This story starts more than 2,000 miles away, on the island of Oahu.
While on vacation, Tony Balian and his wife took a break from the beach for some retail therapy. They were on the hunt for clothes for a luau.
"She wanted to buy some hawaiian dresses," said Balian. "And I was going to get dressed up in hawaiian shirts and shorts. So we went to Macy’s to do some shopping."
Balian had a Macy’s credit card. But the sales clerk talked him into opening a Macy’s branded American Express card.
"When we were at the counter, the Macy’s lady said, ‘If you open a joint account, since you’re buying this much stuff, you’re going to save 20 percent,’" Balian said. "So we wanted to take advantage of that."
And they did. The Balians used their new Macy’s Amex card for the next year, accumulating a $2,400 balance, and then paid off the balance in full. But Macy’s applied the payment to Balian’s old Macy’s card, not his new one.
"I figured it’s an accounting error, and all I have to do is go to the local Macy’s and talk to someone there and all they have to do is shift the money from one account to the other account," said Balian.
Easier said than done. For nearly 18 months Balian tried to correct the billing problem, but with no luck. Late fees and interest kicked in. Balian was at his wit’s end when he reached out to NBC Bay Area Responds.
"As soon as this thing is resolved, I’m tearing up these credit cards and closing these accounts with them," said Balian.
We contacted Macy’s. The store fixed the problem right away, leaving Balian’s accounts with zero balances. Macy’s apologized to Balian and admitted the process took much longer than it should have. So long, in fact, that Balian says it’s ruined his Hawaiian memories.
"And now every time I think about it and look at the pictures, it reminds me of the inch and a half of paperwork that I’ve compiled dealing with Macy’s," said Balian. "And it all started in Hawaii."