Macy's and Bloomingdale's

Shop Girl, by Kitty Kaufman

gallows gown Macy's: I'm looking for trousers: cotton with pockets, belt loops, that don't need to be shortened because my tailor retired. A cheery salesperson keeps bringing more styles to the dressing room! If you go to Macy's in Natick, MA, find her in the women's department.

After we search the racks, she looks in inventory. She could order some and if I open a Macy's charge, there will be an additional percentage off. I say okay and with a few clicks I am approved. In a few days the pants arrived but the only colors are white and black and it feels like I'm wearing the same ones all week. No one comments on the sameness, only that I'm wearing black and that it's summer. (I'm from New York; ask Bill Cunningham.)

I want it With my new credit card I get a pen pal even if you don't write back. Most mornings there's a chipper sale reminder. Macy's is also helping the post office reduce its deficit as their inhouse agency, Advertex Communications, keeps sending coupons: "Special Delivery! Your Star Rewards Passes are here." The offers are 15-20% off only if you get through the fine print. As it happens, the champion of small fine print is Bloomingdale's. Their sale notices exclude nearly everything in the store.

I try using the coupons. I find a handbag, hand over the 20% card but no, Calvin Klein is excluded. Anything is excluded. Here's what you cannot buy with a Macy's Star rewards pass: "ALL furniture, mattresses, area rugs, floor coverings, cosmetics, electrics and electronics, and licensed departments." There is more: "Bridge and designer handbags and shoes (there it is), designer sportswear, watches, sterling flatware, All-Clad, Eileen Fisher, Armani (there's Armani at Macy's?), Tommy Bahama, Coach, Dooney & Burke, Dyson, Ghurka, Henckels, Lacoste, Lalique, Ralph Lauren, Levi's, Lladro, Michael Kors, North Face, Not Your Daughter's, Kate Spade (didn't see her), Swarovski, Tumi, Vera Wang (nor her), Vuitton, Wacoal (too bad), Waterford, Wusthof." Bloomingdale's exclusions make this list look shabby.

Naturally it's "not valid on previous purchases, services, special orders, gift cards, jewelry trunk shows, bridal, restaurant, gourmet food, wine and it can't be combined" with anything except . . . except if you're opening a new Macy's account. "Online exclusions differ." Of course.

P.S. After I get my first statement, I see Macy's uses Department Stores National Bank for credit card processing. They are thugs. (see below) I cancel the card.

P.P.S. Jauary 2019: I have a Bloomingdale's card. I've had it forever since they opened in Chestnut Hill. Yes, Macy's and Bloomingdale's are related through Federated with marriage and divorces galore. Last week, I get a huffy, bullying, I'm bigger than you notice from Department Stores National Bank. Mostly, it shoves in my face that they are bigger and more important than me. And my money. It spells out in detail what they can do with my personal information. And what I can opt out of. Which, as you know, is nothing. It turns out that Department Stores National Bank is affiliated with, or run by, or part of or is, in fact, Citibank.

I cut up the Bloomingdale's card, the one I've had since 1983. I send it back to the New York store at 1000 Third Ave. I write a short note, actually I type it so they won't think I'm a whack. I enclose the "notice" from Department Stores National Bank saying that if they find it acceptable to do business with thugs, they no longer have my business and oh, by the way, here's my card, the one from 1983.

And that is how a 30-year relationship ends. Besides, Visa or MasterCard works anywhere and it's not like I can't shop there. Still.

Read what everyone thinks about Department Stores National Bank. It made me feel better to read the comments.

© January 9, 2019 Kitty Kaufman is a New Yorker who lives in Boston.
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