Monday, February 02, 2009


The call came during dinner.
“Mr. Bulletholes?”
“Mr. Bulletholes, I represent Portfolio Whatever and I am calling about your Capital One Account. According to our records, you owe $1000 and I am willing to work with you to get that amount down.”
“Who are you ?” I say, and she repeats the whole thing.
“But I don’t have a Capital One Account” says I.
‘So you claim you have never had a Capital One Visa Card?” She asks.
“Not that I recall, but never is a long time. When is this from?”
“This is from 1998”
“Oh, my!’ I exclaim ”That was a long time ago. I have no recollection of that account”

And its true…I do not recall having a Credit Card in 1998. I remember having a Divorce, a Foreclosure and a Bankruptcy that year. Somehow the notion that some idiot would extend to me a credit card at that point in my life has slipped my mind.

I tell her this and then she makes the request she and I go round and round on for the next 20 minutes.
‘Mr. Bulletholes, if you will give me the last 4 digits of your Social Security Card, I can verify this is your account.”
“Ma’am, I will not give you any portion of my Social Security number”
She does not understand why, and the argument ensues. I won’t bore you with the details but after a bit I think I have found a solution.
‘Ma’am, why don’t you tell me what the last four digits of my number are, and I will verify for you!”
She says “It doesn’t work that way.” And we argue some more.
So I say ‘Why don’t you send me something in the mail that will let me know you are a legitimate business, and allow me to respond in that manner?”
Again ‘It doesn’t work that way”
So I say “Well, we aren’t getting anywhere here are we?” and we begin to argue about my Soc. Sec. # again.
Finally I sense her exasperation and she says “Mr Bulletholes, you obviously are not going to be responsible and take care of this bill so I am terminating this call. Goodbye!”
There is silence on the line, I do not hear her hang up. After a time I say “Are you still there?”
“Why don’t you hang up?”
‘I’m waiting for you”
Well, I’m waiting for you”
“No, you hang up”
” No, you”

Its like I’m in the 2nd Grade all over again and we argue about the Social Security # again. She doesn’t understand that I am unwilling to give it to her.
She says again she is going to hang up and I wait. I sense that she is upset, even desperate.
She doesn’t hang up. This is baffling me now so I do what I do so well and ask a real simple question in a very kind voice.
‘Ma’am, why don’t you just hang up? Really, I want to know.”
She is hesitant and seems to be fighting back tears
“Because ... I…can’t!”
‘You can’t?”
‘No sir, we are on Auto-Dial and YOU have to hang up. I can’t”

Well, that does it for me. I just crack up and she laughs too. But hers is not a real laugh, it’s a laugh designed to make me her friend.
I say:
“So I could just set this phone down here and go back to watching my Ken Burns Civil War Tape? Its 12 hours long you know. Fascinating stuff, I could even turn it up for you and we could listen together. Did you know there were more than 600,000 Americans die in that War? Or that 'Dixie " was written by a Yankee? I’m in the part about the Monitor and the Merrimac right now. The Monitor had 52 patenable inventions created during its constuction. Can you imagine?"

She’s being quiet, and not laughing so I try another angle. I lower my voice and say

‘You know baby, I hate thinking I have you over a barrel right now but I have another idea….you sound kinda good to me, if you know what I mean, and I don’t know where you live but if you are legit you probably have my address. Maybe we could find a way to work this out over a little Chinese takee-outee or something. What say, babe?”

Long pause, then...
"Are you done now ?’ she asks.
"Yes, that ought to do it” and I hung up.


Anonymous said...

You played that one real good Bulletholes.Unbelieveable to imagine they are even bothering trying to recoup money from over 10years ago.If it was legit then they must be just trying to squeeze anything out of people nowadays. Sign of the times for the credit card companies.They could begin by lowering interest rates for a start......

GEWELS said...

Don't I wish I had your phone tapped during that call.
Too funny!!!

I'm laughing I'm crying!!! A day in the life of Bulletholes.

soubriquet said...

Oh Mister Bulletholes, I just love that! Of course, ten years and a bankruptcy ago, they know it's a lost cause, but the banks are trying to squeeze blood out of stones right now in order to pay their executives bonuses that most of us would take an entire working life to earn.

A long, long time ago, I had a business and it crashed. No government offered to bail me out. Nobody blamed the market, the chinese, or anybody at all but me.
I blamed me too, and felt very bad about the whole thing of failing in business.
The bank which had given me an overdraft triggered the crash, when a new manager told me I had to pay off my debt, and no further overdraft would be permitted.
I went to him with my figures and spreadsheets and order book, showing that the business had made the upturn towards success, but that it would take a further four months before the income started paying the loans off. I asked for a freeze on the compound interest, which his predecessor had offered. Sadly, the good guy had suffered a heart attack, and the bad guy had come in with a mean attitude, wanting to make a name for himself.
The result of his ultimatum was that the business folded, and the bank got very little back, because instead of agreeing to take the sum I could raise from selling off my van and all the equipment, as full and final settlement, it said it would prefer a weekly sum for the rest of my life.
But the tax man also thought I owed him my lifesblood.
So I went bankrupt.
Now I felt bad about that for years, but the same bank's head office loaned billions to some banana-republic, then, after they had a revolution, wrote off the entire debt....
My debt?
Less than the cost of a middle manager's company car.
But oooooh no, can't write off any of that.
They kept phoning me for years to see if I'd magically found a pot of gold. I wish I'd dealt with them like you did.

bulletholes said...

Souby, I'm thinkin she (or her husband) might come a-knockin'!

Gewels, it was a real delight!

Waiter- I called my ex-wife and she said that yes, some idiot CC company had sent me a Credit Card. it is probably my debt, but I'll be damned if I give anyone my Social over the phone. Not one digit.

Annie said...

That poor woman. But how could she not laugh? I sure as heck did. If they really want it, and are legitimate, they will send it in writing. No way would I give out my SS # to somebody that called me.

Barbara said...

Don't know whether to laugh or cry. It would be interesting if she followed up on your invitation...

Lily said...

I've had to leap in a few times and stop my husband giving our bank details to some anonymous voice on the phone. How no-one's emptied our account yet, I'll never know. Oh dear. Bet I just jinxed myself.

laughing said...

Well, something very similar happened to me a while back. Except for that last bit. And I didn't give them anywhere near twenty minutes.

Someone called and said that we owed for an old phone bill. At the time we were still paying stuff with paper checks, so I had a recent phone bill right in front of me, and it was just a normal phone bill that didn't say anything about this money being owed. And then she says it is for an old phone number. We never had that phone number, so I knew we didn't owe them any money. We have a common name, so they must have us confused with someone else.

So a SS# would clear up that confusion. So I went and got my husband's number, and I came back to the phone, and she wanted me to read the number. No, you read me the number you think it is, and I'll tell you that you're wrong. It doesn't work that way, you have to read your husband's number, at least the last four digits.

I wasn't going to read her anything. At the time I didn't know that she could actually do something with the last four digits, but she had made me mad at this point. And I decided that I didn't want to take the chance that she could do something with it. So I said that I was doing her a courtesy talking to her at all, cause she obviously had the wrong person. And if she wanted to read me the number she had so that she could mark us off the list because we didn't owe for any phone bill, that's fine, but if not that's the end of my wasting my time talking to her.

I did not know that about the auto-dial not being able to hang up. Now that I know, I could have some fun with that.

Anonymous said...

You are such a wonderful exercise program. My innards must be getting into shape. My ribs hurt from laughing.


e said...

OMG, Bullet!

I am roaring laughing at this one! Do you know that I once had the job of the young woman in this story??? It was a nasty job, and she's right. With auto dial, you hang up first...

My favorite episode ocurred when I contacted a gentleman and went through my spiel and he said, "Lady, I'm all soaped up naked in the shower and don't have anything to write with. Can you call back?"

I almost died laughing then, too!

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful!!
I soooo would have put the phone down, run to the stereo and put on the boom chicka waa waa music. A little *Shaft* maybe, to set the mood...
Honey, that was NOT a legit call. She wanted your SS #. If you owed them money, they would have sent the Mounties long before now!

GrizzBabe said...

LOL. Sigh. Oh, Steve. You're always good for nice laugh. That poor woman.

red dirt girl said...

thank you for the smile AND the laugh ... i'm expecting similar phone calls to begin anyday now ... it's not that I can't pay, i just really don't feel like it, at the moment.

I used to put my youngest on the phone when these solicitor types rang. He was about 3 at the time. Old enough to answer, "Yeah...she's over there!"

the innocence of youth - i should have known better!


Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah. I just emailed my "optomistic parents" NOT to engage in any speech w/ people of that nature.

Anyway, when we answer the phone, and we know it's a gimmick, we pretend we have CHinese voices and can't understand any word of English!! It's really funny and goes on for a long time, and then, well, the girls get kinda tired of it and we give it up. I tell them to let the handset just sit there!!

So, they get to hear the horrors of homeschooling: If you don't finish that report right now, I'm going to call our public school and ENROLL you into it!!! Finish up that dissection of Annelidia-- or your'e REALLY going to smell formeldehyde when your'e working in the city morgue!!!

Holy COW, Bulletholes, I think we need another history lesson!! My 9th grader is doing Joy Hakims' "A History of US" and she's just starting the Reconstruction era in our country's history.

Ok, she needs a "test" in the Civil War and before, can you construct a history test?? I would be really humbled. If you could provide a "test" of everything that transpired when the first "Europeans" came over here, till the Civil War.

Oh-and-- hello?? She is insistant that the Merrimack (sp) and Monitor did NOT clash together-- rather, it was the VIRGINIA and Monitor. DON'T ask her that on any kind of history question! Really, if you look at it, it really was the Monitor and Virginia, b/c the V/g was iron clad then!! and hello, that's when modern warfare began bt ships!!

Hey-- again, I would love some kind of an American History test, just to make sure that I'm teaching her OK, before Reconstruction. (1888). So, that might keep you busy for a while!!

So Sorry for the repeats. but doodoo, I need an AM HI test for my 9th grade firl!! Thanks, Munchkin!!

Anonymous said...

oh-- NOT firl, But Girl!
I need Am. history for my GIRL!!