Letter: It’s only a little time
But it’s truly said that "Time is money." And now we’re being "taxed" again in that currency.
I received my state income tax refund today. Instead of a check that I could drop off at the bank, I received two debit cards and a letter stating that I had to "activate them as described below" (with there being no instructions contained below) and get a PIN.
There was a number to call for help. I called, was interrogated about just everything except my shoe size, and then informed that my PIN was the last four digits of my Social Security number and that I could deposit the refund into my bank if they used MasterCard. Otherwise, I had to find a place that took MasterCard, cash the card, and then move the funds to my bank. I could also just spend it like a prepaid debit card.
I had to know my PIN and know the amount on the card to do this. To find the amount on the card, I had only to activate it and they (the card company) would tell me. The next call was to the card company to activate the card. For every credit card that I have activated over my many years, this was a two-minute process. Not so the debit card. Three solid minutes of questions and then I was dropped into an endless loop of "choose from the following options."
All told, I probably spent 45 minutes to this point—the aggravation made it seem like more—and I still can’t just drop the cards at the bank.
Why? Because the state has sold us off to the debit card company in return for free card issuance (and likely a kickback on the side). The list of conditions and qualifications on the use of the debit card cover half a page. Like "gift cards," many of the preloaded debit cards will likely never be fully expended. It borders on a scam.
Cobbs Creek, Va.