Cyclical Ranting

Depending on how much of my blog you have read, you may or may not know that I repetitively encounter a problem with getting various organisations and departments to recognise me as a valid person.  I refer to it as my non-person status because somehow, despite legally, fiscally and financially sharing everything equally, my husband’s status as a US citizen makes him more of a person than I am.  This is another rant on this theme.  I somehow doubt it will be the last.

When we opened our US bank account, I could not activate my card because I did not have an Social Security number.  Then, when the SSN arrived and I phoned up to activate my card, I was interrogated because they insisted on further proof of my identity.  So my husband got to just push some buttons to confirm his debit card number and SSN without even speaking to an actual human whereas I had to answer questions about what was the dollar amount of my husband’s salary, when exactly was our bank account opened and so on and so forth.  And then we got into the whole “driving licence” hoo-ha where they just don’t comprehend that I cannot use a US driving licence to verify my identity because I am an immigrant who has only just arrived on American shores.  It must have taken over a dozen questions and answers for them to activate my card in the end.  That’s a big difference from punching some numbers in on a phone, the privilege of the USC.

I reported recently that the same debit cards had been revoked by our bank because we had happened to shop at Target during the period of their security breech.  After a week of whittling down my cash reserves, the debit cards finally arrived this morning.  With the reluctance that comes from that familiar sense of foreboding, I picked up the phone to activate the card.  I punched in my card number and was asked to punch in the last four digits of my SSN.  I did so.  I was asked to re-enter the SSN numbers.  Repeatedly.  By the fourth attempt, even the stupid robot system had decided enough was enough and put me through to a human – but not before making me listen to the most noisy hold music ever because it sounded like the feedback from an amp at a rock concert.

De.  Ja.  Vu.

Could I confirm my full name was the easy kick off point.  Then we were onto the usual bumf about passport numbers (not good enough evidence of my identity since it’s a UK passport number), my husband’s payroll details and the exact salary amount (which I have still failed to commit to memory because, you know, I have better things for my brain to focus on right now than the exact amount, to the cent, that his employer deposits in our account each month), various other questions about the joint account holder and – yes, siree, that favourite query of mine – the number on my US driver’s licence.  Groundhog Day conversation.

Seriously.  They have previously verified my identity to their satisfaction in order to activate the previous debit card but they want me to go through the same stuff all over again.  Trying to withhold sarcasm and annoyance from my voice, with moderate success, through gritted teeth I explained that, as my accent indicated, I was not American, had already indicated I was not American given our discussion about my passport, had in fact only been in America since October, and strangely enough did not yet had a chance to obtain a full US driver’s licence.

On hold again.  With the eardrum shredding feedback noise.

And then, just like that, I was told the cards were now activated and have a nice day.  No explanation for the sudden change of heart, no logic to my authorisation suddenly being approved, just that they were now activated.  Bureaucracy here is frustrating and fickle.

6 thoughts on “Cyclical Ranting

  1. Pingback: Customer service: more links | Notes from the U.K.

  2. What a complete and total nightmare! Sorry you had to go though all of that. I literally felt your pain while reading your post. As for me, I have been informed that my SSN is all askew as it is linked to my maiden name -but I now go by my married name. But I live in the UK not in the US, why is this a big deal? Anyway, I will have to sort this out soon. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

    • I will definitely keep my fingers crossed for you. My husband and I conjoined our surnames when we married. He, therefore, had to change his surname on his SSN and all while resident in the UK. It actually all went pretty smoothly getting a replacement in the correct name. Hopefully you find the same is true for you.

      • Ahh. Thanks! I live in hope. As for me getting my NINO here in the UK, it was pretty easy. There was an interview, I showed my passport and ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and smiled broadly and sincerely in equal measure and a few days later, my Nat’l Insurance Card came in the post. As for the SSN, and after reading your message, it should be OK. Yeah.

      • I think in the scheme of things a change of name or address is easy for the powers that be to process (though USCIS failed to change the address on my oldest son’s record leading to the loss in the mail of his Green Card and SSN – that was in a whole other series of rant posts). My major problem was getting anything to happen without a U.S. driving license but I could not obtain a license without the things I needed a license to obtain. It was Kafkaesque.

      • Oh man. So Kafkaesque. Yes, getting that U.S. drivers license is like the magic key to any and all doors. Funny when you are 15 and 8 months and living in MD, getting a driver’s license is important for other reasons as teenagers have such busy social calendars. Hah!

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