Step Away From the Pending Transactions - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Step Away From the Pending Transactions


Online banking can be a bit of a mixed blessing.

On the one hand, we are now able to pay our bills online on the day that they are due, track our spending, and have a legitimate reason other than email to get online at work.

On the other hand, there was something to be said for only receiving a monthly statement, as it did not tell you about pending transactions.

Allow me to explain.

As I've mentioned before, I consider checkbook balancing and expense tracking to be something of a hobby. So during a slow moment yesterday, I logged onto our credit card account to see if there was any maintenance that I needed to do. 

There wasn't.

Then, since I don't know how to leave well enough alone, I clicked on the "pending transactions" page.

And that's where the Defcon 1 level flip out began.

You see, there were two unauthorized charges pending, and I am incapable of anything less than 0 to outraged in 2.4 seconds when I see something along those lines.

I knew exactly what had happened with the first pending transaction. It was a charge for the hotel where the recently held Financial Blogger Conference took place. I had originally planned to attend FinCon this year, because pregnancy makes you insane and believe that attending a work conference with a five-week-old baby in tow is a realistic possibility. A couple of weeks prior to the conference, the insane optimism cleared itself out of my system, and I cancelled my hotel room. For some reason, the hotel still ended up charging my credit card for one night, during which time I did not stay there.

Of course, I immediately got my righteous indignation on (I keep it hanging in the hall closet for just such occasions), and called the hotel.

After 20 minutes of volleying between the switchboard and accounting and then waiting on hold, I was told that there was no record of the charge from their end. Basically, this charge was like the phantom dollar charges you sometimes get when you fill up your tank with a credit card--it's a place holder until they actually swipe whatever card was used for the stay. I was assured that the transaction would disappear within the next 24 hours. If I hadn't clicked on the pending transactions page, I would never have even known it was there.

The second transaction was even more worrisome. It was for $125 from a pet store in Cleveland, Ohio. I called J to double check that he hadn't made any purchases of the sort, although I knew that neither of us had been in Cleveland, unless J has been taking road trips during work hours, which seemed unlikely. He was just as confused, and suggested I call the store to find out what was purchased--just in case we bought something we had forgotten about.

Considering our recent experience with having a new card number issued to us, we were both concerned that someone had stolen our credit card information and was going on the world's strangest shopping spree with it. (I'm sure it's possible that identity theives might also be pet-lovers, but pet gear really does not seem like the sort of thing you'd go buy first with a stolen credit card.)

When I wasn't able to get the store on the horn, I called our credit card. After 10 minutes of navigating the automated customer service line, I got an honest-to-goodness human being who was able to tell me that the charge had actually been declined. Apparently, someone had entered our old credit card number in by mistake, so our current number was still uncompromised and we were not going to be responsible for the $125 purchase. In fact, it should disapear within the next 24 hours.

So, if I had not checked the pending transactions page, none of this would have happened, and I could have avoided spending over a half hour on the phone with my heart beating harder with unnecessary outrage.


I would say that what I've learned from this experience is to STOP CHECKING the pending transactions, but I know that I can't help myself.

And I've got my righteous indignation waiting patiently in the hall closet for the next time I mistakenly believe that I need it.



Live Like a Mensch said:

When I got my first credit card back in 1999, I made a habit of saving every receipt from my credit card

February 5, 2014 4:58 PM

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