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On the scale of 1 to gullible I give myself a 3 or 4. I can usually sniff out bullshit pretty well and just ignore it. This is a story about almost being taken.

I had arrived at work just in time to be asked about a situation the day before involving a cross-eyed German guy and a t-shirt. After being told to never ask someone to explain a sensor laying in a fitting room again, I let my boss take a break and begin to start my day. The phone rings.

“Overpriced clothes for Douchebags, This is Matt”

“Yes Hi is this Matt Shanknasty?”

My back stiffened. You see I’m the only Matt working there. Well there’s another but he works less than Andy in the last two minutes. No reason to use last names. This can’t be good.

“Yes what can I do for you?” “Well my name is Christy and I’m calling from (some credit collection agency whose name I missed) in regards to your federal student loans”

Calling at work will get anybody’s attention. She continued.

“You’re aware you are in Federal default currently on the amount of ten thousand dollars?”

“Federal default? Is that like double secret probation?” “What?” “Nevermind, go ahead.”

Well she goes on to say that they don’t have up to date information for me and were only able to contact me ON A NUMBER THAT I’VE NEVER PUT ON ANY APPLICATION FOR A LOAN EVER. At this point I should have given my cell phone number and ended the conversation but it was just after 2pm on a tuesday at the mall. What else did I have to do?

She goes through the standard anal probe of my finances, starting with my monthly take home pay and subtracting out expenses to arrive at a residual income figure. Presumably to figure out how much she could take me for. But right around the time we’re starting to haggle on a monthly payment things started to take a turn for the bullshit.

“Now in order to get involved in the program, you have to put down a down payment and make the agreed upon payments for 9 months. After that we’ll stop compounding interest per day, which is about $1.30 per day, and refund collections costs, which are around $2,000.”

$3,650. That was the down payment she chucked out. So heavy I’m surprised it fit into the phone line. Who the hell would have that and not be able to make payments I wondered. (sidenote: $3,600 is a years worth of $300 payments, my guess is the extra $50 were for lapdances)

The conversation doesn’t get much farther after that and I make her assure me she will not contact me at work again. She asks me not to talk down to her. I hang up.

A few hours later I leave for my hour lunch and check my phone. Voicemail from Chrissy. She’s left a number to call and a “reference number” with a letter and numbers attached. This scam is involved.

I call the number, say that I received a call and give my reference number.

“Please verify your social security number” “I just gave you a reference number, verify that”

“Verify your date of birth then” I did it. I figure the worst they can do is send me a card.

I tell her I spoke with Chrissy and we were trying to figure out a payment plan to get my loans out of default.

“You mean you spoke with Christy, I’m Chrissy” “Sure if you say so.” “Ok sir well the total balance of this loan is due and the U.S. Department of Education would like to offer you terms to pay off this loan. This is only being done as a courtesy. If you decide to let these loans lapse further, you’re looking at a 15% wage garnishment and a deliquency mark on your credit report. Now I have some terms I’d like to discuss with you if you’d like” “Yeah sure go ahead” “Ok so with a down payment of $1,800 you’re looking at payments of $249 or with a zero down payment you’d have payments of $300.” “Ok so you’ve got me bent over with a gun to my head here” “Sir you agreed to take these loans out and you have a responsibility to pay them…” I cut her off. “Don’t lecture me on responsibility, I have parents for that. And those terms aren’t going to work for me. What else ya got?” “Hold on”

She puts me on hold and I put the phone to the side and start going through my accounts in my head. Then as I’m taking another bite my mind wanders. I look at the radio as I’m sitting in my car but realize its off. No way. There was a ton of static and the audio was really low quality but it seemed to fit the music being played…

I’m trying to place the song as she clicks back on. “I just spoke with my supervisor and our client will accept a down payment of $518 with a monthly payment of $109.” “Well now you’re in the ballpark. Is this the kind of offer that expires when I hang up the phone or can I think about it” “The end of this phone call without an agreement to pay constitutes non-compliance and all deals would be void” “So now I’m bent over, theres a gun to my head AND a ticking clock. I was worried this was going to be high pressure. Sure, what the hell. Let’s do it. Game on”

With that she puts me on hold again. No music this time and I’m disappointed. When the line comes alive again I’m told its Christy on the other end and she’s ready to fax me a contract, help find me a fax machine (“Staples, Kinkos many places have fax machines”) and take my bank account and routing number over the phone. “Well I don’t have that information on me right now.” “Well do you know your bank account number, I can look up the routing number for you” “No I don’t know it off the top of my head”

That’s what saved me. Having direct deposit prevents me from writing a deposit slip for my check every other Friday and so its not a number I have memorized.  She tells me that I have to call back with the info by 10am tomorrow or they’ll take my first born or something. I hang up, finish eating, and remember that the address they kept asking me to verify was my dads. I call and ask if there had been any mail sent there he had forgotten to give me. I explain why I’m asking. “Its a scam son, don’t call them again” I curse the fact that I almost fell for it and go back to work. I had to hand it to them though. Calling me at work, using an official tone and all, very professional. There was just one problem: No collections agency has “Houses of the Holy” as hold music.

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     Well, it’s 2010 and I guess it’s time for the first post of the New Year. If you’ve been checking in the last few days you might have noticed that two posts were added to December 31st. Yeah, I posted a couple things in January but changed the date to December. But seriously, who am I kidding, no one noticed that. I know you bastards don’t check this site that often. Unless you do. Then thanks. Anyway, I thought I would address something that has been giving me large amounts of amusement. That’s right, the top searches that lead most of you to this site. WordPress allows us to track not only how many of you check the site per day, but also the avenues that bring you here. Most come through web searches, and we can find the keywords in the search that somehow bring you to our mostly overlooked blog. I took a harder look at the keyword searches for the past 365 days (they tell me that that’s a full year). I would be disappointed in the keywords if it weren’t so damn funny. Let’s get into it.

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     So some time back, I wrote a nice eugoogooly for my favorite website the Enduring Vision. You can click on either link, the first one will take you to my post, the second will take you to the actual Enduring Vision website. If you clicked on the second one, you know that the Enduring Vision is now back in action, with all the pith and sarcasm we have come to expect from them. I wrote Josh a couple of emails congratulating him for being back and explaining that I stole his idea for Yahoo User Reviews. He has not contacted me back and I can only assume that he is now contacting his lawyers to figure out how he can sue me for idea infringement. The joke’s on him though, unless he really wants a 2000 baby blue Ford Focus with over 111,000 miles, I’ve got nothing for him to take. If you’ve read any of this blog, you know that my dignity is gone and I’ve already sold my soul several times over.

This is the Vision's banner.  They may kill me for this.

This is the Vision's banner. They may kill me for this.

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     Today I Googled Ranty McRanterson to check up on things and I was shocked to find other results than our blog. It used to be that when I would Google Ranty McRanterson, there would just be a link to our website and another asking if I meant Randy McRanterson (I almost never did). But now there seem to be several new pretenders to the throne. We’re not even the first link anymore, its someone’s Twitter account whose name is Ranty McRanterson. Considering we started this blog before Twitter existed, I think we have some sort of trademark on the name. Specifically Pete, cause I’m pretty sure he came up with the name.

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Reader1
Not to be outdone by Clint’s recent claim in a comment/demonstrated posting dominance, I decided to post for the first time in quite a while with a little public service announcement for those who have been following the Ranty McRanterson.

Google Reader is a tool that I have been using in conjunction with Gmail and Google Calendar for some time now to keep up with what is going on in the world. For those of you who aren’t aware, Google Reader is an RSS reader that allows you to track a number of websites that you normally read. I think of it as bookmarks on steroids.  Prior to Google Reader, I would have my favorite websites organized in the bookmarks toolbar of my browser, and click each one individually to check on what’s new.

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Captain: What You Say!?!

     I was tooling around with my email today (Gmail is the bomb diggity) and I foolishly ventured into my spam folder. First off, the spam screen for Gmail is awesome. There was absolutely nothing in there that I wanted to look at, it even knows me so well that it places overdue bills there. Just fantastic. Anyway, I noticed that I had some apparently important unread messages from people with some very strange names. I read them and was totally confounded by the weirdness.

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The New Jersey General Assembly passed a resolution in recognition of the New York Giants winning Super Bowl XLII. The resolution included a few pokes o’ fun, New Jersey style!

Tackle Kareem McKenzie, a New Jersey native, was in attendance to represent the Giants. “We appreciate your efforts on behalf of the New Jersey Giants,” Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce exclaimed, with a look of extreme satisfaction on his face that is annoying to other people who are less happy [that’s a definition].

Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone weighed in on the issue. “One day I hope to be standing here issuing a proclamation to the New Jersey Giants.”

As I was writing this post, Larry [my computer] decided to weigh in on the issue.

[Click to play audio]

Oh Larry, always patronizing.

Here’s a link to the full article from ESPN.com.

The General Assembly also sponsored a parade in honor of the Giants. Due to lack of funds, the parade was not advertised, and the procession consisted of the General Assembly walking around the block following this clown.

clown
Mr. Gigglesworth, the Clown

“We’ll certainly allot more funds to the ‘Tickertape Parade’ budget for next season, we need to get competitive with New York if we ever want the Giants to feel at home here,” lamented Chiappone.  “Mr. Gigglesworth was a hit at my son’s birthday party, but I think it may have been a mistake bringing him here.”

The last time the state of New Jersey had anything to celebrate was…well…

Never.

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