Published on: October 31, 2013
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
One reads and sees a lot in the news about identity theft and credit card fraud, so it did not take much recently for alarm bells to go off around our house.
What happened was that Mrs. Content Guy got an email from a jewelry company, notifying her that the items she purchased had been shipped, that her credit card had been charged for $149 and change, that the package had been shipped to our Pennsylvania address and that they appreciated her order.
The only problem was that my wife never had heard of the company, hadn't bought anything from them, and we live in Connecticut.
The email came over the weekend, and when we tried to call the jewelry company, called Stella & Dot, we found out that the customer service line only is open on weekdays … which was kind of 20th century quaint, if a little inconvenient.
On Monday morning, because my wife was off teaching her third grade class, it fell to me make the call. Which I did. Spoke to a very nice young woman who seemed completely confused by what had happened. She asked if our credit card had actually been charged, a question I could not answer because the credit card number was not on the original email. I asked her to track down the credit card number, and she said she would, though her voice did not inspire tremendous confidence.
Some hours later, she called back, and gave me a the last four numbers of the credit card … which did match up with any credit or debit card in our possession. Now I was really worried that someone had opened up an account in our names, which was going to be an even bigger problem. The Stella & Dot woman also was confused, and did not seem to know what to do next, since everything seemed "right" except the email address to which the message and invoice had been sent. My definition of "right" and her definition of "right" clearly did not have a lot in common, but her next step was to return to her IT department with yet another query.
I was worried, but I had an idea. Maybe, indeed, everything was right except the email address.
I had checked to see if the Pennsylvania address actually existed, which it did. But now I went back online and checked the address a different way. This time, I typed the address … but I added a name: Coupe.
And go figure. There is a Coupe family living in that house. The husband/dad was Jim Coupe, a clinical psychologist. It wasn't hard to track down his work phone number, which I called, leaving the following message: "Jim Coupe, my name is Kevin Coupe. And I'm willing to bet that your wife has the same first name as mine. we may have a credit card problem, so I'd appreciate it if you'd call me." I left my phone number.
It didn't take long to get a call back. Jim Coupe was initially confused, but we quickly figured out that indeed his wife had the same first name as mine, and that she had ordered the jewelry and that the credit card was his. The only mistake: his wife's email address consisted of her first name and last name @mac.com, while my wife's email address was her first initial and last name @ mac.com.
Go figure. It ended up that there was an easy solution. We just had to figure it out.
The funny thing is that when I called Stella & Dot back, they were no closer to finding a solution, but the customer service rep was thrilled to find out that I'd unraveled it. She asked how, and I said, "It's a secret. A little thing called Google."
The thing is, sometimes in all our businesses we overthink things. We use the IT department when all we really need is Google and maybe a little common sense. In doing so, we don't necessarily inspire confidence in our customers. Or even in people who aren't actually our customers, but just have the same last name.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: