Thursday, October 05, 2006

Consumer Warning

To my friends, family, and other blog readers:

To follow, find a discourse on why, at all costs, you should avoid doing business with Zales Consumer Credit. Zales Consumer Credit, managed by Citi, provides the credit services for Zales Jeweler. You see all of the ads, "Apply for our card & get xx months of interest free/payment free financing." The ads are enticing, yes? Who wouldn't be interested in spreading out the cost of a major purchase, like jewelry, over an extended period of time without penalty of interest? We sure bought into it. But I am here to strongly encourage--no absolutely yell at you--DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH ZALES CONSUMER CREDIT!!!!! Say no to the card!

Why? Allow me to give you the Reader's Digest version of our year-long battle with Zales Consumer Credit. Last October, we made a purchase. When we realized that it did not qualify for the advertised payment/interest deferment period--yes, that's right, it didn't qualify for the advertised program--we returned the purchase for a refund. Subsequently, we repurchased the items, along with two additional pieces, in order to qualify for the advertised program. When we received our billing statement with these transactions, things were amiss. Rather than issuing a credit for the return, the credit center posted a second charge for said amount. We called. No problem, we'll issue you a credit. They posted one credit to our account. This still leaves one erroneous charge pending for the return that was made. We called again. This time, no one at the credit center can help. The problem had to go to the investigations department, and we had to fax documentation of the transactions. In January, the second credit finally posts & the account is finally correct. Right? Right.

Sadly, I wish the story stopped there. In March, the credit center posts a charge to our account in the amount of the return. We called the credit center to tell them of the error and ask why this happened. "Yes, we know about it. The store called and said it mistakenly reposted the charge to your account. You should see a credit in about two weeks." Anal retentive, obsessive compulsive person that I am--I check the account regularly--okay, every day. A month later and still no credit for the erroneous posting. We call the credit center again. Again, the problem is sent to investigations and once again we have to send the same documentation of the return that we sent to the same department in December. Mind you, each time it goes to investigations, "it can take up to 60 days to process your request." In the meantime, I faithfully check the account to see if the credit has been issued. Sixty days later, no credit. More phone calls to the credit center--each time speaking to someone further and further up the chain of command. Another round of investigations, however, no request for documentation. August--still no credit. Another phone call. September--no credit. October--no credit. Another phone call. And those of you who know me know how angry I am at this point. No, I'm beyond angry. Get a supervisor.

{idiot} "I understand, and I wish I could give you a credit, Mrs. Fox. But I am not authorized to do that. All I can do is send this to the investigations department, along with all of the notes I have taken."
{grasshoppa} "You don't understand. This same issue has already been sent to your investigations department four times. And it has yet to be resolved. We have been dealing with this issue for almost a year. Do you know what happens when we get to a year? We accrue finance charges."
{idiot} "I'm sorry, Mrs. Fox. This is all I can do for you."
{grasshoppa} .... (trying to gather rational thoughts)
{grasshoppa} "Fine. Send it to your investigations department for the fourth time. But you owe me the credit, and I'm not paying it or any finance charges that might be assessed."
{idiot} "I'm sorry. I can't give you the credit. And there is a possibility the finance charges cannot be reversed. I'm not author..."
{grasshoppa} "I UNDERSTAND YOU'RE NOT AUTHORIZED. Send it to your investigations then." (very short pause) "Is there someone in investigations I can speak with? They already have all of this information on file, and I can save them a lot of time and get this taken care of a lot quicker if I can speak to someone."
{idiot} "I'm sorry. You can't. They're a non-phone department."
{grasshoppa} (Right. That's convenient) "Fine. Send it to investigations then. But what I want you to do is cancel the account. I'm not paying the balance. And you let your superiors know that I'm very unhappy, that I never intend to do business with you again, and that I intend to tell everyone I know not to do business with you."
{idiot} "I'm sorry. I can't give you the credit, even if you deserve it. And I can't cancel your account. I will make a note that you're unhappy..."
{grasshoppa} "What's your name?"
{idiot} "Rob."
{grasshoppa} "Last name?"
{idiot} "I can't tell you that."
{grasshoppa} "Okay, Rob. How about an identification number?"
{idiot} "I have an operator number."
{grasshoppa} "Okay, what's your operator number?"
{idiot} (sighs) (gives me his operator number)
{grasshoppa} "Is there an address to which I can send a complaint about the investigations department?"
{idiot} "No. But we do have an address for complaints about our services."
{grasshoppa} "What's the address?"
{idiot} (sighs) (gives address)
{grasshoppa} "Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau?"
{idiot} (sigh) "Yes."
{grasshoppa} "Good. I'll also be lodging a complaint with them." (pause) "Is there anything else you can do for me today?"
{idiot} "No, I'm sorry. All I can do is send this to investigations...."

So I rant and rant about this to Derek, who had already spent an hour on the phone with Rob-the-Idiot before I spent the fifteen minutes to get told he could do nothing. Once I finally calmed down, we both came to the same realization. When we spoke to the credit center in March, they said the post was because of a store error. We had worked with the store manager after being told this in March. So we decide to go back to the store manager today to see if they could expedite the process. In theory, the store manager has this resolved. It still has to go to investigations, but rather than waiting up to 60 days, we are supposed to know in 5 days. We'll see if this gets fixed once and for all. Given their track record, I figure we'll be calling them again in a few months...and that phone call will be through our attorney!

Learn a lesson from us--DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH ZALES CONSUMER CREDIT!!!! If you have an account, watch it like a hawk; pay it off; and cut up your card!

{Sidebar: Actually, the real problem is not just Zales Consumer Credit. It's with their managing company--Citi. We have a consumer account with Home Depot, as well. Guess who manages those accounts? Citi. Have we had problems with that account? Yep. Has it taken more than one call to the credit center to get the error fixed? Yes. Has it been fixed once and for all? Not exactly. But the balance is at least what it should be. Only the coming months will tell if they get it right permanently. So....before getting any store card for those great financing deals, check to see who manages those consumer accounts. If it's Citi, RUN LIKE HOLY HELL!!!!}


The Calvinator said...

We bought some furniture from Ashley Furniture and got the many months to pay with no interest. Our account is serviced by CitiFinancial. So far, no problems have occurred. If anything does go wrong, I'll be sure to let you know.

Susan said...

Is it Citi's retail services division? The reason I ask is that our furniture card is thru Citi but through a different division than what services Home Depot and Zales, which apparently is the same division. Thus far, the division of Citi that services the furniture store has gotten it right.