I’ll Get More Money Too

Sophie has earned her first-ever allowance. Beginning this week, she gets $5 every Monday to spend on anything she wants (that she’s allowed to have).

This strategic amount allows her to buy a few small items immediately, or save it for just one week to get a bigger toy in the $10 range. Being a generally responsible child, she listened patiently to my explanation of how an allowance would work and why she might want to save it, and then tucked the money safely in a wallet she’s apparently had stashed away.

And to celebrate, we took a trip to the Dollar Store. As Sophie browsed and weighed the pros and cons of buying each toy she encountered, Mom reminded her that she might want to save some money, in case she needed to buy anything later in the week. Her response, with the most exasperation I’ve ever heard her use:

Mommy, did you forget? I’ll get more money!

Well, that’s almost what we were hoping to teach.

Your Money’s No Good Here

I called T-Mobile to transfer my fiancée’s phone from the family plan it’s on now to a new individual plan. The call, with “Michelle” in India was unimpressive from the start, but really hit bottom when she started asking for identity information.

T-Mobile Customer Service: Let me have you full social security number, please.

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t give out my social security number.

T-Mobile: We’ll need to do a credit check to verify that you are eligible to have an account with us. We’ll need your social security number, driver’s license or passport number, and date of birth.

Me: I see. Well, I won’t give out any of that information, but I’d be happy to pay the contract in full today instead.

T-Mobile: You want to cancel the contract and pay the early termination fee?

Me: (stunned) No, I want to pay you. The remaining cost of the contract should be about $500, and I’d like to pay it in full, right now, to alleviate any concern about my credit history.

T-Mobile: You’ll have to speak to our cancelations department. Just a moment.

First, phone service providers have no truly legitimate reason to solicit identity information. The operating theory must be that people who have purchased the phone at a discount have taken out the difference as “credit,” but in practice that’s quite absurd. Like all other utilities, they may reserve the right to terminate my service if I should fail to pay. That’s sufficient.

But second, is the notion of people paying their bills so entirely alien that customer service representatives mistake it for a cancellation request?

(And for the record, I have excellent credit history; I just don’t like people prying into it.)