Corporate fraud can take many different forms. It can range from huge embezzlement operations, selling dangerous products, to just plain swindles. It is also part of our daily lives, and it is this seemingly innocuous aspect of corporate fraud that I want to investigate in this blog. The incentive for doing so came from an interesting exchange I had with a credit card company whose services I use.
I had let my balance run down to less than $100 last month as a result of a trip and some fairly serious purchases. As usual, when the account balance reaches a low level, I made an on-line transfer from my bank.
The process is familiar: I make the transfer; the credit card company sends me an email confirming the transfer process has begun – this normally occurs within a few hours. They then send me another email telling me the transfer has been posted to my account. At which point, I can normally use those funds, if I want to. All very normal and straight-forward.
I have to admit that I occasionally get annoyed with the idea that bank transfers within the same country, and even those between countries, are totally automatic and electronic. A transfer from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world, with a few exceptions of places that have questionable banks and bank practices, take only few seconds. My annoyance is that they always seem to take at least twenty-four hours, at a minimum.
Over the years I have learned to live with banks “kiting” with my money, resulting in twenty-four-hour time delays, but it still irritates me that no politician has ever addressed this issue of theft/fraud. When they kite with your money, they are basically stealing it from you for 24 hours and using it to make interest. Hence theft and fraud. Back to my story.
After I made the payment of $1,000, I duly received the first notice that the process had been initiated. The next morning (24 hours later) I received an email saying the amount had been posted to my account. I went on line to check, being suspicious by nature and experience. The screen showed the payment had been posted, the balance had reduced by $1,000 but my available credit was still the same as before the payment – less than $100.
I waited a day to see if that changed. It didn’t.
I called the customer service line and was told that it sometimes takes 48 hours to clear. They said they didn’t understand why it had already posted the amount, and told me to give it another day. Fortunately, I wasn’t desperate, so I waited. Three days later, nothing had changed, and I was getting mad. You would think that if they wanted to kite with my money for longer, they would be clever, or devious, enough not to show the discrepancy on my screen account numbers. Incompetent, as well as devious and fraudulent. I even wondered if they were actually kiting with my money, or whether it was just incompetence.
I called again.
The customer service agent listened to my story, obviously didn’t want, or know, how to handle it, and went to find a supervisor. The agent came back and said that sometimes large amounts take longer to clear, but that the supervisor had now released the funds into my account.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. $1,000 is a large amount for a credit card company? And, the supervisor could just release the funds in a few seconds. If you will excuse my language…….BULLSHIT!
This is corporate fraud, plain and simple. Minor, perhaps, but inexcusable, arrogant, and makes a mockery of the term customer service. It’s time us little people screamed a bit louder.