Thursday, September 04, 2003 stole a day of my life

This is not an exaggeration. Yesterday's mail brought a credit-card bill on which were two charges, two considerable charges, not made by anybody in this household. A starting point was to head straight for the Cliche Ideas page with the secret Amazon telephone number, which is 1-800-201-7575, by the way. The customer-service rep kept asking for the order number. There is no order number, at least not one known here! The CSR wasn't listening to the problem; he was reading from some kind of script that wasn't relevant to the situation. At last, he said he would refer the matter to the "billing department" and that I would probably hear back in "about one to two business days." Great! The expressions "fraudulent charges" and "unauthorized use" were being sent out from this end; the other end of the line was talking about "billing problem." E-mail and written correspondence and telephone calls to various secret (not divulged at the Amazon website) e-mail addresses and street addresses and telephone numbers have brought the matter nearer to resolution. These charges were to an account seldom used and with a physical card that bears a photograph and is never out of sight. At last Amazon admitted that there had been "unauthorized use," has proffered a faint apology for various experiences suffered at the hands of Amazon CSRs, and has not offered to remove the charges from the account. Amazon did say that it has closed the account (and e-mail address, one supposes) of the person responsible, but will furnish no information about what was ordered, where it was sent, how it was ordered, or anything of the kind. By way of contrast, the credit-card people have been kind and helpful. This experience has necessitated cancelling the account used and obtaining credit reports from all three reporting agencies (gratis, in view of the circumstances) and placing fraud watches and the like on everything. I don't suppose I'll hear anything in response to the complaint sent to the fabulous Jeffrey P. Bezos. Consumer tip: always send your written correspondence on bright paper that won't be lost in the heaps. Stop-sign yellow (including envelopes) works for me. It doesn't make for peace of mind to receive a bank statement (and enclosed returned checks) today that has obviously been delivered to the wrong address (and opened) before reaching the proper address.


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