Gut Rumbles
 

June 14, 2006

firm, but polite

I received a credit card bill yesterday that totally chapped my Cracker ass. I had a $15 charge on it, which is where my bill for using Hosting Matters goes every month. But that wasn't all...

I showed a charge of $35 for a "late payment fee," which was bullshit, because they received last month's check, one that paid off my balance the way I do EVERY MONTH, a day late, according to them. I also had a $4.93 INTEREST CHARGE tacked on for dessert.

That meant... even though I don't do math, that the $15.00 worth of actual charges on that card amounted to a $54.93 bill when they were finished attempting to gouge the shit out of me. I called their customer service department today.

After punching in my account number and doing the push-button menu-dance to a mechanical voice for about five minutes, I finally was allowed to speak to a real, live PERSON. I explained my problem and said I wanted to resolve it NOW, in one of two ways.

* Option One: I would pay the $54.93. If I did THAT, however, I wanted to cancel my card and never deal with such thieving bastids again in my life.

* Option Two: I would pay the $15.00 I actually owed them and keep my account open... IF they dropped the bullshit late charge and the interest extortion.

The woman I spoke to was very nice and polite (her name was Terry... or maybe Terri...) and she had a sweet voice. She looked up my records on her computer and said that she would drop the bullshit extra charges, but she could do it only this one time. I assured her that once would be enough to satisfy me, and the $15.00 I owed them would be in the mail today.

Heh. She also told me that she really liked my "wonderful" accent. I told her that I lived in southeast Georgia and EVERYBODY talks like I do around here. She laughed and replied, "Well... you still have a pleasant voice."

I thanked her for her help and wished her a great day before I hung up. I got what I wanted without cussing or yelling at her. I was polite, but firm. That company doesn't offer the only credit card in the world, so I figured that they needed ME as a customer a lot worse than I needed THEM for a credit card.

What I DID NOT say was what I actually intend to do. I'm gonna cut that card into confetti and never use it again. I'm gonna move my monthly MT bill to a different card, one that's never given me any shit with bogus charges in the past.

Even though I NEVER carry a balance on ANY credit card I have, I looked at the fine print on their statement. When I first got that card, the interest rate was 5.0%. Know what it is NOW??? 23.9%.

I never paid attention to that whopping increase before, because I never carry a balance and I never use a credit card for a cash advance. But 23.9% is more than what credit cards were charging back in 1978, when Jimmah Carter was President, and we had double-digit inflation ravaging the economy.

Charging that kind of interest TODAY sounds like got-dam usury to me--- you can get almost the same deal at one of those thievin' Title Pawn places, and everybody KNOWS that those joints are ridiculous rip-off artists.

But I thought about something else, too. How many customers of that company receive similar bills and just PAY THEM, without question and without bothering to call and bitch about it? I'll wager that a LOT of people get suckered that way.

I didn't. I griped, and I now do not have to pay those invented, usurious charges. And it will NEVER happen to me again, because that card is history to me now.

Bejus. "Buyer Beware" is still good advice.

Comments

It's amazing how carefully you must watch all of your bills, not just your credit card bills. Banks also try to stiff you for extra charges, as well as the phone companies (including the mobile phone bastids). I don't blame you for cutting that piece 'o' crap up...

Posted by: Lisa W. on June 14, 2006 06:05 PM


I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
- Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: BobG on June 14, 2006 06:27 PM

Hang 'em, hang 'em all! No more credit cards equals no more debt. Two more years to go.

Rob, credit cards are tools of the devil. Can MT take a debit card? That way you only spend what you have. Keeps you out of debt that way.

Posted by: ScottG on June 14, 2006 06:31 PM

Credit card companies probably hate me. I am continually shuffling my balances off to the latest zero percent interest introductory offer I get in the mail. Very few get to charge their full rate for more than a month or two. And I always pay on time (thank you Online Bill Pay), so they never get to hit me with their bullshit charges.

I got one of them really good. They offered me 1.9 percent for the life of the balance transfer. I had a bunch of charges on that card already, so I shuffled them off to another card to clear up credit line. Then moved the whole nine yards back (some ten thousand plus) at a basically "free money" rate!

Posted by: Desert Cat on June 14, 2006 07:44 PM

RE: evil credit cards, it's about money management and responsibility.

Very few people who are rich today got that way by eschewing debt. It is a universally useful tool for building your net worth. I guarantee you that when Donald Trump buys a skyscraper it isn't a cash purchase.

It all depends upon what you purchase with debt.

Posted by: Desert Cat on June 14, 2006 07:49 PM

You NEED at least one credit card today, whether you charge anything on it or not. Try to rent a car, purchase airline tickets on the internet or reserve a motel room for a vacation WITHOUT a credit card.

You can't do it.

Like Chablis, I learned a painful lesson long ago about going crazy with a credit card, but once burnt, I've been twice learnt ever since.

I never charge ANYTHING that I can't afford to pay cash for, and I ALWAYS pay off what I charged every month--- WITHOUT FAIL.

But you still need a credit card. I lot of places simply will not accept cash today, especially notover the internet or for vacation reservations.

It's like I told my daughter a few years ago, GET ONE! Even if it's one of those "secured" cards where you have to put $300 in a bank account before you can charge anything with the card, which carries a $300 limit.

Ya gotta work with plastic today. It's the way a lot of business is done.

Just don't get carried away thinking that "credit" you're getting is "free."

Posted by: Acidman on June 14, 2006 08:13 PM

We have three cards we use regularly. A Discover card that we only use at a couple of stores that don't accept Visa or MC, an MC card on one bank we use for day-to-day things, and an MC on a different bank we use only for Internet purchases.

But as has been said before, the best way to use a credit card is to carry a zero balance. Another nice thing about credit cards is you're using other people's money. Park yours in an interest bearing account then pay off your card balance every month.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on June 14, 2006 09:57 PM

Every time Greenspan raised interest rates a quarter point, credit cards followed with at least the same, and to top it off, the government set rules on what is the minimum they have to bill you each month. Which initially sounded like it could double the payments, but in fact most of them were already there or near to it. Yay.

Now it seems whassface who replaced Greenspan is terrified of inflation and wants to raise rates more! When they've already gone as far as they could without recessioning us, or at least hurting even more. Bastards.

Posted by: Jay on June 15, 2006 09:44 AM

Also, FWIW Hosting Matters lets you pay by check, though that's more convenient if you pay the whole year at once, which is fine since there's a discount. Instead of $11 a month, it works out to $9.35, or $112.20 for the year. Though sometimes I just pay that lump sum with a credit card for convenience.

Posted by: Jay on June 15, 2006 09:55 AM

Rob,

Of the things you listed, you only really need the credit card for car rentals. I fly more or less monthly, and pay with my debit card. I haven't seen a hotel in years that doesnt' take debit cards, either.

In fact, generally, it's been my experience that even rental cars don't require you to use a credit card as such, altho they will ding you with extra fees if you don't.

Posted by: Rick C on June 15, 2006 11:29 AM

You can get a pre-paid Mastercard or a Visa check debit card and never pay a dime in fucking interest again. After getting buttfucked every single month by Capitol One with bullshit late charges (to the point where I stared paying my bill via registered mail so the asswipes would have to sign for it and I could PROVE the shitasses got it before it was due) That bullshit went on almost every month, with Capitol one and Chase bank. I cut up every card I had and I. WIll. Never. Give. Those. Fuckers. A. Dime. Again.

Sure, the pre-pay cards have a small monthly fee, but it's still cheaper than paying those bastids late fees, interest, and all the other bullshit they tack on.

I'm teaching my kids that if they don't want to pay TRIPLE for something, to not put the fucking thing on a credit card. Ever.

I pay Hosting Matters via Paypal. One click on the web and my bill is taken care of.

Posted by: Graumagus on June 15, 2006 01:13 PM

I have one credit card. It is a Texaco gas card. Even in the worst emergency I can't immagine needing something I can't get done at a Texaco. Car repair, gas, cigarettes, and cheetos and Mt Dew. Everything one must have in order to "get the fuck out" if I have to....

Other than that my debit card works just fine.

Posted by: Steph on June 16, 2006 01:14 AM

I don't know how it is in the USA but here in the UK there are massive advantages to using a credit card rather than a debit card. Just never use one to borrow money past the end of the month. Take money off my debit card, it comes out of my bank account, my problem Take it off my credit card, it comes out of their bank account, their problem.

Posted by: Colin on June 16, 2006 12:07 PM
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