How I taught my Bank about Renaissance Faires

I really wasn’t wanting to do this.

My foot hurt, and I just wanted to go home.

Nevertheless, I found myself sitting in the local branch of my bank, a couple of Mondays ago, waiting to get my credit card working properly again.

Okay, let’s start from the beginning. It has been a weird month. I’ve had a variety of health issues since the start of the month, which have necessitated two visits to Urgent Care, one Ultrasound… You know, the usual June. Anyway, the results of all this was my overall health turned out to be improving, with the exception of my right foot, which was the last of my issues, and wasn’t exactly healing quickly from when I had apparently kicked a wall in my sleep.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I don’t know what happened, I just woke up and my foot felt like I broke a bone in it. I hadn’t, but it was smashed pretty good somehow, and I could barely get a shoe on it, let alone walk around on it for long.

Anyway, that brings us to a couple of Sundays ago, when My Lovely Bride and I attended the first weekend of the 2nd Annual Oregon Renaissance Faire. By that time, I was able to hobble around with just the assistance of a cane, but not yet able to get my faire boots on, so we went in Muggle-Garb (regular clothes). Nevertheless, we had a great time overall. We spent a lot of money, mostly on our platinum Visa card, because cash is annoying but I still want all of the pretty things.

And this is where the Issue arose.

You see, most of the vendors use Square to handle credit card transactions at Faire, which is fine. But sometimes the Square service doesn’t work properly, or it doesn’t register fast enough, and cards have to be run through the scanner/swiper multiple times for it to work. This isn’t usually an issue. But by the time we made it to the nice lady selling handcrafted wands, apparently all of this swiping had caught the attention of my bank.

The Fraud department, specifically.

You see, they had determined that something was awry, and put a Block on my credit card, because obviously someone had stolen it and was spending wildly on my dime! Luckily, I have a different card, and was still able to purchase out nifty wands, but that’s neither here nor there. The only reason I knew that there was a problem with my main card was that I got a text from work that my bank had called, looking for me.

I later found out they had called multiple times.

They never once called my cell phone, though, which was the primary contact number on my account. Good job, folks!

Anyway, so fast forward to the following day. I had that night off from work, so we decided to go see the bank about our credit card, and see if they could resolve the issue for us, as I really didn’t want to sit on Hold for a half hour, waiting to get it fixed myself from home. Yeah, instead I had to wait on Hold at the bank, as it turns out I still had to call their Fraud department to get things sorted out. But My Lovely Bride and I had a nice talk with one of the account managers while we waited, so there was that.

She ended up helping us get my name added to a savings account my wife opened some time ago. And helping us sign up for another credit card, this one with some features our Platinum card didn’t have. And then helping us apply to re-finance our home.

I did mention I was on Hold for a quite a while, right?

Yes, it turns out that we were able to apply for a re-finance of our mortgage, turning our 30 year (with 27 years left on it) into a 20 year mortgage, at a full percentage point less than what we were currently paying. Our monthly payment would go up slightly, but is still less than we were currently paying (I’ve been funneling extra money to pay off principal on the loan for a few years now), so no problem. When it goes through (it will, our credit is awesome), we will be saving at least $33,000 over the life of the loan.

But that’s all ancillary to the issue, isn’t it?

Anyway, I finally got to talk to some guy with the Fraud Squad of Credit Card Services. I explained that I had been at a Renaissance Faire the day before, and my credit card apparently got a block put on it somehow. He told me that they had flagged multiple fraudulent purchases, and shut off the card because of that, as they could reach me. So I explained that was because they never actually called me on my primary contact number, only calling my work, which had been my alternate number (it isn’t anymore). Fine, we confirmed the correct number to call was my cellphone, and moved on.

Next, the guy at Fraud wasn’t completely convinced that these still weren’t fraudulent charges, since there was no way I had bought things from businesses from California to Washington in an hour’s time. So I explained how Renaissance Faires work, specifically how they bring in vendors from all over the area – sometimes from thousands of miles away – to sell at their market.

Still not convinced (this was a shrewd customer, let me tell you!), he asked me to confirm every… single… “fraudulent purchase”.

“What about this one to ‘The Clay Goddess’?”, he asked.

Yep, I bought a couple of flasks there.

“Okay, how about this one?”

Bought a hat.

“Alright, how about this purchase at Brunetta Black… smithing… Okay, nevermind, I get that one…”

And so it went, item by item, until I had explained every single thing we bought at Faire, including the tickets to enter. Yes, “Eventbrite” was on the list, and as they are listed as being out of San Franscisco, he was convinced that had to be fraudulent! So I got to explain, as a bonus, how online ticket purchases work, and why they would be used at a travelling Faire event like ORF.

All in all, I got my credit card turned back on, did some business with our local bank we’d been meaning to do, and taught the guy at the Fraud department just a bit about how a Renaissance Faire works, so they might recognize this pattern of purchases in the future. He even put a note in my account telling the next person that I attend Ren Faires, and should be mindful of so-called suspicious behavior in the future.

So that happened. And yes, my foot is still messed up.

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