Monday, February 27, 2006

A Little Larceny

Wow. I was going to tell you the story about how I finally got replacements for the credit cards I lost before my birthday. Late last night and all this afternoon was spent on the phone making repairs to my vast financial empire, re-registering passwords and proving my ID. All the fraudulent charges had posted to my Amex, Visa and my Citibank cards. That took phone calls to all three companies. Now, I was going to actually post the charges including the dollar amounts of each charge. There was one charge for over $500, I think to a Best Buy, on one card alone. Probably close to $1100.00 in charges in about four or five hours. Somebody totally scored.

I say I was going to post the charges, but I can't. I just pulled up my accounts on-line and all the fraudulent charges have been removed and my cards were re-funded. In less than 24 hrs. Something actually worked the way it was supposed to. Amazing. Citibank is making me fax in a form they send me but they promise to credit my checking account in two business days. Knowing I'm getting the money back relatively quickly makes me not obsess over it at all.

But I will say this, Washington Mutual, the bank that holds my Visa account, has obviously outsourced their customer service center out of the country. Unless I miss my guess I would have to say Bangladesh. Now, let me say that I was born with an innate facility for languages and accents. I used to be fluent in French and I know bits and pieces of Italian, German and Spanish. The German I picked up simply because my brother studied it for a few years. Language by osmosis. It's come in handy working in bars all over Manhattan serving tourists from all over the world. Further, no matter how badly said tourists mangled their foray into American, I could almost always decipher what was being said or asked for. At more than one bar I was the go-to guy for this. If three or four people took a crack at understanding the unintelligable guest and gave up, invariably someone would say, "Go get Tom". I have to admit a certain amount of smugness if I got it on the first try. I would relay the request from the finally satisfied customer, toss my weave over my shoulder and walk away.

I only tell you this because this afternoon, while straightening out my Visa card with Sanjay, now Will (I'm guessing), I had to really concentrate to make sure I understood what he was saying. I have no idea how a lesser mortal, say anyone from Kentucky, would have had clue one what he was talking about. Worse, he was obviously reading from a script, and didn't really even know what he himself was saying. I did OK, and it wasn't until the end of his garbled instructions that I lost the line. I had been replying with a series of OK's and "I understand's", until he finally so badly mangled something I responded "I have no idea what you just said to me". At which point he went all the way back to the beginning of the script and started over. It was at once hilarious and annoying. I really have no opinion on outsourcing these jobs, and I know that foreign companies try to see to it that their employess are understood, but this guy needs a little remedial help. Cause if I can't understand him I guarantee you not a single soul in Kentucky can either. That's all I'm saying.

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