My review of Capitalism this Holiday season, or: Cancel Comcast and don’t rent a car from Avis

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Christopher Carr

Christopher Carr does stuff and writes about stuff.

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  1. Avatar Jim Heffman
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    The US Post Office did a really great job getting all packages to our house and to our relatives’ houses in plenty of time for Christmas. Flat Rate Priority seems to really work out well (and you get free tracking.)Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jim Heffman
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      Agree.

      I do believe that the PO is finally getting their package process up to speed.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Patrick
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        Heck, I wonder if it’s because of the flat rate thing. It is certainly easier to design your handling and shipping systems when you’re guaranteed that each item will be specific dimensions and under a certain weight.

        And the postage prices certainly encourage the use of flat rate packaging. Shipping a box that’s two inches taller than a medium FRB costs four times as much, even at the same weight. (We actually found it less expensive to ship multiple FRB packages than a single large shipment…)Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Jim Heffman
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      Good to hear. We avoided ordering anything from walmart.com this year precisely because one of our packages last year missed Christmas despite us ordering it three weeks before. I probably should have included Walmart among the losers.Report

  2. Avatar North
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    Comcast was the huge loser. My condo, which is located near downtown Minneapolis, got included on the fiber internet expansion here and I signed us up for it. For half the price of Comcast we get insane fast internet that never varies in speed. My husband likes to pull up those internet speed testers, watch the dial zoom round to max and giggle. Comcast -1.

    Then Comcast again, husband called to cancel the internet service and asked what our bill would be. “The same as it was before” was the indifferent response. Despite the fact that we were using half as many services we would pay the same. Husband cancelled the entire service in a fury and signed us up for 7 dollar a month Hulu. As a result of our loss of cable I have to jump through a few hoops to watch Steven Universe and we’ve watched Mongols and Vikings on netflicks and Hulu. Massive savings have ensued. Comcasts “come back baby, I still love you” letters go straight in the trash unopened. Comcast -2 I suppose Hulu +1 (Netflicks is a push, we already subscribed).Report

  3. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
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    Comcast lost me as well. We moved over Thanksgiving from Bellevue to the Issaquah Highlands. The Highlands is a Master Plan community with it’s own high speed fiber network. Basically every house has a network panel that has a fiber connection directly to the panel. You just plug your router into that and away you go. $45/month gets me 50MB down/20 MB up. Between that, my Roku, & 3 internet services (Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu+), I can watch pretty much everything I want, when I want to, with no muss or fuss, and I’m still saving lots of money versus paying for cable.Report

  4. Avatar Kimmi
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    DSL continues to have consumer protections that “cable internet” will never have.Report

  5. Avatar Damon
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    I actually managed NOT to spend a lot of money. I had some eating out expenses, but otherwise, not so much.

    Recently I did get a new phone via Verizon, but since I had already reduced my monthly bill, the only impact is I have to stay with them another two years. Since I was happy with my new lower cost plan, this isn’t a hardship.

    I managed to get Comcast to reset my triple play plan back to year one again, so my bill has only increased a few bucks from last year.

    Next comes insurance as I re-evaluate my coverage and carriers.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Damon
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      +1. Not spending much. no presents.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Kimmi
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        Several years ago I had a convo with all the players: parents, etc. and said that we should stop doing presents. What’s the point of buying stuff when most of us could afford that same stuff if we really wanted it, ourselves. No..spend the money on experiences and seeing each other. The rest just rots when you die.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kimmi
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        @damon
        What’s the point of buying stuff when most of us could afford that same stuff if we really wanted it, ourselves.

        What I always wanted to do was to suggest to my extended family is that each person allocate $100 or so and we all go somewhere interesting together, like to see a play and then have dinner, instead of presents. If we’re spending money, let’s spend it on a group outing that we’ve all wanted to do would but is ‘too expensive’. If we replace all presents with that, we come out *ahead*, and we had just as much enjoyment.

        The problem is that before I could suggest this, I got nieces and nephews, and you can’t *not* do presents with kids. (And it also somewhat restricts the group outings, also. And the parent’s money.)Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Kimmi
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        @davidtc

        True enough regarding kids. Fortunately I don’t have any and my nieces and nephews are old enough that presents aren’t a big deal.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi
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        Okay. New Present: Washing Mashine.
        (Yes, parents in law are wonderful people who put up with tons of bullshit from us).Report

  6. Avatar Mo
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    Did the 4 hour time end up hitting some sort of time event (e.g. went from slightly more than a week to go to slightly less than a day to go)? That might be why all the prices went up all at once. I would also note that Avis owns Avis, Budget, Zipcar and Payless and Enterprise owns Enterprise (duh), National and Alamo. So despite the appearance of lots and lots of companies, in reality, there are only three major companies (the two mentioned and Hertz).Report

  7. Avatar DavidTC
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    WRT Avis: Clinging to the whole ‘Only rent to people with a credit card’ business model is exceptionally stupid for car rental places to do, but they continue clinging to it non-the-less.

    I sorta understand why they *think* they need to, due to the need to assess additional charges without any risk. But young people *simply do not have credit cards* anymore. (Hell, *I* don’t have a credit card, and I’m in my mid-thirties.) The ‘we only rent to people 25 or over’ delayed that issue for a few years (While also being incredibly stupid as a policy.) but that ship sailed a decade ago.

    I am completely baffled as to why they don’t understand this is a problem and try to invent a way to deal with it.

    I’m actually a little perplexed that they think a few small lost fees are important enough to lock out a large section of their customer. Seriously, we’re talking a few dozen dollars, which will usually clear in the bank account of someone who can *afford to rent a car*, and something like 75% of debit card users have stupid ‘overdraft protection’ on anyway, aka, ‘the bank will screw you with fees instead of declining the charge like you probably wanted’ still turned on, so rental places would get their money even if the person *didn’t* have it in their account. We’re talking about maybe 0.1% of customers walking away owing a few dozen dollars (Which you can just bill them *later* for and get that money 99% of the time.)…is that really worth locking out something like 20% of young people who don’t have a credit card and can’t figure out a work-around? Seriously? Charge debit card users a $1 ‘debt insurance’ fee and you’ve more than covered it.

    This is totally baffling as a business policy.

    And, on topic, what I spent some extra money on recently (Although after Christmas) was a new Synology NAS and a 4tb external drive to hook to it. And I’m still waiting for the thing to get here.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DavidTC
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      How the hell do you buy anything online without a credit card?

      Do you not understand that if the car gets totalled, you’re on the hook for the bill? That’s thousands of dollars, that the rental company wants to be able to assess THAT DAY, not put you on an installment plan. If you gave them a debit card, you could easily be overdrawn or, worse, never get that much money scrapped together.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kimmi
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        How the hell do you buy anything online without a credit card?

        Because I, like many people my age and almost every younger, just have a *debit card* we can use as a credit card. Except for, for completely idiotic reasons, when renting a car.

        It’s really funny how, after having endured putting up with all sorts of idiots when I was young talking about how ‘young people are borrowing too much, getting huge credit card debts’, it turns out, hey, it looks like that wasn’t actually *us* at all, but older people doing that. (General rule: Whatever the yammering ninnies think young people are doing, they’re actually just projecting whatever they when they were young were doing onto current young people.)

        Do you not understand that if the car gets totalled, you’re on the hook for the bill? That’s thousands of dollars, that the rental company wants to be able to assess THAT DAY, not put you on an installment plan. If you gave them a debit card, you could easily be overdrawn or, worse, never get that much money scrapped together.

        If you total a rented car, I assure you that car does *not* go on your credit card bill. That would be insane. What happens is that the credit card has insurance on it that covers any rented cars. And it’s usually covered in your actual car insurance if you have comprehensive insurance. If neither of those are true, you do get *billed* for it, they can’t just suck the entire cost of a car out of your credit card.

        And I didn’t mention any of this because insurance on a rented car costs *almost nothing*. This is why credit card companies functionally offer it for free.

        It would be easy enough for car rental places to just add to the *bill* of people who rent in ways other than credit cards, and don’t have insurance via some other means.

        And, of course, if car companies started *accepting* debit cars, *debit card issuers* might start throwing ‘free rental car insurance’ on there, just like the credit card companies do now.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kimmi
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        I’ll say this: it’s not for completely idiotic reasons that you can’t rent with a debit card. It’s them looking out for themselves. And it’s not for idiotic reasons that you can’t rent with someone else’s credit card who’s not there (some companies won’t let you rent with anyone but the driver(s) credit cards!). They’re just looking out for themselves. I suspect their lawyers and insurance companies demand it.

        Basically, they want to make sure they’re covered if the car is lost, stolen, totaled, etc., and the safest way to do that is to have your credit card. Debit cards are considerably less safe.

        Now, I don’t have any credit cards, and I rent a car periodically because I don’t have one of those either. I use a debit card, and each time I do I have to give them a bunch of information, references, and provide them with a utility bill and a pay stub. Then they call my phone to make sure I didn’t just give them a fake number. It’s an annoyingly intrusive process, and I am uncomfortable with it every time, but I get it.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi
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        David,
        god, that is really, really unsafe. Debit cards lack the consumer protections of credit cards, so unless you leave no money on your checking account, it can be a real problem.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kimmi
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        @chris
        What you have said makes a lot of sense, except where the fact is that every single piece of it is factually incorrect. It might actually *be* their justification, I don’t know how stupid they are, but it’s factually incorrect.

        To start with, all *bank accounts* in this country (Which is what is behind all debit cards except the pre-paid variety, and no one’s expecting them to take a pre-paid card.) are required, by the government, to be verified with photo IDs and all sorts of things.

        Whereas this is *not* required for credit cards. And, in fact, credit card companies are well known for giving out credit cards to *anyone* who claims to be a human being. *cough*identitytheft*cough* Or sometimes even if they don’t.

        Second, to get a debit card, you have to actually put some money in and get a balance to the point where you can rent the car in the first place, whereas with a credit card, you can fill out a form with a fake name and spend no money.

        Third, credit cards have an ability called ‘chargeback’, where you can dispute the charges for all sorts of reasons. Debit cards…do not have this ability, not really. It sorta exists, but is almost impossible to do, especially if the debit card was run *as* a debit card, with PIN typed in, and not a pretend credit card.

        It is actually *much much* more likely for credit cards to be fraudulent, have charges reversed, or to be issued entirely bogusly to wrong people, than debit cards.

        On top of all that…people do not rent cars to steal them. That entire premise is faulty and nonsensical. Car thieves do not walk into businesses and walk around on video cameras talking to people. They just take the damn car out of the lot.

        The only actual real point in there is that credit card companies *often* provide comprehensive car insurance for cars rented on them. Of course, the reason that debit card companies might *not* is that, duh, it’s nearly impossible to rent a car using a debit card. (And comprehensive car insurance for a rental is so cheap it’s a really dumbass excuse for car rental companies to us. Charge debit card people a few dollars more and there you go, you idiots.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kimmi
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        Factually incorrect? I’m not sure those words mean what you think they mean.

        I’ll just say this: credit cards insure purchases in a way that banks do not. If I run off with the car, and paid with a debit card, the rental company is shit out of luck. With a credit card company? They might get some reimbursement.

        Also, man, why are you yelling when the people you’re talking to are speaking at a normal volume? Calm down.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kimmi
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        @chris
        I’ll just say this: credit cards insure purchases in a way that banks do not. If I run off with the car, and paid with a debit card, the rental company is shit out of luck. With a credit card company? They might get some reimbursement.

        I don’t think ‘purchase’ means what you think it means.

        Credit card companies have all sorts of niceties for *people* who purchase things via credit card. They have no niceties for businesses that *sell things* to people who pay via credit card.

        In fact, as someone who has had to deal with that side of the issue, credit card companies are incredibly difficult to deal with. If you know *anyone* in the financial end of a business, say the word ‘chargeback’ to them, and they will shudder.

        Why? Because the credit card company needs to keep the business of the customer, whereas they don’t need to keep the business of the charging business. (It’s not like the business can just stop accepting Visa.) So if the customer disputes something, the customer usually comes out ahead unless the business can prove they’re lying.

        Or, to put it simpler: The credit card companyis *never* paying for things on purpose. Either the customer pays, or the business that charged the customer loses the money and eats the cost. If someone steals a credit card, and comes into your businesses and buys something with it, and the customer then reports it stolen, *your business eats the cost*. Seriously. That is how that works.

        If the credit card company does eventually pay for something, it’s via the customer defaulting on their entire CC account, but that’s a hell of the way down the road.

        Now, as I’ve explained several times already, credit card companies buy insurance on cars you rent via their cards, and if you want to consider that ‘paying’ for the car, I guess you can. (Although in reality it’s the insurance company paying for the car, the credit card company is just paying some rather small premiums.) But that has nothing to do with anything.

        If the customer, for example, fails to return their car in a timely manner, or even *steals* their car, and the car rental company tries to bill their credit card for that but hits a limit, the car rental company is just as screwed as if it was a debit card out of money. There’s not some magical words a business can say to get a credit card company to give it money. (Like I said, what’s a business going to if a bank treats them like shit? Stop accepting Visa?)

        @kimmi
        god, that is really, really unsafe. Debit cards lack the consumer protections of credit cards, so unless you leave no money on your checking account, it can be a real problem.

        Are you a time traveler from 1992 or something? (Oddly, this is not the first time I’ve wondered this specifically about you.)

        Debit cards do have consumer protections under federal law. There is a $50 protection if the bank is notified within two days, otherwise, $500. Additionally, many banks extend that two day window.

        And before such laws exists, in fact, *my entire life* of having a debit card (Since late 90s), banks have voluntarily had such protection on debit cards used as credit cards.

        Many of us here in the future use services on the Information Superhighway which notify us when any charges are made to our account.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Kimmi
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        @davidtc Actually David, credit cards have KYC requirements. They also have pretty massive gaps in coverage. Most of the time they won’t cover loss of use fees, which can easily go over $1,000. Also, I’m not sure why you think debit card and credit card fraud is different. Maybe for PIN debit, debit cards are safer, but for signature debit, the risk is the exact same. 16 digit number, CVC, expiration date and mag stripe data are all the same. Granted you can’t use it with a PIN, but that is shockingly easy to get around. I prefer the fact that if there’s fraud on my credit card, I’m not actually out cash and the issuer will put the charges on hold while they investigate. With a debit card, if there’s fraud, my bank account is lower and it impacts my ability to pay bills. As someone who pays off my credit card off every month a credit card is a much better proposition than a debit card. I would not that the biggest card fraud I ever experienced was over $4,000 to a Portuguese travel agency on my debit card.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Kimmi
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        @davidtc $50 is the cap (not the minimum) for credit card fraud. With debit your cap is $50 <2 days, $500 <60 days and the whole amount after that. That's way more than with credit.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kimmi
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        @mo
        Actually David, credit cards have KYC requirements.

        From what I understand, the rules are laxer for credit cards. I have a credit card (which I don’t use) that I wasn’t required to show any identification at all to get.

        Possibly the rules have changed since then, I don’t know. Although I, within the last two years, opened a *savings* account that I didn’t have to show any ID for at American Express also, so I’m rather doubting the entire concept of this. (I *have* had to prove who I was for all checking accounts, though, even the online one.)

        However, just as relevantly…to open almost any a checking account, you actually have to go into a bank. Usually. To get a credit card, you don’t.

        And even more relevantly…if you intend to do something nefarious with a car rental, like steal the car, you have to *actually put money* in a checking account to use a debit card, whereas you don’t with a credit card. (In fact, you have put money in a checking account to merely *open* a checking account.)

        And, ipso facto, criminals are going to use the thing *they don’t have to pay upfront for*.

        Most of the time they won’t cover loss of use fees, which can easily go over $1,000. Also, I’m not sure why you think debit card and credit card fraud is different. Maybe for PIN debit, debit cards are safer, but for signature debit, the risk is the exact same. 16 digit number, CVC, expiration date and mag stripe data are all the same.

        Okay, I think most people here are missing something. I am not here to talk about the *customer* risk of debit cards vs. credit cards. And I don’t want to rehash the bogus two decade old ‘credit cards are safer’ which is not anywhere near as true as it used to be, and there are plenty of ways to use them safely. The fact is, any consumer protections on credit cards are *completely irrelevant* to car rental places, which are not the users of the credit cards.

        The actual point of this discussion is to point out that for businesses, *accepting* debit cards is actually *much* more safer than accepting credit cards. Period, end of story. In fact, one of the *reasons* they’re safer for businesses is exactly the reason they’re unsafer for consumers…because the business, not the customer, is much more likely to end up with the money at the end.

        They’re safer even when accepted *as* credit cards, and *even more* safer when accepted as debit cards. If you are a business, and someone hands you a debit card, you know that person actually exists, and now you have their money. The only way it might work out badly for the business is if it was run as a credit card, and it was just stolen, so you have the wrong person’s money. Other than that, the business get paid. And if run as an actual debit card, disputing a PIN debit card transaction is almost impossible.

        And hence any idea that car rental places might think credit cards are safer is just…crazy. Debit cards as debit cards are as safe as cash WRT the business actually getting the money (There a reason that places will refund debit card transactions *in cash*, something they will never do with credit cards or checks.), and they prove identity even better than credit cards, or at least exactly as well.

        The actual reason that car rental places demand credit cards, or at least treat non-credit-card users poorly, is a) the credit card pays a completely trivial amount of premiums on car insurance for rental cars that the rental place could easily afford, or just not bother with, but mostly b) screw you, we’re an oligopoly, who else are you going to rent cars from?Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Kimmi
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        @davidtc Much like you can open a credit card account without walking into a bank branch, you can open a bank account completely online. Also, you’re idea that PIN debit is rock solid for a business is a bit naive. It is much much easier for criminals to steal debit cards because it is much easier to set up a skimmer at an unattended site than it is at a store, where the customer is watching. Throw in a PIN pad overlay or a pinhole camera and boom, you have the PIN. Debit cards are also more valuable because they’re more easily converted to cash. The cash refund thing is probably more about interchange fees than anything else. PIN debit fees are a fraction of credit card fees.

        What they have likely found is that their risk due to fake cards is relatively low (renting cars is not a typical credit/debit card fraud transaction*) but their risk to not being able to claw money back due to it being a debit card rather than a credit card is higher. The question is not where theoretical risk is, but what their actual financial risk profile looks like.

        * Gas, groceries/food and electronics are most commonReport

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi
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        DavidTC,
        http://www.pirg.org/consumer/banks/debit/debitcards1.htm
        There.
        The issue isn’t your ultimate “do I get my money back” — the issue is being out thousands of dollars until then.

        MUCH less safe than a credit card, if you happen to need the money in your account to pay rent, or buy a new furnace.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kimmi
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        @mo
        Also, you’re idea that PIN debit is rock solid for a business is a bit naive. It is much much easier for criminals to steal debit cards because it is much easier to set up a skimmer at an unattended site than it is at a store, where the customer is watching.

        At this point you have reached *deliberately* misunderstanding what I say, and I won’t respond anymore. In case you *actually* are this dumb, I will leave you with the fact that *someone skimming debit card PINs poses no risk to a business that takes debit cards*, you twit.

        And if you think the business has to give the money back…you’re wrong. Basically, the position of the bank tends to be ‘If someone had your PIN, they were authorized to make the transaction’. Getting money back from that is, indeed, almost impossible.

        What they have likely found is that their risk due to fake cards is relatively low (renting cars is not a typical credit/debit card fraud transaction*) but their risk to not being able to claw money back due to it being a debit card rather than a credit card is higher.

        I can’t even imagine how you think what you said makes sense. Car rental places do not have to ‘claw money back’. They already have the damn money the second you type in your PIN. (And if they’ve put a hold on your account, they have the added fees.)

        @kimmi
        The issue isn’t your ultimate “do I get my money back” — the issue is being out thousands of dollars until then.

        You keep thousands of dollars in your checking account? That seems extremely unsafe.

        MUCH less safe than a credit card, if you happen to need the money in your account to pay rent, or buy a new furnace.

        *sigh*

        Either you’re still using your checking account in various ways, which means it can still be stolen from, or you’re not, in which case *you are essentially doing what I’m doing*.

        You’re keeping ‘money’ in credit card, and having to pay the bills on that once a money from your checking account, whereas I’m keeping my money in a savings account, and merely transferring enough money into my checking account to live on. (Or, hopefully, more often, transferring money *out* that I don’t need.)

        In my method, someone might indeed manage to clean a few hundred out of my checking account…at which point I can write one of my three per-month allowed checks on my savings account, or just have the bank cancel my card, transfer money in, and write a check or pay in cash.

        And while *you’re* sitting all clever that such a thing can’t happen to you, you’ll need some cash (Which you’re presumably not using a credit card to get), use an ATM with a skimmer, and lose thousands that way. Whoops. (And I’ll be saying ‘That disreputable online place stole my check card number’ to my bank, and quickly get my money back, whereas you have to explain how they stole your *pin*, which makes it much harder to disavow.)

        It is extremely unsafe to keep *all* your money in an account that can be stolen from, you ‘people should have credit card’ people are correct about that. Sadly for all this bullshit I’m having to put up with from you idjits, there are plenty of ways to do that that don’t involve credit cards.

        In fact, *your* way is a bit more dangerous, total-wise…the only way anyone is stealing thousands of dollars from me is to somehow hack my saving’s account, which literally does not interact with the outside world at all beyond electronically transferring money to and from my checking account. Whereas you’re keeping your money in an account that is designed to distribute money to other people, via checks and debit transactions (and possibly check card, although I guess you could have had that disabled. Bet you haven’t, though.), and even if you don’t use those methods, *they still exist* to get money out of your account.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi
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        DavidTC,
        I think it’s fair to say that neither of us knows a whit about the other person’s financial situation, and to stop making assumptions.

        You don’t have direct-deposit of your paycheck? If not, I retract what I said earlier. You are apparently one of the 33% of Americans who actually has a $1,000 in their bank account.

        I haven’t used an ATM in years… loathe the things.

        One other bit of banking safety: Have multiple banks/credit unions. Way safer in case FDIC kicks in.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Kimmi
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        @davidtc Insulting someone does not make falsehoods less false. You can do chargebacks with PIN debit. They are reduced, but they exist. And since rental car places have cameras all over the place, it is really, really easy to prove whether it was or was not you. And if the rental car company says, “Whoops, we erased all of the tapes less than 60 days after the transaction,” and the customer is insistent that it wasn’t them, the rental car company will lose. OTOH, since rental car companies probably have reams of data that they don’t get a lot of vanilla card fraud, but they do have issues with people paying them for damaged cars, then it makes sense that they’d want the credit card number rather than a debit card. It all depends what their specific fraud profile is like.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DavidTC
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      Young people really don’t have credit cards anymore? Does that include debit cards (which I believe rental places take as well)?

      As a small aside and FWIW: The reason they don’t rent to people under 25 is because no one will insure them to do so.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Tod Kelly
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        …did no one read the article?

        No, car rental places do *not* accept debit cards. (Some times they will..other times, they will claim to, and then not.)

        That is, in fact, the entire point of the Avis story.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly
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        The debit card is the single greatest invention in the last 200 … no make that 300 years.Report

      • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Tod Kelly
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        Each company has a different policy. Enterprise does what @chris mentioned above. Avis runs a credit check, which I was assured by the national representative I would pass. I did not pass it for reasons unknown to me to this date, but I did easily manage to procure three credit cars immediately after, so I’m not sure why I wasn’t able to pass Avis’ check. I have no credit history in that I have never had a credit card, although I’ve been paying rent, and renting cars from other companies, and paying utility bills on time for years, so I’m not sure why those things wouldn’t count.

        I had a conversation similar to that above with the Avis branch manager while waiting for my friend who eventually came to my aid. She suggested to me that the rental car companies have reached agreements with the major credit card operators that they (i.e. the major credit card operators) will replace the cost of any lost of damaged vehicles, and that’s why they only take major credit cards. This seems exceptionally risk-averse to me, for the reasons mentioned by @davidtc above, both in that bank accounts are more insulated against fraud than credit card accounts and that proof of auto insurance is part of the rental agreement anyways.

        Rental car companies can afford to be this excessively risk-averse to the point of excluding a large group of consumers who present little risk and even providing them with exceptionally poor customer service and alienating them in the process because, as pointed out, they face little to no competition.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        @christopher-carr

        I had a conversation similar to that above with the Avis branch manager while waiting for my friend who eventually came to my aid. She suggested to me that the rental car companies have reached agreements with the major credit card operators that they (i.e. the major credit card operators) will replace the cost of any lost of damaged vehicles, and that’s why they only take major credit cards. This seems exceptionally risk-averse to me, for the reasons mentioned by @DavidTC above, both in that bank accounts are more insulated against fraud than credit card accounts and that proof of auto insurance is part of the rental agreement anyways.

        Ah, yes, but not exactly. Proof of *collision* insurance is required to rent a car. (And required to operate a car, period.)

        But what is wanted by the rental place is comprehensive insurance, to cover the cost of damages to the vehicle itself.

        And at this point, all credit cards include comprehensive auto insurance on cars rented via them. (Although, the CC insurance doesn’t include collision, so you still need some other policy to be legal. Which you can get right there, as people who don’t own a car and thus don’t normally have car insurance can tell you.)

        So, yes, if you rent a car via a credit card, and it’s totalled, the car will get paid for, via the insurance paid for by the credit card people. Which is not technically the same thing as the credit card company paying for it, but close enough.

        The thing is, there’s absolutely no reason they couldn’t debit-card rent to people who had comprehensive car insurance on their personal cars that also covers rentals. Which quite a lot of comprehensive plans do. I mean, they’re *already* set up to process and verify your personal insurance to check for collision insurance. Surely they could check if it was a comprehensive policy and the rental rules. (And I suspect if that was how it worked, more plans would include it.)

        And there’s no reason they couldn’t just *sell* small comprehensive insurance policies right there to people not insured either way, like they do with collision insurance. It actually doesn’t cost as much as people seem to think. Collision is required to cover all sorts of crazy astronomical expenses, like paying for a decade of medical bills for someone else. Comprehensive is capped at ‘current value of car’. And a car rental company wouldn’t need features like ‘replacement rental car’, and by demanding everyone have it, the risk-pool is not just high-risk people.(1)

        And, on top of that, if they actually stopped this complete nonsense of making it hard to rent with debit cards, banks would probably start putting ‘rental car insurance’ on their damn debit cards as an incentive for customers, just like they did for credit cards.

        Rental car companies can afford to be this excessively risk-averse to the point of excluding a large group of consumers who present little risk and even providing them with exceptionally poor customer service and alienating them in the process because, as pointed out, they face little to no competition.

        Yup.

        1) Otherwise you risk only people who constantly bang up their car getting comprehensive rental, and good drivers not buying it. This doesn’t work normally, because car insurance companies will obviously charge that first group a lot to cover this, but it would matter to to flat-rate insurance sold over the counter.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        Actually, WRT to a company that has as many cars as rental companies have, the actual sane solution would be to have no comprehensive insurance at all, on anything. And just self-insure.

        Comprehensive car insurance has a fixed cap (the cost of a car) and is fairly predictable, and each incident just causes them x% loss of capacity, it’s not any sort of emergency. Simply have x% more cars than promised out (Or just be willing to break agreements due to lack of cars), and swap them out if needed, which is certainly cheaper than buying any sort of insurance on them. Also, it stops them from having to deal with random insurance companies, and they can fix, or total, or resell, the cars on their own timetable using whatever resources they want.

        And drivers would still have to have collision, by law, so all *that* is still on them.

        Now, obvious, the rental place, like all businesses, needs some liability or lawsuit insurance in there, and some sort of business insurance for a disaster of a tornado hitting the lot would be good, but actual car insurance? What exactly is being accomplished here?

        The problem is, I suspect, they got addicted to the free insurance credit card companies were providing, and now can’t see past it. And since they have almost no competition, they don’t need.Report

      • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        Tod,

        I’m 31. Very few of my peers, even the ones working in finance, have bothered to get credit cards. We grew up in an age when everything – except renting a car apparently – can be done with the debit card, and where credit card companies have gained a certain notoriety for hidden fees and other malfeasance associated with the recent financial crisis.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        ChrisCarr
        well, you just shoved your rating into the crapper by getting three credit cards. Enjoy!
        (seriously, it will recover)Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,
        I’ve never had a problem with my Amex that the Comptroller of the Currency couldn’t solve.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      But young people *simply do not have credit cards* anymore.

      something like 20% of young people who don’t have a credit card

      These statements contradict each other.

      The fact is, there is no downside to owning a credit card. To refuse to get one shows a gross level of immaturity.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to ScarletNumbers
        Ignored
        says:

        These statements contradict each other.

        Yes, if you cut my statements off in the middle of a sentence, you will often find contradictions, you fool. As I said, 20% of young people don’t have credit cards *and can’t find a workaround*, which rather implies the rest *can* find a workaround or have credit cards.

        And many young people, of course, *do* have credit cards, but you probably don’t know what hyberbole is. It’s a slight majority of young people that don’t have credit cards, and that number is going up.

        The fact is, there is no downside to owning a credit card.

        Except for all the downsides, like annual fees, and having an extra financial account you have to transfer money into of each month to pay the bills, or risk paying large fees.

        There is no advantage for many people to have a credit card. They know how much money they have, and it’s in their checking account.

        And there *are* possible downsides if they don’t do everything exactly right, so why, exactly, would they want to walk through the field of landmines when they can just use a debit card and not worry about any of that?

        To refuse to get one shows a gross level of immaturity.

        Ah, yes, the ‘young people these days’.

        As I said, you can’t trick me. I remember *literally the opposite* argument when I was young, where getting a credit card was an irresponsible thing that college student often, quickly finding themselves in debt they’d take years to pay off.

        Whenever old people complain about what young adults are doing, it’s *always* either the old projecting their generation’s failures onto the young, or them being upset that young people are behaving slightly smarter than they did. Always.

        Like in this case, where a generation without a lot of money is choosing *not* to tie themselves to huge amounts of debt by getting houses they can’t afford and credit cards that would tempt them to borrow money they can’t pay off and hit them with compounding fees while they can’t. Instead, those *immature punks* are instead living responsibly on the money they actually have.(1) And they’re probably listening to the hippety-hop and being emo, too!

        1) Well, barring tuition loans, and *that* is going to be *their* generation’s rant to the *next* generation, how kids these days are choosing not to go to college because no one can afford anymore. And everyone is listening to future synth and alternative country, and what’s the matter with some old fashion metal?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to ScarletNumbers
        Ignored
        says:

        DavidTC,
        I know, 1% interest doesn’t sound like a lot to YOU, but it actually is a big deal if it’s on your annual salary. Plus cash back on everything I buy with the card. Plus auto insurance. Plus they’ll assume the debt while fixing stolen credit card.
        My credit cards don’t come with an annual fee (well, Costco’s annual fee is costco’s membership fee, which means the credit card is FREE!).Report

  8. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    Amazon was a big winner with the Likkos. I accepted many gifts in the form of electronically-conveyed gift cards, which then credited my account, which then paid for gifts that were shipped at “no charge” to their recipients by way of the perks associated with Prime membership. We wound up ahead of the game by one video game console accessory, new boots for my wife, and three e-books between the two of us.Report

  9. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    We hosted a Christmas Dinner, a Christmas Eve dinner, a 50th Birthday party, had two houseguests, and fed large numbers of 15-19 year old boys most evenings.

    Our local grocery stores were the big winner round here.Report

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