Thursday, April 16, 2009

Credit Card Ads Are Making Me Furious

There is an ad running now about a woman who has to leave her home and her job to take care of her mother who has Alzheimer's. She gets behind in her credit card payments and starts getting notices from her card holders. And all she has to do to straighten this problem out is pick up the phone and talk to her credit card company. Have you ever tried to call your credit card company? It is an endless loop of voice mail hell. You will never get to talk to an actual person, unless they are calling you to tell you you need to sell you first born into slavery to make your damn payment.

I know because I had to fly to Santa Barbara (ticket on a credit card) rent a car (rental on a credit card) kidnap my crazy mother and drive her back to Salt Lake so I could take care of her since she had vascular dementia and was being evicted from her apartment. Then I had to get someone to watch her while I flew back to Santa Barbara (ticket on a credit card) rent a car (rental on a credit card) empty and clean her house and her storage unit and drive back to Salt Lake with her few salvageable possessions (her incontinence had left her clothing unsalvageable).

My mother required constant watching since every time I closed my eyes she ran away. She would go to the grocery store, gather up the crap she wanted and stand in line at the checkout counter. Then if someone behind her didn't offer to pay for her crap, the store would pay for her crap rather than have her pitch a fit in from of other people. I would then have to pay for her crap with a credit card. My mother started hitchhiking to another store, and got picked up by the cops. This resulted in my getting turned in for not keeping her safe. A charge just short of elder abuse. Then I had to get all the locks on the house changed so my mother couldn't run away, turning my house into a locked fortress to protect her from herself and me from the Ombudsman. And that was my last credit card charge.

Taking care of her full time meant I was unable to work. As I started missing payments (time gets away from you when you can't ever sleep or work or take a bath because something might happen to your mother) the credit card company started an aggressive debt collection campaign. I kept trying to explain my situation, but I guess everyone's got a sob story when they are unable to pay their credit cards. It was only when they called me to dun me, to call me an irresponsible idiot, that I was able to talk to a "real" person. They were in no way helpful. They suggested I sell my ten year old Jetta to pay my credit card bill. Eventually I was forced into bankruptcy.

One of my best friends has had the same credit card for thirty years and has never missed a payment. She was one day late with a payment a couple of years ago and they hiked her interest rate from 7% to 40% without notification to her. It was not until her next bill that she noticed the enormous change in interest charges. She spent a month trying to talk to a real person about her situation. The person she finally got to talk to said, "It's right there in the small print. If you read your statement you would know that we have the legal right to do whatever we deem necessary to protect ourselves from the irresponsibility of card holders like you who think it's fine to pay late or skip payments without consequences." This practice amounts to loan sharking. Now neither of us has a card we ever use to make purchases. We each have a debit card from our credit unions. I never use mine, but if I had to fly or rent a car, I'd need a card.

Fuck you Citibank. Take this card and shove it.


sunshine said...

Yeah, we don't have a credit card either.
It's just way too easy... especially with 4 kids. We need everything and I'd buy it all, if I had a credit card.

You were a wonderful daughter Utah. It couldn't have been easy.

Comrade Kevin said...

I had to default on two credit cards that I maxed out due to medical bills. It'll be a cold day in hell before I sign up for another.

For the next several years my credit is so bad I couldn't get one to begin with. Sometimes I wonder if we ever need to have them at all. Deficit spending, contrary to what strict fiscal conservatives think, its not always a bad thing. It's just that when credit card companies pull things like this that people become slaves to debt, never having the chance ever to get debt at a manageable level.

Utah Savage said...

Yea, Kevin, after the very long and painful years of caring for my mother, I went very very crazy. I was hospitalized and then placed in mandatory weekly therapy. I couldn't pay it so had to default on that. Finally got on disability for the bad crazy bipolar situation that seemed to be so much worse during and after my mom's problems. Now I pay as I go. If I can't pay, I don't go.

Dave Dubya said...

And to top off the horror, everyone knows someone, or has been, in that same situation. It is pandemic. The greedy banks are STILL destroying our lives and economy..."Legally".

an average patriot said...

To Hell with the ads they always piss me off. I am pissed that those ass holes just took Billions from and the ass holes just sent me a letter saying my credit card rate just went up 15% because they need money. Fuck them double dipping bastards.

Paul C said...

Utah, Thanks for that post.

I had a good credit rating until I had to unexpectedly spend 6 months in jail for the first time. In jail I received $12 a week.

Imagine what I was looking at in terms of credit card debt and having had a 12 month pay-TV contract and mobile (cell) phone contract which were suddenly interrupted and so on........the $$ I owed when I got out! Some institutions WERE understanding of my circumstances and went easy on me. Others not so; one institution was as ruthless as any criminal money-lender in chasing me up for up a debt of $1,100.00 (which started as a debt of $300.00 at the time of my incarceration.).

I have now paid back everything I owed; but my credit rating will stay at zero for some time.

You are right, some of what some of these legal, respectable financial people get up to is as bad as "loan sharking".

yellowdog granny said...

no credit all ..ever..they scare me to death..besides i'd have to shoot someone that treated me the way i've heard them treat some of their customers...judas priest.

Mauigirl said...

What a shame that these credit card companies are so full of it to imply that they are these big hearted companies that would help a person out. We all know it isn't true. Do they really think we'd believe them?

Beach Bum said...

My grandfather had one credit card and it was only used if something major broke down at the house. The only thing that comes to mind for an example was when the tank in my grandparent's water heater cracked forcing them to buy another that day.

Even when he did use it it was paid off buy the end of the following month. He never used it for food, gas, clothing, and he would roll over in his grave if he knew anyone in his family ever used the damn things for a vacation.

susan said...

It's frightening to realize it's them and their ilk running the country these days.

Randal Graves said...

Fuck 'em.

Lulu Maude said...

God. Makes me want to Hurt Somebody. I guess the best I can do is mutilate a credit card.