JC Penney, *$%#!! You!

By Karen

This morning I saw that JC Penney is having a sale and I could get 15% off with my JCP credit card.

Background: I worked for Penney’s in college in the, ahem, early ‘70s. Their “Young Moderns” credit card with a $300 limit was my very first plastic. Out of loyalty, I’ve kept a Penney’s card for nearly 40 years, even after they pissed me off by morphing it into another MasterCard.

Now, back to the sale. I hadn’t used my JCP card lately (2006, I later found out), but was surprised to see it had expired last month.

So I called the toll-free number, a multi-level maze of voice prompts that imply, “The last thing we want to do is help you.” Pressing “0” to skip the garbage didn’t work.

When I FINALLY reached a human, she wanted my 16-digit card number, which I’d already entered for the robot voice. Where did it go?

Then she wanted my full name, phone number, last 4 digits of SSN, mother’s maiden name, birth date.

FINALLY, she asked what I wanted.

When I told her about the expired card, she said, “Your account has been closed due to inactivity. You have to go to blah blah to reapply.”

She couldn’t have said that as soon as she had my account number?

I said, “I have no account with you, yet you just collected a lot of personal information on me. Would you please delete it?”

“Oh, yes, of course.”

I heard her striking some key on her keyboard. Yeah, right. All gone!

I’m so disgusted with Penney’s, they won’t see me for the foreseeable future, although just a few months ago, I dropped nearly a grand there on new blinds for my whole house.

Penney’s, here’s why I’ll NEVER carry your card again:

1. You closed my account without notifying me.

2. Your automated customer service sucks.

3. Your human customer service reps aren’t any better.

I hate to say, “Back in my day…” but here goes: When I worked for Penney’s, they didn’t think customers were disposable.

11 Responses to JC Penney, *$%#!! You!

  1. mary Austin says:

    I, too have had problems with the JCP credit dept. They closed my account without notifying me. I had been a loyal customer and it was my very first credit card too. It really makes me sad, since the very first J.C. Penney store was in my home state of Wyoming, and now they’re just another big corporate entity that doesn’t care. Also, as with most major stores, they don’t actually own the part of the co. that deals with credit.

  2. catsworking says:

    Mary, I hope they’ve got somebody trolling the Net for buzz about them and find this post, in case they don’t realize their credit arm is driving customers away.

    Penney’s was a decent department store when I worked there, although the clothing and shoes were on the cheap side. You couldn’t beat them for linens and window stuff, though. I worked mostly in the catalog dept., so I got to examine just about everything up-close. When I dropped out of college after sophomore year, they asked me to join the management program. But I declined, instead taking a job typing insurance policies — on a typewriter with CARBON PAPER. That was probably a mistake, but I was pissed at them because I’d found out they were paying some guy who’d just graduated from college but had no work experience (compared to my 2 years in retail — I started with WT Grant) 25 cents an hour more than me.

  3. kim says:

    I stopped carrying store credit cards years ago, because their interest rate was always higher than than a regular credit card, and it might take me longer than a month to pay off a balance. Nowadays I try to never use a credit card for any purchase unless it’s unavoidable.

    However, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised/inconvenienced lately when I gave my 28-year-old college student my credit card number to buy antiobiotics at the out of town pharmacy (by next fall she should have a real job with health insurance: until then, I pay out of pocket for all of her med expenses). The card was refused, and the next day I got an automated call for a possible fraud alert from Juniper. It’s nice to know they’re looking out for me in that why.

  4. catsworking says:

    Hi, Kim. You’ve got a good point about security. I once got a call about one of my credit cards the day I used it to buy a new computer and a few other expensive items. The activity seemed unusual to the company, so they checked it out, on a weekend, no less. It’s good to know that the interest on the accounts goes to some useful service.

    I also call my credit card company if I’m taking a trip out of the country and let them know where I’ll be so they don’t freeze the card and leave me screwed if I try to make a purchase somewhere strange. It’s been known to happen.

    I have several store cards that I rarely use (my Visa gives travel miles) because of the higher interest rates, but I keep them in case they can be used to get a great deal. Kohl’s will do that.

    What frosted my cookies about JCP is that the human CSR collected all my personal information before telling me the account was closed. Say I was an identity thief. She should have said the account was closed as soon as she got the account number. End of story.

    Meanwhile, while that dimwit was playing 20 Questions with me just for yuks, customers with GOOD accounts were probably sitting on hold, waiting to talk to a person.

  5. zappa says:

    Discover Card, (RCN)Starpower,and The Washington Post are just a few of the services that I have cancelled due to being treated very badly by customer nonservice.I make it a point to tell the 2nd person to ask me for my 9000 digit account number that I had just told it to someone else and I will hold while they ask them.

    Zappa’s mom

  6. catsworking says:

    Zappa’s mom, Discover has also stomped on my last nerve. The only place I used to use it was Sam’s Club, but then I got a Sam’s card. When I used the Discover card again at some point, I became deluged with calls from them begging me to use it more. And then they were running this scam where they offered 5% cashbacks on certain types of purchases — IF you went to their site and registered for it every quarter. I say, either give customers the damn deal or don’t, but making us have to visit your site repeatedly like you’re racking up friends on Facebook is stupid.

    I haven’t used the Discover card since.

  7. Tuxi says:

    Hi Karen! Man, am I glad cats don’t need or want credit cards! Although maybe a PetSmart card would be nice! Mom has a Target card and a Capital One, but both are low credit line, which she wanted. You made Mom sentimental for shopping in the 60s and early 70s. As a child, she got 45 RPM records at Coatesville, PA J.C. Penney and Sears stores, both of which are closed. She misses them and the Grant’s, Atlantic, Green Stamp Store and Woolworth’s stores that were in Chester County, PA. Back then she said you were treated well by store staff. And she had Sears and J.C. Penney store cards in the 80s and 90s that were solely store cards. When you think about it, the wages earned in retail in the 60s and 70s bought alot more than the pittiance they pay now!

  8. MorganLF says:

    This is why I never, ever, use a store card. Having too many cards even if they are NOT in use can negatively affect your Credit Score. I use the AMex for all and accrue points. I have to be disciplined and pay iat off each month but I also have arecord of what is spent. Actual paper money hides then disappears from my wallet like magic, so I avoid it!

  9. catsworking says:

    I have a pile of credit cards, most of them decades old. I’m betting the store and gas ones are all closed now because I never use them. But I recently went through a near-mortgage re-fi fiasco that needed a credit report, and discovered to my surprise that my score is sky-high. And that explains why my mailbox every day is full of offers for more credit cards. Even Chase is after me, as much as I trash-talk about them.

    I use a Visa for daily purchases and pay it off every month. It earns travel points. I use my Amex occasionally. Discover once in a blue moon. Sam’s when I’m in Sam’s. That’s it.

  10. Mark Anderson says:

    Before calling customer service, first go to one of these sites:


    There you can get info on the quickest way to bypass the menus and get to a human.

  11. catsworking says:

    Hi, Mark. Funny you should say that. While I was running like a rat through the JCP maze, I thought, “Damn, I should have checked GetHuman first!”

    I have used that site before to figure out how to bypass the menus of other companies. It really does have sound info on that. Thanks for the reminder!

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