Column Classic: Can This Marriage Be Saved? 

By Lisa Scottoline

Breaking up is hard to do, especially with a credit card company. 

Our melodrama begins when I’m paying bills and notice a $50.00 balance on a credit card that I hadn’t used in a long time. When I checked the statement, it said that the charge was the annual fee. I was wondering if I needed to pay fifty dollars for a card I didn’t use when I clapped eyes on the interest rate. 


Yes, you read that right. In other words, if I had a balance on the card at any time, they could charge me 30% more than the cost of all the stuff I bought. 

Like a great sale, only in reverse. 

I’m not stingy, but I could get money cheaper from The Mob. 

I read further and saw that the Mafia, er, I mean, the credit card company, could also charge me a late fee of $39.95, which was undoubtedly a fair price for processing the transaction, as I bet their billing department is headed by Albert Einstein. 

So, I made a decision. 

I called the customer service number, which was almost impossible to find on the statement, picked up the phone, and as directed, plugged in my 85-digit account number. Of course, as soon as a woman answered the phone, the first question she asked was: 

“What is your account number?” 

I bit my tongue. They all ask this, and I always want to answer, “Why did you have me key it in? To make it harder to call customer service?” 

Perish the thought. 

So, I told her I wanted to cancel the card, and her tone stiffened. She said, “May I ask why you wish to close your account?” 

For starters, I told her about the annual fee. 

“Would it make a difference if there were no annual fee?” 

I wanted to answer, “Is it that easy to disappear this annual fee, and if so, why do you extort it in the first place?” But instead, I said only, “No, because you have a usurious interest rate and late fee.” 

“Will you hold while I transfer you to a Relationship Counselor?” 

I’m not making this up. This is verbatim. You can divorce your hubby easier than you can divorce your VISA card. I said for fun, “Do I have a choice?” 

“Please hold,” she answered, and after a few clicks, a man came on the line. 

“Thanks for patiently waiting,” he purred. His voice was deep and sexy. His accent was indeterminate, but exotic, as if he were from the Country of Love. 


Suffice it to say that the Relationship Counselor got my immediate attention. I was beginning to think we could work on our relationship, and if we met twice a week, we could turn this baby around. He sounded like a combination of Fabio and George Clooney. You know who George Clooney is. If you don’t know who Fabio is, you’re not old enough to read what follows. 

“No problem.” I said. I did not say, “What are you wearing?” 

“Please let me have your account number,” he breathed, which almost killed the mood. 

So, I told him and said that I wanted to cancel my card. 

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. He sounded genuinely sad. I wanted to comfort him, and I knew exactly how. 

But I didn’t say that, because it would be inappropriate. 

“I have a suggestion,” he whispered. 

So, do I. Sign me up for 5 more cards. You have my number, all 85 digits. 

“We can switch you to the no-fee card.” 

I came to my senses. “Can you switch me to the no-highway-robbery interest rate?” 

“Pardon me?” he asked, but I didn’t repeat it. 

“Thanks, I just want to cancel the card.” 

“I understand.  And I respect your decision.” 

He actually said that. I made up the 85 digits part, but the rest is absolutely true. 

I knew what I wanted to say before I hung up. That we’d had a good run, but like a love meteor, we burned too hot, for too short a time. 

Instead, I said, “Thanks.” 

Honestly, it’s not me. 

It’s you. 

Copyright Lisa Scottoline