Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Credit card companies: guilty as "charged"

By Jim Heffernan

So, Congress is clamping down on the excesses of credit card companies (big banks), at the prompting of the Obama administration. It’s about time.

Let me relate a recent personal experience. I don’t use credit cards much, but I do when I travel. So last winter driving down the middle of the country to Florida on vacation, I used one quite a bit. It was a Chase Visa, and the word “REWARDS” is printed on the face of the card.

Rewards? Yeah, right. Get this reward:

Postal service is poor in the part of Florida where we stayed for six weeks, and the mail we have forwarded from Duluth sometimes shows up a couple of weeks late. It meant I received the Chase Visa bill on the date the payment was due. Late upon receipt.

I called Chase but they said mail the money and call back the next month. And of course the next month’s bill had a $39 late charge. So I called back to explain the situation, reminding them that I have a perfect record with the company (payment in full every time I use it), and they turned me down flat. No way were they going to forgive the late fee, even when it was explained that it wasn’t my fault. So I paid it, and threw the card in a drawer were it will never be used again (I have a couple of others).

These guys prey on people who are sucked into huge debt, raising interest rates at the drop of a dime and assessing huge fees for exceeding credit limits and, yes, not paying on time – even if it’s beyond your control.
Go get ‘em Congress. This stuff has got to stop.

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