This, Too, is Torah

This week NBC5 Chicago aired a segment on how they helped me convince Macy’s to stop harassing me for thousands of dollars of credit card charges that I never made. The bills started coming many months ago and countless time on the phone never solved the issue, despite repeated promises from the Macy’s representatives. I could have handled the situation differently than turning to a television station. I could have hired an attorney. I could have called the CFO of the company, whom I had met by chance in an entirely different context and of whom I think highly. However, when it comes to corporations I am an idealist. I believe that many of them serve the community with excellence and good customer relations. My past experience with Macy’s was a testament to this fact.

For reasons I don’t understand those days seem over. The victims like me can feel like a nameless Kafka protagonist, endlessly on the phone and nothing every changing. NBC5 not only took care of the problem for me. They also exposed the issue for a larger audience. This was important to me. This may not seem like Torah but I believe the general definition of Torah includes efforts at keeping the world a place of justice. For the ancient rabbis who wrote the Talmud I believe my efforts – and those of NBC5 – meet that standard.

As I explained to the reporter, Robin Green, the ancient rabbis might even hold Macy’s more accountable than the criminal who stole my identity and racked up all those charges (in Florida, a state I have not been in for years). After all, criminals break the law. It is wrong but it is what they do. A giant retailer is supposed to take care of its customers. Macy’s failed in that effort.

I hope that Macy’s will do better in the future. (I don’t think the resignation of the CEO last month was due to my complaint, but of course you never know – LOL). This much I know: if enough people like me feel not well served by a corporation it will have to change or it will not survive. I am grateful to the Fourth Estate for putting light on the problem. To quote Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice (chosen 100 years ago): “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Many years ago the Boy Scouts of America troop in my congregation in Florida refused to disavow the national anti-GLBTQ policy and left the synagogue instead. The New York Times interviewed me and asked if I was sending back my Eagle Scout Badge. I said no, but I was putting it in the drawer, waiting for a time when the BSA would be pro-GLBTQ. Likewise I look forward to the day I walk back into a Macy’s store.

As I already wrote, when it comes to corporations, I am an idealist. But all of us at times have to be reminded, “You’re better than that.”

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