Tag Archive | "credit cards"


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Credit Card Account Closed

Things used to be easy.  All right, easier. The bad guys wore big black hats and rode into town on big black stallions, terrorizing the townspeople until the sheriff and his posse corralled and hanged the dirty weasels, who surely got what they deserved.  Now, the bad guys stand chic in their designer wear, steering once failing, now bailed-out financial institutions. Their primary weapons are not pistols but cold hard cash and what that cash buys, including incumbent politicians passing inane “protective” legislation.  If you are an industrious, law-abiding citizen with a decent (not sterling, but decent) credit history, prepare for another gut punch by the very weasels enjoying governmental reprieves.  Don’t bank on the sheriff or his boys to save your bacon.   In fact, don’t bank on anyone. Prepare yourself to have your credit standing ripped out from beneath you without a warning, even if your payment history has been good.


Astoundingly and disturbingly, this is exactly what happened to a man I’ll call Sam, an existing client and an American-born citizen now in middle age. I feel compelled to mention his nationality; you will see why shortly. Sam arrived home last Friday to find a letter from Chase Bank. You’ll remember Chase as one of those aforementioned institutions profiting from, but undeserving of, a financial resurrection at the hands of unwitting, unwilling taxpayers.  Acting as judge and jury without benefit of a trial or even a Miranda caution, Chase canceled my client’s line of credit in the face of steady and decent payment history.


If it happened to Sam, it can happen to you, me, and the entire sea-to-shining sea sweep encompassing the hard-working and hard-hit middle class.  Perhaps the lenders are being proactive. Perhaps fearing governmental restrictions against the type of action taken against Sam, credit card companies are cutting their losses off at the knees.  Now unable to charge even a cup of coffee and an Egg McMuffin on that particular card, the Sam’s of our nation are nonetheless obliged to pay off their existing debt.  Outraged at this preemptive treatment, thrice insulted by the phone runaround he got with credit card representatives laboring in undeveloped nations, Sam asked me to draft a pointed letter to Chase.


Directed to be pointed in the letter and to balance professionalism with evident anger, I was given carte blanche and told to “go for it” in terms of colorful language.  For the edification of our readers who may indeed find themselves in Sam’s situation, here goes that letter, which you may — God forbid — soon find useful to copy on your own behalf.


Your records will show that, in 99% of the time over a span of more than seven years, I have always made my payments on time or ahead of time, enclosing more than the minimum payment.  This was the norm, not the exception, with my entire payment/credit history on this card.  So now you’ve cancelled my card.   No need to do that, as I can recommend a good place for you people to shove it!


I also find myself needing to take time out of my business day because the foreigners that you employ on foreign soil, who attempted to assist me despite their incomplete grasp of the English language and complete lack of critical thinking skills, do not understand the meaning of the words “I am requesting this in writing from you.”  Here’s what I need, and if whoever is reading this is a foreigner here on a Green Card, do us a both a favor and hand this letter to a natural-born American who reads and understands English as his or her first language.


Ensuring that Sam’s request would be understood, I spelled it out for the recipient (as I urge you to do, should you — God forbid — find yourself in a similar situation):


I need to have from you, addressed to me, a letter stating in no uncertain terms that you will continue to bill me on a monthly basis (i.e., “send me monthly statements”) for the amount (i.e. balance) that is due you of $1,543.69.  In other words, I demand to have stated from you, as printed on your company letterhead and signed by you –  a representative of Chase — that you will not attempt to collect the entire balance at one single time.  Well, that would be asinine on your part, since I don’t have it and neglected to install a cash printing press in my basement.


Chase was bailed out by the U.S. government acting on “behalf” of taxpayers like me who sanctioned no such bail out.  In return, Chase now seeks to break the honest, hard-working middle class by closing, without warning or sound rationale, credit card accounts of good and loyal customers.  I don’t give a damn what else my credit history tells you.  All you idiots should have been concerned with is what I paid you, and when.


History should teach us something: American history, that is — based upon freedoms fought for and won here, as well as in England, and in France prior to the establishment of our democracy.  Read your history; specifically, study the events leading up to Bastille Day.  I would not be one whit surprised to find disenfranchised U.S. citizens rising up to follow the example of their French brethren on that storied day that shortly thereafter sparked our own American Revolution.


Vive La France!

Let’s Go — Charge It!

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In these tough economic times, it hardly matters where you live, because it is becoming more and more difficult just to keep a roof over your head and food on the table.  If you have ever seen a homeless person rummaging through trashcans for scraps and other discarded items essential to his or her survival, I’m sure you must have wondered how someone could get into such a bad situation.


If you think really about it, it is not hard to figure out; some people never create a plan for survival beyond their next paycheck.  Yet, so many of us continue to spend without depositing anything into a savings or investment account.  Adding to this neglect is the fact that our society makes it so easy for us to not be practical.  Once we are approved for one credit card, more offers keep pouring in and tempting us.  We take the creditors up on their offers, acquire more credit cards, and continue to increase our debt, assuming that we can handle it.  We often do not recognize the insidiousness of this behavior, until it has snowballed into a significant problem.


Compounding our escalating credit is the phenomenon of coupons and major sales.  To take advantage of these and save, for example, $10, we have to spend $50.  We find ourselves spending that $50 if we don’t really need to, because we’ve bought into the deception that we are saving in the long run.  Retailers give us a double whammy with offers of saving 10% on our first purchase, with the commencement of a store card.   If you do not shop at a particular store very often and you get the card for a one-time savings, it is not worth it because in the long run, it can adversely affect your credit rating.


Other enticements are layaway and easy pay plans, which help to precondition us to useless spending.  How many times have you scanned the clearance racks, purchased an item because the price was right, and later decided after wearing it once or twice that you really didn’t like it.  You stuffed the item in your closet until you did your spring-cleaning and eventually donated the item to charity.  So, what seems like a bargain, often is not.


Of course, human nature also works against us.  Women may be gatherers and therefore, collectors of merchandise and men may be hunters.  But regardless of sex, some of us are driven to compete and “keep up with the Joneses.”  Ironically, while our peers may be envious of the things we have, they may not know about the stress we put ourselves through, worrying about how to pay the bills and how we have max’ed out our credit cards.  We want to have it all, but in the end, what do material things really matter?  We need to accept ourselves for who we are and what we can accomplish, not for how many things we can amass.


If you have ever seen the British comedy “Keeping up Appearances,” you know that this show embodies everything I’m talking about. The program’s main characters are Hyacinth Bucket and her husband Richard.  Hyacinth is always hosting parties, inviting the right people to prove to everyone that she is someone important.  Given her attitude, she does not embrace the less fortunate side of her family.  She is always careful not to have them around too much for fear that they will embarrass her.  Most of the time, her parties and get-togethers do not end well, despite her great pretenses.


So, the next time you see a homeless person or someone in need, try not to be judgmental.  Sometimes, things happen that are beyond our control, including job layoff and health issues.  Knowing this, we have to be more vigilant with our spending and saving habits.  While big business and our government have created some economic problems, we do have to assume some of the blame for the mistakes we have made in our spending habits.  I am not suggesting that we stop spending, because we must spend in order keep our economy flowing.   But, let’s think more about how we are impacting ourselves negatively by overspending and getting sucked into buying things that we just don’t need.  We have to come to the realization that, despite the actions of our government, we do have a degree of control over some of our problems.


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