I get it. Business is business. Being objective, matter of fact, direct and straight forward can be necessary evils and are frequently desirable ways to communicate in the business world. But sometimes, impersonal, cliché, or generic language can come across as insensitive or even downright offensive.
My mom passed away in early October, and after the funeral, my siblings and I packed up and distributed her remaining belongings. When everything was complete, my family—two sisters and one brother —returned to their respective families and homes in Arizona and California. But there was one remaining task—a change of address—and since I am the only family member residing in Cleveland, all of my mom’s mail needed to be forwarded to me.
I had done a change of address a year earlier when my mom moved from her condo in Lyndhurst—that she shared with my dad when he was alive—to the independent living facility in Beachwood, directly across the street. So I knew it was a relatively easy and inexpensive process.
It was nearing the end of October, and I knew I had to get this done. One morning, still at home in my pajamas and after breakfast, I googled Post Office Change of Address and found a website with a USPS heading and what appeared to be the Post Office logo. I decided to check it out.
The online forms were straightforward and easy to complete. When I arrived at the last page, I was instructed to fill out my credit card payment information; I recalled from the previous year there was a minimal fee — about a $1—so when I clicked the button to complete the process, I was stunned when my computer screen flashed that I’d just been billed $49.50!
Immediately, I tried to cancel the transaction, but no company phone number or email address could be found. So I called my credit card company. On several occasions when I had a problem with a purchase, they successfully disputed the charges.
I explained the situation to the representative, who also tried – unsuccessfully — to find contact information. She was kind and reassuring—particularly once she knew my mom had just passed away and the reason for this transaction. She assured me that my complaint would be submitted for a dispute but cautioned that a response might be delayed due to the recent Experian hacking.
Several weeks later, I received a letter from the credit card company.
We have reviewed your dispute information and must advise that we will be unable to assist you in obtaining credit from the merchant.
I didn’t know if I would qualify for a refund, so I had no problem with their response.
By giving your card number, you are giving the merchant authorization to bill your account.
This statement seemed kind of silly. Of course the merchant would have my credit card number. Isn’t that what credit card disputes are about –paying someone for an item or service and then not being satisfied?
We regret to inform you that buyer’s remorse is not disputable.
Wow. Someday I will probably laugh about this remark, but in the moment, it stung.
It was clear they had sent a form letter with no regard for me, personally. My knee jerk response was to cancel my card and sever my relationship with the credit card company. But since I’ve accumulated frequent flyer mileage, I hated to walk away. Instead, I called. The representative agreed that the letter needed to be revised but still wasn’t sure they could obtain a refund.
This prompted my own research. I googled Post Office Scams and found several complaints and warnings about this site; it was comforting to know I wasn’t the only one who had fallen prey to their deceptive website. I also revisited my credit card statement. This time around I noticed a number associated with the Change of Address transaction. So I called. A man—who sounded like he might be from another country—answered. I told him about the charges and my intent to report the site to the Better Business Bureau. To his credit, he immediately and graciously refunded all of my money.
I’m happy the situation was resolved. But with a little more attention to the personal—even a simple statement about me not being eligible for a refund or them not being able to investigate the claim would have sufficed—the credit card company could have built good will. Instead, their response inflamed my tender wounds. And though I haven’t yet cancelled my credit card, if a compelling enough offer from a competitive company happens to come my way, I might just have to consider it.