Wednesday, April 06, 2005


How long before I walked in did William E. Rapp walk out? Ten seconds? Thirty? A minute? A short enough time that the automated teller he used, which was next to the one I was using, was still beeping, asking if another transaction was wanted.

Rapp, whomever he is, had left his HSBC Mastermoney debit card in the teller, absentmindedly turned away — no doubt stuffing his cash in his wallet and his wallet in his pocket — and walked out.

We waited in the teller for him to return, but there was no sign of him. I called the 800 number on the back of the card to explain the problem and the customer service representative sprang into action: A letter would soon be sent to Rapp telling him he could get his card back using the contact information I would provide.

“But he’s right here,” I insisted. “He’s somewhere right around here. He left here only minutes ago.” Couldn’t they try to use his contact information immediately? After all, he was likely to cancel the card that night, or at best the next day. When the letter got to him, it would be too late, a wasted effort.

No, I was told. There are laws that prevent the company from contacting their customers that way after a certain hour.

Now there’s a carefully written law. To spite the telemarketers, we cut off the customer service.

I also tried calling directory assistance for his telephone number, and he was listed in Cambridge, but the answering machine at his number was for “Alex and Sarah.” And I still have Rapp’s card, on the off chance he gets that message or the letter and the card is needed.

But it’s nearly certain Rapp will have to go on feeling stupid for a while. He’ll probably start to feel better only when a letter from HSBC arrives, several days after he’s canceled his card and forgotten it, telling him his card was found seconds after it was lost, and that HSBC knew about it but could do nothing to help him.

Now that, Rapp will say, is really, really stupid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK...I had a laugh about "Mastectomy Card." But that's just my sick humor of reading too fast....I admit.