Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 32 - Guarding your money with an Umbrella

Mark Twain had it right when he said, "A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain." The recent dealings with credit card companies has been a real hassle.  If you have been recently laid off due to circumstances beyond your control, you know what I mean.  I have always paid my bills on time and always more than the minimum payment yet I was shocked when a got a letter stating I had a choice. I could keep my 4.9% rate on my Capital One Credit card and no longer have access to use it or I could use it and the rate would increase to 21.9%.  I filed a better business bureau complaint and the Vice President called me.

I recommend this to everyone by the way.  Sometimes the proper chain of command does not get resolution to your satisfaction so a complaint with the BBB goes right to the top.  99% of the time a fair resolution is made once you can reach someone empowered to make a good customer service focused decision.  The Vice President agreed by silence that this particular decision in my case was unfair but stated I had a choice.  I told him, "This really isn't a fair choice but you've left me no other choice as a smart business person but to close the account to continue the lower interest rate."  I know many people who have had no chance to even make a decision.  If they are trying to balance their money and still feed their families, they opt to pay what they can.  Suddenly ALL of their credit cards are shut off.  Even the ones they are paying on and keeping up to date.  How fair is that?

I know people who called their mortgage companies to work out a temporary solution while they were out of work and they were told, "We can't do anything for you until you are three months behind on your mortgage."  So at the advice of the bank, they default on three months of mortgage payments and call back.  They then tell them, "We can't do anything for you because you are behind on your mortgage payments!"  WTF.  They then filed a BBB complaint and waaallaaaa. They are magically in touch with a loan refinance solution specialist and they work out a solution, only to find out that the bank has rolled an additional $8000 into the loan modification which is illegal.

I constantly scan  my bills to find additional charges that suddenly appeared on the bill for no apparent reason.  I call the cc company and they remove it.  So how many other people don't do this and are charged illegally for no reason?  Thomas Jefferson (remember this was 200 years ago) knew this challenge.  He wrote, "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." Deregulation has been the slippery slope which has enabled all of this to happen. What about all the senior citizens that don't know to look for these hidden charges.  It's disgusting what the financial institutions are doing to their customers.

This is why when a special offer comes in the mail to make money, without guilt or hesitation I jump on it.  We received a letter from Buick that if we test drove a car, we would receive a $50 gift card from Visa or American Express [I can't remember which.] We drove the car, came home and entered the code online.  $50 bucks easy.  We received an offer from American Express that if we applied for a "PASS" card and recharged it once, they would reload it with $25.  Ok, Another free $25.  Online purchases offer $5 off each item if we subscribe to a magazine to which we can cancel within 45 days.  As soon as I get the item, I cancel the subscription to the magazine I didn't want to begin with.  Another saved $5.

I'll admit it's a struggle to "guard my Fort Knox" which is really like the piggy bank these days, but every penny counts.  There are a lot of wolves out there and occasionally a company won't honor its offer.  They are wolves disguised as sheep. I usually report them to the BBB or to the company that referred them and they quickly go away.  Diligence and awareness are the right thing to do when protecting your money.  I need the umbrella for the rainy days and I know the sun will shine again soon.  I also have enough experience to know a wolf when I see one and I'm not lending him my umbrella! I know I won't get it back until it the sun comes out after it stops raining.

When a person with money meets a person with experience, the person with the experience winds up with the money and the person with the money winds up with the experience ~Harvey MacKay

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