And so are you! I want to jump up on my soap box today and talk about “credit banks”. These are banks that manage accounts for box stores. You know, you open a line of credit with a store and go about shopping. I know, there are “regulations” out their protecting (supposedly) your good credit. And if you have never skipped or been late on a payment they can’t just up and decide to charge you 30% interest.
So a few years ago, before the new regulations went into effect my sewing machine died. I earn part of my living in sewing the pelts of the animals I raise, quilts, pageant dresses and the likes. I must have a really good machine to help me earn additional income. Call me crazy (Lord knows I am as of today) but I purchased a $12,500 sewing machine. It does everything I need it to do and a few “extra” touches that have enabled me to expand my customer base. For the average household sewer it is far more machine than you would ever need. However since it assists me in supplementing my income, it is what I need. Now at the time, I didn’t have but $6,000 saved up, so I gladly signed up for the “credit account” at the local sewing store. Interests rates were high back then (pre economic collapse), but due to my good credit I was able to get their lowest interest rate which is 9.99% fixed. My payments at the time were $145 per month of which I paid $200 each month to pay it down faster. Sounds good right?
Wrong, with the new regulations I noticed in January they were tacking on a “purchase” balance and charging 29.99% interest. I didn’t know what this was and each month have been sending in my payment plus this odd balance in which they were charging this 29.99% interest to. Since the month of January my monthly payment has gone from $145 to $185, yes, that is a $40 monthly increase to my payment. I was all confused so I decided to call the credit company to find out what is going on.
After pressing 1 for english, entering my account number and the # sign, I was then directed to key in my address and press the # sign. This took me to another menu where I was prompted to enter my birth date MM/DD/YYYY and the # sign. So I did which took me to another menu where I was prompted to enter Social Security number followed by the # sign, annoyed by this point because in between each and every prompt for information from me I had to listen to a 2 minute sales pitch. Sadly I HAD to listen to this because if I pressed 1 as prompted, I would be signing up for all sorts of monthly “service” fees for this that and the other “programs” they were offering. Sometimes I had to press 1 for the next menu options, sometimes I had to press 2 for the next menu options. Amazing how this particular credit bank, which I can’t name because I am certain GE Money Bank would get upset with me for mentioning them. Anyhow, I kid you not when I say I was on the phone for over 15 minutes pressing this, pressing that, listening to their adnausioum for “Other ways we care about you and your credit” sales pitches. Finally after 15 minutes I finally get the option to press 1 to sign up for monthly credit insurance, press 2 for monthly unemployment credit insurance, press 3 for monthly long-term disability insurance or press 4 to hear my balance and last payment information, press 5 to get the address to send them more money, press 6 to go back to the main menu to start again, press 7 for payoff information, press 8 to learn more about their “credit insurance programs” or yeah press 9 to speak with a customer representative.
Thank God I thought, finally I am going to speak with someone to find out what the heck this 30% interest charge is. OH NO “All calls are answered in order of received, your current average wait time is 21 minutes. Are you kidding me, I have already spent nearly that amount of time pressing buttons for them. Well, my wait time was not 21 minutes, it was nearly 26 minutes and when the customer service person greeted me, well didn’t really greet me, asked for me to enter my account number–which I already had. He didn’t even say hello to me, thank me for holding so long, now he asked me for my account number, then my full name, then to verify my billing address, then my birth date in MM/DD/YYYY format, then the last four of my SS#, my mothers maiden name….OMG I was nauseous again. I noticed that he spoke with a thick accent, good god, I’m speaking to India….go outsourcing. So 5 minutes later after he read off “this call may or may not be recorded for training…….” Then at last “How may I help you?”
Gosh it was really hard to understand him. But I asked “What is this “new purchases” balance that you are charging me 30% interest for.” He responded, no 30%, 29.99% interest, you no charge 30%.” Okay well, thank you for the correction, but please not I do not call $1.99 a dollar, I call it $2.00. “You not right, only charge 29.99%”. But this doesn’t roll off my tongue as easy as 30%, can I please call it 30%? “No, not charge 30%, charge 29.99%. By now, I know my “complex” question will be too difficult to get through to this guy and clearly we have a language barrier, so I ask for someone who speaks English because I am having difficulty in understanding his Engrish. He says “just a moment”…..click. >.< Oh no, please tell me he has not hung up on me, I really don’t want to go through the stinking press this, listen to this, behind door number 3 is this great credit insurance plan for just $19.99 per month, push the right button or it will show up on your next statement phone system. I sat on the line, in hopes that he had not hung up on me….in fact I sat on the line listening to dead air until the loud beeps started to indicate that my phone was off the hook, please hang it up.
I had to take a break. It took me over 30 minutes of my time to get that far only to be hung up on. I went outside, tossed the balls around for the dogs to catch, gathered my wits and my breath, then went back inside. Hmm, maybe I will check out their website, that has got to be better than wasting my time just to speak with someone in India.
So you have to enter all your personal information on their website, to include giving them your email address so they can “no we not spam it”–hogwash. So I do, then before I can look at their website, I get locked up by a pop-up, “Would you like the security of knowing your payments will be made for you if you become unemployed”? “Yes” or “No thanks”—-I selected “No Thanks”, but wait there is more, how about this “additional fee for this other service?” NO THANKS, “Hang on, we have an even better program it’s called………” NO FREAKING THANKS! On and on the adnausium continued. Listen you idiots, I just want to know what this ever-growing balance is on my account that you are charging 30% interest to, and how do I go about paying that off because 30% interest is just highway robbery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Need I say that I spent over 25 minutes setting up my online account and pressing the NO THANKS box and when I finally had my online account set up, entered all my personal information, said NO NO NO NO NO NO NO to all the “additional services” I finally got into their website. Sadly, there was nothing about where the balance they were charging 30% to originated. I was really upset by now because I have wasted several hours trying to get an answer to this question.
I know what many of you are thinking, “why not just write a letter?” Been there, did that. I admit, I don’t have any personal checks. I use my banks bill pay services to send out payments. So when I found myself writing my letter, I also had to go to the bank to get a money order so I could staple my letter to the payment in hopes of getting an answer. A month went by, no answer. So I got another money order, this time I affixed it to my letter with so many staples that it could have gone through a hurricane and not have become detached from my personal letter. No answer, in fact I have done this for five months in a row and no answer. So I know not to waste my printer ink or time in writing yet another letter for them to throw away or “we did not receive a letter” answer.
Totally miffed now because I really don’t have the time to do this to get an answer to my question, I yet again pick up the phone and subject myself to press this, enter that, hit the # sign, be careful what you press or you will add all sorts of services you don’t want to your account, followed by the # sign. I am an American, who took out a credit account with an American company, but I known damn good and well that I am calling India because the company would rather pay $10 per day than employ an American for $10 per hour.
ACK, 34 minutes later I get an even thicker accent and a woman in India. “How may I help you today?” ” Yes, I would like to know where the balance you are charging 30% interest on originated and how I go about paying that off?” was my reply. “You pay off your account? Okay just a moment”…….”No I am not paying off my account I want to”…….to late, the painful silence, then starts up the recorded messages, “To obtain payoff information on your account please press 1” ZOMG, are you shitting me? Back into the system of mashing buttons I go. I was in luck, it only took me 15 minutes of pressing this and that followed by the # sign to get back to a customer service representative in India.
Yes you can help me today by telling me where the balance you are charging me 29.99% interest on. “Vat is you interest you no pay”. Vat? What does vat mean? —–Oh you mean THAT….okay of all the live people in India I have gotten on the telephone, she has the lightest accent. Maybe I can understand this one. “So that is the interest that I have not paid correct?” Ves, you no pay interest, vee put inta new purchases you no pay till end”. Wait a minute, I don’t pay interest on my account with my monthly payment. “No you no pay it, vat be payin at end”. Wait I’m still confused. I make my monthly payment on time each month, so where does this interest come from that you are saying I don’t pay? “Vee put da payment on your balance, you no pay maintenance fee and you no pay interest till you pay off. You must be happy with us, we no make you pay new purchase balance, only original balance, you pay new purchase balance off later, you pleased, you be happy”.
Okay, I will spare you the painful call to India in trying to get to the bottom of this. Due to regulation changes by the Federal Government on my account serviced by people in India to save a buck in this great land of “vee no pay American workers, vee outsource to India and make you press buttons so you no learn to speak Indian”.
The bottom line is they found a loophole in how to charge us more interest. When I make my monthly payment they apply my entire payment to the principle balance. The principle balance has a fixed rate of 9.99%, because I make my payments on time, they can’t state I have broken my contractual obligation to raise my interest rate. That is part of the new governmental regulation changes. Since they can not earn more money because I meet my contractual obligation, they got creative. They charge a monthly maintenance fee, this is considered a “new purchase” and does not grandfather into the 9.99% interest, they then code it as a “new purchase” and charge an interest rate of 29.99% to the monthly maintenance fee. Sadly, it doesn’t stop here. The 9.99% interest charged to my original balance is not paid with my monthly payment, nope the 9.99% interest is placed into the “new purchases” column and is charged 29.99% interest. Yes, you read that right, I am charged 30% interest on my 10% interest. My whole payment goes towards the original principle balance, none of it goes towards the interest or maintenance fee. This is why in a short 6 months my payment has jumped $40 bucks. It will continue going up because I have to pay 30% interest on my 10% interest and their monthly fee, while they only apply my monthly payment to my principle balance.
Can anyone say this is robbing me? I feel like I am being robbed. So I asked if I could send in two payments, 1 payment for my monthly payment and 1 payment to pay off the balance they are charging 30% interest on. The answer I was give was NO. If you send in 2 payments, they will both be applied to your original principle balance. Once you pay off your original balance, you will then only see one charge for the “new purchases” that we are charging you not 30% interest on, we only charge you 29.99% interest on.
Way to go American Governmental Regulations, way to go India, this is why I should have stuck to my cash only life. Things like this are why we should NEVER charge a penny and certainly never open up an account with a retail box store….or any store of any kind. How they are applying my payments I feel is totally set up to simply eek more money out of the population and sadly they are within their regulated right to do it this way. I will be working hard on that sewing machine in the next few months to simply pay it off! With my payments going up right now around $6.00 per month, if I take the next 4 years to pay like they want me to (remember I am calculating it at the current $6.66, but we all know how interest goes it, it will progressively become larger and larger). Anyhow, if I take the full 4 years to pay off my balance with the way they process payments my payments will go from their current $185 to $500…..whoda thunk!
At the end of 4 years, with them calling the interest charge a “new purchase” and their monthly processing fee a “new purchase” just so they can charge me 29.99% interest, I will be paying in excess of $320 per month JUST for this 29.99% interest way of applying payments.
I can not stress the importance of the fact that banks don’t work for us. If you give them your cash–they will spend it however they want, wise or not, collapse again or not. When you see their brilliant ads showing how they are building communities, helping a single parent fix their home or feed their family….don’t buy into it. They simply want your money to play with, they are doing anything but “working for the betterment of YOU”….its all about them and they will figure out ways, as they have!, to bleed you dry of every penny they can get.