Not long ago, I had my Apple credit card number stolen. (I think it happened when I was getting gas at an unfamiliar station, but who really knows.) At any rate, I left town with Lena on a little daytrip when charges from Jacksonville ¡started coming in on my phone for pizza, take-out Chinese food, and beer. Taking very little time to ascertain that I was still in Cedar Key and not back home in Jacksonville where the charges were coming from, I hit the button to report the card stolen, deactivate it, and get a new one.

It was almost simple.

The beer and the pizza came off my charges immediately, but the Chinese food stuck around. Apparently, <<Corporate Panda Restaurant>> has a policy requiring them to “investigate” the charge for 72 hours before releasing the money. 

A corporate boardroom being presided over by a panda in a suit.
Never trust a panda bear in a boardroom.

Now I don’t really begrudge this, it wasn’t their fault someone paid for dinner with a swiped card, but it did make me wonder what exactly this investigation process entailed. We already knew all the facts. Card stolen. Card used for pork lo mein. Diabetic card owner disputes rice-based dish charges. These facts remained the same over the next three days, and no way was Apple going to let it slide. They love me.

My first thought was that pandas are looking to hang onto the money for as long as possible in order to collect interest on all the fraudulent charges first. Pandas are sneaky bears (there’s a reason they wear masks) and they want to make money on your misfortune. But then I found out that businesses aren’t legally required to respond for four months, making my three days seem a little more trivial.

A panda creeps out a window into a rainswept Paris night.
And now you know why you’re always seeing pandas creeping out of people’s
windows at three in the morning. Because they’re damned thieves!

Now according to Apple, they report to everyone’s financial institutions if my physical location does not match the location of the charge. This is likely why the other two charges were so immediately reversed. (No one knows where I actually am unless I tell them. Theoretically.) This means that <<Corporate Panda Restaurant>> knew I wasn’t in town and held onto that sweet bamboo for three days anyway.

On a lark, I headed toward that particular restaurant later in the week. 

LENA: “Where are you going?”

ME: “Going? Nowhere. Why?”

LENA: “Isn’t <<Corporate Panda>> this way?”

ME: “<<Corporate Panda?>> This way? I guess maybe it is. I hadn’t thought about it.”

LENA: “Please don’t embarrass me.”

When we arrived, I asked the manager if they ever checked IDs when customers used a credit card. (The manager in question was dodgy teenager who seemed certain I was there to get them fired for smelling intensely like marijuana.) They told me that it was their policy to always check IDs, and that they personally oversaw all transactions to ensure that happened.

The most stoned-looking manager, ever.
To be honest, <<Corporate Panda>> manager seems like a perfect fit for Shaggy.

Lena has a video of me less than two minutes later buying an eggroll with a different credit card and going completely unchecked. It’s not a big deal, no one ever checks anywhere in the US, but why would even say you did?

I showed Manager our video. They hemmed and hawed until I explained that I didn’t work for any corporate pandas, and that I had been the victim of fraud, as had they. Manager got even more defensive at that and said the three days was just what pandas did and I should take it up with the actual <<corporate pandas>> instead of a powerless <<managerial panda>> if I wanted to be made whole.

By this time, I was getting a little irritated, and Lena was getting even more embarrassed by me continuing this Stupid Conversation. (Good thing I never made that promise not to embarrass her!) I asked if I could have some food and pay the pandas back in three days and Manager started to cry. By now even I knew I was being a giant jackass, so I apologized to everyone several times and vamoosed, but not before gifting Manager with a free eggroll.

They needed it.

If you get your credit card stolen/cloned I firmly suggest you call Apple to fix it for you, even if they’re not the issuing company. Of all of this, they stayed steadfastly behind me and made sure everyone else did exactly what they were supposed to, in a reasonable time frame.

Even the goddamn dirty pandas.

A snarling and dangerous-looking panda bear holding your credit card. Next time, keep it in your wallet.
Never come between a panda and your credit card.

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