Monday, June 29, 2009

Those Nice Credit Card Companies...NOT!

I watched a commercial from Bank of America last night. They had loads of soft, nice, warm 'employees' whose only concern is to listen to their customers, understand their situation and how they got into (aka, why they can't pay their credit card bill) and try to counsel them, try to help them work through a better arrangement with the big warm fuzzy credit card company, who cares so deeply about their problems.

This was in stark contrast to the phone call I received from Bank of America. I made a decision in February to stop paying these bastards $200 a month on a a $7000 debt that never seems to go down, despite the fact that I've not charged anything to BOA for 3 years. The reason the debt never goes down? That 21% interest rate that friendly BOA charges because it cares so much for its customers. About a year ago, when credit markets started tightening up, many credit card companies arbitrarily raised the rates on customers who were carrying a little too much debt. This was done to protect the bank's interests because such customers were a little higher risk in a tightening market. Does this make any sense at all? People who are already maxed out, and paying regularly, get punished with a rising rate because the bank is sweating a little.

I decided to stop paying because when I add up all I had paid to BOA, I had paid off the debt, and then some, but rising interest rates made the debt go higher, while my $200 payment sent about $11 to the principal every month. Hmmm. As an unemployed single mom, I decided that I would have to spread my meager unemployment check on rent and food, and darn everything else.

So BOA called me, of course, to find out when I would pay. Rather than warm fuzzy counseling, I received a hostile question of could I at least make $233 now? Let me do the math: unemployment = $1800 per month. Rent, utilities, and food = $2400 per month. $600 deficit left over, which is coming out of savings. So, no, given the ugly job market and zero prospects at this time, I can't justify pulling money out of my IRA to pay BOA. That money is for sheer survival.

Plus, I paid something north of $40,000 in taxes last year to the Feds. In January, BOA received a $20 billion payout, of taxpayer money. PLUS $118 billion in guarantees of bad assets.

As a taxpayer, surely some of my money went to fund that bailout. I will be paying that in taxes for the rest of my life, since the bailout was debt-financed. My daughter will likely be paying for it as well.

So, as a US taxpayer, haven't I more than covered BOA's ass? Shouldn't my tax dollars to bail them out erase my meager debt as an unemployed former consumer?

Haven't we all covered BOA's ass enough?

I pointed that out to my hostile customer service rep, but of course, he wasn't having it.

And then I watch that commercial of how much BOA 'cares' for its customers, and wants to do the right thing by them.

Well then, give me back my tax dollars from your bailout package, apply it to my debt, and we'll call it even.

Not bloody likely.

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