Thursday, December 30, 2010

Drain Auger Rental or... Credit Card Frawd

[I misspelled ‘fraud’ on purpose because I really didn’t do anything fraudulent; I just bent the rules a little. Rule bending can be very helpful when you need to get something done.]

This is a companion piece to “Leverage”, wherein I tell of my struggle with a three-inch iron pipe drain clean-out plug.

Once the plug was out, it was time to go rent a drain auger from the Home Depot. That prospect brought me up against the fact that I don’t have a credit card, so I borrowed my wife’s card. I don’t have signing authority on her card, but I wasn’t going to let a little detail like that interfere with a plan.

The Home Depot had quite a selection of drain augers; a hand-cranked one, and a couple of motorized augers – I think there was even a gasoline-engine-powered one. At $22.00 for a four hour rental, I figured the hand-cranked unit would do fine, and I took it up to the counter.

The counter guy asked for my name and keyed it into the computer. I showed up on the computer from the last thing I’d rented some years ago. He asked for a credit card and I handed him my wife’s card. He looked at it and of course the first name didn’t match. I quickly explained that it was my wife’s card. (I didn’t volunteer the information that I don’t have signing authority on it.) That was ok with him, and he proceeded to process the rental contract.

They charge ten percent extra for damage/breakage insurance, and I was told that if I bring it back filthy, there’s a fifty dollar cleaning fee, [!] so hose it off when you’re done. They throw in a pretty decent pair of canvas and leather work gloves, which takes the sting out of the insurance fee a bit. Anyway, onto the truck and home it went. Here’s a photo of it on the job, with its fifty foot coil almost fully deployed

It’s a well thought out, well constructed piece of gear. There’s a label on it with the name “X500 Snakentainer”. It’s made in the USA by the General Wire Spring Co. of McKees Rocks, PA. And here’s a photo of the machine’s business end:

Perched on its nose is an auger bit that came with it. One screw is all it takes to change bits. The bit that’s installed on it is called a 'boring gimlet', though the Home Depot guy called it a 'retrieval tool'. I ran through the pipe with that first, then followed up with the auger. It appeared to do the trick. So, outside for a quick hosing off and back to the store.

Back at the store, it was time to settle up the bill. I wasn’t worried about being hassled over the credit card that I had no business using; by now, the card had served its purpose and I could just settle up with cash if it came to it, but I thought I’d see how this would play itself out.

The guy already had the credit card’s ‘imprint’, so he didn’t need to see the card again. He embarked on processing the transaction – so far, so good – and then he got to where he needed a signature on the electronic tablet at the front of the register. I told him, “I really don’t have signing authority on this card, but what the hey.” He seemed unfazed, so I wrote my wife’s name on the tablet and pressed the “ACCEPT” button. Done. I could have signed it “Céline Dion” for all anyone cared. (And there’s an image to ponder – Céline Dion at the Home Depot renting a drain auger on a Sunday afternoon.)

So there we are. When the rules need bending, just be up front and forthright about it. People will take you for an honest rule bender, and just let it go by.

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