You’d think I’d be finished with all the business matters of becoming a widow, right? You’d be wrong. I made the mistake of calling Barclay to find out how to get my refund from a purchase made on one of my credit cards. When the Customer Service Rep learned why the primary name on the account (Hubby – although it doesn’t appear as *Hubby * on the card, but as *Gary*) couldn’t come to the phone—could never ever come to the phone ever again—she cancelled the two Barclay cards. Immediately.


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“But you can’t cancel. You still have my money.” Turns out, they can cancel. And turns out, they get to keep my money for two invoice cycles. Interest-free. Although had it been the other way around, I wouldn’t have gotten away with interest-free money.

I learned this yesterday while being transferred four times, with long waits and obnoxious music in between. I’ll eventually get my refund, but the airline miles on the card are lost forever.

Here are 5 tips for widows dealing with credit card companies:

1. Use a phone with speaker function. This will allow for hands-free time to wash your windows, rotate the tires on your car and give your dog a pedicure.

2. Keep good notes. Record the date and outcome of the call. If you were transferred to someone who could actually sort-of help, ask for that department’s toll-free number in case you need to call back. Because more than likely you’ll need to call back.

3. Be nice. Express your frustration in a pleasant tone of voice. It can be done, and it gives you more mileage. (Not airline miles, but Customer Service Rep miles.) Try to come up with something you can thank them for. And “Thanks for nothing” doesn’t count.

4. Use the widow card if necessary. I’m ashamed to say I’ve done this a couple times. And in a whiny voice. But it was extremely necessary.

5. Vent. Call a friend who will absolutely still be your friend at the end of the phone call. Or better yet, write a blog. This is usually more productive than banging your head against the wall.

Do you have any tips to share from your experiences in dealing with credit card companies?