Slices of Life

by Jill Pertler

Credit card reject

It was a simple trip to the grocery store. Something I could probably do in my sleep. Pick up a few items, hit the checkout line and bag up the goods. I’d even remembered my coupons. It was a good day. 

I didn’t even bring my purse because I have a new trendy phone case that has a nearly invisible compartment to hold a driver’s license and one credit card. I snapped open the case, feeling smart and sleek and #hipster and handed the checkout lady my plastic. I didn’t give it a second thought. 

I had no idea my day was about to change. 

She swiped the card through the swipey machine. Twice. I hardly noticed because I was thinking about the meatballs I planned to make for supper using extra jumbo pack of ground beef that was on sale and in my cart. The lady with my card frowned and picked up her phone to call someone over to the register. I figured the machine was jammed or something. 

A second clerk came and stood by the lady with my card. Together they stared at the computer screen, which I could not see. 

Behind me, people were starting to pile up in line. First one man. Then another. Then a young mom with a couple squirming kids. 

The second store employee shook her head and said, “We’ll have to call the manager.” 

I was beginning to take notice. 

The manager came over and the three store employees stared at the screen, which I still could not see, but was beginning to wish I could. They were frowning. I was trying not to. The people in line had grown to a small crowd inconvenienced by my credit card mishap. 

After about five infinitely long seconds, the manager spoke up. “Your card’s been rejected,” she said in a voice loud enough for people as far back as the produce section to hear. 

I was perplexed, but this was hugely outweighed by embarrassment at having my card rejected within ear and eyeshot of a standing-room-only grocery store crowd. I wanted to shout, “I have excellent credit. There’s been a mistake here!” 

Instead, I offered to call the credit card company. I figured I could clear up this pesky little mess in no time. 

The manager, all no-nonsense, escorted me to the courtesy counter where I could make the call. No need to further inconvenience the real shoppers who had legitimate means to pay for their food. I wanted to crawl in a hole or curl up in the fetal position and make myself invisible. Instead, I dialed the 1-800 number and spoke to a chipper lady named Jess in Ohio. I explained my situation and Jess listened politely. Then her perky voice said, “We sent out new cards to that account.” 

“My husband got one,” I acknowledged. 

“Yours was sent a day after his,” she said. “When he activated his new card, yours became invalid.” 

I looked at my cart full of bagged – albeit unpaid for – food. I asked Jess what she thought I should do and how I should pay for my groceries. After a cheerful and enthusiastic apology about my unfortunate circumstances, which she totally understood, but which she was sadly and regrettably unable to do anything to remedy, she came up with her first (and only) useful suggestion. If I called my husband, he could provide the new secret code numbers from the back of his card and the transaction would be successful and complete. 

Thank goodness (thank goodness, thank goodness!) my husband picked up after the second ring. He had his card, gave me the numbers and I was free to take my food to my car. I don’t have to tell you I practically ran. And the next time I go to the store, one thing’s for certain. I’m bringing cash.

 

Jill Pertler is an award-winning writer and syndicated columnist.