Monday, May 28, 2007

A small amusement-

Memorial day is not a day off here, though we do take some time to think about it all. You've gotten plenty of that elsewhere, I'm sure.

What we've spent most of the day doing is the critically needed re-building of our solar panel array (photovoltaic).

It was so old, it was falling apart. Yep, been doing this that long. In the next post, I'll get into that in more detail, with photos. Still busy at the moment, son is still on the roof doing final wiring.

Meanwhile- in the vacation mode. I had a friend tell me of a new way they just thought of- and acted on- to annoy the credit card companies.

Lots of us are in their grips; I am. And NO, by the great horn spoon, it was NOT our fault. They treat people like dirt- and like prey; and the "government" does nothing to stop them. In what universe is charging poor people 30% interest an intelligent thing to do?

So- my friend said he had a "minimum payment" of $643 due for his good friend Chase. They suckered him into carrying a lot of business debt on that card by claiming "Act now! Pay only 3.99% until fully paid off!" - except those debts are now at 29.99% - because the post office lost one of the payments for 2 days. Excellent business practice there.

As soon as I can get rid of my Chase cards; I will.

Meanwhile- my friend was writing the check; wanted to pay a little bit more than the minimum; usually does $20 over- got to $66 - when it dawned on him.

From now on, all his payments to Chase will be some version of $666.

I think mine will too. Owe $10? Send them $6.66. Owe them $5? Send them $6.66. It'll cost them $10 to track the tiny little credit.

He hopes it will freak them out. Some of their employees, anyway. His way of saying "a curse on you!"

I kinda like it.

The Washington Post has been following this stuff for a while; this article came today- Bad credits

And, a particular example of how hideously they behave- and lie about it.

Bad company

There's little enough any of us can do to fight back. Maybe if half their payments come in with the Sign of the Beast attached, it'll start to get through to them- we REALLY HATE WHAT THEY'RE DOING.

Hard to understand their thinking- "let's make our customers hate us!" sounds like such an obviously stupid idea.

Pass it on!

Whaddya think? Other ideas?


Anonymous said...

Well, I hate the companies too, and for many years, like 30, I had no card, but finally for business reasons I had to get one. I put $1000 into it {pay it off completely at the bank in other words} take the boat to the stores {that's another story} buy, go back on the late boat, repay card the next day in person.
I would never actually pay those bastards interest. Besides my bank is a co-op. It pays me nice dividends on my shares every year and pays more interest on savings than the regular bank does.
Hey, get money literate already, it's better than the 666 silliness.
The old man was a high level financier. He hated banks too! He taught me a healthy disrespect for all money transactions. If you have to borrow money, shop.
The two day late PO screw up? Your friend should have screamed loud and long in any available forum about that one. DO NOT TAKE THE CREDIT ABUSE LYING DOWN.
Banking can be human. I was run over by a truck in 1999 and could not pay any bills and owed my bank $6000 for a business deal. I missed two payments. This is a little town {pop 10,000} so everyone knew my sad little tale. The bank manager asked me to come in. She told me I needed more money until I was feeling better, and that I needed to be paying a lot lower amount per month, but I would need a co-signer.
I told her I was reluctant to ask anyone to do that because what if I never recovered my ability to walk and work?
She said "I will co-sign."
As I said, banking can be human, make sure your bank gets the idea or go elsewhere.
And kisses to you Manager N.: the banking goddess.

Anonymous said...

Credit card companies want you to spend more money than you can afford so they can rake in more fees and interest. Sorry to be a killjoy, but I don't think sending them $666 or $6.66 is going to even register with an employee who spends all day every day entering numbers. To win this game, you need to take away their profit. Do everything you can to pay down your debt, minimizing your costs and their profits! Then cancel the card or diligently pay off all charges each month.

Rose Red said...

I agree with Chile - sending them freaky amounts of cash won't do anything except piss off the employees who don't even care about the company and are just there to put food on the table and pay off their own debt. Just pay it off as fast as you can and do everything you can to stay out of debt.

TweedleDea said...

Unfortunatly sending in a strange amount won't do anything to the credit card company. At best the employees will laugh at your attempts at being witty. Secondly if your friend got into that much trouble for being 2 days late, he should have called and explained his situation. Most likey he's been "2 days" late several times and they couldn't extend to him any more graciousness.
Finally just like you are out to make money, banks are also. They are businesses. They are not forcing you to have an accout, you can go ahead and keep your money under your mattress if that suits you. Finally you don't have to have a credit card, you agreed to all of the term when you first used the card. I guess really people need to read the contract, and read it well. Ask questions. That's why there are employees, if they don't explain it well, ask again, or ask someone else. Or go elsewhere.
Okay I've ranted enough....

Anonymous said...

I have a serious fear of debt. Coming from a long line of debt-phobics, I consider it my birthright to counsel against it. Friends, do try to put something aside for a rainy day and resist! JMHO.

Greenpa said...

Well, gee whiz, guys. I DID say it was a "small amusement"! :-)

There are several points, though, where the majority of comments are a little on the unrealisitic side. Understand, now, I envy you your lack of nasty experiences. But a huge number of other, good, smart, folks have had very bad times with the credit card folks.

"two day late PO screw up? Your friend should have screamed loud and long"

Who has time? Particularly when the results are so poor? The second link I provided in the post speaks directly to this one- complain all you like; they don't care; don't listen, and lie about it when the cops catch them.

RC "She said "I will co-sign." - wow, you've got a priceless human being there. Small communities CAN look after each other well. Alas, they don't always.

"Just pay it off as fast as you can and do everything you can to stay out of debt."

Well, of course. Ever hear of an accident? Like when I broke my wrist 3 years ago- with no health insurance for therapy; and no back up in the business? Lots of people just get caught in bad circumstances. It CAN happen to you, some day; it would be lovely to know you might borrow without having to worry about being actually TRICKED into things.

"Finally you don't have to have a credit card, you agreed to all of the term when you first used the card. I guess really people need to read the contract, and read it well."

Absolutely true, couldn't agree more. I'm the most compulsive fine print reader I know. They still TRICKED me. Intentionally.

With the broken wrist; which was healing, so I really expected business to get back to normal soon, I did need to borrow some money for a short term bridge. Offer One: "Just write this check for any amount up to your limit, and put it in your bank account! - You'll pay 3.99% interest until next year, when the rate will revert to your usual rate." Which was 12%, pretty good for a small business. I didn't write a check.

Next month- I really needed a little money. The "Offer" was printed to look identical to the previous month. Fine print and all. Except it didn't actually SAY the rate will revert to "normal" - it just didn't say anything. I read it, believe me. Turns out- THIS time, they were counting this "convenience check" as a cash advance- for which the interest rate is 24%.

And it just slipped into the payments one day- I'd been paying 4%; suddenly was paying 24% - that sneaked past me for a couple months. I did indeed pay it off, and cancel the card. When I could.

You don't have to be dumb, or careless, for these thieves to trick you. It's a result of the lovely "deregulation" of the industry; basically the lenders are free to steal at the moment- no one in the government will stop them.

And it's more than an inconvenience or a silly concern for bleeding hearts- ruinous interest rates are historically associated with all kinds of major financial disaster- like the Great Depression. It's just a really bad idea for the society to say "charge anything you can get" - inevitably, the desperate among us will agree to anything, hoping they'll come through. And inevitably- some will fail. Then we all pay the price of failure.

Anonymous said...

Greenpa, I know you feel like we were all picking on you about your small amusement, so here's another chance for you to amuse us. You've been tagged for a '7 random facts' meme - come check my site for details. :)

Anonymous said...

See also:

Your Credit Card Company is Playing Evil Tricks on You

Anonymous said...

"The card that pays you back" screwed me last year. Once years ago when I was penniless and late with my payment, they surprised me: they took my $15 minimum payment out of my stupid cash bonus thing and credited it toward my bill, and they didn't charge me a fee. Well, around November or so last year I was two days late with my bill just because I didn't get around to paying bills on time. I knew I was late, but I figured that'd be no problem because I had just received the mailer about all the fun Olive Garden entrees I could buy with my amazing new $21.43 cash bonus and I figured they'd take out the minimum payment from that like they did before. But no! Nope! Not this time, loyal customer. I was two days late--two days!--and they CALLED me on the PHONE at WORK. (I'm sorry for the shrieking but this industry enrages me past all control.)

So I sent the payment in, spitting extra on the stamp, and a few days later: SUNDAY MORNING AT NINE AY EM! One of their minions calls AGAIN! To REMIND me! I found these phone calls excruciating because at the time I used the hay out of that card and paid it back in full every month--it was always around $800 a month that I spent on... what? Books, gas, beer and Mexican food, I guess. And now here's this woman calls me Sunday morning when I'm trying to make an omelet and gives me the "let me explain budgeting to you so that you can make your teeny minimum payments on time, poor pauper" recitative that I could barely tolerate when it actually applied and which is just out of hand stupid NOW because I know they track my every move and I know they know that I'm no longer poverty stricken so why is their teleharpy taking the time to call up and condescend to me on Sunday morning and why is she STILL on the PHONE when I told her right off that I SENT the CHECK two DAYS ago?

So I cut the card in half and switched to another card--I have like seventy from the days when I was a penniless flipper, chaser of the 0% 6-month introductory rate, before I got a job that paid in money. Cutting the card in half was satisfying, but what was reeeeeeeallly satisfying:

A couple months ago I got another fun Sunday morning call from the card that jerks you around. "What can we do to make Discover your card of choice once more, O revered customer? For we can't help noticing you're no longer registering your $800 monthly carnitas bill with us," said the minion. "Nothing," I said, "There is nothing you can do. I hate Discover." "O, why, O, how, O what have we done?" "You did nothing," I said, "It was my fault: I was late on my bill and you charged me a late fee. This pissed me off because I am childish and vindictive. There is nothing you can do to change it. I'm never using that card again." "How wrong, how VILE of us to charge you a fee, let me credit that fee back to your account." "By all means. Whatever floats your boat. Put that $35 in escrow. For nobody. Forever. I'll never touch it because I'll never touch anything that comes from Discover again, as long as I live because I hate Discover, do you hear, I hate Discover and I'm never using the card again." "So there's nothing we can do?" "There are many things you can do, but nothing you can do will make Discover my card of choice ever ever ever again. I will never use my Discover card again. Never. Ever. Ever." Usw. I kept her on the phone as long as I possibly could so that I could keep saying "I hate Discover" and "never ever ever." My omelet was ossified, but I salvaged it with the sauce of sweet, sweet revenge.

Then more recently I heard a Fresh Air program on the topic of consumer credit where T.G. interviewed an economics professor from Harvard or somewhere who explained the many evils of this evil evil industry, and it finally sunk in that no matter what precautions I take: even if I always pay off in full every month before they can charge me interest, even if I use my credit card once to buy gas and pay it off immediately: they. are. still. making. money. off. me. They get a kickback every time I use my card. I knew this before, but I somehow didn't KNOW it know it. So the card I switched to, I quit using it. Now I never touch any of the seventy: I'm keeping them around for dire emergencies, like when I need to buy me some expensive medical procedures after I come down with terminal disease X and my evil insurance company decides it was a preexisting condition.

My new lifestyle involves getting a bigger wad of cash out of the ATM each week. But I end up spending less. And the bastards don't make their nut, which pleases me greatly.

I feel for you: they are swine. One day, though, it will be paid off. And then they'll call and beg for your custom. And then you can have big fun.

(It's going to say I'm "Anonymous," but I am not "Anonymous," I am SKG.)