Is it time for a serious overhaul on credit cards? The media reported today that banks need an additional bailout. I have to believe the predatory lending practices of the credit card banks is simply “catching up to them”. We use credit cards because they are convenient. As long as you don’t carry a balance or make a late payment, everything is great! Make your payment late, even just one day and boom! That will be $3000.00 please! Oh yes, and after that, we are going to post the interest for that one day. Had you paid it yesterday, it would have cost you zero dollars and zero cents. Paying today? $3500.00! Okay, a slight exaggeration on the amount, but you get my point, and I know I am not alone!
What is more annoying? When you contact the credit card companies to ask for these outrageous fees to be reversed. If you call on the telephone, you get the least experienced customer service representative, and by the time the supervisor gets on, your blood pressure is so high, you don’t even remember where you are calling! One thing that is much nicer now, you can e-mail these requests. Avoiding the attitudes and aggravation on the telephone. But then of course you end up with the standard e-mail reply, if you pay on time an average of so many months, and if the person responding to you is having a good day. They write they will reverse the fee/charge, followed by a lecture about paying your bill on time. What about the 15 years and 6 months you paid your bill on time? I guess they figure you had an accountant paying the bill, and now that you are in charge of it, need a lecture because you let one day slip by on the calendar? What a thrill!
Then this one is a real “doosey.” So much so, that it is almost funny. You borrow and maintain a balance on a credit card with a zero percent promotional rate. The promotion expires about 20 days before you are able to pay off the balance in full. So you know you have to pay interest, which you abhor doing, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. You proceed to pay the balance in full, prior to the due date, including what I call “stupid money” (interest) and you think, “great, I am done with that”. Then, your next statement cuts with a zero balance owed, and has an interest charge! Interest for what? You e-mail the bank and ask them to explain and reverse the finance charge as you had repaid the balance in full. The reply you receive? “We apologize that we are unable to reverse the finance charge. It was interest calculated on the “residual balance”. Residual balance is a fancy term for an amount owed that is no longer in existence! So not only are we expected to pay stupid money when we use the credit card, we have to pay stupid money when we owe nothing!
Then this is the topper! You attempt to make a payment on-line, the day before the due date. It doesn’t work, as the payment set up date that defaults is the day after the due date! Now mind you, this is the day before the payment is due, and the on-line system will not allow you to set up a payment until two days later! Knowing this will make the payment late, you call the bank. You naturally get the least experienced customer service person working there, and by the time you get to the supervisor you are beside yourself. Call me crazy, but if you make a payment the day before it is due, you should have no fees right? Wrong! The supervisor tells you to set up a rush payment and pay a $15 fee! Then tells you that it is cheaper than the late fee, when you are trying to make your payment on time!
What if credit card banks’ programs were overhauled? And they offered things like, a grace period where you would receive no late fee and no interest charge if the payment is made in full, within the specified number of days? What if when the payment is due on the weekend, as long as you pay it the very next business day, it is not considered late? How about not charging to pay your bill on the due date? What if banks significantly lowered the late fees and over limit fees? Perhaps more people would not request fees to be reversed, if they were not so excessive. The true irony to all of this? Banks are collecting these phenomenal fees from consumers, then expecting consumers to pay their hard earned tax dollars to bail them out! What is wrong with this picture?