Since I was leaving for New York on Thursday, I decided, on Tuesday, to double check my card account. I was going to need my card for at least four tanks of gas and two nights in hotels. I wasn’t worried, I just like to be prepared for any contingency.

I opened my laptop, enter my user name and password and peruse the recent transactions.

“Wait! What is this?”

A debit transaction for one cent. One penny. From a firm in London (and I don’t mean the near-by city in Ohio).

A few years ago, an employee of this same bank had notified me of suspicious activity because of a one cent transaction. It was explained to me at the time that the thief would test an account for a small amount to make sure it was active and had funds.

I immediately called the 1-800 bank number and was connected with Robert.

I explained my concern to Robert who, at first, in my mind, reacted too cautiously. “You did not make this transaction?”

“First, I would not use my card for one cent. Secondly, I haven’t bought anything in London. Not even London, Ohio.”

The ending seemed to confuse Robert. Many times when I have talked to the bank through this toll-free number, the person on the other end of the phone has been in Cleveland. And although I realize not everyone in the Buckeye state might be aware of London, Ohio, something made me ask, “Where are you, Robert?”

“The Philippines.”

Okay.

Robert questions me repeatedly, “Are you sure you did not make this purchase?”

“For a penny? I would not do that with my card.”

Once I have assured him, he says to ensure there will be no more fraudulent transactions it will be necessary to cancel this card. They will send me a new one within “three to five business days.”

Quick mental calculations allow me to protest, “I’m leaving for a trip where I will need this card.” Three to five business days would be about the time I’d get home.

Robert offers, “We can expedite the cards. That will be only two to three days.”

Since I haven’t made any offerings to the gods recently, I know this means I will just miss having the cards for the trip.

Robert’s next question makes me feel uncomfortable, “Where are you going? We could send the card to where you are going to be.”

I manage to not answer that question but explain, “I will need the card for gasoline and hotels.” And again, the timing was too tight. Odds would be the card would arrive after I returned home.

“We could expedite the card.”

I notice he doesn’t mention anything about expediting costing me extra money. It’s still too tight to attempt and, “How will I pay for the gas and hotel to get where I’m going.”

“You could go to your local branch where they will make you an emergency card. However, that is only good at ATMs, not at businesses.”

I know ATMs have a limit that can be dispensed in a 24-hour period. My bank is not as local as I would like and I don’t have time to get there before I leave.

Robert puts me on hold. I assume it is to check with a supervisor to see if there are any other options.

He comes back to ask if there is anyone else on the account. Perhaps I could use that card.

“Yes, my husband. But we don’t have the same last names and I have no ID using his last name.” I’m thinking that I could make a copy of Husband’s driver license and one of our wedding pictures, but that does sound a tad far fetched.

By this point, Robert is insisting, over my protestations, that he needs to cancel this card to limit fraudulent transactions. I continue to protest. He is not going to let me off the phone without canceling my card.

I relent only to be presented with more surprises.

“There is a five dollar fee for the new card.” I knew if my card became unreadable, I had to pay the fee, but this wasn’t my fault, so why should I pay the fee? Robert continued, “I can waive that fee.” Good thing.

I’m still concerned just how I’m going to pay for gas and lodging, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge…

“Did you want to expedite the production of the card? That will cost $25.00”

“NO!”

“Okay. So I have cancelled your card and put you in for a new card that will be shipped between three and five days. Is there anything else I can do for you today, Miss Johnson?”

“Thank you, Robert.”

It took me another day before I had an idea for how I could pay for hotels. Gas wouldn’t really be a problem because, usually, I didn’t give the card to anyone. I just used self-serve pumps.

I made a second call to the bank on the 800 number. A friendly female listened to my problem and my potential solution (using my husband’s card) and said, “Yes, we can put a notice out that you are traveling. Where will you be going?”

I rattled off Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. On second thought I added New Jersey. That ended up being smart since I refilled in New Jersey on the way home and New Jersey is not a self-fill state. (Even paying for the attendant, that was the cheapest gas on the trip.)

The long weekend presented no problems. As previously mentioned, most of the fueling stops were self-serve, no problem with the card. No hotel clerk seemed to look at the card. It went through. It was the same with the stop in New Jersey. (The bigger problem there was trying to get the “longer hose” to my fuel tank and allowing more than one dollar of gas.)

Now that I’m home, I feel as if I need to plan a vacation from planning a vacation.

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