June 04, 2004

some are born more equal than others

Two things reminded me today what a wonderfull world we live in, where all people are born equal.

I need to go to a bussiness trip to Ireland and suddenly I need a visa, which can take (prepare for a shock) 6 to 8 weeks to issue. Wow! What if I need to go to the fucking trip next week? An Icelander can do it. I can't. Maybe I don't live here, and don't pay the same taxes, don't shop from the same stores, and don't sit in their expensive bars, or what? The visa application form has even space for a picture on it, requires an invitation from the company that I'm doing bussiness with and "evidence of funds".

And then I got to the bank to take my very first credit card. My application was declined because 1. I am not an Icelandic citizen and 2. My social security number is too new. After a bit of simple questions from me they realised their lethal mistake and dropped this version quite fast. So they put me on the phone with the person who declined my application. So that she can give me an explanation and I got 1.You have an account with another bank, and you've been feeding your salary to it for at least three months BUT you are not a customer of us, so we don't trust you and 2. You are too young.
Both are debatable. They do have access to my statements and having an account with them makes absolutely no difference to them. They have the same access to my other bank account as they may have to the one in their bank, they can pull money out of it whenever they need, given that it is lawful. And even looking at the statements of my bank account is not permitted unless I give them an explicit authorization to do it, per case, regardless where the bank account is. The "you are too young" thing is quite strange too. I know Icelanders who got their first credit card at 18. I'm 23 now. ... But given your overall financial profile, we can't issue you a credit card... What? I don't have debts. I never had _any_ debts. I only have income and spending, that's all. My balance is ALWAYS positive. What's wrong with my financial profile? Anyway. I'm ranting here, because I didn't put my point through to the nice credit officer on the phone. I don't need their card for the credit features of it. I need it for the discounts and low service fees and the ability to use it on the Internet, unlike my Maestro debit card. So I said this to her and I was told that I need to fill the same form (which they only provide in Icelandic btw) again, and type in the comments field that I need a pre-paid card and that I spoke to this person the last time. I don't feel like a happy customer, you know. I may take my service charges money elsewhere if they continue to give me reasons to.

Posted by boyan at June 4, 2004 06:04 PM

Thanks Marko. Your comments are really usefull :).
I have just a few points to what you said.
You are not even considered a citizen here. You are considered "one of those foreigners that cleans the streats and washes dishes" (with all due respect to those working these jobs) regardless of what you do.
I refuse to work harder than locals to get the same rights. Exactly what makes them better than me? If somebody has a problem with that I'll just take my brain/money elsewhere. Until I have options in Iceland, one bank will simply win over the other, because they have forms in english, and don't treat me like a monkey.
Suits suck.

Posted by: Boyan at June 5, 2004 03:55 PM

Yes, there it's probably harder, but there is also the notion that until you win yourself the right to be threated as a first-class human being, you always will be treated as a second-class one. It doesn't matter where you are generally - you need to do something to prove yourself to some people...

And yes, changing banks should help. Helping other people to switch will help even more :)

p.s. not 'regardles of what you do'. there are ways to make people respect you. It just takes time and patience...

Posted by: Vasil Kolev at June 7, 2004 04:09 PM