Tuesday, September 2, 2008

MasterCard, You're Priceless (Or is it Clueless?)

I had an interesting thing happen to me today with my MasterCard. It's actually been getting a bit of a workout over the past week or 10 days. I bought DC's clothes, I charged some gas, we went to the Okanagan for the weekend and bought both gas and groceries there and I used it twice today, for $10 worth of groceries that were necessary for tonight's dinner as well as my protein drink and for gas.

The first trip to Safeway was a little after 6 pm. I came home, we made dinner, ate and went to work. I finished at 10:30 pm and had to go back to Safeway since (as Hubby pointed out) I had forgotten a couple of little things like milk, cream, cold cereal for DC and sugar. I think his point was that my buying my protein drink didn't mean everybody else had food for breakfast.

So first I bought gas because I was running on fumes and then I went into the store. I bought just under $20 worth of food and had my credit card declined at the check out! Now I had $2,000 worth of room on my card 10 days ago and I know we spent a bunch, including the clothes and filling the van with gas, but I couldn't imagine that I'd hit my limit!

I used my debit card and it went through, although my paycheque doesn't get deposited until after midnight and there's a lot that comes out right between the 30th and the 5th of the month. I came home and logged onto the website for my MasterCard. Lo and behold, it told me that my account had been restricted and to call an 800 number. I did and eventually spoke with a live person who told me that she needed to verify some transactions. The gas we bought in Hope. The gas I bought tonight. My first trip to Safeway tonight.

You see, for some reason, buying $10 worth of food and $30 worth of gas looked "suspicious" to them. I politely pointed out that this is my life. I have two homes and travel between them, so any normal expense like food or gas purchased in or between Points A and B are fine (and things I've done many times in the past). Doing something out of character, like buying electronics online, would be suspicious and should be checked.

Anyway, she updated my account and it's back to being usable. But what would have happened if this had happened on our trip and I'd been unable to buy gas? That would have stranded us for the night in Hope and we'd have had to go to a motel, but we couldn't have registered because the card would have been declined there too. Sleeping in my car isn't something I want to have to do. I appreciate them looking out for fraud but small amounts of gas or groceries shouldn't seem suspicious. People keep needing to eat and cars don't run on happy thoughts. I'm just glad I had access to both the internet and my phone and could resolve this fast.

1 comment:

Amphritrite said...

I've had this happen! I lived in DC for four years and flew constantly back and forth between the two coasts (East and West) to visit family and such. One time, the bank "saw" me in DC buying groceries and the next day, they "saw" me in Washington, fueling up (I'd used my check card to pay for a rental). The next thing I knew: BLOCKED! GASP!

I called them and explained, very calmly, that I was a dual-coast person and that I needed my credit cards to be dual-coast as well. If there was a charge over $300 at one time, that would be suspicious unless it was for airfare.

They got the picture after that ;)