Since we moved here, I noticed that even though I had changed the billing address on my American credit cards, my statements for some of them were consistently too late to be able to pay them on time. I phoned customer service for one of them, MBNA, and after some discussions about possible ways of fixing this, they admitted that they couldn’t help me yet, but the representative encouraged me to check my balance online periodically and at some point in the future, to contact customer service again to see if they could get what I wanted. What I wanted was to get my statement via email (or at least, an email to be sent when the statement was readable), the way I get with my Investment accounts. Since this particular credit card was even connected to my Investment accounts (that’s where the bonuses for using the card go), it seemed possible that maybe they might do this in the near future.
That was 6 months ago or so. After getting my statement for this past month late once more, I decided to give MBNA a call. The service representative had a southern accent. That wasn’t all that surprising. What I wasn’t prepared for was a full dose of unabashed American propaganda:
Me: (after the usual account exchange of security and account number information) Hello, I’ve been continuing to get my statement too late to be able to pay it. I know that I’m in Canada, but is there any way that you could send the statements earlier or send an email notifying me of them?
Service Rep: Oh yeah, we’ve had a lot of trouble recently gettin’ statements to people OUTside the US because of the guv-ment. They now have to check all of these statements.
Me (gasping in astonishment): You’ve got to be kidding.
Service Rep: Oh no, not at all. This is necessary, after what those terrorists did down here. You watch the news, dontcha?
Me: Are you telling me that I have no choice, that this is the US government who are holding up your statements?
SR: I told you, to people in other countries, you’ll be gettin’ your statements late from now on. It’s a new procedure. If you want to talk your Senator about this, you can do that, but there’s nothin’ we can do.
Me: Can’t you just send the statements out a little earlier to make up for this?
SR: Sir, we send those statements as soon as we can already. The guv-ment just has to do this to keep us all safe. I’m sure you understand that.
Me: I can’t believe this. No one told me about this months ago. Is there someone else I can talk to about this?
SR: You’re talkin’ to me. Now I suggest you check your statement online, which you can easily do from www…
Me: (breaking in) I do that already, I really just want you to send me the statements earlier or send an email so I’ll know when to check…
SR: We won’t do that. That’s jus’ something we don’t do.
Me: OK, that’s it. I’ve had it. Please cancel the account.
SR: (almost relieved): I’ll be happy to do that, sir.
It didn’t go much longer beyond that. I think at some point I almost heard her mutter something about for’inners.
At any rate, I believe I’ve learned something. The behavior of the Bush Administration is now being imitated everywhere, even by the Private Sector: When you find yourself at odds with your customer/citizenry, blame the idea of Terrorism. The Bush government has literally gotten away with murder and mayhem by using the umbrella explanation of “9/11 Changed Everything”. The rights of Prisoners of War, the right to a Free Press, the privacy of phone conversations, medical records or financial transactions; everything is up for grabs under the “We have to fight the Terrorists.” excuse. I didn’t think I’d be hearing that particular spiel recited to me from a credit card company like MBNA, but I guess this is a game that anyone can play. So, if you get lousy service or a shoddy product from some American company, don’t be surprised if they pull out the ultimate ‘Get out of Jail Free Card’ that has the number 9 and 11 on it.