Friday, August 07, 2009

Wonderous Things

My wife and I ventured West last weekend. To a place called Weston-super-Mare (the 's' is in Lower Case by decree of some regal being back in the 1700s). It rained. It is summer over here after all. I recall taking Rik and BLS there in my yoof, but it didn't rain then. Last weekend, we stayed at the Royal Hotel. In the Princess Diana Room no less. It's one of those British hotels where there is no A/C in the room, and if you wish to turn around, you walk back into the corridor, turn around and re-enter. There were legs on the 'large' bed which could cripple someone with 20-20 vision. Outside, they'd obviously had a minor problem when a concrete slab had come adrift, and the repairer obviously didn't have 20-20 vision. See picture.

There are several things in this world, nay Universe that amaze me. One of them is one's Credit Rating. Now anyone with a desire to live on this planet must know that a high Credit Rating is paramount. In the US, these are classified as, 'very poor (320, which is the lowest one can get), poor, not too good, average (all of these will NOT allow one to get a mortgage, even at 20% per annum), better, even better, leading eventually to 'excellent' (850), which is about where the bank will pay your monthly mortgage and smile sweetly in the process. According to statistics, about 38% of the population of the US are in the sub-400 category. In other words, you're screwed when it comes to getting any credit, except if you pay through the nose.

Now, this brings me to the crux of the matter. After many years in the doldrums in the US's credit rating system due to an errant wife, and many regular phone calls, I ended up in the mid-500s. Today, I'm in the 800s. Wowee! If only I had a mortgage! But woe betide me when I get to the UK. Not having had any kind of 'record' in the last seven years (their maximum, despite not living here for 24 years), this denies me the status of a 'decent risk'. The UK does not have the US version of a Social Security Number. Actually, it does, but this is not used for credit rating purposes - that would be against our 'uman rites.

But, I despaired not as I received a letter - not an email - from none other than Capital One offering me a Credit Card here in the Queen's Realm. They said that as I had 'failed to qualify for a Credit Card', they could help. How did they know I had failed, when I'd never applied for one? I digress. I was offered a credit limit of £200, which translates into about US $350. And this service would be available at 'only' 34.9% p.a. interest rate, and I could draw cash against it. I worry as to what the majority of cash-strapped people will do to relieve the effects of redundancy, unemployment, late mortgage, car payments or whatever. Suffice to say, I dumped the 'application' in File 13. Fair Issac have a lot ot answer for. And I find myself even more annoyed that I sold them a mainframe about 7 years back.

Here endeth today's lesson.