As has been reported, credit card companies are, these days, doing their utmost to gouge every penny cardholders have left after paying for food and fuel. Crabby Old Lady is pretty sure they’ll soon start charging for their end of the postage plus the paper and ink used to print the bills and other sundry mailings.
Last week, Crabby received one of those sundry mailings and after reading the letter several times, she wonders if she has slipped a gear and rounded the bed into dementia. She understands each of the English words, but for as much as she can’t figure out what they mean strung together, it may as well be written in Klingon. Here is the meat of the letter, verbatim:
“Each month you must pay at least the Minimum Amount Due by the payment due date. The sooner you pay the New Balance the less you will pay in periodic finance charges.
“To calculate the Minimum Amount Due, we begin with any past due amount and add any amount in excess of your credit line. We then add the largest of the following:
- The New Balance on the billing statement if it is less than $20;
- $20 if the New Balance is at least $20;
- 1% of the New Balance (which calculation is rounded down to the nearest dollar) plus the amount of your billed finance charges and any applicable late fees; or
- 1.5% of the New Balance (which calculation is rounded down to the nearest dollar).
“However, the Minimum Amount Due never exceeds your New Balance. In calculating the Minimum Amount Due we may subtract from the New Balance certain fees added to your account during the billing period.”
Whatever that gibberish means, Crabby is reasonably certain more money will be going out of her pocketbook. Although the letter doesn’t state this, she suspects such a convoluted explanation of the company's complex new billing system is a way to charge an additional fee to people like Crabby who pay off their credit charges in full each month. She is particularly mistrustful of that "the sooner you pay...the less you will pay" phrase in the first paragraph; is that Klingon, do you suppose, for "no more grace period"?
Crabby believes that late charges are fair. What is not fair is the new practice of jacking up interest rates to 24 and 29 percent and reporting customers to credit bureaus as deadbeats after only one late payment. Credit card companies already take a percentage of the charges from the merchant and if too many customers are defaulting, as companies claim, they might try sending fewer card offers to people who have maxed out their other cards.
So while credit card company's are asking for blood payments, Crabby wants to know when customers will get a rebate when service is poor or nonexistent. How about a dollar off the bill for every minute past five left on telephone hold. Five dollars for every wrong or stupid answer. And $25 if the customer service person who finally answers the call asks a single question Crabby has already punched into the phone.