I turned in my Sam's Club card on Monday.
There could be many reasons to do that, of course, but the straw that broke this camel's back was pure business- I have lost faith in the management of Sam's Club. They are doing business according to known failed practices. Which, incidentally, are stupid on the face, and even stupider in today's business climate.
Is all the business world contracting at the moment? Yes. Then why, pray tell, would you want to actively insult and drive away customers who have a long record of always paying bills on time? Hm?
The answer to the obvious "What ARE they thinking??" is: they're not thinking at all.
Here's the whole story. I signed up as a Sam's Club member years ago, as soon as one opened where I could sensibly reach it. It's a "Business Membership"- because, duh, I have a business, and we intended to actually use some of the price breaks that are possible there.
The whole fantasy that Sam's sells "wholesale" is a big fib, of course; they do sell some stuff aimed at small businesses, but mostly they make money by selling great big packages of stuff; at a slightly lower price per pound or whatever; but you have to buy four times as much- so they still come out ahead. If you can buy carefully from them, and have storage space- you can save some pennies. But you also have to keep your brain turned on- some things, like engine oil, are always much cheaper somewhere else. Very hard to beat their prices on tires or car batteries, though- and we use golf-cart batteries for the power here. Saved money there.
By and large, we managed to save a few pennies shopping there, and it was probably actually useful. Though always a little marginal. Lots of things could have been had cheaper through actual wholesalers, but it would have required more time and effort on our part; some of the benefit was just convenience.
After a couple of years, they expanded their enterprise, and got into providing business credit. It was easy, though not cheap, and- convenient. So we signed up for a $5k credit line, as soon as it was offered. And have used it, over the years-probably ran it up to 4k once or twice; but always paid it back down in a month or two.
Our business here is plant based- which means cash flow highly seasonal- some times there isn't any. Which makes credit very useful. And of course totally standard for any business; if you go to a bank or business advisor, and tell them you aren't using credit lines to even out cash availability, they will scream at you. Not just shake a finger, naughty naughty- they'll say you're an incompetent manager.
It seemed to make sense (at the time...). Never any problems with it; they were providing a service. Credit. We bought it, and paid for it. On time, always.
Monday, we were in town celebrating a birthday, with a little lunch at the Chinese buffet, and stopped at Sam's to do a little stocking up. Combine trips, of course.
As a matter of convenience, I said "leave it on the card", as we were checking out- and my Sam's Club business credit card was declined. By Sam's.
I knew, having paid the bill the week before, that the account was more than paid up, nowhere near the limit, and totally in good standing.
We also know that credit card companies are pulling in their credit lines- to cover their own sorry butts; even for customers who have nary a black mark against them. We've bellyached about that here before. Everyone in the community says this is a really, really bad idea; particularly right now. Besides being dishonest. But the credit companies are doing it anyway; bailouts or not.
I was - ok, incensed. I'd expected this nonsense from Citi, and Chase. But not from Sam's, whose business credit is handled internally. They're really free to act as they choose. And they're choosing stupid.
I gave them a chance to straighten it out. Went to the "Membership Services" desk, and explained it (somewhat loudly, so everyone within 50 feet heard just fine). They were well trained, and sympathetic. The girl called up "the number", and actually tried to convince the poor woman answering the credit number to change it. She, of course "doesn't have the authorization". Eventually I talked to the credit person myself. Laid it all out.
"Are you looking at my record there?"
"Yes I am."
"I know this isn't YOUR doing- but part of your job is to pass on the customers' responses to your bosses; so I want you to really pass this on."
sigh "They really don't listen to us very much..."
"Tell them they need to remember. This is a BUSINESS. You are doing BUSINESS - with me. And incidentally - I have been CHOOSING to DO BUSINESS - with you. You can change the terms of our agreements without reason or notice? Guess what. So can I. Business by definition has two participants- and the entire credit industry has forgotten that."
And I hung up; and handed my member's card to the Membership girl. "Keep it. I'm done here. Cancel my membership."
I got nothing but understanding grim smiles from the other customers; and actual applause, from one.
In reality, I'm not giving up much- if anything. Sam's is far from green, and as part of the Walmart empire, has some pretty questionable economic behavior, anyway. I'm giving up some convenience, and cheap tortillas. We have no similar stores here, no Costco, etc. But now my dollars are going a little more locally, which is good. And I have credit elsewhere.
So I'm not feeling all that noble. But it did feel good. And loud.
And I no longer have to feel slightly sleazy shopping there.
Oh, and. Abbie's comment made me think of this little addition.
Abbie- yeah, the banks claim lots of "rights". Got a new one in my current American Express statement. In extremely fine print:
"Your credit card agreement is hereby amended to include this sentence, in the section on "In the event of disagreements regarding payments" paragraph 3, after the last sentence: "You authorize us, or our agent, to access your bank account and withdraw the contested amount."
Oh, I do?
Hey, American Express; back atcha; our agreement is hereby amended to include; "YOU authorize me, the cardholder, to make any payment I want, whenever I want, and under no circumstances will any additional fees be charged for anything. In the event of disagreement, I, or my agents, may access your bank account, and withdraw double the disputed amount."
I think that has exactly the same force of law, don't you?