Credit Card Company Mumbo Jumbo

This situation brightened my day today. We got a letter in the mail from Macy’s collection department that our account was overdue and to call the customer service number or pay what was owed before they turned it over to a collection agency. We are pretty meticulous about paying our bills and have an excellent credit rating, and so this concerned us. I called the number on the letter and was told that the account was current. Ok, then why did I get the letter? The guy on the phone was not sure why we got the letter but was really nice and did a little deeper investigation. Here is what he found out – hold on to your hats…

In November, Macy’s sent us notification that their credit card was now going to be American Express (or so we surmised from what they sent us). We thought, ok – this works for us. We had a Macy’s card and wanted to continue having one. And with the bonus of it being an American Express card, we would now have a credit card can we could use at Costco. What the customer service rep. said to me was that Macy’s was not discontinuing their in-house card program in lieu of the American Express card, it was merely offering The American Express card to current customers with no annual fee. But wait, it gets better. What he said was, if you choose to use the Macy’s American Express card outside of the store, you get a Macy’s American Express card bill. If you use that SAME Macy’s American Express card but purchase something in a Macy’s store, you get a separate bill because that charge is assigned to the Macy’s program. If you are scratching your head, join the club. I repeated this back to him three times, and each time he said yes – that charges are assigned differently from the SAME CARD depending upon whether you use the card in a Macy’s store or outside of a Macy’s store.

Needless to say, with a system as clear as this, I made a payment to the wrong bill and that accounted for the collection notice from Macy’s. I had one bill in arrears, and the other bill (from the SAME CARD) with a credit.  Long story short, it is all straightened out now. Our mistake was in assuming that this would be a clear process with one bill. I guess that is just too much to ask for.

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