Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Pharmacy Big Rate Credit Card Declined Blues

I had an odd final day of 2015. I began it feeling very much in control. I wanted to finish up things and start the new year very cleanly. It started well enough. I slept in a bit later before arising and performing my usual morning chores and leaving for my walk. I planned to do some errands on the way, simple things really. I had two letters to mail, which I could drop in the box at the entrance island to our community. I had a check to deposit over at the bank through the ATM. These could all be done on my way to the park. After my walk I planned to stop by a garage and make an appointment for an oil change and then pick up some prescriptions at the drugstore for my wife. Everything fit easily into a circular route to and from my stroll. I was as tranquil as a Maine inlet at sunrise.

Naturally I forgot to drop the two letters in the mailbox. I just sailed right by it. I considered turning back and mailing them, but decided not to and proceeded to the bank.

No problem there.  I made my deposit and headed to the park, but I thought isn't it funny, we have this mailbox at the entrance of our community, yet I've never noticed any other having such a thing. There must be other mailboxes somewhere, and thus I began consciously looking for any. Not too far along Marsh Road I spotted one on the corner of a entry lane into a development. It was, of course, on the left side of the road. I was able to make the turn into that street.

I drove up to an intersection, made a U-turn and came back to the box. It sat awkwardly on the corner and to the passenger side of the car. There was no drive-up chute on it as there was on the one where I lived. I had to stop, get out of the car, walk over and mail my letters. No big deal. I then had to turn left out of that development back on to the main road to go on my way. This was no big deal either since it was New Year's Eve morning. Usually on a Thursday at the hour it was, traffic would be heavy here and it would be hard to make a left. A lot of companies close now on New Year's Eve and traffic was nearly non-existent. I breezed right across.

I was happy again. My check was deposited and my letters were mailed and soon my walk was completed. Not much drama or excitement in these paragraphs is there? That's what I wanted, a calm and peaceful day.

I made my oil change appointment without fuss and soon stood in line at the counter of the pharmacy, expecting a quick transaction. I didn't even have long to wait.

My wife had two medications and a starter kit to pick up and Rite-Aide had called yesterday to say they were ready. The clerk got the medications from the racks, laid them before me and said: "$208.71, please."

"I beg your pardon? $209 dollars?"

My hearing had to be off. Normally we pay a few dollars for each prescription.  After all, that is why I pay monthly for prescription insurance.  The two renewal prescriptions were still low cost, totaling $18. The starter kit was $190.71.

"Even with our insurance," I gasped.

"Without the insurance it would be $698," she said. She glanced down at the bundle. "Says here you have to consult with the Pharmacist."

"Why?" I asked.

"I don't know. It just says it here. Okay, it's $208.71."

I nod, re-pocket my bank card and push a credit card into the slot. This is that new chip type card. Machine tells me not to dare pull my card out of the machine. I don't know what happens if I do. Perhaps my card will explode.

"Declined," the clerk says.

"Declined?" I ask. "Can I try it again?"


I stick in the card again and wait.

"Declined," she says.

I pull that card and fish out my bank card again. "I hope I got enough in here," I mutter as I slide this one (no chip yet). "No reason that card should be declined," I tell the clerk.

"Didn't say why," she says, "just declined."

This time the payment is accepted. Now I'll have to go to the banks and transfer money from the one to the other, I think.

Meanwhile the Pharmacist has made her way over for my consultation. We step to one side. "I have to go over the starter kid," she tells me. She flips open this packet of cardboard and starts reading instructions, pauses and looks up.  "The doctor should have gone over this with her," she says.

"Actually the doctor did," I say, but she continues to go through the whole spiel even though the instructions on the packet are clear as a bell. She finishes and hands everything to me.

"Why is this so expensive," I ask.

She looks at the medications. "These medicines here," she says, "are generic. The Starter Kit is a name brand."

She goes her way, I go mine. I feel as if I need some medication of my own to calm me down at this point.

I'm nervous. I'm concerned about the credit card being declined. Why? I've got two years before the expiration date. I know I'm a few thousands of dollars below my limit. I'd just used the card a couple days ago and it worked fine then. Have I been hacked?

I rush home and call the credit card company. One little ring-a-dingy, two little ring-a-dingy..."Hello, if you want to continue in English, press one. Hola, si desea continuar en español , pulse dos."

I poke one.

"Hello, if you want to continue in English, press one. Hola, si desea continuar en español , pulse dos."

I stab one--hard.

"Hello, if you want to continue in English, press one. Hola, si desea cont..."

I am about to smash that one button when suddenly the message changes.

"To get account balance information, press one. If you want to make a payment, press two." And so on and so forth ad infinitum. Well, ad nauseum, anyway. Somewhere around button 162 I am told to press to speak to someone in Customer Service.

"All our representatives are busy helping other clients..."

"Of course they are," I snarl. "Hire more people."

Some sort of music plays, I can't even recall what.

"Your call is very important to us," says a disembodied voice. 

"If it's so important to you answer the phone," I tell the robot.

"Someone will be with you shortly," it continues ignoring me. "Thank you for your patience."

A few more reminders of how important my call is to them go by and finally a young living, breathing, honest-to-goodness lady speaks to me. Her voice sounded young, but frankly, if she is working she certainly is most likely much younger than I. She tells me her first name and that she is in Kentucky.

She asks how she can help and I babble out my problem, which is essentially, "Why was my credit card declined."

She tells me she is sorry for my problem. She then informs me she is transferring my call to the fraud department.

Ut oh!

I wonder if I will be hearing a bunch of messages about how important my call is, but instead the young lady speaks again to tell me she has so-and-so on the line and turns me over to him. He didn't tell me where he was, but I doubt very much it was Kentucky. He had more of a Calcutty accent.

He apologizes to me for my experience and then explains it was simply a precautionary hold to assure no one was using my account falsely, that they do this little trick now and again for my protection. I had to verify my identity and he assured me my card was fine and I could use it now without a problem.

After we wished each other a great and glorious day and a happy and healthy New Years and salutations and glad tidings, and I hung up the phone I discovered a message on my voice mail from earlier of a call that had arrived when I was not there. It was the credit card company fraud department telling me to call a number and verify my account or I might have my card declined as a precaution against unauthorized use. I then discovered I had an email with the same request and warning.

Gee, I am glad my credit card company is looking after my security, but could they find a way to do this without causing me embarrassment and panic? Maybe I should be less critical, after all they did call and did email and normally I would have found these messages before I attempted to use my card again. I basically hold this card in reserve for emergencies and avoid its use, although I did some for Christmas this year. I wouldn't have used it again, though, if that outrageously high drug fee hadn't been sprung upon me at the pharmacy.

I am thinking maybe I better try using the card for something low cost just to make sure it is all free and clear now. I don't want to slip down anymore declines.

1 comment:

Ron said...

You're a great story teller Lar. Thanks for "sharing."