Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How To Tick Off a Potential Babysitter

Edit 8/18/12: Oh wow, I'm a bit mortified to ever have written this.  That phase didn't last long at all.  Amazing what a couple years of thought will do to your perspective... I thought about taking it down completely, but I may be more mortified in 20 years!

One of the ideas I had for jobs this summer was, surprisingly enough, babysitting. I'm not sure why, but it's something I've always wanted to try. So I signed up for several sites online that would list jobs parents had posted. Turns out to be a hard market for a male with no experience to get into. I guess that didn't really surprise me, but what did surprise me were how some parents handled their job postings. So here are some of the things that have happened to me, that I hope I will never do once I'm on the parent side someday:

1. Ignore applications. I've been shocked how few parents actually respond. Even a "Sorry, but the position's been filled" would be nice. I know real jobs don't do this, but I had thought that individual people were more polite.
2. Not mention the ages of your kids. Don't you think that's an important detail?
3. Not return direct questions. Like when I ask the ages of your kids, it would be nice if you answered. (See #1 as a crossreference!)
4. Post a job without exhausting other options first. There was one who canceled his posting because a neighborhood girl came through. Another from out of state needed a sitter while they attended an adults-only wedding. I thought I had that one, and then they decided to bring another family member out instead.
5. Pretend to be a job when you're really a sitter. I'm shocked how many postings really turn out to be other sitters with no computer skill at all evidently, who are really advertising themselves in the jobs areas. How do you miss all the clear "how to sign up correctly" pages?
6. Unrealistic expectations. I saw two that had unique language requirements. One wanted the sitter to be able to tutor in Mandarin Chinese. The other required Eritrean. Do you know where Eritrea even is? Me neither. (Well, yes, I do, but I bet I'm within 2% of the nation on that one.) How many Eritrean-speaking babysitters do you think Denver has? Another expected you to be able to get on a military base. Edit: Maybe I had unrealistic expectations too...
7. Not delete the post after it's filled. I'm on four sites. The one has everything reviewed and is mostly OK. Some posts are still there a long time; surely they're filled. Another seems to be totally dead. (I thought about making that another point, but I won't.) Another automatically expires jobs after a month. The fourth doesn't. It is relatively cluttered with jobs that get left around for months. I'm sure they get filled because a lot of people are applying. (The few people I have talked to say they get overwhelmed with the number (35 in one case) of applications they get.) But seriously, when you've filled it, delete it!
8. Flatter your kids. I find it hard to believe that every kid is sweet, yet the parents all claim they are.
9. Try to go outside the site's communication system. There've been a few who've said something like "I didn't want to pay the extra money to be able to be contacted in the site, so email me at ___ or call me at ___". Unfortunately for them, the site automatically removes those and we're out of luck. (Remember that one site that is dead? Just in case anyone were ever to find me, I did put in my email address, but it took a lot of effort to get it into a form people could read and the system didn't automatically block.)
10. Don't get to the very end and change your mind. Three of the sites also have tutoring, elder care, pet care, etc. available, and I applied for a calculus tutor on one. It made it to the point of "Let me know when and where you would like to meet next week" before another person showed up that she liked better. Funny, it had sure sounded like a job offer to me...

Or, just don't have kids. I'll have them for you someday :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why I Will Never Again Use KeyBank

So maybe a month ago now, I got an advertisement from KeyBank in the mail advertising "Get an iPod nano when you sign up for our Key Free Student Checking Package." Hmm...I'd been looking into an 8GB iPod nano anyway, and this was exactly what was being offered in the fine print. The requirements were simple:
1. Open a Free Student Checking Account with Debit Card
2. Apply and [be] approved for a No Annual Fee Student Credit Card with 1% cash back
3. Enroll in Free Online Banking and Online Statements (emphasis in original)

Pretty easy huh? I already have checking and savings accounts with First Bank, but the savings account handled my personal savings and also college savings, including the few scholarships that come directly to us and not the school. (I really like those, because they can stay around in the savings account, earning interest, until I'm ready to use them, and if I have a surplus of scholarships they can be put off for another year. I already have a Junior year stash this way!) Balancing the savings account, with my form of accounting and my mother's different system, with two different funds in it, was really a mess too. So it certainly wouldn't hurt to have a third account to separate these out. A credit card would be nice too; I don't have any credit yet, so a student card would be a great way to start with it. And online banking/statements is no problem; the First Bank accounts are already set up that way and no paper is great for the environment.

So we went in to a nearby KeyBank maybe two weeks ago. I had even read the fine print ahead of time and didn't see anything disturbing. It was kind of odd that they kept mentioning people under eighteen, even though it explicitly stated you had to meet all three requirements and the credit card was only for those over eighteen. I could see that biting some people, but not me as I'm eighteen. So we showed up and set the account up. The lady was very friendly and we left confident that the whole promotion would work out. The checking account was open with the online banking and statements set up. The credit card application was sent and should be done in one day or so, and we tried to put my mom (and her credit) as a cosigner on the card just in case they wouldn't take anyone with no credit, which, really, they should anyway as it was a Student Credit Card.

Fast forward six days to Saturday. Finally, I got a letter in the mail saying the credit card application had been denied. First off, I'm pretty sure it doesn't take the USPS five days to ship a letter all of five miles. I called the branch back and the banker had no idea what went wrong and promised to get to the bottom of it. Because of all the privacy rules these days, she didn't get very far, and I had to call Citibank myself to find out why they didn't approve it. (KeyBank has Citibank do their credit cards.) Turns out that Citibank does a credit check and automatically reject anyone who has no existing credit. The credit check was in the fine print, but we had assumed that they were just looking for bad credit, not no credit. Why else offer a student card if you're not going for the poor students without credit? Kind of a Catch-22 if you ask me (or the banker).

So then she tried calling her manager, marketing, and various other people to find a loophole. There was none. Some idiot in marketing had designed a promotion, aimed at college students, and even acknowledging those under eighteen, that required existing credit! Even though they also used the word "Student" all over the place! What else can a student credit card possibly mean besides "credit card for students without credit"? Seriously now. So I demanded my original deposit back, and it arrived the other day.

Fast forward another few days, and we found out that the promotion has been cancelled. Apparently the bank chain got overwhelmed with too many credit card applications not going through (presumably for the same silly reason as mine) and cancelled the whole promotion. Which is kind of crazy because there was no "Offer subject to change [or cancellation] without notice" in the fine print. They should have just updated it to be more reasonable for their target audience. But whatever. I wouldn't quite call this a scam, but it was arguably false advertising. They've lost my business, and my immediate family's business, for life.

(Oh, and after the fact I just bit the dust and ordered a refurbished orange 8GB iPod Nano directly through Apple, and it comes with a warranty, which may or may not have been the case with this 'promotion'.)