Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Credit Card Whingers!

I saw this whinge about credit cards in the paper recently, and while I'm usually not a huge fan of credit card companies, frankly, why can't some people accept they are the idiots?

From the reporting, it seems that while the perfect day might have been ruined it might have been because certain people weren't that smart. Maybe it is a good reason to take a credit card away from them.

Jeremy Bath went off to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend and wanted it to be a surprise. The article states that he bought half the ring on one card (CBA) and the other half with a Citibank card. The surprise was ruined because Citibank rang his girlfriend and asked if she had made any purchases at a jewellery store recently on her Citibank card, and she figured out what was going on. The credit card company maintains they do this for security reasons - check on unusual spending habits. And some other commenters say they've been caught out too.

The blog-writer says that this is surprise ruining, over the top and cites it as a reason not to go with Citibank - at least, if you're thinking of buying engagement jewellery - because the jewellery was bought near the place of residence, and had not reached their credit limit or anywhere near it.

Now, in my opinion it's just good practise. Hell, if someone had nicked off with Jeremy Bath's credit card, had only got as far as a nearby jewellery store and had purchased a piece of jewellery and Citibank hadn't said a peep I bet some people would say that they were slack, saying "Jeremy doesn't buy expensive jewellery as part of his weekly routine, how could they not notice that's a bit unusual?!"

As many people pointed out, if you want to make it a surprise ... why the heck would you use a credit card that the recipient of the surprise jointly owned ... d'oh! It seems from the article his girlfriend was a joint owner of the card. If, of course, that is not true, then it may well be an invasion of privacy to let a non-owner know about your expenditure.

There may be some whingers who say that they would have no choice - they don't have their own card, and can't afford one, they can't afford to pay in cash so can't make a secret cash withdrawal ... what does that add up to?

You can't afford a surprise expensive piece of jewellery, then, or you take your chances! Maybe someone will blow your surprise or not. I don't think there is a rule that says that a surprise expensive ring on a holiday, along with a proposal, is an entitlement. Some people make do.

I remember Mr Coffee telling me he bought a few items in succession that was a little unusual for him, and his credit card company calling him immediately saying they had noticed and just wanted to make sure he really made them. He assured them he did and he was impressed with such good service. I'd want my credit card company to be that diligent, should I get a card.

I wouldn't want them to wait until the card was chock-a-block full of expenditures in another city over my credit limit till they clued in it might have been stolen or misused.

When I lost my wallet my bank debit card apparently had been attempted use within minutes (unsuccessfully, it got chewed up by the machine according to the bank) within a hundred metres or so of where I'd been having lunch that day; if I'd had a credit card I'm pretty sure they would have tried the same trick on in the same vicinity within minutes, and it's very possible they would have brought random goods from the department stores nearby. It would be good to know that a credit card store would have seen that it was unusual before it hit anywhere near the credit limit and alerted me.

Just because things didn't work out for these people ... and believe me, I'm sorry they didn't ... they look for someone to call an idiot, but for one time I don't think it's the bank necessarily that's the bastard here. Just, like many of us, it seems it's just doing its job.


Anonymous said...

You've missed the point. Citibank should have called the boyfriend because he bought the ring, not his fiancee.

geez, read the article more carefully

Maria said...

I read the article and I noted that it referred to "her Citibank card" so it is assumed that the card is a joint card.

If you read the article the main whinges that the author has are:

a) That Citibank alerted the fiancee at all (even though she is a cardholder)
b) That Citibank did not tell Jeremy when he was alerted that his fiancee had been alerted first (which may be about the best gripe that he could come up with)
c) That Citibank bothered to jump on the case when the purchase could not be considered suspicious as it was not near the credit limit and was "once-off" and was bought near their residence.

The article doesn't say "I think Citibank did the right thing leaping on this, it's just that they should have contacted Jeremy and not his fiancee". The whinge is directed at the bank acting on this at all, and then there is one whinge that Jeremy wasn't told that his fiancee had been contacted before him.

If you want to have secret correspondence, don't use a joint email account, and if you want to have secret spendings ... don't use a joint credit card. That just makes so much sense, and I am not that smart about money myself admittedly.

It is like people who go and post their email address on Net all over the place and then complain later they got spam. What they really wanted, they will explain later, was "nice people" who might be "friends" to contact them. But if you let out your secrets you may get some advantages but you also risk the disadvantages.

Joint credit cards have advantages for some people, and they also have disadvantages. You like the idea? Go get one. Then stop whingeing when the obvious disadvantages such as lack of privacy of your spendings hit you in the face.

The best system, if you can afford it, is being able to have a number of options in different areas (bank accounts, credit cards, emails, whatever) and then having the brains and time and energy to manipulate and juggle the different options to suit your different lifestyle needs. But none of that will be a surefire recipe for making life perfect.

Maria said...

Direct quote, last line:

"While it's great that lenders are on the case for credit card fraud, this is overkill."

The whinge is that this was over the top in terms of attempting to track fraud - NOT "While it's great that lenders are on the case for credit card fraud, this was the wrong person to contact."

Anonymous said...

Good credit card service. And I thought that was an oxymoron!