Recap: After enduring the Bataan death march that was my Lowe's promotional coupon shopping experience, and after they inexplicably sent us two of everything that we special-ordered (imagine, if you will, Noah's ark, but filled with hardware), and after we endured the colonoscopy that is the Lowe's returns process, we decided that we needed to return one last thing, being the too-brassy faucet for the bar sink. So Spouse braved Lowe's once again, returned a $200 faucet, and then, 15 minutes later, attempted to buy a $150 faucet. AND THEY REFUSED TO LET HIM PURCHASE IT. Spouse pointed out that this couldn't be a credit limit issue, because (1) we were well below it and (2) even if we hadn't been below it before, HE HAD JUST RETURNED SOMETHING THAT COST MORE THAN WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO BUY. "Helpful" Salesclerk confirmed that it wasn't a credit limit issue, but, rather, her computer had prompted her to verify our address. When Spouse tried to give her the information, HS stopped him and said that The Computer needed to talk to me, because I had opened the account and was therefore the "primary cardholder." (Note that I am only the primary cardholder because, when we first bought the house and concurrently made our first major Lowe's purchase, I ended up filling out the credit application because (a) Spouse was busy doing manly stuff at the other end of the store and (b) I have vastly superior handwriting. Mostly, it was (b). Because I filled out the application, I put my name first. So, while both of us are authorized users, The Lowe's Computer will not talk to Spouse. PRIMARILY BECAUSE I HAPPEN TO PRINT LIKE A DRAFTSMAN.) Spouse called me, I tried to call Credit Services, but they were closed for the evening. And then Spouse decided that Home Depot really deserved our faucet business, anyway, all things considered, so the calling Credit Services thing got pushed.
Someone in Bangalore: Thank you for calling. We needed to speak to you, as the primary cardholder, because a piece of mail was returned to us, so now we need to verify your address.
Me: Well, as the notes on The Computer may tell you, we are mid-home remodel, and during the remodel, we have been out of the house, which means our mail has been forwarded. Except that junk mail doesn't seem to get forwarded [which, as an aside, has been GLORIOUS], so given that, and given that all of our billing statements arrived just fine, I'm guessing that some kind of promotional mailer that we didn't want or ask for [given our GLORIOUS experience with the LAST promotional mailer] is the source of my current troubles. [Okay, I didn't say all of this to her, but what I didn't say out loud, I said in my head.]
[Then I confirmed that, in fact, our billing address has never changed.]
Someone: Thank you for confirming that information. You and your spouse will now be able to use your cards.
Me: Yeah, about that: I want my spouse to be able to talk to you about our credit line. So can you please make a notation that I have given you that authorization, so hopefully we never have to go through this again?
Someone: I'm sorry, but we will still need to verify important information through you as the primary cardholder.
Me: And there's no way that we can get around that?
Someone: There is, but it is complicated. You would need to provide a document called a power of attorney.
Me: Oh, well, as it turns out, I'm an attorney, so that's not that complicated of a prospect at all. It's totally assinine, but not complicated. Give me your physical address.
Someone: Oh, a fax would be fine.
[Me, in my head: NO, A FAX WOULD NOT BE FINE. IT'S A FLIPPING POWER OF ATTORNEY. IT NEEDS TO BE AN ORIGINAL. IF YOU'RE GOING TO INSIST THAT I PROVIDE YOU WITH A RIDICULOUSLY STUPID DOCUMENT, FOR THE LOVE OF CHRYSLER, IT SHOULD ACTUALLY BE A LEGALLY EFFECTIVE, RIDICULOUSLY STUPID DOCUMENT.]
Me, out loud: Then let me get that number from you.
I related this story to some of my coworkers, who were as nonplussed as I was. Then one of the associates - God bless him - took it upon himself to take the Texas statutory business power of attorney form and modify it to address TRANSACTIONS WITH LOWE'S ONLY. I say God bless him, because: (1) he understood without me having to say it that the only thing that would make submitting a power of attorney to Lowe's more absurdly amusing would be for me to STAFF IT OUT TO SOMEONE; and (2) if I had drafted the document, I probably would have found a way to work in a few mild curse words. And, possibly, an F-bomb.
The statutory form is basically a check-the-box form: it lists lots of standard powers, you cross out the ones you don't want to give, and then there is a blank for "other." He checked the "other" box. So, the result was a statutory form with all of the run-of-the-mill powers crossed out, and then in the "other" category the words "AUTHORIZED TO TALK TO LOWE'S ABOUT CREDIT ACCOUNT #___________________ ."
Another coworker advised me that, before I swear my allegiance once and for all to the power of Home Depot, I should consider the following: her husband forgot to bring his American Express card to the store. He called her, she gave him the number over the phone, and he provided his social security number and driver's license to the Home Depot clerk. That should have been the end of that, right? WRONG.
"I'm going to need the phone number of the primary cardholder."
"Okay, that would be me, so . . . ."
"Sir, I need the phone number."
"I'M STANDING RIGHT HERE."
But he gave her the phone number. And then watched her dial the phone at the checkstand. His phone vibrated. He answered it.
"I'M STILL STANDING RIGHT HERE."
"I just needed to verify that it was you."
I suspect that his Home Depot clerk probably has Lowe's on her resume somewhere as well.