge is passed as though I were putting an envelope in the collection basket.
I've paid about half my credit card debt off in the last year and Master Card is the Mother of All Credit Card debts. When I opened my statement this month, I noticed a $90 charge for credit card and identity coverage. I'm sure it's a wonderful concept but hello -- that's almost a hundred dollars a month, which is twelve hundred dollars a year in additional charges. I have credit cards whose spending limit is less than that.
All I want to do is pay that bastard off. I told Jeremy to remove the charge which I hadn't approved in the first place and he began reading from a script. I cut across him, "Just take it off and unenroll me." He switched to another script in which it was all my fault: I'm carrying a high balance and that's why my identity is more expensive.
(Shouldn't I be less expensive, since a fraudulent me would reach my credit limit sooner? A zero-balance only means Master Card would have to chase down or eat $10,000 in charges rather than $4,000, a significant savings to them.)
I cut across Jeremy again. "Just. Take. It. Off." He tried again and I stopped him by telling him I know he has to read this script ("I'm not reading...") but the point is that I want to reduce my balance, not pay another hundred dollars just to stay in the same place. He tried one more time but I started shaking in fury, something I communicated without swearing or yelling. The way he pouted when he said he was unenrolling me and removing the charge was meant to shame me, as though his year-old-son would be going to bed hungry that night because of my evil.
Americans complain vociferously about our jobs being exported to Asia, where they are done sooner, cheaper and, in some cases, better. But here is a job that needs to be brought back to our shores. "Sam" and "Carrie" do not understand that I can order about two hundred dollars' goods from Canada but it might be shipped from England or maybe from some place else. They can't even understand me when I call to say I'll be in Czech Republic next week.
Dear Direct Merchants: My money is, like, really sensitive shit to me. So is the Wellbutrin your agents are blocking. Could you please move your 1-800 center to an American state in need of job opportunities? The Rust Belt is yours or maybe Mississippi. Montana is good -- very little accent, low per capita income, cheap rents, and the weather is, um, cool most of the year.
Except when it's not.