Consumer Credit / Credit Cards
Card Thief Thwarted, no Thanks To...

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By 3chains
February 2, 2004

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...Amex or Gateway.

American Express has a pretty good on-line site, and I tend to go out there a couple of times a month to check on our charges. In mid-January, I found a $1300 charge to that neither my wife nor I made, so I called Amex.

The summary of their service rep response is "you can't protest a charge until the end of the billing cycle.", which for me is around the fifth of the month. And I thought they would actually be happy that I called them to let them know. They literally told me "there's nothing we can do", and then offered to let me get a new card to replace my old one "if you think it has been compromised".

Undeterred, I called Gateway. They confirmed that yes, they showed that I had ordered something, and yes, it was sent to an address different from my billing address. The summary of their response: "you'll have to call your local police, and then call us back with a case number."

So here we have this huge national issue of stolen credit cards, and I'm getting a complete non-response from 1) one of the largest credit card companies (of which I am a shareholder) and 2) one of the largest on-line sellers of electronic consumer goods.

When I got home from work, I had a receipt in my mailbox, and it showed the address where "my" digital camcorder was sent � an address in Reno, Nevada (I live in Georgia). I Googled the address, and discovered there was a Mailboxes Etc. at that address. On a whim, I called them, and sure enough, they had a package for me from Gateway that was sent to them without a mailbox number. So they were holding it, waiting for "me" to show up. I explained the situation, and they were very cooperative, taking the package "off the floor".

The next day, I called Gateway and spent about 30 minutes on the phone trying to get their fraud department, indeed anyone who could help me. Finally, someone "got it", and put out an order to have the package retrieved and sent back to them. I subsequently received a credit to my Amex account for the full amount.

Now on one hand, I'm glad I thwarted the thief. That alone was worth the effort. On the other hand, Amex and Gateway made it too darn hard to help them. The thing that really irked me, neither Amex nor Gateway ever said a simple "Thank you", as in "Thank you for saving us $1300, we really appreciate your extra effort".

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