Monday, November 12, 2007

Universal Hovercraft

Click on this link to go the website of an Illinois company named Universal Hovercraft. As you can see by their website this is a company that makes personal hovercraft. They helpfully list the various models as either 1-2 person, 3-6 person or larger. They offer “turnkey” hovercraft and also plans, kits and parts.

This company came to my attention when I was banking on-line and perusing the charges to my and my wife’s credit cards for the past week. A charge of $420 was paid to Universal Hovercraft. I did not have a receipt for that and did not remember ordering anything from that company or my wife having told me she had ordered anything. So, I googled to find out more about the company and discovered their website. As you can see the website makes no mention of anything the company does or sells other than hovercrafts.

So I asked my wife a question I had never imagined I would ever ask, “Honey, did you buy a hovercraft this past week and not give me the receipt?”

She got somewhat alarmed. She has always had a fear that a thief would get our credit card information and suddenly charges for things we had not bought would appear on our credit card statements. The charge for the purchase of a personal hovercraft apparently struck her as the epitome of something we would not have purchased and so it seemed that all her fears were suddenly coming true.

Hours later, after she had calmed down, she remembered what she had charged to her credit card for $420. Our cleaning lady had been complaining that she had borrowed some money from one of those car title/payday loan places and, because of the high interest her balance had kept increasing faster than she could get it paid off. The balance had grown to $420. My wife went down there, whipped out her credit card, paid off the loan. She told our cleaning lady she could pay us back by cleaning our house and we would not be charging her any interest.

Well, it was a relief to know that this was a legitimate charge to our credit cards but why did it show up as a payment to Universal Hovercraft? I have given it some thought and I now have a theory. Whatever relationship there is between the car title/payday loan place and Universal Hovercraft was created, at least in part, in order to give cover to the customers and employees of the loan place who are ashamed of their association with the high-interest loan shop. Not having the name of a quicky-loan place on their credit card statements must prevent some embarrassment for some customers (although it only caused confusion for me.)

The more speculative part of my theory is that the relationship between the two businesses gives cover to the employees of the loan shop who don't want to admit their association with the car title/payday loan business. When asked what they do for a living they say they sell hovercrafts. When they are asked to come to their children's school to talk about what they do they bring catalogs of hovercrafts for the kids to oh and ahh over. That's just speculation on my part, of course.

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