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Whose fault is it?

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2021 - 12:00am

One day last week as I was making rosaries my cell phone rang. A young lady from a law office told me that I owed more than P2,600 on my credit card from a certain bank (let’s call it “Bank X”). Could I pay it right away, please? I did not even stop to think if I had received such a credit card. I just don’t like having bills pending. So immediately I told her yes, I would pay for it.

Earlier this year I had gone to the branch of Bank X on the ground floor of our condominium, to introduce our housekeeper, Liezl, to “Katy,” the customer adviser there. I had opened my Bank X account on P. Guevarra, near where I once lived. But I got married and moved into my husband’s condo. I was delighted that they had a branch downstairs.

This move affected my credit card, which was due for renewal around the time we moved in 2019. They must have delivered it to my original address. I didn’t receive the card for a long time. One day I went down with Liezl to say that because of the pandemic and my age, 76, my housekeeper probably would have to do my banking for me. So I introduced them.

When the law office called, I wrote a letter to the bank telling them that I had attached a check for P3,000 to pay for the credit card bill but could not recall whom to make the check payable to, so could they please fill it up for me? Also, I had received a notice for a new checkbook; could they please give that to Liezl?

Liezl came back upstairs with the checkbook and the letter and the check. She told me that they said Katy was on sick leave. I wondered what I was supposed to do but returned to my rosary making. Later a man from the law office called me. I explained to him that I had sent a letter and a check down to the bank but it was returned. He seemed to look at my papers then he said, “This bill is just for the membership of your Bank X credit card.”

“I know,” I said, “but I haven’t received the card. I am 76 years old and not allowed by the government and our children to go out of the house because of the pandemic.”

“I don’t think you have to pay this,” he said. “I will just cancel your name from our list.”

“Thank you very much,” I said. Now, I cannot recall the conversation word for word because I was making rosaries and that’s what I remember he said. I just decided not to worry about it anymore.

Last Saturday I rifled through a pile of papers that might one day need my attention. As I looked, I saw the Bank X credit card lying there. I must have just stuffed it there because I now hardly use my credit cards. It must have arrived much earlier and I had forgotten about it. I thought: Maybe I should wait for Katy from the bank to be back. She at least knows me.

Monday morning the lady from the law office called again. I told her the same bank story. Also that a man from her office called me and said I didn’t have to pay. “What was his name?” she asked. “I don’t know,” I said, because stupid me didn’t ask for his name.

“Is your boss male?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said.

“Maybe it was he who called.”

The next day I get a text: “Good day. Please be informed that our client (Bank X) endorsed your unpaid credit card to our law firm. We’re very sorry to inform you that your account is already forwarded to our LEGAL Department. Please immediately visit our office in Quezon City or call this number to discuss settlement prior to case filing to avoid lawsuits.”

This made me hit the roof. I got dressed, put on my masks, picked up the letter and the check and the just-discovered credit card and went stomping off to the ground floor. I asked to see the manager. I heard a voice saying could I wait a while. Then I saw a head pop up at the desk behind Katy’s empty desk.

“Can you help me?” I asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” she said.

I gave her the letter that I had written and the check. She read and accepted it. I showed her the check that was dated May 7, asked her how to fill in the payee.

“I can fill that up for you,” she said. She did everything that had to be done. It took less than 10 minutes. Then she said, “Pasiensiya na kayo, ma’am.” It was the wrong thing to say to a person who had run out of patience.

Now that I have cooled down, I wonder what went wrong. I think it was the branch for not accepting my check on the day I sent it down. Somebody read it and sent me my checkbook but did not accept the check. Why not, when it was to their benefit to accept it? If I had gone down myself and paid it, there would have been no problem. I think they realized it was our housekeeper and decided it was best to pull rank, which was an ignorant thing to do.

It claims to be the best bank of the year. Maybe for the multimillion-peso transactions it makes. But it certainly creates major havoc in the life of a simple 76-year-old columnist who really just wants to do the right thing but gets treated the wrong way. Maybe they should teach their law firm a little kindness.

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CREDIT CARD LAW
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