3/10/2010

A Comedy of Errors

Last summer, my mom and I were able, through the generous help of a distant cousin who is as nuts about genealogy as my mom, to finish up and submit our application to the DAR. With said cousin's help (she's very active in the DAR) this sailed through and we got neato little certificates and I filed it away and didn't really think much more about it. I mean, it's cool, but at this point in my life, genealogy is pretty much in the "cool but slightly irrelevant to making it through the day" category.

Still, the first week of December, when daddy called to ask if I had any thoughts on what mom might like for Christmas, a pow wow with my sister revealed that she had been hankering after her DAR pins. (I didn't, at the time, realize that there were pins that went along with this, but boy howdy, there are pins. And people take those pins seriously!) So I chatted with the distant cousin (who is the President of our chapter) to figure out what I could order for her and how to go about doing so. Shortly thereafter, I logged onto the website of the jeweler who does these things (we'll call them Callaghan's for now, it's not their real name, but you'll understand why they have to have some sort of moniker associated with them in a bit) and tried to place an order.

The Callaghan's website is, in a word, crap. They have a shopping cart, but you can't actually place anything in it. Should you manage, through some random alignment of bits and electromagnetic radiation from a well time solar flare actually get something into the cart, you can neither pay for said item nor remove it nor add anything else to the cart. After about two hours of hassling with it, filling out their dumb form more times than I care to count, and successfully ordering exactly one of the six pins I was trying to get, I gave up and called their toll free number. It rang. And rang. And rang. And finally went to a little recording that went something like "The person you're calling isn't answering. Really, how stupid are you to still be on the phone? Well, I'll solve that for you and hang up now." And then the line was disconnected.

So I emailed the contact email and explained my plight. I got an email back a few days later explaining that the phone is only answered from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday when the stars are aligned and Mars is in Pluto's house. Regardless, I could call back during that time and they'd be happy to finish my order over the phone. I did. They did. And for Christmas my mother got a sheet of paper that said "on order" as it takes 8-10 weeks to make the pins.

Around the beginning of February, I received a notice that my personally identifying information was found in the possession of someone who had been arrested for (and plead guilty to) identity theft. So, after a bit of digging around to see that yes, that was a legitimate notification, I pulled credit reports and put on fraud alerts and all the stuff you're meant to do when this happens and we began to watch the bank transactions even more carefully than we usually do. (And honestly, given how Tim watches these like a hawk, I wasn't overly concerned, because he'd've noticed if something hinky was going on almost before it happened.)

Yesterday evening we were talking with the landscape man who is going to help us transform our front yard from a weeping morass of pitifulness into something that will hopefully keep us from being forcibly evicted from the neighborhood. This, of course, is going to cost somewhere in the range of "Holy cow I'm in the wrong business" and they would like a deposit of half up front. So, Tim goes online to see how the credit card is holding up these days before charging it vs. writing a check. (As a side note, we use our credit card as cash, it gets paid off every month, but in general that's the way we pay for things.) So while he's on there, he sees a pending charge, placed yesterday morning at 7 a.m., for Jefferson Jewelers (not really the name, but we'll go with it.) Neither of us happened to be at a jewelry store at 7 yesterday morning, so we were confused.

After the landscaper left, and because of the potential ID theft thing in February, we called up the bank, explained that we had not been buying jewelry for breakfast and did they know where the charge was made? It was made in Philadelphia. Well, we certainly weren't buying jewelry in Philly at 7 a.m. So they canceled our card and started a fraud inquiry. At which point we called back the landscaper and arranged for him to come pick up a check as the card we'd just given him was no longer going to be particularly useful.

All the while I had a little niggle in the back of my brain. But I looked up Jefferson Jewelers and couldn't see anything that looked remotely familiar. I dug up the emailed receipts for the DAR pins and went back to Callaghan's website and poked around and saw no indication that Callaghan's had anything at all to do with Jefferson. So, I called my mom and asked if she'd ever gotten her pins. She hadn't. The niggle niggled louder. So I tried to call Callaghan's...but of course there were no appropriate solar flares and Mars was out partying with Mercury, so I got that lovely recording right before being disconnected. So I shot off an email to the contact email and asked if there might be a status update as the pins hadn't come, it had been 11 weeks, and well, had they charged the card and if so, what would it show up as? Meanwhile, Tim dug through the December Quicken register and we found no charge for the pins.

The niggle then turned into a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

This morning around 9, the doorbell rang and I peeked out to see the UPS man walking back to his truck. I brought in the tiny package and glanced at the return address: Callaghan's. I opened it up to look at the pins and the receipt says: Jefferson Jewelers.

In a word: crap.

So, I quickly emailed the contact lady, explained the situation and said I'd work on getting them their payment as soon as I could. Then I called Tim and asked him to call the bank and undo what we just jumped through hoops to do yesterday. In the middle of this I had to ask myself, rather irritatedly, I'll admit: if you run a business, even a D.B.A, wouldn't you let someone know that the charge on your card was going to be drastically different than the name you thought you were doing business with?

In the meantime, we can't use our credit card cause we have to wait for the new one that it turns out we didn't actually need.

But hey, the pins are pretty.

1 comment:

michellewillingham said...

Argh, what a nightmare! Hope you can get it all sorted out.