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Hey Y’all: Some days….

This morning had a beautiful beginning.  No cats had thrown up during the night. 

Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

James was off from work for the Thanksgiving holidays.  We got to sleep in.  I actually stayed in the bed until 7:30.  Great start to the morning.
Coffee making; cats fed; all is right with the world.
I hate Christmas shopping.  My rule of thumb is to have it all done no later than November 1.  It may be a phobia.  Justified by my years as Santa’s elf at Sears.
With this Covid mess I haven’t been able to shop like I prefer.  Remember when we went in a store and looked around?  We got a special vibe when we found just the right gift.  There just isn’t that joy this year.
I hate shopping online more than I hate Christmas shopping after November 1.  I do as little as possible with the computer and online shopping as I can.  This year I have few choices.
Remember the beautiful, positive, pleasant morning of an in person shopping day?  Well, it went to hell in a handbasket.

Belk is my preferred store in town.  Most of the other stores believe all women are sized with inverted waistlines, convex fannies and legs that can wear skinny pants.  (HINT: Very few of us can wear skinny pants.  Look at yourself objectively in a mirror.)
Recently, Belk’s was having a Black Friday Sale, the week before Black Friday.  That meant great prices on a number of things.  Goody.  Still in the wonderful morning bliss, I decided to tackle online shopping once again.  I found the perfect sweater for our son James.  I ordered it.  Snell is one step evolved from an amphibian.  He is cold 100% of the time.  If he is freezing now when the temperatures are in the 60’s, he will be a block of ice by the time winter really gets here. I found him a heated mattress cover for HIS side of the bed.  I placed that order.
All good.  Yeah, here comes the true meaning of BLACK Friday.  The black in Black Friday means a black and evil force is weaving itself around us. It attaches itself to my credit card.  Pure, unadulterated evil.
I place my order using a gift certificate. A red notice appears: “We are sorry, but this certificate has expired.”  What?  How? Belk gave it to me for a returned purchase. I asked for the credit to be placed on my regular credit card, but no.  Belk had to give me a gift card. One that I cannot use apparently. A trip to the store will be in order.
I placed the order using my regular Belk card.  I became a Belk credit card holder in 2004.  I pay my bill each month. I do not, have never, and will never carry a balance.
 A red notice…”We are sorry.  We cannot process your order at this time.  The information on your credit card does not match our information. Please try again.  If you cannot resolve this, please call customer service.”

I couldn’t resolve the issue.  I still don’t know why.  I called customer service, or customer NO-service, as Clark Howard has dubbed them.  After twenty-seven minutes of punching and answering questions on the call center number, I finally reached a human.  A human who could not help me.  She was “the bank representative.”  There was nothing wrong with the card as far as her department was concerned.  HMMM.  She transferred me to another department. “When you get to that line, hit ‘0’ and you will go straight to the right person in the right department,” she lied.
It was the same ordeal. You have to go through ALL of the steps when you call.  And none of the questions that must be answered relate to the problem I am having. You can’t hit zero for an operator.  You cannot say a term like customer service, representative or agent.  The Automated Simple Services (ASS) will not recognize your request.
Thirty-three minutes later of punching and answering questions on ASS, I was cut off.  I now have my third cup of coffee and box of tissues, and a throbbing headache.
I wanted whatever was wrong with my credit card repaired. Stupidly I called back. After twenty-one minutes of the same routine, I finally get to a person, who cannot help me.  Did you read that correctly? Can-NOT help me.   At least the man tried, and then he explained to which department he was sending me. The fact that I am fighting back tears probably helped. Oh wait, maybe he was just passing me off to some other person so he didn’t have to deal with me. 
I am once again transferred.  At least this time I am on hold with music.  I don’t have to answer any questions. Eleven minutes later a woman named Mary answered the call.
I explained all the problems of the authorized credit card’s not working, the problems which I have had with it, and the problems of all the different departments with which I have had this same conversation.
Mary doesn’t know what is wrong.  She can place the order for me and run a check on my card.  My card is valid.  She verifies its validity. We place the order. The sweater is on sale, marked down from $80.00 to $28.00. 
The system charges me $80.00 for the $28.00 sweater. Thank goodness I caught that error. Mary deletes the entire order and does it all again. And then does it again.  Yep, twice. By this time I am thinking James doesn’t need a Christmas present.
Twenty-six minutes on the line with Mary and the order is finally placed.  I think it is, anyway. She swears my credit card is working correctly.  I pray it is.
I hope my order for extra feathers for her angel wings goes through without a problem.  She certainly deserves it.  The person who designed Belk’s ASS, however, should have hot coals put in his or her drawers and they should burn forever.  FOREVER.

Marlene Ratledge Buchanan is a local author and columnist. You can read more from Marlene at Her covid laugh ’til you cry stories will be starting soon.