Check confusion at Macy’s is driving me #$&!@ mad

littleny / Shutterstock.com
littleny / Shutterstock.com

Question: I recently made a purchase at a Macy’s store in San Francisco using two checks. One check for the amount of $31 was supposed to go towards the Macy’s American Express Card Account. Another check for the amount of $173 was supposed to go towards the Macy’s department store account.

I was told by my bank that both checks were processed electronically and deposited. But just one problem: The amounts went to the wrong accounts ($173 went to the American Express Account and $31 went to the Macy’s department store).

My wife, whose name is on both accounts, and I have attempted to make several phone calls to solve this matter, to no avail.

I tried to explain but was treated rudely by the call center. I was given a few fax numbers and my bank faxed information as well. I even phoned Macy’s Corporate offices and spoke with a representative, and she assured me that this situation was resolved.

Well, I just received my statement today and it says I still owe the company $209, so nothing has been resolved. I spoke with a customer service rep, who said Macy’s needed “proof” that one of my checks had been deposited.

I would like to resolve this situation as soon as possible. We have never received such poor customer service from Macy’s. Please advise me on how to solve this problem. — David Garcia, San Francisco

Answer: Macy’s should have applied the payments to the right accounts, of course. When it didn’t, it should have quickly fixed the problem instead of forcing you to send faxes and talk to representatives who, as it turns out, couldn’t help you.

Your transaction is a little confusing to me, since I’m not a regular Macy’s shopper. But if you’re at the cash register, why wouldn’t you pay by credit card and then mail in a check to cover the expense later on?

I consulted with someone with knowledge of a department-store’s back-office operations, who told me that writing a check like that at the register would have caused some problems from a bookkeeping point of view. That may be one reason why you ran into trouble, but I can’t know, because I wasn’t there at the time.

I suspect you might have been able to short-cut all of this nonsense by sending a brief, polite message through this form on the Macy’s site. It would have been routed to the correct department for a hopefully fast resolution.

Another even more obvious solution: Next time, consolidate your payments. Don’t try to pay for a credit card bill at the register. Also, I would consider scrapping the company-issued credit card. You know, there’s a reason they offer 20 percent off your purchase price when you open an account. These payment methods earn the store a tidy profit, especially when customers only pay off the minimum balance.

An appeal to someone higher up at Macy’s might have worked, but you needed a paper trail to show them you made an effort to fix this, and you didn’t have one. Most email addresses at Macy’s are [email protected] and you can find a list of executives on its website.

I think you’ve suffered enough. I contacted Macy’s on your behalf, and it put the deposit amounts in the right account for you.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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