Saturday, February 2, 2008

Credit Card Qualifications

Yesterday Beth and I met with Harv to discuss our finances to find out how long hobos can be hobos, and it reminded me of an odd experience that I had in late November.

We were in Clearwater Florida and I saw an advertisement for a "New! Bank-O-Merica Ultra-Point Mega Card!". The basic gist of it was that the customer (me) would earn one and ONE HALF points for every dollar spent instead of the wimpy little one point that I am earning now with my obviously inferior (Bank-O-Merica) card. A little background: Before we left on The Adventure I moved most of my banking to Bank-O-Merica because I wanted a National bank because even though you can make withdrawals from any ATM anywhere, you still cannot make deposits anywhere but your own bank. It wasn't until a week into the trip that I realized that I would not have ANY deposits to make for a very long time. I closed all of my credit accounts because they were just regular credit cards and I knew that I should be getting 'frequent flier miles' as I am driving along. I did the entire trip with one Bank-O-Merica card and earned a LOT of points. Points that I still haven't used because at this point I feel like I am at the carnival and being told that I only can choose a prize on the Second Shelf while I am looking up at the BIG prizes that are on the upper shelves. So I am not using my points, but I want more more more. This advertisement promises more.

I call them up. I tell the telemarketer that I already have a Bank-O-Merica card and could I please upgrade it to the one-and-ONE-HALF bonus super-duper card? Nope. My error was that I did not call 'customer service' where they do that sort of thing, I had called a telemarketer in North Dakota or Southern Bangalore. She was limited by what her marketing script (that was scrolling in front of her) told her to say. "No, all you have to do is apply for a NEW card". I thought that was silly, but I hadn't figured out that I was at the wrong place yet. "It ONLY takes a few minutes to apply!".

OK, the one thing that I have an abundance of is time.

Your name: "blah blah blah, no that's EEE-ell-ell"

Your Address: "blah blah blah"

and then it got more interesting...

Do you OWN or RENT your home: "Ahhhhhhh, Neither"

"Neither?": "Nope, Neither. We are living in our van"

So do you rent or own?: Well I own the van. So if you haven't got "homeless" or "vehicle" as a choice, you could say I own.

"I'll leave that blank"

"How much do you pay for rent? Oh never mind"

"How long have you been at your current address?"

"Six hours"

"What bracket is your monthly income within:

Less than $50,000?

Less than $75,000?

Less than ..." "Less than Ten dollars", I interrupted.

"I'm not talking per hour here..."

"No I mean Annually, I have NO income"


I could hear some clicking as she starts skipping questions.

"You do not have to disclose any income or payments for alimony or child support that are involved, but with Social Security and other income would you say that your income is less than..."

"Zero! Just say that I have ZERO income. It's all one way here. Nothing IN. NADA. Everything out."

"OK, I'll put in zero"

At this point she just skipped ahead to the spiel about how we will hear from them in x number of weeks and if I am approved I will receive a card in x number of weeks.

"Blah blah blah, is there anything else I can do for you today?"

I asked if there was anything else that she was authorized to do besides sign me up for another card? She replied no, so I said "Well I guess we are done then". She thanked me "for using Bank-O-Merica and to Have a nice day!" even though she has never actually worked for Bank-O-Merica but instead works in a telemarketer's boiler room.

The next day I went on my Bank-O-Merica site to check on something and I noticed that the list of accounts already included my Brandy-Spandy-New-one-and-one-HALF point credit card.

No money, no home, just a willingness to spend money and they are GLAD to give a drifter a credit card with a $50,000 credit limit.

Only in America.


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