Sunday, August 15, 2004

Four Bucks & Foley's

With the sale of Amy's van this week and my paycheck, I was able to go on the attack in our war on debt. I'm still a little hesitant to sound too high and mighty, but I'm fairly certain I knocked out most of the little niggling bills, caught up the big massive bills, and continued to ignore the medical bills for another day.

It is amazing though how some stores make it hard for you to pay them. I can't help but think this is because they want you to incur their enormous late fees, etc.

I'm only going to briefly mention one, because it's a gorgeous day and I want to get out and take a long walk appreciating it before I head to the hospital, but also because I already allowed that one company, Foley's, to steal too much joy from me this week.

It was a piddling bill... 38 bucks. It wasn't overdue; I simply wanted it gone and the account gone. I called "Customer Service" (and believe me I'm convinced now that you don't have to understand what "customer service" means to work in customer service) and said, I had the money, wanted to do a check by phone, debit card, whatever.

"We're going to charge 4 dollars more if you insist on doing it that way!", was the response.

I'm not going to get into the conversation but I spoke with a "customer service rep" and her "supervisor" who both showed zero compassion or courtesy.

I absolutely refused to fork over what amounts to a 10 percent fee to pay them the way every other company I've dealt with this week actually prefers to be paid, and for no extra charge.

The supervisor said, "The company that handles checks over the phone for us charges us four dollars per check, we have to charge you that!"

If that statement is true, Foley's is absolutely insane. Four dollars per check? Someone at Foley's signed that deal? With who? Their brother in law's Check by Phone Company? They're being robbed.

The supervisor finally said I could pay the bill on-line which made me wonder why he didn't mention that earlier, then he added, "but you might need to talk with our Internet specialists to do that."

Huh? I'm going to need a specialist to figure out how to pay my bill on your website? This doesn't seem odd to you?

He was right though. I'm an Internet savvy guy, but I couldn't figure out Foley's website billing at all. I gave up.

On the way home from the hospital yesterday I simply went by the nearest store and asked to pay the bill and cancel the account. The very helpful woman I first spoke with said, she could accept payment but to cancel the account I'd have to go to "Customer Service" upstairs.

I dutifully rode the escalator upwards wondering if I was about to be confronted by the same people I had spoken with the day before. I was greeted by a very nice woman who informed me that she could take my payment (which I allowed her to do) but to cancel the account I had to go through customer service...and they don't exist... except...over the phone. She pointed me to the direct line phones nearby.

It's true; Foley's has no customer service people inside their stores that deal with customer financial services.

I was amazed, but I tried...for about 60 seconds. I heard all sorts of excuses why I couldn't cancel the's in Amy's name...that although it's been paid in full, and I have possession of the credit card, know all of Amy's identification information and even her Foley's password....they could do nothing.

Knowing where this was where, I asked, "Can you do one thing for me?"

"Well, maybe."

"Can you listen real close?"


"This is the sound of a Foley's credit card being snapped in half!" CRACK!

I hung up, cursing myself for letting these folks foul my mood at all.

Then the nice woman I had dealt with moments earlier...the Foley's employee with whom I paid the bill said, "They really charge 4 dollars to take a payment over the phone and they wouldn't even waive that when your wife is in the hospital? That's amazing. I had no idea they did that.

To tell you the truth Mr. Main...I cancelled my Foley's card too. Those customer service people were too aggravating."

I laughed, and thanked her for her kindness.

As I was walking away, she literally yelled after me - despite the fact I was amid a throng of shoppers, "Mr. Main, make sure and hang onto that receipt for your last payment...they'll probably screw it up! I can almost guarantee it!"

I giggled and wondered if any one ever said a proper eulogy for customer service.