Ramblings of Silver Blue

16 Jun

Inside My Head

This rant has been building for a while, so if the idea of reading about me spouting off regarding corporate greed, then pass this post by.

If you’re one of the three people who read my blog, you undoubtedly know that I just took a second mortgage to pay off the revolving charge accounts that I had (some of which I’ve had for almost 20 years).

Let’s take that 20 year account. I opened it when I was in college. I’ve been late exactly twice in 20 years, and that was in 1990. My interest rate was 19.99%. Before I refinanced, I called to see if they would be willing to lower my interest rate and work with me. To quote the Capital One commercial with David Spade “I predict a ‘NO’ storm.” I was told there was nothing they could do to help me.

Now that they’re paid off, I called to cancel the cards (a smart thing to do when you know you’re a shop-a-holic) — and they ask “the question.” You know, “why are you canceling your accounts? You’ve been a good customer since 1987…”

Mama taught me not to lie, so I told them it’s because the interest rates are too high. They IMMEDIATELY offered to drop the APR to 7.99% and keep it there if I’d only keep the accounts open. I chuckled and told the representative: You know, last month, I called and asked you all to work with me. You wouldn’t. Now that you’re paid off, and you’re losing me as a customer, you want to keep me. I don’t want you anymore. Please close the account.”

So that era of my life, which started in 1987, is over. I can’t say I’m sorry, because I’m not.

But it got me thinking. When the Feds lowered the interest rates on what banks charge each other to the lowest rates in 40 years, did the credit card lenders lower their rates? No. They raised fees, flooded the market with credit offers, and either kept their interest rates the same or raised them.

Explain to me how lenders plan on keeping customers that they have made credit too easy for? Especially now that they are doubling minimum payments, etc? By catering to a society of impulse buyers and instant gratification, many people are ruining their credit rating, and especially now that bankruptcy will be harder to declare, the credit companies know they have you in a choke-hold.

Instead of reeling in credit, it is being offered more and more freely. In the last year, one of my credit cards (from Citibank) had its line of credit expanded from 6K, to 9.8K to 10.5K, to 12K — all without my asking for it. You know what they say — if you have it, you’ll use it.

Credit has become something of convenience — and speaking of “conveniences” here’s something else that’s royally pissed me off: Convenience fees. Let’s take Citibank again. If you sign up for their online service, you can pay your bill via their website. Heavens forbid that you need to pay it via phone, however. You have to enter all the information (16 digit credit card number, etc., bank routing number, account number, etc.) and you NEVER TALK to a live person — and they want to charge you $14.95 as a convenience fee for using their automated service.

EXCUSE ME? You want me to PAY $15 after I have to do all the damn work to enter something in the telephone that is automatically converted over to your computer system and electronically withdrawn from my checking account? And you don’t charge any surcharges for paying via your website?

Kay’s (a jewelry store, now paid off as well) wanted $8 for their computer to accept a payment — and they have no online payment ability. You either mail it in, or take it to one of their retail stores. (No surcharge either way, I might add.)

Let’s just call it as it really is: if you get caught in the credit trap these days, you’re going to get screwed every which way, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Just be sure to use it wisely if you choose to use it at all.

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