complaints, money, rants

An hour I’ll never get back…

A couple of weeks ago, the security on my USAA debit card was breached. There were a couple of fraudulent charges made, which I immediately reported. Because of the security breach, I had to get a new debit card. And because I live abroad, it took approximately two weeks to get the new card. In the meantime, I was relying on my credit cards to make purchases.

Three days ago, I got an alert from USAA to activate my card, which I couldn’t do, because it hadn’t yet arrived. But when I did get the card yesterday, I immediately went on USAA’s Web site and activated it. It was pretty funny, too, because as soon as I activated the card, I got an urgent alert in my inbox letting me know that the card was activated. Then, there was a follow up alert, letting me know that the card was activated and urging me to contact them immediately if I didn’t initiate this action. I deleted the second message and went on with my day.

Again, since I haven’t had my debit card, I’ve been using my credit card to buy things. I don’t like using my credit cards, because I once had a very high balance and it took me ages to get out of debt. When I do use credit cards, I tend to pay them off immediately. I usually only use credit for large purchases or travel expenses that require the extra protection that comes with using credit cards. I was looking forward to not using credit this morning, when I decided to buy some dog food for Noyzi. I have bought dog food for Noyzi using my old debit card a whole bunch of times. It was a run of the mill charge from a vendor I use all the time. I put in the new debit card’s information, clicked on “pay”, and sure enough, USAA immediately declined the transaction.

Off I went to USAA.com, where I went looking to see if my new card was listed. I’ve learned that when USAA turns off a card, it won’t show up if you go to the block/unblock card page. Sure enough, the new card, which was supposed to be active as of yesterday, did not appear on that page. So rather than call USAA and listen to their highly annoying hold music, I decided to engage chat. I figured it would take less time, since it’s the wee hours of the morning in the United States as I write this.

I used USAA’s chat function for the first time two weeks ago today, and found it somewhat less annoying than calling them. Plus, I am still pretty traumatized from my most recent USAA call, which involved talking to a man who was very rude to me. Granted, I was rude back, but my rudeness was borne out of extreme frustration, concern, and annoyance over trying to use my money. His rudeness seemed to be more because he didn’t like his job, didn’t like talking to a woman who wasn’t “keeping sweet”, and lacked a concept of customer service. Given how upset I was after that last phone call, I figured chat was the better option. When I used the chat two weeks ago, I noticed that the queues weren’t too long, probably because most of America is sleeping right now.

This morning, when I initially requested to chat, I was number 18 in line. It took about 45 minutes or so before I was finally at position 1. Then, Miranda T. came online. She advised that it would take two to four minutes to pull up my account. It took about seven minutes. Then, after another minute or two, she told me that there was a security alert on the card. She asked if my attempted transaction this morning was valid. I answered that it was. Several more minutes passed with no acknowledgement from Miranda, so I reiterated that the transaction was one I attempted to initiate. Another couple of minutes passed, and Miranda finally told me that she turned on the card and it was good to go.

I looked at the clock. I was engaged in this process for about an hour at a time of day when online traffic should have been pretty low. It was still the wee hours of the morning in the US. I decided to tweet, and didn’t even tweet at USAA. But they responded anyway, with apologies and an invite to send them a direct message. I thanked them, told them I was “good”, and quipped that it only took an hour. Seriously… a lot of people, lately, have been saying that they’ve been on hold with USAA for hours, or waiting hours for chat to initiate. To the Twitter responder’s credit, they did at least realize that I was being slightly facetious. And they said that USAA was “working on” shortening the queues. Does that mean hiring more “high quality” employees like the guy who was so rude to me two weeks ago?

Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten repeated false security alerts from USAA on valid transactions, which have required me to contact them multiple times. It’s honestly a crap shoot as to whether or not my card will be accepted on any given transaction. Every time I talk to their representatives, they apologize, but then it happens again. I complain, and then they call me and apologize, but nothing gets permanently fixed. It’s crazy that every transaction requires entering multiple security codes and assurances that I’m not being defrauded by anyone. But then when there’s actual fraud on the card, I get crickets…

Now… my question is… next time I try to use this new card, am I going to get another security alert as my card is declined? Will I have to spend another hour (or more) waiting for someone to chat with me about the problem? Or worse, will I have to call them and listen to their hold music from Hell for hours while I wait for them to turn on the card? I really hope we can make some changes soon… and get much better customer service. We have already refinanced our car loan with another financial institution, and as I write this, the pay off check is on its way to USAA.

I just think it’s crazy that in spite of all the erroneous fraud and security alerts USAA has enacted over the last couple of years, the one time there is actual fraud, they don’t engage that system and I have to deal with their fraud department. They randomly flag charges from retailers I’ve purchased from repeatedly and am geographically close to, but they ignore charges from US based food vendors whose Web sites I can’t even access without a VPN.

Then, I have to spend two weeks using my credit card because my debit card was compromised, and I have to wait for a new one to get to me. When I finally get the card and activate it, they send me two urgent alerts making sure it was me who activated the card– from my supposedly secure account, no less. And then, when I finally try to use the card for the first time, I immediately get a fraud alert, causing me to have to waste an hour waiting for help.

This isn’t a good look for USAA. They didn’t used to suck. What a shame. What good are new debit cards if they don’t work, even after I have TWICE confirmed that I have the card and need to use it?

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complaints

What do I do all day?

I woke up at 3:00am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I started looking at Facebook. I was immediately horrified at the latest Trump bullshit, to include the letter he sent to the president of Turkey…

Sigh… he’s just insane.

It makes me sad to read Trump’s letter. I have been to Turkey and it was an amazing experience, although it happened a long time ago. But I don’t want to dwell on this… because right after I saw Trump’s letter to President Erdogan, I saw this.

That poor interpreter looks absolutely gobsmacked at the sheer lunacy.

So then I decided I needed to read something lighter and ended up reading recent posts in the Life is Not All Pickles and Hairspray Group. And it was there that I saw this post.

Okay… well, I guess this isn’t totally unreasonable. When I was younger, I couldn’t imagine it, either. I had to work a lot just to pay my bills. I never thought I would be living the lifestyle I live today.

The first few responses were strictly about the fundies on television… really young women who get married when they’re barely legal and start pumping out kids. Then someone posted this:

Even non fundie families sometimes have one spouse who may not work but stays home for whatever reason. I imagine they do what those families would do. Clean, cook, laundry, visit family or friends, maybe babysit siblings or friends kids. 

And if you mean before they’re married, they most definitely clean, do laundry, and watch their siblings.

Again, perfectly reasonable response… until someone went there with this shitty comment.

I honestly don’t know any stay at home spouses without kids at home. Everyone I know works! Do people really do this?! How incredibly LAZY.

Fortunately, a few people piped up before I did and delivered angry responses to this incredibly judgmental and ignorant comment. When I did comment, I didn’t exactly bring the pain to this woman. Instead, I just explained my situation. It’s one that a lot of people face when they marry someone in the military, especially when they wind up living abroad. But even before we moved to Germany, having a job was a challenge, mostly due to moves, the uncertainty of where we were going to be living, and the amount of time we were going to be living there.

Over the course of my twelve years as an “Army wife”, we moved eight times. Four times, we had to move after less than two years in a place. Our stint in our last German town— the first place Bill worked as a civilian— was just over four years, and that is the longest I have lived in one place as a married person. But even though Bill is now a civilian, we still had no way of knowing how long we’d be living in our last town, and we don’t know how long we’ll be where we are now. In fact, twice in the past five years, Bill’s job changed. He changed companies; then we had to move again. Makes it tough for me to plan a career that will satisfy the judgmental out there who feel like I’m a waste of space for not having any crotch trophies, yet won’t bore me or drive me batshit nuts.

A few other folks weighed in on that whole, no job, no kids, no ambition thing…

Bill isn’t in the military anymore, but since we live in Germany, finding appropriate work is a challenge for me. Even if I wanted to work outside of the home, the kind of job that would be readily available to someone like me would be work I have no interest in doing. Yes, I have a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, but I can’t just go on the installation and work in the field for which I was trained. So that would leave working at AAFES, or doing something similar, which doesn’t interest me at all. Besides, there are people in the community who legitimately need those jobs to pay their bills. Bill makes enough money to support us comfortably, so I don’t see why I should take a job at Taco Bell away from a teenager just so some twerp on the Internet doesn’t think I’m lazy.

I’ve pretty much turned into a writer by default and– SURPRISE– I have actually made money writing online. While I could make more money doing other things, I have had my fill of working in retail, waiting tables, shoveling shit, and babysitting. I went to graduate school so I could stop doing those types of jobs. I like writing, and some think I’m good at it. But even writing isn’t doing it for me lately, because I’ve kind of lost the desire to put out content, thanks to some readers who decided to cause trouble for me. I still try to write every day, but I do so in an untrusting way, which makes it a lot harder and much less fun.

I’m a bit depressed about this development, because I know I wrote some good stuff for my original blog– stuff that was useful to people I don’t even know. I also know that some people loved my travel reviews and some folks even tried some of the things I suggested. But thanks to the toxic living situation we left a year ago, I had to close my old blogs– at least for now– start all over, and try to trust the people who visit my blogs now. Believe me, it’s been difficult, and frankly, I’m not even sure it’s worth it. I can get into less trouble when I sit around watching bad TV.

I also make music. Most people don’t pay attention to the music I make, but if I can muster the desire to make recordings and videos, it eats up time and makes me feel productive. I also learn new things when I make recordings and videos, and it can even be fun. But it also seems pretty futile to do it, because so many people like the woman in the Duggar group are judgmental and ignorant. People like that just make me not want to engage with anyone anymore. I figure, why bother? It’s like casting my pearls before swine.

While my not working outside the home when I don’t have children may seem “lazy” to some people, I do try my best to be productive. I’m not sure why it’s anyone else’s business what another person does with their time, anyway. It’s kind of akin to looking in another person’s grocery cart and judging them for what they’re buying and how they’re paying for it.

Just last night, I had a bit of a meltdown that poor Bill had to listen to after a hard day at work. There are a number of reasons why I “melted down”, but one of them is that I am kind of longing for a “normal life”. I always thought I’d have children, a full time job, and all of the trappings that come with the usual American lifestyle. That’s simply not how it turned out for me, and I’m not sure how I can go there now. So I don’t live my life that way… and so far, it works. We pay the bills. I haven’t been arrested yet. I may upset some people by what I write, but I don’t go out of my way to upset people. It’s just me passing the time I have left in this miserable existence.

I also really miss Zane and would like to get another dog. If I lived in my own home, in my own country, this would not be a problem. I could just go to the local pound and pick up a new dog and no one would be judging me simply for being from the United States, as they do here in parts of Germany. We could move back to the States, but I know I would miss living abroad, too. I like being in Europe, even if I’m going through a rough time right now. I know this is a temporary situation… but in the meantime, it sucks. I feel misunderstood, judged, and frankly, over the whole thing.

So yeah… this is what I do with my day. No, I don’t spend all day cooking and cleaning. I don’t care to do that. If I did want to do it, I would. But since Bill is the only person who is directly affected by my day to day activities, I choose not to cook and clean all day. Maybe my lifestyle seems like time wasted to some of you. It’s not what I planned for my life, either. I made Bill grimace last night when I lamented the choice I made, not following my own career. I mean, I wouldn’t trade him for anything. I love him very much, and he’s worth more than a job in a cubicle. But sometimes I feel utterly worthless… and comments like

I honestly don’t know any stay at home spouses without kids at home. Everyone I know works! Do people really do this?! How incredibly LAZY.

do sting a bit… It must be nice to be able to summarily discount an entire group of people based on one’s own narrow-minded perceptions of what everyone does– or should be doing– with their time on Earth. If the author of that above comment ever reads this piece, I’d like to invite her to go take a flying fuck. Now, if you’ll excuse me– hee hee– I’m going to go wash the sheets.

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