Gephardt: How My Credit Card Company Found Me Toilet Paper
Apr 10, 2020, 6:06 PM | Updated: 7:48 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s a modern-day, real-life thriller and we all know the feeling: with each expiring toilet paper roll, will you be able to find another?
Store shelves have been picked bare, forcing folks to go to store after store at a time when we are all supposed to be staying home — and you could still strike out.
Is there a better way?
Many credit cards come with a complimentary concierge service. When you think of a concierge, you probably think of the guy at the hotel who helps you book an amazing adventure, directs you to the theater or even just points you to great sushi rolls. But could they, perhaps, point me to something far more valuable?
I happen to have a Capital One Venture Card, backed by VISA Signature. Online they say to use them for travel, dining, entertainment and personal assistance.
So I gave it a shot.
I called the number, answered a couple of automated questions and, about four seconds later, connected to a real-life human being.
“Well, I don’t know if this is something you guys do,” I fumbled to a nice guy named Trevor, “but I am out of toilet paper and I can’t seem to find any.”
Trevor didn’t laugh me off the phone and said he’d be pleased to help. He then took down my information and promised to call around.
A few hours later, I had an email listing three different stores near my home that had TP in stock. I went to one of them, a Walmart near my home, and voila – there wasn’t much, but it was there.
I stole the idea from Ted Rosman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com.
“Most credit card holders, whether they know it or not, actually qualify for a free concierge service,” Rossman said in an online interview from his home near New York City. “It’s free, so it really is like having a personal assistant on call.”
Rossman said he tried a similar experiment in his area with similar results, though even more prompt. In about 90 minutes, he had a call back telling him a store within 10 miles that he could find the precious, hard-to-find, two-ply treasure.
Like me, Rossman said he has had this concierge service available for as long as he’s had his card, but he has never used it.
“This is a great perk. It’s one that I plan on using again, hopefully for better things,” he said.
Lots of credit cards have concierge services.
“The concierge usually is trained to help you find hard to get items, things like restaurant reservations, concert tickets, sports tickets,” Rossman said. “It’s free. It’s available. People should take advantage of it.”
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How Do I Prevent It?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
How To Get Help
If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.
If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at email@example.com.