my dear henry,
you know i love you. i mean, parking at your mall alone on a daily basis means that i contribute to your great wealth each and every single day (or at least every single working day). and let's not even discuss the frequent mini shopping sprees i have at your store. if batman can be summoned by the mayor through the bat signal, well, all it takes for me is that bright sign from the letters S & M and i'd come running. as i've said countless times before, i can try, but i can never really break up with you.
you're an addiction. i can probably give up rice, heck, maybe even bacon. but not our sweet love affair.
that said, maybe you can help me with something. see, my friends and i went to kuala lumpur last weekend. from the plane tickets to the booking in agoda.com to an additional booking for a first night hotel, we used a BDO credit card and it was quick, it was reliable, and it was pain free. so, when it was time to finally go on our vacation, the BDO credit card was brought along, there being a separate dollar account with a balance bigger than what we could actually shop and not go broke.
so, imagine our surprise when the card was declined on the very first purchase.
not to be deterred from making a purchase, the item was paid for using another credit card. but, a quick text message was immediately sent to someone in the philippines, asking that the bank be called and the matter be immediately settled. according to the person called, my friend would have to call the bank himself, using a toll-free number, and the matter will be resolved immediately.
that's when we encountered the first problem: the international toll-free number could not be reached. we tried all permutations of the toll-free number until we gave up and called the local number using our cellular phone. at P100 per minute, it was a pretty expensive call to make, but shopping bliss depended on it, so the call was made anyway.
so he called and then almost immediately hit a roadblock: BDO was offline, and could my friend call again later? my friend explained that he was in kuala lumpur and was using his roaming phone so could the agent kindly text him to say when they'd be online so he wouldn't be calling every so often only to be told that the bank was still offline. the agent's reply: no, just keep on calling. horrible right?
solution: ask someone from the philippines to keep on calling until the bank goes online. person from the philippines will text my friend so that he can call when the bank is finally online. problem solved? nope, there was another problem: the call center agent kept giving my friend the wrong information. she kept on insisting that his account's balance for the peso and dollar charges were one and the same, notwithstanding that my friend knows for a fact that they're separate and distinct. after more than five minutes (and P500 on roaming charges, so hateful!) the agent finally understood my friend was saying and concurred that indeed, he has a separate balance for dollar charges.
it doesn't end there, hence problem number 3: for an eleven dollar charge (which, at the time the information was finally retrieved, was actually cheaper than the call already), BDO refused to activate his dollar charging privileges. apparently, since the US$11 was already due, his credit card was suspended, which explained why his credit card was declined when he tried to charge something. since my friend's dollar charging privileges was WAY more than the unpaid charge, he inquired why the bank was so quick to suspend his card. the additional time (and hundreds of pesos on phone charges) spent talking to the agent was virtually useless -- the agent could not furnish any explanation whatsoever, even when my friend asked for his help regarding the matter.
so my friend asked to be connected to the agent's supervisor, and after waiting for longer than the length of our train ride (yes, that long), he finally got to talk to the supervisor, who also couldn't do anything about it, as well as provide any acceptable explanation. it was several minutes into the call before the supervisor said, sir, maybe you can pay the charge.
then my friend exploded (or sort of. he's not the exploding type) sana kanina niyo pa sinabi, which bring the tally to five issues already.
after breathing in and out, and trying to relax himself after a very stressful conversation with the call center agent and the equally inept supervisor, my friend sent a text message to manila, asked that the eleven dollar charge be paid. manila person went to BDO (which is open until seven at night), paid the charge, and then sent a text message: done and done.
or so we thought. guess what happened when we tried charging our lunch: declined again! so once more a call was made to manila where he was informed -- extremely belatedly, if i may say so myself -- that even if the payment was made to BDO, since it was made on a friday, it would take several banking days before the card could be activated once more.
sigh, after almost P2k on phone calls -- more expensive than the original item being bought -- and a bazillion of issues, we ended up having to work with the money we had.
boo, henry, boo.
bdo has a very impressive tagline -- we find ways. unfortunately, on this first test, clearly, none of your people found an acceptable solution. then again, knowing you, i'm willing to bet they're all contractual, so they don't really care about a fuming customer somewhere in malaysia frustrated with their ineptitude and lackadaisical attitude.
but i'm in love with you, henry, and deep inside, i know you're a good man (that gorgeous church in megamall should be proof positive of your deep faith, right?). so please do something about this, and soon. i've a mind to sue for moral damages (extreme embarrassment over card being declined, sleepless nights over stuff unpurchased, anxiety over whether or not lunch bill would declined or not) and actual damages (cost of the phone call from kl to manila), but you know that (for now) i won't. after all, you and i, we've got history, and i'm counting on that to make sure that something will be done about this matter, pronto.
with bated breath,