There are moments in your life when you truly understand the Luddite desire to raze modern civilization to the sub-basement level, set it on fire, and then urinate on the ashes. It is amazing how many of these moments follow hard on the heels of attempting to contact a major corporation and getting lost in its voicemail system.
We are attempting to make a Major Purchase these days, one that will involve a certain amount of financing. Ordinarily, this would not be much of a problem. Our credit scores are solid. The financing plan is in place and simply awaits our signatures. We have the down payment money in hand.
Except a few years ago we got a call from one of the telecom giants out there demanding to know why we hadn’t paid a rather substantial cell phone bill.
Now, we had had a contract with this company for all of three weeks, some years before receiving this call. Their service stinks. So we canceled it and forgot about it. But in this data-driven world that we live in, nothing is ever forgotten and as we later discovered nothing is ever really secured. So one of this company’s employees decided to farm out our information to his buddies, who apparently did nothing but talk on their cell phones 24/7 for several months – we got copies of the bills (which had originally been mailed to a vacant lot in Milwaukee) and were utterly astounded at how little time these folks had to do anything other than talk on the phone. Since this was the only breach on our credit we figured this was the telecom’s own fault and they could damn well pay for it.
It took several months, two police reports, and an incredible amount of loss of goodwill, but eventually the telecom giant just dropped the whole thing and we never did pay them a dime.
The net result of this was that in order to avoid this happening again we now have a credit freeze on our accounts. Any time we want a new form of credit, such as when we refinanced the house last year, it requires blood sacrifices to the gods of bureaucracy to get it temporarily lifted so the creditor can get our information and give us the financing we need.
Which brings me up to today.
Apparently you have to contact all three of the credit reporting agencies when you seek a temporary thaw in your credit reports, not just one. Why this is so is an interesting question, since they collect all of this information about me without my permission from all over my life and you’d think a bit of coordination with their peers wouldn’t be beyond their capabilities. You'd be wrong about that, of course, but there you go. Two of the agencies were reasonably accommodating. They had systems in place for you to make the necessary arrangements, fill out the proper information and secret code numbers, answer quiz questions to make sure you are who you are, and so on. It was tedious and annoying, but no more so than one would expect and generally not all that hard. One company was actually pretty hospitable about it, all things considered.
Then I got to the third one.
There is no way to contact this company. They have a website and a phone number, but neither of them will work unless you have a magic code number, and there is no way to get a magic code number unless you have gotten their website or phone number to work. They have no way to speak to a live human to straighten anything out.
For all I know they are a pyramid scheme, a shell company, or simply a work of performance art masquerading as a financial services corporation, which frankly describes a lot of such companies these days. All I know is that they have our information, they have taken steps to make our lives difficult, and there is no way for us to change this. After going around and around with this outfit for the better part of an hour, I finally gave up.
I’m not sure how we will work around them when it comes to our current Major Purchase situation, but we’ll figure it out by and by.
And when this company does get razed to its sub-basement, well, that will be a good day.