Catch 22

"Your credit card application has ... this time ... been refused."

Our head of group was scanning the letter I had been sent from the credit card company which was all written in Japanese. I tried to rearrange my face into an expression of polite confusion as opposed to indignant fury. I had filled in that application at the end of July. It has come back to me once with queries about my contact details and now they had gone and rejected me point blank. What was more, it was the university's own credit card system for its staff and students, so credit history (or lack thereof) was specifically supposed to be not an issue. What was their beef?

"I will call them," our head of group promised. He returned a short while later saying that they were due to call him back with an English-speaking representative who could talk directly to me. Security considerations meant that they could not pass on details of my account to a third party. It made sense. I followed him into his office and waited for the phone to ring.

"Is this ... Tasker Elizabeth?"

That'd be me. In a backwards sort of way.

"Can you confirm your identity with your date of birth and office phone number?"

"Erm... could you please hold for two minutes?"

I hasten to add it was the phone number that I had no clue about. I never touch the handset on my desk since (a) fundamentally, I hate talking on the phone and (b) the fact it is likely to be in Japanese does not endear the situation to me. I dig out the phone number from a list of documents on my desk.

"Unfortunately, your application for a credit card has been refused this time."


"We cannot give details of our process."

Well, that clears everything up! I looked around for something to bang my head against.

"What confuses me," I tried again politely. "Is that I know you offer the credit card to foreign students. I am a foreign professor. How can I not qualify if the students do?"

The woman hesitated. "Well...," she said carefully. "It is hard to fill your details into the system when they are not complete. You have no number for a home or cell phone..."

"I don't have either."

"Yes, but that section is blank..."

I got what she was trying to tell me. My credit card application had been rejected because I didn't have a cell phone. That was all well and good except I needed a credit card to get a cell phone.

There was really nothing suitably hard enough to smack my head against in this room.

To be fair, once I'd recovered from my mild concussion, there were solutions to this problem. A credit card was not needed for a prepaid phone, I was just loathed to get one just so I could replace it with a smart phone once I got my credit card. However, I had only asked one company about contract deals and it would later turn out that other providers would accept a bank debit card instead of a credit card. Now the decision became: do I wait for the iPhone 5 later this month or get an android? Then if I went for the latter, there was a shiny new Fujitsu handset due out in November and ...

.... basically, I'm never getting that credit card. Or a cell phone. If you want to contact me, I hear messenger pigeons are great.