Jumping through hoops

Hundreds of things make running a small business difficult. I just spent nearly two hours dealing with one.

One of the parts of running a woodshop – or, in my case, writing professionally about woodworking – is dealing with finances, which I did this morning. In the process I came across a credit card that wasn’t familiar. Rather, the card was familiar (I easily recognized the last four digits), but I couldn’t remember the last time I’d used it or the last time I got a statement. Since I do a lot of credit-card management online, I first tried to log into the account for that card, only to find that it wasn’t recognized. Well, OK, maybe it’s an old card. But wait, the expiration date isn’t till halfway through 2015 so it couldn’t be an old card.

While fiddling with the online log-in process a chat window popped up, and although the guy on the other end of the chat was efficient, after a half hour there was nothing he could do for me: There were just too many questions I couldn’t answer in a chat session.

So I started poring through old checkbook registers, only to learn the last payment I made on that card was in mid-2012, a year-and-a-half ago. I thought maybe I’d paid the card balance and then forgot about the card; a distinct possibility since I’d done that once before. So the question remained, was it still active?

A call to the 800 number on the card got me a robo-answering system, which took forever to wade through before finally being able to log in with the account number on the card. Once I finally did, I learned that the card was used just yesterday. Wait, what? I was totally confused; the only charge I made yesterday was for the wonderful 90 minutes I spent at the dentist, for which I used a different card. However, the amount of the charge matched exactly.

Armed with that info I logged into the online account for that different card, and after a bit of digging was reminded that it was in fact the same card – they changed the number a year-and-a-half ago, and I’d merely forgotten. The old card with the old number was just that, an old card in spite of the valid expiration date. For a simple misunderstanding on a credit card, I wasted a good part of the morning when I should have been working.

Fortunately for you, it takes far less time to read about it.

A.J.

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