Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fine Print...Read it folks and follow through.

Customer Service - - you either love it or hate it.

Last night I decided it was finally time to make a call to Sears Customer Service Department. A call that I had put off as long as possible. Why? Most of the time I get the customer service rep who doesn't speak fluent English, doesn't want to be helpful or isn't willing to ask a supervisor for assistance.

Not the case last night.

I dialed the toll free number, entered my credit card account number and was directed to Karen.

Before I called, I pulled my statements since 01/2008 so my firing power was right at my fingertips. So I was ready -- armed and dangerous as Lawman would say.

Lawman and I had made a purchase several months back that was a special offer. You know, 6 months no interest or some such deal. Anyway, in February I had called to find out our balance in order to pay it off. See, I had read the fine print at the bottom of our statement that said, "You must pay your balance in full prior to 4/1/08 in order to avoid interest." We weren't willing to pay interest so we decided we'd get this taken care of sooner rather than later.

Balance was $103.27. With receipt in hand, I explained to Karen that I had made this payment - in the store AND in the full amount due - on February 27. (Remember this.) I have my receipt to prove it. Could I give her a transaction number or some such hoo-ha to enable her to find it? Oh yes, she tells me, she can see that on my account. OK then, why didn't it eliminate that balance due?

There's a catch, as usual. Go figure.

You see, we were in need of some new tires for our car. On February 26 (one day before I made that payment, remember?) we purchased tires. $550 worth of tires and I paid for it with our credit card. Business as usual, right? Wrong. It works like this.

When you have a "promotional balance" and "other balance", the majority of your payments on account will apply to the "other balance" because it is accruing interest. Well, guess what my payment of $103.27 went to? Yep. Tires. I can guarantee you those dadgum tires had been on that account for less than 24 hours!

The reason I called in the first place is because we received our new statement in the mail a few days ago and a line item of "Interest Accrued" appeared....$148!! That's right folks. Interest on our "promotional purchase" and it was calculated to accrue from the first day of purchase to present. That's 6 mos. worth of interest (or some such magical number) on a balance that we thought we had paid off.

Well, bless Karen's heart. I'm tellin' ya I would send this girl a canned ham for her excellent customer service if I knew how to find her.

She "re-applied" our payment (some fancy jargon for fudging the books or tricking the computer?) to the promotional balance or actually, as much of it as she could. This left a "promo balance" due of $22.00 and she got her supervisor and he eliminated the $148 in interest. How's that for customer service? So now all I have to do is pay $22 before the 25th of this month to avoid interest again on that "promo purchase."

Personally, I think the whole "promo balance" should have disappeared but I wasn't about to argue with Karen. Not after what she just accomplished on my behalf. She's the best customer service rep I've worked with. Ever. Next time I call Sears for some help, I think I'll ask for her by name.

And Karen, what kind of ham do you prefer? Smoked or honey glazed?

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