Zero down, zero interest leads to zero approvals East Bay man

Byby Renee Koury and Michael Finney KGO logo
Friday, September 14, 2018
Zero down, zero interest leads to zero approvals East Bay man
Many of us would love to have a home gym, but how to pay for it? An East Bay man thought he found the perfect deal -- until he applied for a payment plan.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Many of us would love to have a home gym, but how to pay for it? An East Bay man thought he found the perfect deal -- a high-end, internet connected exercise bike with free financing.

"I went to the store, sat on it, rode it and fell in love with it,'' Jim Strickland of Walnut Creek said of the Peloton exercise bike.

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He loved the features: internet connectivity with a range of simulated rides through real-world places like Lake Tahoe and Paris, France.

It also displays live workout classes set to pulsing music, online monitoring of everything from heart rate to calories burned and a connection to fellow riders cruising with you online.

For Strickland, pedaling was a way to work up a sweat in spite of a nagging foot injury.

"I could ride like this the rest of my life,'' Strickland said. "I love that I can do this without risking getting hit by a car or hurting my foot."

The $2,500 price was daunting but Peloton offers a zero down, zero interest finance plan, with easy payments over 39 months.

"That made me take quick action,'' Strickland said. "I said sign me up."

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His excitement was building - until he applied for the payment plan. The finance company, Affirm of San Francisco, turned him down flat. And in a confounding ruling, the company said it could not "find his identity."

"I thought that's really weird. Everybody else I've gone to for credit has found me. My house, my car, PG&E for our solar panels..."

He dug out a file full of pages showing 35 years of credit, along with a top credit score. However, Affirm would not budge. After he questioned the rejection, Affirm emailed him saying:

"Based on our records, it looks like we had trouble verifying your identity based on information relating to your application. We have certain procedures in place to verify identity and regrettably theses attempts were unsuccessful."

Strickland offered to send copies of his credit reports. The company declined, saying:

"Unfortunately, our decision is final and we cannot override this decision. You will need to utilize another payment method to complete your purchase."

"That sent me through the roof,'' Strickland said. "I have great credit. Anybody can find it. It's all public."

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He contacted to 7 On Your Side. We contacted Affirm. It would not discuss his case citing privacy rules, but said in a statement:

"Our technology is designed to verify the identity of applicants by comparing the information they provide us to third party data, specifically credit bureaus, in as little as six seconds. Our fraud prevention system will decline an applicant if he or she uses information not found on any prior credit history and his or her identity cannot be validated. In rare instances in which the applicant entered information that led to an incorrect declination, Affirm works with him or her to verify an identity and enable a purchase to be completed using Affirm as a payment method."

However, Affirm checked Strickland's application again and this time, it "found" him. Strickland got that zero interest financing - and the bike.

"I love what Michael Finney and ABC has been able to do,'' he said. "Fabulous. You guys are the best."

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.