Identity Theft

I am going to tell you a story. Actually, I am going to tell you two stories and then analyze said stories. But first, I need to give you some background information.

I am an out of state student at a public university. I have discussed this in a previous post. I am a senior looking to graduate next month. At my university, your Student ID card is your life. You use it to access the meal centers, fitness centers, and online testing centers. You can put money on your card to use at on campus convenience stores, on campus vending machines, and dorm laundry. If you show your Student ID to bus drivers, you get to ride for free. And if you need access to the on-campus building after lockout, which is 11 pm or 8 pm on break days, you use your ID card for that too. The card is your life. The thing is, it costs $25 to replace a lost or stolen ID card.

Story #1: Two years ago, I thought I lost my ID card. I do not have a vehicle, and I had physical training the next morning at one of the campus fitness centers. I needed my ID. So I paid the $25 to replace it. Two days later, I found the old one. The old one was deactivated, so it was next to useless unless I wanted to ride the bus. I decided to keep it, just in case.

Story #2: Fast forward to the present. Yesterday, I took the bus to Wal-Mart, using my ID to board. When I left Wal-Mart and arrived at the bus stop, I discovered I had lost my ID. I could have lost it on the first bus, on the walk to or from Wal-Mart, or in Wal-Mart itself. I triple checked my pockets and backpack, to no avail. The bus driver was kind enough to let me board for free, so I got back to my apartment in good time. But again, I needed my ID. I have physical training tomorrow morning at the fitness center, and many other things. So, I found my old, deactivated ID and decided to take it in. You see, if your ID stops working, they can fix it for free. Unfortunately, when I went to the office this morning, the lady said she could not fix the ID because it was not a current one, and I would have to pay for a new one. I wanted to call BS on that, but I was desperate and upset, so I paid up, even though I cannot at the moment afford it. To top it all off, I only need my ID card for one more month. If I didn’t have 18 meals left on the card (at roughly $9 a meal), I would not have paid to replace it. I only had around $3 cash on the card, and I could have made a conscientious effort to be home before 11 pm every night, and explained to the fitness center people my situation. I figured giving up $3 is better than $25. But factor in those meals, and the $25 is a better deal. Ironically, several hours later I received an email from a girl who found my ID on the bus. She said she had found it early this morning and apologized for not emailing me earlier.

So now comes the analysis.

First, I think it should be entirely possible for the lady to reactivate an old card. I should have argued with her and fought her on that. But I’m a bit of a coward, and I was upset and desperate.

Second, I paid twice to replace a card that did not necessarily need replacing. The school should offer some sort of compensation for these situations. I mean, I already pay exorbitant tuition fees (see post “Out of State or Out of my Mind?”). This is ridiculous.

Third, it should not cost $25 to replace the ID card. At my high school, it cost $5. Sure, my high school card didn’t have all the fancy door access, money access, meal access things on it. But I am almost certain that each ID card does not take $25 to produce. I doubt it even takes $5. Even if you include the time it takes for the lady to activate and print a new card (which is all of 2 minutes), it doesn’t cost that much. I understand the university wants to enforce the idea that you should be careful with your cards, but $25 is outlandish. The most it should cost is $10.

Fourth, if you find someone’s ID card, email them right away. It could save them $25.

So, my total of outrageously unnecessary fees for the school is $50. I could probably add more to this amount if I analyze my tuition fees, but that is too much work. I really ought to write an op-ed piece to our school’s newspaper about this, but I don’t have the time.

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