Q: Last week my stove went out and I needed repair. I called Sears and they asked for my credit card number before accepting the service call. I refused. I called a second local business, and they also asked for a credit card number, which I also declined. I found a great service company in Fairview Park, and the gentleman did the repair to my satisfaction.
Is this now the new “standard” for guaranteeing repair service?
DG, Nord Olmsted
A: Honestly, I’ve never heard of this before. I also searched the consumer forums a bit and didn’t find any questions or complaints about it. So I would say no, that’s not the norm.
Either way, even if something was “normal” it doesn’t mean you have to. It is normal for banks and other businesses to ask for your mother’s maiden name. But I never give mine. It is normal for some stores in the mall to ask for your phone number when you check out. But I never give mine.
A credit card to even schedule a service call? It’s scandalous. I wouldn’t and I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it.
Oh so many reasons: there are things you can pay for in advance, but a service call is not one of them. You risk that your card number will be compromised. You may be billed and not receive the service call. You might be overcharged and have a hard time disputing it because you won’t be able to review the charges before you sign out.
And then there’s the whole Sears affair. If I had to give any business a card number before work, Sears would be at the bottom of the list. I love Sears. I have purchased many appliances from Sears. But Sears is in financial difficulty and has closed stores left and right and many analysts believe the iconic retailer could file for bankruptcy this year. What if Sears charges you upfront for a service call and declares bankruptcy before the repairer can intervene? It’s going to be a puzzle.
Maybe I could understand that a repair company would ask for payment for the service call itself – say $ 50 or whatever – when the repairman comes to your house. And then the person could bill at the end for all the parts or the extra time spent on the repair. Can you imagine calling your mechanic and the garage to ask for your credit card number before making an appointment? Can you imagine calling your hairstylist for a haircut and having the store ask for your credit card number before planning your visit? Puh-leeze.
Sears spokesperson Larry Costello said the policy of asking customers for a credit card in advance was “new” and “optional.” I buy the first one. You said it wasn’t optional if you wanted the date.
Customers are asked if they wish to provide a card number and, if they do, “nothing is charged to the member’s credit card until service is completed,” Costello said. Providing a card in advance can save time and does not require giving the card information to the technician, he said. If a customer does not wish to provide a card number in advance, she can pay by check at the end of the service call.
I can imagine the Sears side of the call as it overlays all the reasons a rep gives as to why a customer would be wrong by not providing the card number up front. You should never feel pressured to do something that you don’t feel comfortable doing. Always breathe. Say no. Say wait. Talk to others.
Q: I have had a credit card with Capital One for 18 years. I have excellent credit. They recently informed me that my credit limit was reduced from $ 18,000 to $ 10,000. I sometimes use my card, but never have a large balance or a balance transfer. It is usually paid in full the following month or over a few months. I have never been late. Capital One explained the reason for my line reduction: “Current accounts are not being used enough for assigned credit limits and non-Capital One revolving transaction balances are too low. “
The way I take it, I’m not making enough money for them. I’m worried this will hurt my credit rating and what if I need a bigger limit in the future.
I contacted Capital One and spoke to an account supervisor. She told me she couldn’t help and gave me an address to appeal in writing. This is the same address that would be used for a purchase dispute. I am so angry. Would you recommend having another card?
VL, Highland Heights
A: Banks don’t have endless credit that they can make available. You are correct that you are not making enough money for Capital One through merchant transaction fees and possibly interest / finance charges. It’s good business practice for Capital One that if you don’t use up a lot of your $ 18,000 limit, the bank will make that available to someone who will. There is nothing personal against you.
I don’t know if your anger stems from your perception that Capital One is mean to you (it isn’t) or if you are worried that your credit rating will go down (it may be a little, but not a lot) or if you think you might need a good chunk of that $ 18,000 someday.
If this is the latter scenario, you might want to get another card besides the Capital One card. Otherwise my advice is to move on.