I think that regular readers of this blog will be able to suss out that I would rather chew my arm off at the shoulder than go shopping today. I can appreciate the desire to get a head start on the holiday shopping, but Black Friday has become this monster that we’re only now starting to fight back against.
It got to the point that some retailers were opening on Thanksgiving Day in order to one-up their competition, and sure enough families were descending in packs to the stores within hours of – and sometimes instead of – eating a big traditional Thanksgiving meal.
It pleased me greatly to see that REI, an outdoor supply cooperative that I am a member of, closed not only for Thanksgiving Day, but also Black Friday. A handful of other retailers followed suit and announced that they, too, would remain closed Thursday and Friday. I made note of those companies and will do my best to frequent them because of their commitment to their employees’ families during the holidays.
Online shopping is taking a bigger part of that pie every year. It’s become so popular, in fact, that Cyber Monday is now a thing. The first day that many people are back to work and have computer access is now the biggest day of the year for online retail.
The draw of online shopping is that you don’t have to brave crowds, leave the house, or even get dressed to get what you want. With Amazon Prime Now, certain items can be delivered to your door within an hour in some locations. (My home is one of them.) You also don’t have to present a physical credit or debit card, either; you can just take down the data from someone else’s card and use it without their permission with some online retailers.
Which is precisely what happened with my wife’s debit card yesterday.
I went to go pay the electric bill this morning and was surprised to see the card continually being declined. I couldn’t figure out why this was the day after payday when neither of us had spend a dime, so I went to the bank’s website, pulled up our account information, and lo and behold, someone had stolen my wife’s debit card data and used it on two transactions totaling more than half of my wife’s paycheck. Neither of us have ever heard of these two retailers, much less would have spend hundreds of dollars without consulting the other.
I immediately contacted the credit union, canceled her card, and formally disputed the two charges. Apparently they’ve already been approved by Visa, so we wait and see whether they’ll reverse on their own or we’ll have to complete paperwork and an investigation into the charges to get the money back. They’ll be sending my wife a new card within seven business days, and we can go to the bank tomorrow morning and get a temporary card for her to use in the meantime.
The temporary loss of that money will affect us profoundly with regard to our bills, as we’re especially tight this week, what with the first of the month coming out of this check. If Visa allows the transactions to clear, then I don’t know how long we’ll have to wait to get that money returned to our bank account, and we can’t afford to have it gone for very long.
So despite neither of us going shopping, it looks like a Black Friday for us as well.
Generally speaking, I kind of hate humanity right now.