03 December 2007

Slaps in the Face.

Hoo, boy.

Thanksgiving's over, and it seems as if things are going nuts on me lately. I'm fighting a mutant cold virus that spawned both a head and a chest cold. I was told by the city I live in to clean up my yard and given a time limit which led to me spending three hours in the sleet and rain trying to comply before fined. Then, my basement flooded.

Fast-forward to the very next day, in which I'd been given a message by (one of) my credit card(s). For the privilege of keeping a *closed* balance and paying on time, I'm rewarded with an increase in my interest... instead of paying $112 and getting $10 off my balance monthly, I get to pay $154 for the same right to knock $10 from my bill monthly.

Good gracious. Even calling them didn't help. When I called I found out a few things.

#1: I'm a good payer... so good that they can't find one missed payment. This doesn't mean that I get any kind of discount though; they'd have to OPEN the account, reassess, then close it again. But they can't do it, since it's been closed for more than 90 days and the computer refuses to analyze my account unless it's open. What a shock.

#2: However, THEY have the right to raise the rates whenever they choose, even when the account is closed. I hadn't used the card for thirty-six months when they sent a letter informing me that they intended to raise my rates. Diplomatically, they offered me the chance to opt out by telling them no. How nice of them. Take a wild guess which option I chose.

Three years' payments of $4000 has netted me a decrease of $1000 in balance. What a terrific deal.

If there's two things to learn from this, it's the following.

Don't EVER dare become unemployed. If you do, it'll take you decades before you're able to pay off that extra loaf of bread.
You can ignore the cries of hungry children by putting your fingers in your ears.

(Yeah, I'm mad)

If there is one thing that any loyal readers (?) from the U.S. could do, it's to tell your Senator to support the Stop Unfair Practices in Credit Cards Act. It's currently in committee, but it may be the best chance for these credit card companies to be reined in. I have written a letter to my own Senator, who happens to have introduced the bill, and while I know that it would take at least a year for anything to happen, having it come up in the election cycle may be helpful for passage too.

Check it out at this link

I hope that others can clearly see the benefit that this would have; after all, what other business is allowed to have such open-ended contracts that allow terms to float so freely on only one side?

Hope your Thanksgiving is going better...

No comments: