Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I don't like being told what to do. Especially when it's coming from peanut-headed little order takers who don't know what they're talking about.

Today's drama unfolds in the local post office, centering on an issue that has become very near and dear to my heart. For a variety of reasons, I refuse to sign the back of my debit card. This little card is the access point to all of the money in my checking account, and unlike a credit card bill that I can refuse to pay, an unscrupulous person with my debit card can simply TAKE all of my money. Therefore, since never in my adult life have I EVER seen a cashier check my credit card signature against the signature I provide, I feel that signing my debit card is equivalent to signing over all my money to some random stranger.

I don't want to do it, and you can't make me do it.

For years I just left the signature field blank and very rarely encountered any resistance. When asked, I simply offered my driver's license as proof of my identity. What a great plan! So much more secure than a signature. And so, I decided to print in the signature field, "Please ask for ID."

Since then, I've been asked for my ID from people who never seemed to care before, and that makes me feel wonderfully secure. They feel secure, I feel secure. It's a very secure transaction.

Apparently, the post office has no interest in security.

I walked up to the counter and asked for a simple book of stamps. I hand the man my card, and he takes it, asking whether it's credit or debit. When I tell him debit, he immediately asks if I want any cash back. I decline. Then he flips over my card.

"Whoa, uh…"

"Oh, right," I say, reaching for my ID.

"I'm sorry, we can't accept unsigned cards."

"Well, my signature is on my driver's license. Let me get that out for you."

"The card itself has to be signed."

"But my name is on the card, which matches my driver's license, which has my photograph AND my signature."

"You have to sign your card," he says, pointing vaguely to a "NO CID" notice at the counter.

"So you're saying that if I sign it right now, I could go ahead and use it?"

"That's right."

"But then ANYONE could do that! How do you know I'm who I say I am? How do you know you didn't just offer some random stranger a book of stamps with cash back from MY checking account?"

"I'm sorry…"

"Okay, fine. I'll use my credit card." I hand him my signed credit card, which he flips, scans, and then hands back to me.

I take it, then hesitated. "You're not going to check it?"

"Um, I did."

"You looked to see that the back is signed. You didn't check it against my signature on the receipt. You have no idea whether the signatures will match. If they don't match, will you decline this transaction?"

"Um, we just have to have a signed card."

At this point I realized what I was dealing with. There was no battle to be won here, he just didn't care. He was doing what he was told until his next bathroom break, and when he came back he'd do what he was told some more. I was looking to the eyes of apathy, and before me stretched a vast, bleak expanse of not giving a shit.

Well, okay. Seems like a good time to redirect my frustration and pay a call to Pamela, the Spineless Insurance Adjustor Who Won't Return My Calls Because She Owes Me a Settlement Check for my Totaled Car.

I think I feel a latent spinal injury coming on…

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