Sorry it’s been quiet here lately. I’ve been Building a Better Blog. Really. Stop laughing. Anyway, a few thoughts left over from the weekend.
1. I lost my ATM card Saturday. Well, more precisely, it was “retained” by the machine. I was driving home from dinner and thought I should pick up some cash since I was tapped out. Naturally, I passed up about three ATMs to pick the drive-up one I did. God forbid I get out of my car or something. It did seem a little run-down, like it had been used very heavily and never serviced. But I figured it was okay because it was attached to the branch, not some lone machine without anyone around to love it.
Well, sure enough, it gave me fits. The keypad was finicky, and then when I was done, it spit the card back at me. I say “at” because it didn’t spit it “to” me. The edge of the card was about flush with the slot. So I couldn’t grab it. I knew time was wasting while the thing was beeping at me and taunting me with “Please take your card” messages on the dim screen. Sure enough, before I could come up with something to pry the card out of there, the machine swallowed it back up. I didn’t even get my cash! The ATM told me “Your card has been retained. Please contact your financial institution.”
I hate crap like this. It’s all can I do to manage the hassle of having this card and making sure I have enough money to use it. But now I was in a tight spot. I use the ATM/check card as my Visa, and I have an American Express. I used to have a Mastercard, but they cancelled it because I never used it. So now I have no cash and an Amex that a lot of places won’t take. And checks, but I hate writing checks. I was bitching to a friend about this, and only then was I reminded that, oh yeah, I can cash a check at the bank. It’s not like I didn’t have money; I just thought I didn’t have a way to access it. I guess I was a little too dependent on that check card.
Anyway, I got home and called the bank. It was Saturday night, so I didn’t try the branch, and I didn’t want to wait until Monday to call them. So I called the national toll-free customer service number. The woman there told me that they treat this like a lost card because the machine has already eaten my card. Me: “You mean someone can’t just grab it out of the back of the machine?” Her: “No, sir, because your card has been destroyed.” So I had to order a new card, which won’t be here for seven to ten business days. I could have had one here in two days, but I would have to pay $16 for that privilege, and skip work to be home to sign for it. No thanks, I’ll write checks for a week.
Well, then it got strange. To conduct this transaction, the woman on the phone had to have me verify all my account info. She asked me what accounts I had with them, and I said I thought I just had the checking. But, as I later discovered/remembered, my Dad has account with them that my name is on, so that was showing up too. I’m guessing red flags were flashing all over this woman’s screen now. I had all the address, social security, etc., stuff. But that wasn’t good enough. She asked me when I got this alleged card I was allegedly missing. Not when I opened the account; she wanted to know when they sent me this actual card. I knew when it expired, but I had no idea when the last one did. Seriously, who keeps track of when their bank last issued them a replacement card?!
She actually said to me, “Sir, there’s certain information you have to give me to verify this account, and you haven’t given it to me yet.” I asked, “What about the account number?” “No, that won’t do.” Finally, exasperated, I said, “What about the card number?” She seemed surprised: “You know the card number of the card you lost?” And yes, I did, and rattled off all sixteen digits. Thank you, internet shopping! She said that did it, and she hadn’t asked me that crucial piece of information because she didn’t expect me to know the card number. So then everything was kool and the gang.
Later, I got to thinking about this. I’m sure they wanted to guard against identity theft. But the thief could potentially have stolen the card and used it to file a lost-card claim and get a new one sent to him, right? It just seemed odd that knowing the account number wasn’t sufficient, but knowing the card number was.
Oh, and the postscript. I went to the bank today to cash that check, and the tellers there informed me that, yes indeed, the tellers at the branch could have just retrieved the card on Monday morning. Their policy was to hold the cards when that happens, but that the stand-alone ATMs do destroy retained cards. So now I have to memorize a whole new sixteen-digit number for nothing.
Some quick hits:
2. A discussion on the wonderful Slog, the blog from Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper, about whether celibrichef Anthony Bourdain is attractive.
3. Two from Rolling Stone. First, the much-discussed article from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., asking whether the 2004 election was “stolen.” The conservative buzz I saw about this was that it just griped about exit polls. But there’s a lot more to it than that (in addition to exit poll statistical analysis). I think the use of “stolen” is unfortunate, and in the hands of a less, well, out there author, less willing to entertain some wild theories, there’s plenty of material here. Someone like Rick Hasen, for example. Oh, wait — Hasen points to this great response from Dan Tokaji. I agree with the basic sentiment here: Kennedy didn’t make a case that Kerry really “won” the 2004 election, or that votes were actually stolen or ballot boxes stuffed. But he does lay out a very convincing case that the Ohio elections officials did everything they could (within and outside the law) to tamp down Democrat votes and ensure Bush’s re-election. Tokaji’s bottom line: “The most important question we now face, however, is not whether Kerry really won. It is instead what ought to be done about the very real and serious problems that emerged in Ohio and other states in 2004, which Kennedy exhaustively documents, for the most part quite accurately. Unfortunately, some of the measures being implemented in the states would do little or nothing to improve elections.” Worth reading.
3. Another from RS: “Sex and Scandal at Duke.” I won’t comment much here, lest I sound like I’m whining that the sorority girls wouldn’t date me when I was at Duke, or lest it turn into Milbarge’s Treatise on Sex, Equality, Hooking Up, and Charlotte Simmons. I’ll just say it’s hard to read this story without being…not depressed. Hmm…I’ll go with disappointed. And that probably just makes me sound old and lame.
4. Thanks to Blondie for mentioning my long Atkins post in her entertaining and interesting edition of “Blawg Review,” co-compiled with Woman of the Law and Not Guilty. Lots and lots of good stuff in this Review.
5. I’ve just received the copy of Jeremy Blachman’s Anonymous Lawyer I passive-aggressively whined about last week. I have one short book to finish first, and then I’ll dig in to AL. Review to follow, as soon as I can.