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Dirty Little Secrets

As a former programmer, I can honestly tell you that computers are very close to infallible.  Failure rates are easily 6+ digits on the right of the decimal.  The dirty little secret is people like me program them.  You lose a lot of those digits when that happens.  Programs have decision trees.  It is the responsibility of programmers to provide some resolution to all points in the tree.  Some programmers see inflection points clearly.  Others have a fogged view.  But, next dirty little secret, no programmers gets it right all the time.  The good ones have programs that may not error for years but they also know it isn’t bug free.  Hopefully when  such an error pops up it isn’t in the barn burner category.

The next dirty little secret is that my idea of barn burner and yours can be 180.  Doing something to bust or embarrass management is quite noticeable and scrambling ensues.  Screwing over a customer — how big?  how serious?  rug to sweep it under?  Ok, you got the idea.

I mention that my credit card was compromised.  No, I didn’t order/need two brand new, high-end computers.  I and a lady from Fry’s caught one and the perps work was in vane.  So, end the good news.

Over the winter my sliding door got very hard to make move.  It has had its problems all along but brief each winter.  That’s been getting longer and longer.  Now the door isn’t the standard 6′ one.  It is 9′ and a new screen for it was over 200-bucks.  I’ve tried to replace them but nothing was the correct size … until I wandered into Lowe’s looking — because I had to do something or take the Charles Atlas course. (Don’t recognize Charles Atlas?  Buy a 50 year old comic book and look inside the back cover.)

I mentioned to Discover I’d like my credit limit raised.  I don’t like high limits.  My fees and interest are always 0. I decided to spoil myself.    I am a cheap bastard when it comes to credit card companies and remember when a rate over 12% was usury.  So, I bop into Lowe’s with my credit card in hand and walk out 3-g’s lighter.  That didn’t include the deck rebuild.  So, when the card got compromised, it wasn’t the normal month.

As soon as I reported it, I was locked out of my account.  Seems dumb.  I was the guy that reported it and I’m the guy who needs to review charges and such.  Get a mail from them after 7 days telling me I’ll have my card in 6.  Took 13 by my count.  In the meantime, I have a bill that will be due.  I have the account I can’t get to set to pay in full each month.  I always do that myself but have it turned on too.  I guess so if the Alzheimer kicks in I can keep my zero fees intact.

I have to talk to the security guy and I ask about paying.  “No problem.”, says he, “You pay on the old card if you haven’t gotten the new one and our computers will fix everything.”

On, 7/6 I sent them $4700+ and on 7/10 they took out $4500+.  Well, lets say they tried.  I’d beefed up the normal balance for the fun.  But, this little idea on Discovery part made it NSF by a scosh.  I have the idea my bank likes me.  They honored it and my reputation for fees and interest with them took a serious hit.   I now have two balance.  One is 4-figures negative and the other is 4-figures positive.  Never saw that before.  Tomorrow, I’ll drive over to the bank and try to figure it out.

Oh, Discover has a chat.  Yesterday, the girl said yup the $4700 payment was stuck in the old account and my new card was approaching max where it should be zero.  She, although she knew just what was wrong, she couldn’t fix it and I’d have to phone security.

Today, I logged on an the auto-pay had hit.  I’d have no problem now buying 4 more French doors if I choose.  Of course my bank account is in the crapper and I have tradesmen with hammers and such staring at me.  I need the refund.  Again, not a problem.  She can do a wire transfer and it won’t take more than 5 days.  Hummm, is that the help I was looking for?  I think they might get me a check by snail maile as fast or faster.

I am proud of myself.  Besides zero interest, there were zero blood vessels popped.  The girl that did more for me today than a host had in the past got complimented.  Maybe if my buddy Waffles had been here to help…  No, that might not be a grand idea.

Do you see what I meant at the start?  This was a convoluted decision tree that wasn’t anticipated.  At Discover, it isn’t a real problem and it probably won’t be addressed.  Here?  Yeah, big, annoying, time stealing event.  And that perfect computer was doing just what it was told to do.

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  1. July 11th, 2012 at 19:23 | #1

    Most credit card companies send you a new card immediately. It only took one or two days to get mine the last two times it happened. Surprised Discover took so long. I have had many good experiences with that company.

  2. July 11th, 2012 at 22:58 | #2

    Seems like if anything gets outside the regular system, they can’t handle it.

  3. July 12th, 2012 at 09:07 | #3

    Dave, that because the programmers screwed up. And, they aren’t doing real time processing as they should. With EFTs (Electronic Fund Transfer), real time processing is easy to do. The old method was batch processing where keypunch operators had to provide the data. They failed to update at components to properly service the new paradigm.

    How is that for Geeky goodness you didn’t need? 🙂

    @Sparky, like Mom, they must like you best.

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