Advantage of My Company Operating in Many States

Operating in multiple states is generally a pain in the ass.  But one advantage it offers is that from time to time a bank or telephone company asks for some really intrusive bits of information, claiming that it is required by Federal law.  This allows me to say, "gee, I work with 20 companies like yours across the country and not one of them have asked me for this.  How can it be Federal law?"  It's kind of frightening to observe how much this excuse is used.


  1. Rick C:

    People at companies don't always know the real reason, or they don't want to explain it for whatever reason (like, they might think a customer will be annoyed/upset/whatever) so they lie (or tell a falsehood, if you want to be generous.)

    I tried to return a Gameboy game at Walmart once, and the cashier told me they couldn't take it back due to copyright law. Well, no, that's not the reason at all. They _won't_ take back some things because they know people copy them and return them, but there's no law per se.

  2. EarlW:

    I guess they are hoping that you will give in to their authority.
    I run an incorporated business. When I went to the bank to transfer my commercial account, the new contract stated that I would be personally responsible for _any_ errors, regardless of the cause. If they made a mistake, I would be responsible.
    I told the manager that I would not sign those conditions, since the entire point of incorporating my business was to protect my personal non-business property.
    After a few days, they removed the clause and mentioned that they would hold cheques until they cleared... a procedure which was perfectly acceptable.
    I wonder how many other business people signed contracts giving the bank rights on to personal property?

  3. Foxfier:

    In their defense, a lot of federal law is so poorly written than you can think you're required to do something to comply with it.

    They might be right, they might be wrong, or they might be sort of wrong (that is, it's not explicitly required) right now but it will be ruled as right by whoever is given the regulation authority who then turns around and hits everyone that WASN'T doing it because they weren't specifically required to do so....

    Part of why ruling by regulation sucks.

  4. John Chludzinski:

    My favorite example of this comes from being told by several vendors of credit reporting services to my real estate agency that the Patriot Act requires me to provide to the vendor a drivers' license number of the renter applying to rent the apartment before they will pull their credit report. I always asked how renters without licenses could ever rent an apartment then? It took me several days of calling to multiple companies to find a vendor that admitted there was no such provision in the Patriot Act.

  5. Dr. T:

    "... there was no such provision in the Patriot Act."

    But, I bet that the federal government has asked businesses to provide their customers' (or potential customers') driver's license numbers, even though it isn't required. I've seen this at financial institutions that asked me for unneeded information and claimed that it was requested by the federal government. That was true, but the information wasn't required by law.

  6. me:

    The best come back is say "Show me the law." Then wait, dead silent. Let them make the next move.

  7. Mike Tr.:

    I still can't figure out how my cell phone number ended up on my free annual credit reports. This stuff is creepy. Some of the person-finder sites seem to give you a list of all the addresses and phone numbers of every relative of a person you type in -- for $5. What an awesome system.

    Really, 2AM robot calls to my cell phone from private numbers peddling Vacation Time Shares. Sure, it's illegal, but it still happens.