Sunday, August 19, 2007

You're Approved!

If you're like me you've received over, oh, about eleventy-bajillion solicitations for new credit cards over the last couple of years.... all of them signed by some faceless drone at Chase Credit Cards (Wilmington, Delaware) named:

Carter Franke (pronounced "Frankie" as in "Goes to Hollywood.")

Well, first of all I want to assure you that Carter Franke is not just a faceless drone. She (and it is a "she") does exist. I know this because I have a niece in the credit racket down there, who used to work at Chase and, in a roundabout way, worked for Carter Franke.

The problem was that Chase's marketing department got so pumped up on the equivalent of marketing steroids that they didn't do a very good job of keeping track of whom they sent what to. It got so bad that there was a time when I was getting 3-4 of these things a WEEK in the mail. Last year, for Christmas, I sent my niece and nephew-in-law a card saying that they'd been "pre-approved" to spend an entire Christmas afternoon with Uncle Ron and I signed it, "Carter Franke." Needless to say, that greeting card made the rounds at Chase Credit Cards, Inc.

Their invitations to spend more all looked exactly the same. Oh, the masthead would change, depending on which outside company had gotten into bed with Chase in exchange for a piece of the action. Those included everything from AARP to AAA. But after the logo, the rest of the letters were identical.

It was absurd.

How did I get so popular? Beats me. Chase was one of the companies I owed a boatload of money to at one point. But I have a theory. When I got sober my credit was wrecked. I owed money to everybody. I thought it was insurmountable. However, after a couple of years, paying everybody a couple of bucks a month, that "mountain of debt" I thought I had, turned out to be about $16,000.00. Well, it's gone and has been for 4 or 5 years now. I also didn't run up any new debt while I was paying off the old debt. I lived on cash, checks and my debit card. Eventually, magically, my debt disappeared AND my credit score went from about 450 to 823.

You can guess the rest.

So when Chase went data mining at the credit reporting agencies, they come across my score and practically chewed their own paws off trying to get at me and my sterling credit reputation. It's the reason I was so rapidly approved for mortgage money earlier this summer. They took one look at my score (it was now down to 803 because I'd made the mistake of buying a car 2 years ago) and they wanted to write me checks, practically on the spot.

Prepare for what seems is a non sequitur but it isn't.

Now, with Hurricane Dean beating the crap out of Jamaica and taking aim at the Caymans, but with still thousands of miles to go before it hits the American mainland, President Bush has PRE-APPROVED disaster recovery aid and money for Texas.

Shocked? I know I am. Not.

Meanwhile, poor New Orleans still can't the kind of real money it needs from the Feds in order to fix itself up after Katrina.

Carter Franke has retired. She's been replaced by some other faceless drone who's name I've yet to memorize. But I'm sure I'll be seeing it plenty of times in the coming months and years.

Meanwhile though, I wonder if Carter would be interested in post-approving New Orleans for a couple of bucks?

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