I’m just not that into you

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - BACKCHAT - mike o’con­nor mikeo­con­nor.com.au

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.

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