A credit card for free.

“ This is for you ma’am, compliments of the store”. The attendant at the cash counter handed me a credit card. I pushed it away as if it was on fire.
“ No thanks. I don’t use them much. And I have one already.”
The attendant looked at me pityingly. I always have this horrid suspicion that attendant kids always pity me.
Next twenty minutes were spent explaining to me, how , with the shop’s own ‘Privileged customer’ card and the additional credit card I was going to save thousands of rupees, not to mention earn brownie points and win free gifts like diamond earrings, DVD players, and a free trip to Goa.
“ And ma’am, it’s free!” That clinched the matter. A free card can’t hurt me much, can it?

After reaching home I pushed the unwanted card at the back of my desk drawer, and forgot about it. One year was over. And I started receiving bills for the never used card. I questioned the shop, and reminded them that they had said – Free card, no service charges.
“ Only for one year ma’am! Now you will have to pay the basic service charges even when you are not using it.”
“Alright! In that case I will cancel the card. I didn’t need it anyway.” Easier said than done as I soon found out. The question was, how does one cancel a credit card. I visited the bank to which the card belonged. I was told, as it was the shop’s promotional scheme, I must get the shop to cancel it. That made sense. The next stop was the shop which had gifted it to me.
“I would like to cancel this card please. I was told I must approach you”.
The attendant looked pained at my ingratitude.
“Ma’am, we can’t cancel it! You will have to send it to the bank which issued it.”
I marched back to the bank. I explained to the lady whose job it was to listen to people like me, that all I wanted was to have the card cancelled and no, it’s nothing personal.
The lady after consulting with a few others gave me a number in Chennai and asked me to talk to one Mr. Muthuswami.
“You see, the card was issued from there, therefore it has to cancelled from there.”
Fair enough, I thought as I dialed the Chennai number. It took me some time to locate Mr. Muthuswami, who when I expressed a desire to cancel my card, took it hard.
“If you have any complaints Ma’am, I will guide you to our complaints department. But please don’t cancel the card!”
After I talked to him for five minutes in a soothing voice, he was mollified.
“Cancellation is a very simple process. Just cut your card in two and mail both the pieces to us in Chennai.”

Finally! I was going to rid myself of the bothersome card.
I cut the card neatly in two pieces, and couriered both the pieces on the address provided by Mr. Muthuswami. Exactly a month later I received a replacement card. Reason? My old one got damaged when I cut it in two pieces!
One more call to Chennai and Mr. Muthuswami. This time I was rather sharp and Mr. Muthuswami was forced to accept the reality of the situation.
“ Ok ma’am, I will file the cancellation papers and do the needful. But are you sure you want to cancel the card?” I banged the receiver down.

In due course I got the intimation that the card was now null and void and I felt like I had stepped out of a long and traumatic relationship. A couple of weeks later I once again got a call, from the same bank, asking me-
“ Ma’am, you are being given a complimentary gold card as an Add on to your old credit card.”


Banno said…
Idiotic, ain't it? I just got a strongly worded letter from a bank which said that since I wasn't using one particular card they were cancelling it and all other cards associated with it. This bank sends me cards every few months without my asking, and expects me to use each and every one of them. Ha!
suniti said…
A perfect example of aggressive marketing !
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