Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ticked Off...

Has anyone else had this experience? For the past month, I've been contemplating a big ass plasma screen television. I want it Magic Johnson theatre big. I deserve it. The wife thinks I deserve it. And so I've been looking at televisions, comparing pixels, and HDTV versus EDTV, etc. So finally, I'm ready to buy. I go down to the local best buy, stare at two different televisions, and finally make my decision. I want that one.

Cool, the saleman says. We get to the register, and I write a check for about four large. I just sold my house in a boom market. I can splurge a bit. But as the cashier puts in the check, she goes to the phone. I'm like, what the dealio? She talks to someone and then comes to me and says my check is declined, but for NO NEGATIVE REASONS. I'm like, well we haven't bounced a check since I was copping Blondies pizza slices at Berkeley in the 80s, so I know there's negative reasons. But if there's no negative reasons, why can't I write the check. She slides me a number to a company called Cetergy. I talk to this cat who tells me that Cetergy has "200 factors" they take in before authorizing purchase. I'm tripping. So some random computer is telling me how much of my hard earned money I can spend???? I go off. I ask for the criteria. He tells me that check sequence is one factor. I'm using check 102 and the last check used was 109. I tell him that my wife uses some checks and I the other. Then he said the length a bank account has been open. My account has been open for ten years straight. So the reporter in me started asking questions. I wanted to know whether or not "zip code" which is a way to racial profile folks, is being used. There's a silence on the other end. He tells me that he doesn't know all of the criteria. This may be a good story to pursue. I can understand if you write bad checks and then get put on a list. But when you get put on a list for NOTHING, then I have a problem.


Tammee said...

Hey Lawrence,
There is no zip code profiling. I worked as a manager for several years at Telecredit, one of the original companies that do this. Since the company guarantess payment to the stores that use it, they are very careful about oking large amounts. The guy you spoke to was corrct about the check number thing. We almost never guranteed checks in the 100's, as it usually means that it is a new account. Also,if your check info is not in that gurantor's system, then you are more subject to be turned down for large amounts. There is also the issue of whether your bank was open at the time, as there is a whole verification process that goes on at these companies.

I know it is annoying, but it honestly doesn't have anything to do with where you live...lol

ps. just a note, always start your checks at higher numbers, it's easier to get through check guarantee systems.

Tammee said...

By the way, the spiel about 'no negative info" actaully should be considered a good thing, as it means: "You haven't bounced a check in our system, but we can't guarantee your big-ass check cuz we don't know yet if you're good for it"

Lawrence said...

Yeah, but they still made me mad! LOL We got our regular checks today, so now I'll start at 500 instead of 100.