Wednesday, January 04, 2006

One For The Books (That Are Kept By Andrew)

Here's a customer service story that will surely make you have some sort of reaction and whatnot.

I only have one credit card. I've had it for over a decade. It originally was my dad's, but he gave it to me while I was in college. We have the same name, so, technically, the card has really always been his, but I'm the only one who uses it, pays it off, etc.

Whenever I have to call the card company, they have to verify that I'm who I say I am. (Which I'm not, because I'm really my dad in this case.) First they ask me for the last four digits of my social security number, to which I give them my number, which is incorrect, because they have my dad's number on file. I've never bothered to change this because when they hear the wrong answer, they consistently move on to question number two: My (dad's) mother's maiden name. This answer I know, so I give it to them, and I become my dad, and am therefore authorized to make any number of crucial decisions regarding my (dad's) card.

A month or so ago, while talking to my credit card company, I was talked into buying into some plan where I would receive my credit score, which I've been trying to obtain for years, usually to be given a readout that shows me living at a combination of two past addresses, and having a birthdate a year off from my real one. And no credit score listed. So I figured I'd give it another shot, for ten bucks, using a service which I would have to cancel myself to avoid being charged the ten bucks month after month.

So after a month of receiving absolutely nothing, I called up the service to cancel.

The woman who answered the phone was cool with that, but just needed to verify that I was the cardholder. I gave her my card number. She then asked for the last four digits of my SSN. Uh-oh. I gave her mine, knowing that this wouldn't be what she had in front of her. She told me my number was incorrect. "The number they have isn't right. They usually just ask me for my mother's maiden name," I said, playing dumb about the dad thing.

"Well, let me get someone from your card company on the line to verify this."

Fair enough.

After a short wait, I find myself in the clothed kind of three-way. The woman from my card company begins the usual routine: "Can I have the last four digits of your SSN, please." I give her the incorrect numbers. She pleasantly says, "That's not what I have here. Can I get your mother's maiden name?" I give her the correct name. Problem solved?

No. Little Miss Dunbar at the credit score service place, listening in on the official business of me and the card company lady, chimes in. "Can you verify his social security number, too?"

Pure evil. My card lady over here has just confirmed me as officially being me, er, my dad, and the other lady thinks she can overrule this decision. And my card lady agrees with her!

The good lady is now asking me for my SSN again, with Nosy Nancy looking over her shoulder.

I end up explaining the whole situation, to which the card company lady is not pleased. "You can't just turn a card over to someone else like a car lease." Whatever. BS. I've never had a problem in ten freakin' years. I know at this moment that I'm just going to call my dad, ask him what his number is, and just continue pretending to be him, with no skin removed from his back. F those people.

So I called my parents, got my mom, and she gave me my dad's SSN.

Here's the best part: I call back the credit score people, hoping to all that is holy that I get a different operator. I do. I tell this one, a nice Jamaican woman, that I'd like to cancel the service. She asks for my name and card number. I give them to her. She then surprises me with: "Okay, it's cancelled."

"But I don't need to verify..." I start to ask.

"Nope, we just need your card number."

And that was that. I'll continue using my card as I always have.

How is it that one company can have two employees, one who needs to go out of her way to have a credit card company confirm someone's existence, and then decide that that's still not good enough for her, and one who'll gladly cancel their own service, just trusting that you are who you say you are?

Which do you appreciate more, Chan asked me when I told him this story. The Jamaican lady, because she was nice about it. I guess. I don't know. Way to mess up a perfectly good story, Chan.

About this miner story. Horrible. That people lost lives, and that other people made assumptions about the most important thing of all, and turned out to be exactly wrong.

That said, why was everyone so excited about the fact that 12 out of 13 people made it out in the first place. Isn't that rubbing it in to the family of the one guy who'd died. Church bells? "It's a miracle"? How about, "We're sorry that one dude died."?

It's almost like "god," if there is one, was getting back at all those celebrating people by saying "Whoops, my bad, all your guys died, it was the dead guy who actually made it. So go congratulate his family. Go ring the church bells for him."

But they didn't do that. They got all pissed.

I feel so bad for that guy who survived, who survived a horrible ordeal, barely escaping with his life, only to emerge to a crazed mob, instead of a bunch of people celebrating the fact that he lived. It's like they're saying to him, "We were happy when you were dead and everyone else was alive. But now all we have is you.

Granted, it's not their fault, all they did was believe what they were told. Although maybe not celebrating until you actually see your family member alive is the way to go.

And what if the original word was "8 alive, 5 dead"? What's the call, too many dead for church bells? And then if those numbers turned out to be backwards, still pissed?

What's the cutoff, percentage-wise? 316 of 1100 people died in that scene described by Quint in Jaws, and he didn't seem very happy about it.

To make this post even longer, Chan and I just watched #1 USC get beat. Terrible job by that USC QB at the end. I call him Curtis Pig-skin-ic. Kinda looks like Leskanic.

And don't forget to check out MAJ.

It is the way the people of the Indianapolis died after the sinking of their ship that is so horrible. Seemingly deserted by their own Navy, left to float and die among the circling sharks, all the while wondering why the faint sounds of the searching aircraft were never heard until too late, so tragically late for so many. Delusion caused by lack of water and hypotheria was to be the last hope for oh so too many.
Jere, this isn't a stable financial situation. You need to build a credit history in your own name. It's pretty easy to get a credit card.

You can get a free copy of each of the 3 credit bureaus credit report on you once a year by phone. This doesn't have your credit score, but you can go to their websites and get one for $15. I'm gonna guess that your credit score is under 650 because of a lack of history. This means that you'll pay a higher interest rate on any loans or mortgages you get until you have 3-5 years of history.

The thing you bought and cancelled was a credit monitoring service. They're generally unnecessary unless your identity has been stolen. For everyone else, checking once or twice a year is enough.

The credit bureau numbers and web pages:
Equifax (to get your score, buy the $15 Score power package. You only need to get your score from one of the bureaus.)

Experian 1-888-397-3742 (also lets you get it free online without the score here)

Trans Union 1-800-888-4213 (This company is obstructive and nasty. Try the others first.)
You really blame Leinart for that loss. By my estimation he had one bad play at the end and that was after a GREAT second half.

Isn't it really Carroll's fault (hey lets blame the guy who sucked with the Pats and then became Vince Lomardi when he left). I mean twice he went for it on 4th and 2 (not 4th and inches). The first time in the first quarter cost 3 points. The second time they were at midfield. With 2 minutes left. Are you serious? Kick the ball. Make them go 80 (ore more) yards - not 50.
Twitch, thanks for the info. I guess that's true, I've been building up great credit for my dad for ten years, and none for myelf. Oh well, it's just money, not real life. But thatnks for going out of your way. I have tried those places, and they get all my info wrong anyway.

X--No, I don't blame him for the loss. I do blame him for totally stupid behavior on that final play. Again, maybe it's like Wheel of Fortune, where you swear it's easy on TV, but when you're in the studio, it's a lot harder. But still, you just have to know how much time is on the clock. That one play was inexcusible to me, but of course he had a great game. And I don't usually root for anything from Texas, but I was glad to see 2 defeat 1. And seeing Bush try that lateral in his big spotlight game was hilarious.
Looking it up isn't hard, and I got my annual check out of the way while I looked it up. Are you at least an official authorized user on your dad's card? That will help build your credit somewhat.

Having money gets a person freedom and breathing room in the face of harsh choices when bad things happen in life. Or the ability to say fuck it and move to a geodesic dome in western MA and live off your art if that's your thing.

Having a credit history of your own is an important part of being an independent person in the US, and has been since the 1970s. Credit law is still massively fucked up, with issues like this- If a couple is married and has only joint accounts, after 7 years the wife loses her credit history and all accounts are credited only to the husband. (both partners in a marriage should keep at least one good account in only his or her name to prevent this.) But if you don't have a credit history, you are effectively not a person in the US banking and credit system. It's not a situation where you can win by not playing the game.

I think it's worth it to get your info straightened out with all 3 credit bureaus and get a credit card of your own to build a history. If you want me to, I can find some websites or books to help you, but you can probably get it straightened out by reaching a real person at the credit bureau fraud lines and explaining that the credit records for you and your dad have been mixed together. Have the ssn and date of birth for both of you, and your bank account numbers and as many past addresses as you remember on hand.
Thanks, Twitch. I really appreciate it.

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