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

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By Christopher Elliott

David Garcia writes two checks to Macy’s, but they’re deposited in the wrong place. Now it can’t help him fix the problem. How can he fix this problem?

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. One problem: Amounts went to the wrong accounts—$173 to American Express and $31 to Macy’s.

Despite multiple calls, my wife, who is on both accounts, and I haven’t been able to resolve this issue.

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. Even after calling Macy’s Corporate offices and speaking with a representative, assurance was given that the situation had been 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.

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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.

Unraveling Macy’s payment puzzles

I suspect you might have been able to short-cut all of this nonsense by sending a brief, polite message. 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. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.) Most email addresses at Macy’s are [email protected] and you can find a list of executives on my website.

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

Who should change the way they do payments?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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