I’m sick of banks and their loan-sharky credit cards. So recently I decided to cancel all my bank credit cards except for one. (How I ended up with three VISAs and two Mastercards, I’ll never know. I think they procreate in my purse.) So I sent each bank where I had a credit card a letter instructing them to close my accounts.
Exactly one out of the five banks I contacted responded by canceling my account. Three banks sent me computer-generated complaint forms, and one had the audacity to reply with a bill for the $35 annual fee.
Eager to know why I had to pay to close my account, I called the latter bank first. By the third word out of my mouth the customer service representative interrupted with, “Can I have your NIN and your PIN, please?”
“Your NIN is the node identification name that your account uses to communicate with our host computer in our head office, and your PIN is your personal identification number that you use at automatic tellers.” She might as well have added, “you twit!” given her tone of voice.
“Uh, I don’t have those numbers,”” I replied sheepishly. I could picture her rolling her eyes, as she recounted her day that evening to her husband.
“Honey, you’ll never guess what happened to me today. A customer called needing assistance, and she didn’t even know her NIN or her PIN. Can you believe it? And she wanted me to help her! What nerve!”
“Golly, Madge, did she even know her account number?”
“Well, yes, but anyone could get that.”
The impatient voice on the other end of the phone interrupted my reverie. “Look ma’am, I can’t cancel your account without your NIN and your PIN. Call corporate at…”
If I have to talk to one more NIN-compoop…
After speaking with four more equally pleasant customer service individuals, I discovered that my NIN was a 10-character, alpha-numeric sequence that resembled the zip code of a medium-sized, foreign country, and my PIN was an eight-digit number that spelled out the words “poop head” when dialed on a touch-tone phone. (When I pointed this out to the customer service manager, she assured me that it was just an unusual coincidence. Right. I’ll bet.)
Once I was able to give my NIN and my PIN to anyone who requested it, I canceled my account. Or so I thought. Two days later I received a letter that read: “Your current cards have expired. Here are your new ones!”
Paranoid that I had been assigned a new NIN and PIN, I immediately called my friends in customer service. “Hello,” I barked into the phone. “Let me speak to the PIN head. Er, excuse me. I mean the head of the PIN department. No wait… I mean the manager of the PIN department… Actually, I mean…” Instantly I was connected to “muzak” and then a woman’s voice came on the line.
“Node identification names. May I help you?”
“What?! You’re,… you’re NINs! I asked for PINs! This is just great! Don’t you people know your PINs from your NINs?!” This conversation did not go the way I had practiced it in the mirror.
Fortunately, the lady in NINs was not the usual insensitive ninny I’d grown accustomed to dealing with. She graciously explained how the bank canceled credit cards and I politely pretended to listen. However, my ears perked up when she promised she would personally delete my account from the their system.
At last, I would be free from this bank and their greedy computers.
Weeks went by. No word. However, I knew that my cancellation confirmation would come soon. I’d made too much of a stink to be ignored again.
Finally, something did come in the mail. As I tore open the envelope with the bank’s logo in the upper left-hand corner, I felt a sense of victory. These were my emancipation papers, as well as my proof that in the end humanity trumps technology. Because despite NINs and PINs computers are basically stupid, and do ONLY what they are programmed to do.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to read the entire letter and savor the moment. In fact, I didn’t get beyond the first sentence. I felt light-headed and fainted when I read, “Dear Valued Customer: Thank you for reporting your lost or stolen cards…”
Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.