He Called Me Sweetie
He Called Me Sweetie
By Elaine Viets
I caught the fast-talking sleaze when he made a fatal mistake. He called me sweetie.
Like most Americans, I’m trying to get my credit-card interest rates lowered. So far, I’ve failed. (Insert "I Can’t Believe We Bailed Out Those Bastards" speech here.)
I got a recorded call from a company that sounded like FCS International, offering to reduce my credit card interest if I pressed One. I did, and spoke to a man who was probably in Mumbai. He promised a representative would return my call shortly.
Next, a fast-talking man said he could reduce the interest from 8% to 6% on my Visa card. There was a $600 fee, but I’d save more than $2000 a year.
Wow! Mr. Fast Talker asked from my Visa card number and security question. He said he’d tape record our conversation with Visa for my protection. I said yes. Then he got Visa on the phone and said he was my financial advisor. The operator told him how much I owed. Mr. Fast Talker said I’d hear shortly from someone telling me how much my interest rates would be cut.
While I waited for the next call, I wondered why FCS, or whatever it was, called me. Did I contact that company? Why did they have to tell me how much my interest would be reduced? Didn’t they say 6%?
The phone rang. This time, a man said he was David Berkeley from FCS. If his name was really David Berkeley, I’m Warren Buffet. David was eager to help. He mentioned the $600 charge, but now alarm bells were ringing.
"Why did you contact me?" I asked.
"Because you’re in good standing with your bank. You always make your payments on time."
That was true.
David had another of my credit card companies on the line. He wanted to record that conversation, too. He asked for my security code. I gave it to him. "Thanks, sweetie," he said.
Wait a minute. Men don’t call me sweetie. They’ve called me sweetheart. One dipwad called me sweet cheeks and barely survived. But they did call my late mother-in-law sweetie. Even at 92, she was a financial wizard.
Young fools called her sweetie, thinking she was slightly senile. My mother-in-law would smile like the sweet old lady she wasn’t, then hand the twits their gonads in a grocery bag.
David Berkeley had just called me sweetie. He thought I was senile.
"Is it okay if this man represents you, Ms. Viets?" the credit card representative asked.
"Only if his representation doesn’t cost me anything," I said.
"What!" David Berkeley screamed.
When the credit card rep hung up, David Berkeley’s good nature was gone. "Why did you say that?" he asked. His tone was accusing.
"You said I could represent you only if my help didn’t cost you anything. I’ve spent 20 minutes talking to you," he shouted. "You’ve wasted my valuable time."
"My time is valuable, too, David. We don’t have a deal. I will not pay that $600 charge."
"You have to. We have a legal recording."
"The recording isn’t legal. By law, I have three days to back out of any deal," I bluffed. "I I’m recording this conversation. I will report you to the Florida Attorney General’s office for fraud."
"It wasn’t me," David said. "It was the first guy who called you."
David Berkeley and I did not part on good terms. I immediately called the credit card company where I supposedly had that lower rate. I didn’t have one. I also didn’t have that $600 charge.
I canceled the credit card.
I called every credit card company and changed all my passwords. I bought a credit protection plan. Then I filed a written complaint and made a phone complaint with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. His office said these interest reduction frauds are on the rise and advised me to file a fraud report with Equifax, the credit reporting agency. I did.
Take that. Sweetie.