I’m just not that into you
If you’re feeling unwanted and unloved, then try getting rid of a credit card. You might reasonably expect to encounter some difficulty in obtaining one but dumping one, surely, would be simple enough. Why, the nice man on the phone inquired, did want to part company with my card? Because the rewards scheme, I told him, provided very poor value for the customer. I wanted nothing more to do with it and would take my business elsewhere. But why, he asked, was I dissatisfied? “Because,” I said, “I just cashed in more than 200,000 points which ended up being worth a mere $1200 in airline credits.”
And I couldn’t credit the points directly to a particular airline rewards scheme, nor could I use the points to book a flight but had to go through a travel agent nominated by the credit card provider. In short, I said, the loyalty scheme was crap.
“Oh,” he said. “I’ll have to connect you to our relationship department.” Relationship department? My relationships were fine. I just wanted to get rid of a credit card. He couldn’t help me, he said. Only the relationship people could do that, so I was transferred to a honey-voiced female who asked why I wanted to get rid of my card. So I told her it was because the rewards scheme was rubbish. “But Mr O’Connor,” she purred, “you have had such a long relationship with us. It’s been 14 years.”
I didn’t know we’d been together for so long or even been in a relationship. I thought I just bought things on credit and was then charged an outrageous rate of interest if I didn’t pay the money back every month. Apparently I’d been in an intimate bonding for 14 years without knowing it. Honey Voice was beginning to make me feel guilty. I felt myself wanting to say, “It’s not you. It’s me. I just need some space. Give me some time to think things through. I’ll give you a call in a few weeks and we can have dinner and talk about it.”
She then asked me if I had other credit cards. I was now being accused of credit card infidelity. What to say? “I’m sorry. Yes I do, but I was drunk. I think someone spiked my drink. I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up. Please take me back. I’ll never do it again!”
She then tried another approach, this one aimed at my wallet rather than my heart. “You’ve still got more than 10,000 reward points. You’ll lose them if you close the card down,” she said.
What could I buy with 10,000 points? The scheme was so mean-spirited I’d be lucky to get a cup of coffee, but she’d struck a chord. I didn’t like the idea of throwing them away. Still I wavered. “How about,” purred the voice, “if we dropped your annual fee? You can have the card for 12 months for free.”
Did she imagine I could be bought? Was I for sale? Could I be swayed by waving a fistful of dollars in my face? Of course I could. “Okay”, I said. “I’ll keep the card for another year.”
Effusive thanks followed. The relationship had been saved and Honey Voice oozed gratitude. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that as soon as I get that free cup of coffee and burn those points, we’re finished. I’m sorry, Honey Voice, but it’s just not meant to be.