Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Always read your monthly statements....

Just when I'd been thinking I don't remember paying my credit card bill last month, I received my March statement. Sure enough, there in the lower righthand column of the sheet was a $90 overdue fee, a $39 late fee, a $15 penalty, a scorpion, and a skull and crossbones emblem.

I NEVER miss payments; even in graduate school when my monthly expenses were $153.23 more than what I took in each month, I managed to pay everything on time. I never got my February statement, I realized--either it was mailed and never showed up, or perhaps it was stolen from my mailbox. Either way I needed to examine a copy. So I got on the phone to my credit card company, which is of course everyone's least favorite exposure to corporate America.

[Of course I'm on hold after fighting my way through a blizzard of touch-tone options, none of which have anything to do with what I need; 20 minutes of New Age keyboard jangling interspersed with recorded 15-second blurbs telling me how important I am and how apologetic they are to only have one person answering 78,000 phone calls, the occasional offer of "services" thrown in for good measure as well.]

Operator: Thank you for calling MBSA Bank, how can I be of assistance this evening?

Me: I just received my March statement and there's a late fee on there--I've never missed a payment in my life and I realize now I never got my February statement. I'm concerned you may have sent it and I want to make sure it wasn't taken out of my mailbox.

Operator: Of course, of course. 90% of identity theft and credit card fraud cases involve stolen mail. I'll send you a copy of your April statement immediately. We'll also delete your--Can you please hold?

Me: Sure.

[Do YOU have credit problems? Allow MBSA to help you with a home equity line of credit...blah blah blah.]

Operator: [Suspiciously just as the commercial ends] Thanks for holding. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask you if you're interested in our home equity line of credit?

Me: No, thanks, we...

Operator: Fine, fine. No problem. Ok Mr. G_____, I've deleted all of the late fees and put in a request to have your delinquency status removed.

Me: Deliquency...

Operator: Hold, please.

[We offer a variety of financing and credit services for the small business owner. From blah blah to blah blah...As I'm filtering out the sales pitch I see my interest rate has gone from 3.99% to 25.99%. I become filled with rage.]

Operator: [Again, timed perfectly to the end of the commercial] Thanks again for holding, Mr. G_____. Sorry about that. Ok, I've taken care of the problem. We apologize for not sending your April statement.

Me: Wait. Did you just say you didn't send me my April statement.

Operator: Yes, according to our system you were not issued an April statement. I'm sure it was just an oversight somewhere. Can I interest you in our small business services? We offer....

Me: So, if I didn't pay attention to my statements or billing cycle, I would've eaten over $100 in fees because you didn't send me a statement last month? I also notice...

Operator: I'm sorry, hold please.

[TWO commercials this time--car financing and mortgage services]

Operator: [Timed again to coincide with the conclusion of commercial #2] Hello Mr....

Me: Ok, if you put me on hold once more I swear I'll cancel this account immediately! I want to know why my interest rate went from 3.99% to 25.99%. I was supposed to be locked in at...

Operator: We reserve the right to increase rates at any time, particularly for deliquent accounts.

Me: But you didn't send me a statement last month, and that's the reason why my...

Operator: It's the responsibility of the cardholder to...

Me: Ok, I can transfer this balance to another card in ten minutes. Either you get me back my original rate or I'm...

Operator: I have to transfer you to another department. Have a good evening!

[I'm on hold again. And I'm fuming. Usurious, unscrupulous bastards. They set me up. I bet this is their new tactic. "Forgetting" to send out monthly statements. Then they can market a bunch of services to you while you're trapped on the goddam phone, because they know nobody opens their stupid mailers anymore, and no one watches TV commercials any more. Oh, I'm angry. That interest rate is truly...Another long commercial ends, and of course, as it finishes...]

New Operator: Hello Mr. G_____. How can I help you?

Me: I'd like my interest rate reduced. I have several competing offers from other companies and...

She: [Immediately combative] I'm sorry sir, but your account is listed as deliquent (I try to cut in). We can't make changes to percentage rates so long as any account (I try to cut in) so long as there is a deliquency flag on the system (I try again). When we get this problem...

Me: HOLD IT, HOLD ON A MINUTE--AND DON'T PLAY ME ANOTHER COMMERCIAL! I am not responsible for this deliquency, and you know it...the other operator took that off my account...

She: It takes 24 hours to process...

Me: ...you also know the reason for the deliquence, which was not my fault!

She: The cardholder is respo....

Me: Don't give me that. You change my rate back now or I'll...

She: I can't do that for 24 hours when the deliquency on your account will update. We're removing all the fees...

Me: This is a scam. You are not a business. You are...

She: We'll do what we have to do. You've been a cardmember in good standing for 16 years, and...

Me: I am no longer a cardmember.

She: Well let me...

Me: This account is closed as of tomorrow--DON'T CUT ME OFF! You will not get another 24 hours of 25.99% out of me. I know what you're doing, and pity those poor suckers who don't read their statements. Despicable!

She: I can remove your status proactively...you might find it difficult to transfer balances from a card with a deliquency...

Me: [Hanging up with satisfaction]

I immediately sent MBSA a check for half my balance and transferred the other half to a card with a 3.99% rate. I'll have that one paid off by the end of April as well anyway; it's only a small amount left over from the Honduras trip. What bullshit. What fucking bullshit. These are the slick bastards who own your Congresspeople. These are the buzzards who wrote the bankrupcy bill. Fuck them.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is ridiculous/insane. Bethany keeps getting letters from her companies (including, ominously, insurance) saying she has to sign these affidavits that say that "The cardholder is responsible...." for knowing their payment status and shit; ridiculous! You're right, just another way to screw you! Fuck them all - predatory bastards.

geoff said...

It's bullshit! Bullshit I tells ya! And with the levels of personal debt in America they are raking it in at the expense of the middle class and the working poor I'm sure.

Hey, you got into Blogger.

Nick said...

My palms are sweating, sliding over the mouse. I'm getting red under the collar just reading this.
Good read.

Nick said...

Also, only just got my first credit card last summer. Problem was no credit history = bad credit history with many places so I had to get something. At least it has a 500 cap on it. But now I have been getting a ton of solicitations...on top of my Oakcrest retirement home applications. word.

geoff said...

Yeah, without a credit card history no one's willing to give you a shot at a mortgage; even car loans and rental agreements get tough these days without VISA and MC. Fuckers. Doesn't matter if you have money in the bank and a clean history of paying bills--they encourage debt.

Anonymous said...

http://www.wannabemyfriend.com/

Dazzling Urbanite said...

I got an American Express business card because I wanted to accumulate freq flyer miles. I purchased over $100,000 worth of furnishings for a client on it.

When I went online to look at my flyer mile amount--envisioning a free trip to Europe or something--I saw that my total miles was ZERO.

Why?

When I called, they told me "oh, you didnt enroll in that program when you signed up."

Of course, the miles aren't retroactive.

On Saturday, I paid my Chase credit card online via my Chase checking account. The thing has not clearned yet, and is due today--Tuesday. I called and they said it takes 2-6 BUSINESS DAYS. An electronic transfer of funds within the same company! I have to pay a $15 rush fee or else the payment will be late. I could have just mailed the goddamn thing!

Fucking ridiculous.

geoff said...

I hate them, and they know for every 100,000 of us who will call our representatives they can muster an army of lobbyists armed with trips and cash and somehow Congress will ignore our pleas.

Every time the Mrs. crows about her MC "worldpoints" travel bonus I caution her to wait until she tries to redeem it before getting excited.

Nick said...

I hide my money under my mattress! Along with my copies of Juggs--I mean my cdrs...

Q-Tip said...

I hide stuff under your matress too

Nick said...

Like the Abstract? And chicken and orange juice? And the occasional potato by Ore-Ida?

Anonymous said...

Reading this makes me angry, so I can imagine how pissed you were dealing with this debacle. You can come over and punch my heavy bag if you need to -- it always makes me feel better.

Everyone should have a copy of Juggs under their mattress.

Nick said...

I want some FAKE RUBBER JUGGS under my mattress so I can put them on in the late afternoon to faint strains of Wagner. I want a PLASTIC MILK JUG placed on the second floor that I can piss in, so's I don't have to go downstairs in the middle of the night. What is "punch my heavy bag" code for? What was this post about anyway?

J.M. said...

credit card companies are worse than loan sharks...