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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Honor Amongst Thieves

Honor Amongst Thieves
Buyer Beware (read customer)!  This time of year is the appropriate time to remember that Customer Service is not always about the customer.  Big corporations are looking out for their CEO, and Stockholders.  The days when you could walk away after making a deal and closing it with a smile and a handshake are so far removed, that most people are not even aware that it ever existed.  I expect to always be on guard whenever I am told verbally that something will be provided.  Now a days, however, almost every written guarantee is made with one of many possible disclaimers:  Subject to Change without Notice, Until Further Notice, and May be terminated without advance notice, etc., etc.
Once upon a time before corporate greed totally took over, a guarantee for life on a product or service, meant for the duration of the customer’s life.  Today a guarantee for life is more likely to mean the life of the product or the life of the company you contract with for the service.  Another commonly used scam is:  your interest rate can be extremely increased, if you miss a payment or your payment arrives late due to mail delivery service, to any one of your creditors.  In other words you could have a perfect payment record with a credit card company, but if you are late with a different credit card company (without any association between accounts) they will increase the interest rate you are charged across the board.
I remember when I was a young man, just getting started in the real world, a popular joke around the banking industry was that the banks were eager to lend you money, as long as you didn’t need it.  In today’s banking world they love lending young people money especially if you can’t afford the payments, because at the minimum payment rate, the loan will never be paid.
With the exception of the home mortgage, I could do well without the credit cards, unfortunately the banking industry crooks have arranged it so that you can’t get along in the world without a credit rating.  If you don’t have a good or great credit rating you may not be able to buy or rent a home, get a job, or buy auto insurance (at least not at a good price).
I was brought up trained to respect, and pursue stability (continuity).  Doing the correct thing according to my upbringing, damaged my credit rating.  How can stability and dependability cause damage to your credit rating?  Well, as soon as “online banking” was offered by my credit union, I embraced it.  Because I am dependable, I assumed that the credit card companies were dependable too (honorable).  I set up my payments to be paid automatically four days before they were due.  In the case of accounts that I wasn’t using I assumed once again that at the rate I was paying (larger than minimum payments), by a certain date my balance would be paid off. 
I applied for a credit purchase and was accepted but told that my credit was less than great.  I decided to check and found that I was making late payments to credit cards.  When I checked further, I found that the credit card companies had changed their statement closing dates (and regularly do), and because I wasn’t checking my accounts regularly, my payments were going in late and the late charges were eating up my payments. If only someone would regulate the financial institutions that we are forced to deal with as a way of life.  Oh well, wishful thinking!  Stay on guard of your finances, no one watches your financial back like you can.  The best is yet to come….

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