Aresenio Hall hosted a late night talk show with a segment entitled “Things that make you go Hmmm . . . ,“ where he’d point out some random thing or occurrence that most people ignored, until he made you think about it.
My own “hmmm” moment came during an exchange with the administrative assistant who took my copayment, via debit, for my dental visit. She didn’t offer me a receipt to sign. When I asked her about this, she replied “You’ve been here before, we trust you.”
Signatures protect consumers. If I noticed a fraudulent charge on my credit card, I could dispute it with the company by saying “Show me my signature!” If they couldn’t show me proof that I approved the purchase, they would have to remove it from the bill.
What’s my protection now?
Another hmmm. Increasingly, gyms want either a credit or debit card on file. Hypothetically, let’s say I set up an appointment two weeks from now for yoga; then I change my mind and cancel in accordance with their cancellation policy. What do I do if the company charges me anyway? Since no signature is required, how do I prove that the company is wrong and get my money back?
The tables have been turned. Years ago it was clear that the money in my bank account (or on my credit card) belonged to me, and if a business wanted to get at my money, they had to ask my permission and get my written authorization.
Now most businesses regard me as merely a steward of their money. They don’t believe that the money in my bank account is really mine, but theirs. They’re just letting me use their money for a while before they take it from me.
I’m retiring my cards and going back to cash.
Rhonda Harrison completed her studies at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.