Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I REALLY Hate Credit Cards

   I posted a couple weeks ago that the wife and I had paid off our final credit card!

   Tonight we were basking in the afterglow of a credit-card-free, productive weekend when my wife looks up from her email and says, "[banking institution]sent me an email saying our statement is ready."

   I was immediately angry. "What does the statement say?", I asked.

   "Let me look... $6.03. It says we owe $6.03."

   I said something not suitable for family radio. To backtrack, this was not even the last card we paid off. This is the same card I wrote about in "I Hate Credit Cards". We checked with the bank before sending in the last payment to make sure we were paying every last cent owed. On the day the final payment went through, my wife called (it was her card) and asked specific questions to verify the balance was indeed zero and the account was indeed closed. She was assured the balance was indeed zero and the account was indeed closed.

   Fuming, I asked her for the phone number, account number, and date of the final payment. After the usual keypad gymnastics with the phone I finally got a person on the line. After verifying my identity I explained that we paid the card off on "X" date, we called to verify and were told the balance was zero and the account was closed, and asked how we owe $6.03?

   The customer service person on the other end started by saying, "I am taking care of that now. It will take 3-5 days to process, but after that the balance will be zero. Let me explain the charge...".

   I was then told that this particular bank calculates interest daily, but only from billing date to billing date. Since two weeks had passed from the last billing date to the date of the last payment, the $6.03 was interest on the balance during that time, and just so I understand, this is how the billing cycle and interest works, but if I call the interest can be waived. I was apologized to that this was not made clear during our last phone call and reassured that the charge was dropped.

   I asked one last time, "So, it will take 3-5 days, but then the balance will be zero and the account will be closed?" After being reassured (again) this was indeed true, I said thank you and goodnight.

   To sum up, the account was paid in full, we verified that with the bank, they charged us interest anyway, and when we called them on it they dropped it with no question or argument. The sinister part is that they plainly told me, even if you pay your card in full the day your bill arrives (or when you view it online in "real time"), there will be undisclosed interest still owed on the account.

   This reeks to me of a scam. Worst case scenario, the bank gets an angry phone call and drops the charge. Probably what usually happens is people will pay one or two occurrences before the angry phone call and the bank makes $6.03 off a few thousand people. Best case scenario is the people who believe the account is closed and let months of interest and late fees build up and, with any luck, can't dig themselves back out of debt this time.

   This is the kind of thing We The People need to stand up against. A truly "free market" would never allow a company that treats it's customers and neighbors this way to get "too big to fail". I am so fed up with banks and credit cards and CEOs and executives that live like lords by taking advantage of the have-nots.

   It doesn't help that I saw this earlier today.

   It's time for a revolt.

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