I’m a pretty calm driver, not much given to road rage or maddened careening and cutting off of my fellow drivers. (My episodes of road rage mostly culminate in a shouted “you are a MORON!” and the occasional hand signal (unless you’re my mother in which case I never resort to hand signals, I don’t even know what that means).
Actually, in the interest of full disclosure (and so that this post makes some sense) I should point out that I’m not particularly prone to road rage directed at other drivers. The radio on the other hand, well that’s another matter entirely.
I’ve mentioned my annoyance at certain radio commercials before but there’s a new one that drives me up the wall. It’s a debt consolidation commercial as the majority of the really offensive commercials are (followed closely by diet commercials and then those for used car dealerships) and the thing that gets me is the reasoning, laid out step by step as if it’s the most logical thing in the world and it’s a wonder that I didn’t come up with it on my own. It goes something like this: 1. the credit card companies have been “sticking it to you” (that’s a quote) for long enough. 2. Now the government is bailing them out 3. so you shouldn’t have to pay them.
In his book On Writing Stephen King said something to the effect of, no writer should ever say “I just can’t express it in words” because we’re writers and that’s what we do, express things in words (so if you find that you can express it in dance, I guess it’s time to switch careers). I think Steve’s a pretty smart guy, and he certainly knows his craft so I’m not going to disagree with him. But I am going to continue to call myself a writer (of sorts) while professing that I don’t think I can express how much the above line of reasoning irritates me.
Let’s take it apart shall we?
1. The credit card companies have been “sticking it to you” for long enough. Exactly how are the credit card companies “sticking it to you?” You got a contract, it was your responsibility to read said contract (I know that none of us really does but whose fault is that?) you signed said contract therefore you are obligated to abide by said contract. I’ve gotten, skimmed and signed my fair share of these contracts and without exception the deal is something like this, well lend you money and you ‘ll have to pay it back with interest. The amount of interest varies as do some of the penalties but well, that’s the deal. Now I’m not the champion of the credit card companies, in fact I think that the entire money lending industry is evil and immoral. (Except what you do Chris, you are in the only decent sector of the whole evil thing and even your sector has been run by a lot of immoral folk more interested in making money than helping their customers for the majority of … well forever.) But the morality (or lack thereof) aside, they are pretty straight forward in what they do and what they expect.
Now, I’ve been on the wrong side of credit card penalties. A few years ago I missed two credit card payments to two different credit cards. (I had written them in my checkbook, I had entered them on the spreadsheet I just hadn’t actually sent the payments.) As soon as I realized my mistake, and make no mistake about it, it was MY mistake, I called both companies to see if they would waive my penalties (they’ll do that sometimes). Company A. said, “no problem, we’ll take that late fee right off and have a nice day.” Company B said “we’ll take off part of the late fee but it’s still going to cost you about $30. The amount owing to that particular company was only about $12 if I remember correctly (which I probably don’t) so I wasn’t too happy about that but well, I signed the contract, I made the mistake, so I put on my big girl panties and paid the bill (and then promptly closed the account) all the while vilifying company B and praising company A. Until I got my next bill in which credit card A, the card with, up until that point, the lowest interest rate of any of my cards, and saw that my little bitty interest had suddenly gone from something like 9% to 32.5%. I wasn’t happy about it. The rate was too high, the bill was more than I could pay and I ended up refininacing my house because of it, but not once did I suppose that the credit card company was at fault. They weren’t sticking it to me, they were running a business. Is there anyone out there that views credit card companies as anything other than sharks? I doubt it. So here’s a tip, swim with the sharks and you’ll occasionally get bit(ten).
2. Now the government is bailing them out. Now I’m not really in favor of bailouts of any kind, but well, you’ve got a company that you promised to pay later so that you could have that new pair of jeans now so they paid the store that had the jeans and you took them home but when it came time to actually pay for the jeans you, well not YOU necessarily but a lot of people, refused to pay. That leaves the company out of that cash and without the jeans. I think they deserve one or the other and I wonder how most consumers would feel about having their lattes repossessed?
3. So you shouldn’t have to pay them. What? Please someone tell me how this makes sense! Other people didn’t pay causing the company to nearly go bankrupt, resulting in a government bailout because the government’s not going to let one of its country’s major industries (and make no mistake, Credit is one of the county’s major industries) implode, so now, even though you had been paying up until now, you shouldn’t have to any more. Gaaaaa!!!!!!
Can we please stop being victims and take a little, just a tiny bit of responsibility for our actions?!
I’m not trying to condemn those who get themselves into credit trouble, as I mentioned before, I’ve been there. Nor am I saying that it’s somehow wrong to try to work out a deal with your credit card companies to get your rates lowered, maybe come up with a new, lower one time pay-off amount, I’ve done that too, and I took the credit hit for it. But I never once thought that it was the credit company’s fault. The fault, well, I suddenly find myself wanting to quote Shakespeare.