Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Declined by Carole P. Roman - featured on Medium.com


by Carole P. Roman
featured on Medium.com

The funeral director handed me my card and whispered, “It declined.” I looked at the credit card laying on the table, my heart too numb to think. I had put in 32 days straight in the ICU with my critically ill husband. Did I pay that bill? I wondered. I needed a credit card with a big line; funerals are expensive.

I tried another, then another.

There was the funeral, a stone, the luncheon afterward in a local restaurant. Each of my cards declined, leaving me fuming. I was sure I saw some of the payments go through when I checked on the bank each morning. I had no outstanding balances. I couldn’t understand what was going on.

I own a large business. My husband was my partner. We made a good living, using credit cards for purchasing services we needed in other cities on our cards. At any one time, we could be running huge balances that were always paid off by the end of the billing cycle. We depended on credit cards to float the business when cash flow was interrupted.

Only my little PNC card seemed to work.

The first day back to work I called Wells Fargo. It seemed I even had a credit balance of several thousand dollars on the card, but you see, they shut me off. Citibank and Chase did as well.
Both the Citi card and Chase were in my husband’s name. Old cards, reliable. I knew we would have to contact them, and readjusted to only my name. It seems they had been notified by some higher power that he passed and I would have to reapply and start over with smaller credit lines.

In a blink, the cards were shut off, my credit cut off at the knees. No notification to the grieving family, no call of warning, just a disconnect. Wells Fargo was MY card. I added my husband to receive an additional card years ago, courtesy of me. They cut us off faster than a guillotine during the French Revolution.

Let me see, I was grieving, in shock (no matter how prepared I was), with a multitude of unexpected expenses coming my way. Airline tickets for family, huge dinners, the exorbitant cost of a funeral. Both my husband and I had pristine credit. Had never been late or missed a payment and yet each of these banks shut me down without notification during the worst time of my life. 

I don’t get it. We receive all kinds of shit from them in the mail, notifications of changes of rules and regulations, products we need according to them, credit protection crap. How can they cut a person off when they may need it most of all? What happens if I was stuck in another city, traveling? The unexpected charges mount during a situation like this- I suspect it would be when you need a credit card most of all. Is it too much to expect a credit card company to behave with humanity?

Oh, the greatest indignity of them all, Wells Fargo failed to return my over-payment. They missed sending it out until I called asking for it seven weeks later. One hour and forty-five minutes on the phone to trace their error. The person handling my case neglected to return it. Perhaps it was payback; I will admit I was annoyed with them that day and probably came off unhappy with their services.

I suggested they return it with the same 19 percent interest they charge me, as well as a late payment fee. After all, it’s only what the credit card companies would do to one of us. But interest charges, I was told work only one way. They are allowed to make mistakes; a consumer is not.

Last night I built a bonfire and burned all my credit cards, except for the one that stood by me. PNC. It didn’t matter that my husband was the primary on the account. They said, don’t worry, we trust you. You might be needing us right now.

That was enough for me.

Advice to couples- make sure you have at least one or two cards solely in your name, with no one else attached to it.

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