Friday, March 13, 2009

On the One Hand, I'm a Dumbass. On the Other Hand, Well, I'm Still a Dumbass.

Last week, I got my Capital One Annual Summary of all of the purchases we put on our credit card for 2008. It pains me to read through it every year because it amazes me how much we put on our credit card. And while we pay off the balance every month, 2008 was a particularly rough year for the ol' credit card. I mean that literally--she is bent, and the numbers are filed down from use--no lie. I was filling up my gas tank up to three times a week because my Xterra gets about 18 miles to the gallon and I was driving 130 miles a day, 3 days a week. My EZ-Pass was $70 every three weeks. Keep in mind, at this time last year, gas was starting to creep up in the $3 to almost $4 per gallon range.

In addition to my commuting expenses, we had a lot of major purchases because of our move (Hellooooooo Sears Kitchen Appliance Department!) We also had a mountain of expenses pertaining to the move that were reimbursed. And, to be honest, there are a significant number of frivolous or just plain stupid purchases that were made on that card. And don't even get me started with Continental Airlines. They have almost $700 of my money because of two plane tickets I purchased last summer (for me and Genna) literally minutes before Corey told me our house was sold and we needed to postpone my trip to Indiana with Genna and go find a home in Nashville. Did you know that once a ticket is purchased that even if you cancel the trip, the new tickets purchased must be for the original people on the original tickets? Every time I try to book my old ticket, it gets screwed up and the credit still exists. AND it costs an additional $150 to change the original ticket?! I'd like to use my credit in April when I go to New York, but the flights are almost cheaper than the $150 it would take to change the $336 ticket I previously purchased. AND, I would have to pay $50 for a customer service rep to book my travel over the phone since their website can't seem to ever find my old ticket. Flights from Nashville to Newark are about $180 currently.

So back to my summary. The grand total is almost my salary for last year, which was a good year, even though I was part time. I skimmed through the pages of purchases that were broken down by category, $8891.64 spent on gas/automotive, $5497.80 for travel, blah,blah,blah. Then, I noticed a category for , "Monthly Bills/Internet." I noticed a $15.00 charge for I rolled my eyes at that one. Who needs when there is facebook now? How is even surviving? Glad I cancelled that. Then I noticed a $69.99 charge for made on 9/21. I had never heard of, so I decided to check them out on the internet. It turns out that is a web hosting site. While I have this blog, I don't pay for it, so I knew this was a mistake. I couldn't believe I didn't notice this on September's credit card statement. I went ahead and called the website, thinking this was some huge mistake and that I would get my money back.

Me: Hi! My name is Dawnan, and I just noticed that I got charged $69.99 by you guys and I don't have an account with you so...

Mohammed (Cust Service Rep#1): OK, I need your email address to pull up your account.

Me: OK, it is

M(CSR#1): Umm, we don't have an account with that email address.

Me: Well, that's good. That means I really don't have an account with you all, so how 'bout I get my money back?

M(CSR#1): Actually, Ma'am, I'll need to pull up this account by your credit card number.

Me: Well, OK, it is xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx

M(CSR#1): Got it. Now, what did you say your email address is?

Me: It's

M(CSR#1): Umm, so you don't have the email address, (I forget exactly what it was, he rattled it off too fast.)

Me: Uh, no. Whose name is on the account? Please tell me that the people who used my credit card number didn't sign up a porn site.

M(CSR#1): (Laughing) No, they didn't put up a porn site. They actually didn't even put up a site at all.

Me: Well, then who in the hell used my card?

M(CSR#1):Ummmm, I need to put you on hold. I'll be back.

Hold music... Not Herb Alpert...I'm getting sleepy...

(CSR#2): Thank you for calling My name is Tom/Dick/Harry. May I help you?

ME: Are you kidding me? Where's Mohammed? I just spent 10 minutes on the phone with Mohammed. Do I have to start all over again?

(CSR#2): Why don't you give me your account number?

Me: But I don't HAVE an account number! Someone used my credit card number in September to set up an account on your site, but it isn't mine. I want my money back.

(CSR#2): OK, I will need the credit card number then.

Me: Argh. Ok, here it is: xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx.

(CSR#2): Ok, got it. I see the charge. I will go ahead and remove your credit card number so it won't be used in the future and we will shut down the account.

Me: So who opened up an account with my credit card?

(CSR#2): I can't tell you that.

Me: WHY NOT? Someone stole my credit card number in September and used it to purchase a bogus site through your company. I deserve to know the name. Mohammed told me the email address, so why can't you tell me the name?

(CSR#2):He told you the email address? He wasn't supposed to tell you ANYTHING! Look, what happens if it turns out that it was your neighbor who stole the credit card number and you go and punch them out. I'm the one that gets sued, not you! I'm not going to be liable. This happens all the time. Someone steals a credit card number, they use our site to see if the credit card number will go through, If it does, then they start shopping.

Me: Wait, WHAT? Let me get this straight. YOU are PROTECTING the thieves? Are you going to turn this information over to the police?

(CSR#2): (Laughter) Not without a warrant I'm not.

Me: So when can I expect my money back?

(CSR#2): (More laughter) Ma'am, you're going to have to take this up with your credit card company.

Me: Well, what if I said I wanted a refund because your web hosting sucks? Then I could have my refund, right?

(CSR#2): Ma'am this $69.99 charge from September is a renewal charge. The account was originally opened September 21 of 2007.

Me: Wait, WHAT? 2007? So I have actually paid $140 to in the past two years?

(CSR#2): Looks that way. You may want to start looking at your credit card statem-

Phone is slammed on the desk.

It's bad enough to not notice the charge form September. To not notice the original charge is inexcusable. We are lucky that these are the only fraudulent charges on our credit card. At this point, I have signed up to have our credit card statements mailed to us again. When I started to go green and had them emailed to me, I obviously started slacking. It will also be a lot easier to track our purchases on the credit card since I no longer commute and we are hardly putting anything on the credit card anymore. I am still feeling really, really stupid.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Almost every neighborhood has one. You know, the annoying neighbor who is always looking out the front windows and watching the children play, "stick war" or "hostage." If this neighbor feels the kids are too rough, this neighbor will yell from the porch for the shenanigans to stop--even though it is in someone else's yard. This neighbor is always on the lookout for the car that is driving a little too slowly through the neighborhood, and stares at the person driving from the front porch. This neighbor yells, "Where's your helmet, Joey?" when Joey drives his ATV without a helmet down the street. This same neighbor reports other neighbors to the HOA when their dogs bark outside in the freezing cold at all hours of the day and night . Based on my description, one would think that this utter crab ass is Mr.Wilson from, "Dennis the Menace."

Apparently, I am the Mr. Wilson of my neighborhood.

It should be noted that Corey and I have completely hit the lottery as far as neighborhoods are concerned. Up until now, we have only made friends with one set of neighbors out of the countless places we have lived in 15 years. However, I can honestly say that we like almost all 30 families in our neighborhood (with a few exceptions.) Bottom line: almost all of our neighbors are really good people. I can give you an example: Last Friday, I was stuck at the gyno for more than two hours. I was in a panic because I needed to pick up my daughter from school at 3:25, it was 2:45, I was 30 minutes away from school and I hadn't even gotten into the paper robe yet. I placed one call to my neighbor Carrie and asked her if it was her turn to carpool a group of kids home from school. Even though it wasn't, she made a series of calls to the moms of the neighborhood, and picking up Ella from school was a done deal. Not a problem.

I can give you another example: our neighbor, who is coaching a t-ball team, was kind enough to draft Ella for his team. Even after he saw her try out. He did it because his wife told him to. His team won the championship last year. Now that is just plain neighborly. I have never experienced that in a neighborhood before and I like it. I love it. I love my neighborhood.

So why am I Mr. Wilson? Good question. First of all, I freely admit that I am an uptight Yankee. I previously parented in New Jersey, PA and Ohio. In these places, parents sometimes participated in the, "forced fun play dates." These were tightly controlled scenarios where children were only allowed to play in an enclosed area that the parents could scan every square inch. Children are not allowed to even THINK about leaving their yards until they are 10 because the world is a big scary place.

Our new neighborhood is an entirely different world. I am not sure if it is indicative of Tennessee or not, but the children in our neighborhood roam the streets like packs of wild animals. And when I say children, I mean children as young as three years old. Our first week in the new house, I was startled by a large gang of kids who were in the middle of our street. Four boys were on bikes, the others on foot. Then came an ATV, ridden by a boy without a helmet. I ran to the back of the house and stuttered to my husband, "Wwwwwhhhere have you moved us? There are children. Middle of the street. Playing. No Helmets. Death. OhmyGOD!"

It has taken several months to get comfortable with the idea of Ella gallivanting in the neighborhood the way the other kids do. While I love the fact that these kids are outside playing the way I did as a kid, I am still nervous. I so want my kids to have a carefree childhood, where they explore and have adventures. It's just that I want their adventures to happen in our yard. I am trying to let go and give Ella freedom, but it is difficult.

The dirt bikes and ATVs, however, absolutely drive me nuts. No one has enough yard to properly ride them, so they take them to the streets. Only one child wears a helmet. I worry every day that the other kids are going to get hurt--especially when I see one kid on the ATV with another one standing behind him on the seat, covering his eyes so he can't see where he is driving. I did a whole lot of yelling from my porch on that one.

I never actually worried about Ella getting hurt because she is afraid of anything that moves. She doesn't even like riding her bike because she's afraid. So to see her standing on an ATV on Tuesday and driving it down the street without a helmet made me absolutely After screaming for her to get in the house and go to her room , I realized that I couldn't actually punish her because I have never told her that she couldn't ride an ATV. And as far as driving it standing up, she was only doing what all the other kids were doing.

The other issue that has totally turned me into the neighborhood Mr. Wilson pertains to a certain family a few doors down. They were nice enough to introduce themselves to me the first couple of weeks we were here. They are pastors of a church and have a teenager. Once they said they were pastors I was immediately on guard, thinking they would recruit. Once I found out that their church services are done only in Spanish, I realized that they wouldn't not be knocking on my door and inviting me to services. What is bothering me about them is their dogs. They have a dachshund who frequently escapes the house. Instead of catching him, they leave him to freeze (this has happened four times since November that I know of.) Did I mention that he barks nonstop?

After the latest debacle with their barking dog, I finally reported them to the HOA last week and a letter was going to their home. The next time it happens, I will call animal control. These people obviously shouldn't own dogs if they aren't prepared to chase them down the street at 7:00 AM.

I am trying to relax. I really am. It's just that it isn't working.