When Jessica went shopping at Banana Republic last month, she forgot her store credit card. That was OK, the sales clerk assured her: she just needed Jessica’s Social Security number and for her to sign off on the transaction in order to access her existing card data in the system. Most people are so used to having our forgotten store loyalty cards looked up using our phone numbers that this seems natural enough. Only it wasn’t – by providing her SSN and signature, Jessica was actually applying for a Banana Republic Visa card.
To make a very long story short (which I am happy to elaborate on if you’d like me to) I went into a Banana Republic store on 9/11/11, and did not have my store credit card with me. When it was time to pay, I said I had a store credit card, but didn’t have it in my wallet and I’d be happy to just use my debit card. The sales clerk said that I could access it via the computer, just to give her my social. So I did. Then, she asked me to sign something, saying “this is just giving us permission to access your existing store card, and for remembering to use it, we’ll give you an additional 20% off your purchase today!” I should have known that was fishy, but I signed. I ended up paying something like $40 for what would have been a measly $50 purchase.
Two weeks later, I received A NEW BANANA REPUBLIC VISA CARD WITH A $2500 LIMIT in the mail. A card that I specifically did not apply for, and that I can only assume was what I signed to “gain access to my existing card.”
I am so angry and feel so violated. I’ve tried to get this rectified via multiple phone calls to both the regular Gap customer service line as well as the GE Capital Retail Bank customer service (their Visa issuing agency) but to no avail. I received two letters saying that their records indicate I applied for credit in store on 9/11/11. Of course their records indicate that – because of BR’s deceptive practices (or this woman’s deceptive practices) I effectively did apply for the card, while I was being told I was doing something entirely different.
Shame on them. Pity me for wasting hours talking to credit card companies. I’ve just started opening phone calls with “I’m so angry I will probably be mean to you, so I’m sorry.”
Yes, perhaps she should have known that was fishy, but stores are always running promotions to encourage use of their branded cards, so it’s not implausible. Still, lesson learned: insist on reading things before signing them and don’t depend on someone else’s synopsis, especially when that person has a financial interest in you not understanding every word.