Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Credit Woes

Living on an island leaves one isolated from the use of items that make life easier and less complicated. Internet, telephones, shopping, availability of a variety of items and credit cards.

Yes, credit cards, even though they sometimes have a bad rap, they certainly can make one’s life a little easier. Especially shopping on the internet, which is what I have to do for 90% of the purchases I need to make. From prescriptions, dog medication, clothing, computers, movies, books, sewing material, tools, parts, solar panels, etc., it is far easier to shop on-line and find a way to get it here than try to find it on the Mainland or the island.

For years we could not use a credit card on the island and there was only one that could be used to get a cash advance at the local bank. Lately, a few more businesses have been accepting the cards and, even though I seldom use it on the island, it is nice knowing that if an emergency arises, I have back-up financing.

That being said, it came as a surprise the other week while ordering a replacement computer part on-line that my card was not accepted. I felt all they had to do was resubmit the information and all would be fine. I was on another site ordering something and the same thing happened….the card was not accepted. We have been with this same company for 40 years and have never had a problem with our card, so this came as a surprise.

I finally contacted the credit card company and was asked if I had recently made a $1 charge to my account on a specific date with a specific company. I replied “no, I had not”. I was then informed that a practice has been uncovered of late wherein someone will get a card number and pertinent information for use on-line and to make sure the card works, they will charge a small amount to see if it goes through. If it does they will then proceed to make larger purchases. Evidentially my card had been used for just such a practice run and my credit card company was suspending use of my card and re-issuing another in its place.

Now, most people would not find this disconcerting or inconvenient. But to have a credit card reissued presents a real problem for us. First, just getting it here is the biggest problem. I have to go through a lot of hassle just to convince the credit card company to send it to an address other than my billing address. When they do, I have to send it to someone who will be coming down here within the next few weeks so I will not have to wait months to get it. Lastly, the option they gave me of getting it reissued on the coast was totally out of the question.

To get a card issued on the coast would be an exercise in futility. Just spending $200 airfare to go to the Mainland and, most likely having to stay overnight would be a huge expense. Plus, I have never had luck with a bank in this country following instructions to the letter without incident. They invariably get my name wrong, account numbers wrong, tell me it will take several days to accomplish the task and then when you return they have done nothing during that time but wait for you to return and announce that you are there for your card, or whatever it is you have requested. They will then, and only then, proceed to try and take care of your request.

So, I pointed out to the woman at the credit card company that she would have to take my word that this way was not an option. The only way I would get the card quickly and without incident would be to send it to the address I supply and they would bring the card to me. Of course the woman on the other end of the phone did not believe what I was saying and after several wasted minutes explaining the plight of doing business here in Honduras, she finally relented and did as I requested.

I guess it is understandable that people living in a country where one can just pick up the phone, jump in your car or have items delivered without incident, cannot conceive that the simple act of obtaining an item could be so much. But, this is just one of the things one must live with if you want to live on an island!


  1. If only these clever people who steal from others would put their abilities toward doing something positive for the world... Oh, well.
    In any event I thoroughly enjoyed your husbands pix @


  2. Hey Sharon, I guess the hidden message in this is that whoever got your
    number did not start out with a huge charge or steal your idenity... Small
    blessings? Hope all is well with you and Mike... Tell Mike we said hi...
    Jim and Ann from Vermont... Hope to see you again soon...

  3. So sorry to hear about your credit card! I know what an incredible
    pain this is. I am still not done informing some of the automatic
    payment places from the last time our card was compromised.

    Joan & David