Neil's News


1 April 2009

[Doorbell] I want my doorbell to work.

The apartment I'm renting uses an entry system that rings your telephone. Neat idea. Therefore to get a doorbell I need a phone.

No problem, Google gave a G1 Dream to every employee for christmas. Therefore to get a doorbell, all I need to do is activate my new phone with T-Mobile.

T-Mobile was helpful in signing me up with a two-year contract. I got a phone number, setup the phone, everything was great. Then a letter arrived retroactively terminating my contract. "T-Mobile was unable to verify the information provided in your application." Following up with T-Mobile, the issue was that my credit history came up empty. Thus they pulled the plug on my phone. Therefore to get a doorbell, I need to establish a credit history so that I can activate my phone.

My bank, Wells Fargo, was more than happy to get me a credit card. I have been with them exclusively for more than two years. A month after applying, I get a rejection notice from them:

  • Insufficient or no recent credit reported. [Correct, it's my first credit card.]
  • Average age of items contained in your credit file. [Correct, the average of an empty list is a divide by zero error.]
  • Lack of deposit relationship with Wells Fargo Bank. [WTF!?!]

Therefore to get a doorbell, I need to open a credit file so that I can establish a credit history so that I can activate my phone.

The only way to open a credit file without a credit history is to get a secured credit card. Essentially I give the bank $1,000, they give me a card with a $1,000 limit, thus they are never at risk. They took my money, and a few weeks later I got a letter in exchange stating, "Unable to verify the Social Security number on the application." This was no less than the sixth time Wells Fargo's computer systems had rejected my social security number. They ran out of ideas at that point. Therefore to get a doorbell, I need to switch banks so that I can open a credit file so that I can establish a credit history so that I can activate my phone.

Chase Bank (a new arrival to California, having recently acquired the smoking remnants of Washington Mutual) looked at my statements and were delighted to take my business from Wells Fargo. They quickly and efficiently ordered a credit card for me. A week later their letter arrived in the mail, "Not enough accounts opened long enough to establish a credit history." For good measure they spelled my name wrong.

At this point I've talked with (and been rejected by) T-Mobile, Wells Fargo, Chase Bank, E-Funds, ChexSystems, Equifax, Visa, MasterCard, GE Capital and Continental Airlines. A survey of other Canadians at Google reveals that some people have no problem getting a phone and credit card, whilst others fight for years without results. The dividing factor appears to be gender.

I still don't have a working doorbell. Root help me if I ever need to get a mortgage.

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