Take my money, please

I had a couple of interesting on-line chats with my credit card company this morning (I won’t reveal their name, but their initials are Amex). Earlier in the month, I added a new bank account from which my monthly payments should be drawn and I tried to pay my bill. A few days later, I got an email saying that the request to the bank for payment had been rejected. I called to clear up the issue and discovered that two things had happened: (1) the account number I gave them did not include all 12 digits, only the seven that I regularly use anytime I make a deposit or a withdrawal or pay a bill from another company; the unnamed credit card company needed all 12 to complete the transaction; and, (b) I foolishly tried to pay the entire bill rather than just the outstanding amount. Apparently, I somehow tried to violate a money-laundering provision of some obscure banking act.

So, after a couple of chats with Jayson (who sounded exactly like Nicolas Cage), I thought I had gotten everything cleared up. I went back and entered all 12 digits of my account number and authorized a payment of only the outstanding balance, not the charges pending.

I got an email back saying that my payment had been accepted and all was right with the world. Until yesterday, when I got a letter from the company saying that my original payment had been rejected and to immediately send them a check. Then today, I got another letter saying that the subsequent payment, which I know was deducted from my account, was rejected by the bank and that I should immediately send them a check.

I went to my account and had an on-line chat first with Scarlett and then with Michael, who both assured me that my account was in good standing, I had a zero balance owed and that the letters were just routine notifications to “assist me” in the management of my account (they certainly didn’t sound like “assistance”; cue Don Carleone’s voice: “Let me help you make a decision about an offer you can’t refuse.”)

The curious thing about all this is that for some reason, the credit card company has stopped accepting my payments for purchases that have not been billed. Occasionally, I make a big-ticket purchase (say $50 or so; that’s big-ticket for me) so I can get the extended warranty the company offers, but I like to pay that off right away. I used to be able to go on-line any time of the month and make a payment, but now I can’t do that. For some reason, they don’t want my money except when they say so. What an odd way to do business.

My billing cycle ends tomorrow, so I can make a payment then, but chances are I’ll be talking to Nick Cage or the Don once again in a few days. I hope I don’t have to go to the mattresses over this.

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