Credit Card Blues

A few months ago I was up to my eyeballs in debt. I had a bank loan and three maxed out credit cards and I was robbing Peter to pay Paul as the saying goes. I was really struggling to make payments and interest on all that debt was costing me around 400 dollars per month.

When I sold my house I didn’t have enough left over to buy another one so I decided to clear all my debts and get rid of the credit cards. You would think I’d be writing a happy entry because there should be nothing to rant about in clearing off debt right?

Wrong!

I went in to credit card provider number one and said I wanted to close the account. They told me the amount on my statement was not the amount I owed and I would have to call a certain number and ask for the “current” balance. They had a phone in the bank so I went to it. I dialed the number and asked for the current balance then got back in line. When it was my turn again I got a new teller who said the current balance was also not the amount I had to pay to close the account. She sent me away to phone the same number and get the “payout” figure.

I resisted the urge to throw a temper tantrum and storm out of the bank. I went back to the phone to get the “payout” amount. The man wanted to know why I wanted the payout figure, I told him I wanted to close the account and he asked me why. I told him. He asked me when I wanted to close the account. I said I am in the bank right now and will do it as soon as I hang up. He said you are in one of our branches, are you sure? I said yes I am sure and he gave me the payout figure.

I got back in line, gave the teller the payout amount which was sixty cents more than the current balance, paid the debt in full and closed the account. I stopped the teller from walking off with the credit card and told him I wanted to see him cut it up. After he cut it up I left the bank feeling lighter.

A month later I got a credit card statement saying I owed them almost two dollars. I rang them straight away and they said the charge was an interest charge. I argued and he checked my account. Oh, he said, they didn’t close your account the day you paid it out. Well, I said, can you close it now? Yes, he said, I can close it but…”

He then proceeded to argue and question me for half an hour. Why are you closing the account? Are you aware there will be no charges if you don’t use it? What if we give you a different interest rate? What if we offer you an account with no monthly fees? Why don’t you just hang on to the credit card in case you need it?

Then he pulled out the big guns – he offered to credit the card with a hundred dollars if I would agree to keep it!

I know myself well. I knew if I accepted his offer I would probably never get around to going through all the hassle again and I would keep the card. I was also enraged by then because he had asked me at least five times why I was closing the account and I was feeling like he was trying to catch me out in a lie or something. I was in no mood to take any favours so I point blank refused the hundred dollars.

He couldn’t believe his ears. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to turn him down. He pointed out he was offering me one hundred dollars worth of free money. I said I don’t want free money I want to get rid of the credit card. He closed the account. He said he was crediting me with the amount they claimed I owed so he could bring the balance to zero and close it. I have received no further statements so I assumed the credit card had been closed.

You may think the hassle I had with that card was just bad luck. Think again.

Credit card provider number two told me they could not give me the payout figure for another ten days. They said I would have to call back in ten days time to ask for it. I called back ten days later and asked again. They gave me the current balance. I had learned from the first experience so I said I wanted the payout figure not the current balance and they asked me why I wanted the payout figure. I told them I wanted to close the account.

They also wanted to know why I was closing the account and they also offered me a lower interest rate. I cut them short by saying the last credit card provider had offered me a hundred dollars to keep their card and I refused. I said there was nothing they could say to persuade me to keep the card.

She accepted defeat gracefully and asked me when I was planning to pay the account out. I said as soon as I get the payout figure. She then asked me, again, why I was wanting to get rid of the card and told me, again, there would be no fees or charges on it as long as the balance was zero. She asked, again, if I was sure I didn’t want to keep the card just in case I needed it and offered to increase the limit on it. I refused and she gave me the payout figure. I hung up, dialed my bank and transferred the amount over to the card and paid it out. This time I didn’t feel light as I wondered if they would also find some way to prevent the account from being closed.

They did. A month later I got a statement from them saying they owed me 35 dollars. I rang them up. They said they could not close the account while there was a balance on it. They tried to talk me into keeping the card again. I refused again. They said they would send a cheque for the money they owed me but they could not close the account until I had received the cheque, cashed it and a zero balance was recorded on the account.

The cheque remained “in the mail” for two months. I rang them again and said I want the account closed NOW. I said I don’t want to wait for your cheque any longer. The usual stuff about no charges, offers of a lower interest rate card, why don’t you keep it just in case argument followed until the lady finally said she would wipe the balance and close the account.

A month later I got a statement from them saying I owed them forty cents. I called them again. Once again they tried to talk me out of closing the account but, in the end, they credited the account with forty cents and closed it. I hope. Once again I have received no further statements so I can only assume the credit card has been canceled.

Are you still thinking it’s just bad luck and not some sort of bank conspiracy to stop people getting rid of their credit cards? Do you want more proof? I have more!

I called credit card provider number three and asked for the payout figure. They asked me why I wanted that figure. I told them. They offered to give me a card with a lower interest, they offered to increase my limit, they did not offer me a hundred dollars free money and, in the end, they gave me the payout figure. I hung up and transferred the amount over.

A month later I got a statement saying they owed me almost three dollars. I rang up. They said they can’t pay me the money because they do not write cheques for less than ten dollars. They said they don’t charge fees on an account that is in credit so why didn’t I just keep the card in case I need it one day. I said I want to close the account. I said you can keep the three dollars. They said OK and wiped their debt to me making the balance zero. They said they had closed the account.

A month later I got a statement. It had a zero balance. I rang them to see why they were sending me a statement if the account was closed. They said it was a final statement and I would get no more. They checked the account and told me it was definitely closed.

Today I got a letter from them! It reads as follows:

“Dear Kim,

Notice about a change to the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of your closed (Name Of Bank) CreditCard Account Number 1234567.

As a recent CreditCard customer, we would like to inform you of a change to the APR of your closed Account.

Following the recent increase in the official interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia, the APR on your closed Account will be changed from 15.75%p.a. to 15.99%p.a. This APR will be effective from 31 August 2006. This APR change will apply to any outstanding balances on your account.

CreditCard now offers a Visa Debit BankCard, which can be used at ATMs, for EFTPOS transactions at retail outlets in Australia and overseas, for purchases online and over the phone.

If you do not have any outstanding balances, please ignore this letter.

Yours sincerely”

Can somebody please tell me why I am being advised of a change to the interest rate on a credit card account that should not exist at all? This is an account they have even stated has been closed yet it clearly has not been closed or I would not be getting any notices about changes to it!

What do I have to do to be removed from their system? Go to court?

As a Christian I believe, of course, in the biblical warnings about the mark of the beast. I believe the mark of the beast, whatever it is going to be, will be something we can choose to refuse but it will be something that will be very hard to refuse.

That’s three out of three credit card providers who have fought tooth and nail to keep me on their systems. At least one of them has managed to do it. I suspect the other two have not taken me off their systems either and they are just not notifying me of the increased interest on my closed accounts!

I strongly suspect whatever the mark of the beast is going to be it will be somehow tied in to credit providers!

Actually, now I come to think about it, I do still HAVE a credit card!

Bank number four issued me with a card that allows me to select credit and pay with my own funds! They told me it will be cheaper for me to select credit when using the card but I have never done so up to now.

The mind boggles!

In case you are wondering – I may be paranoid but that doesn’t mean they are not out to get me!

For a follow up on this sorry saga see entry titled “Credit and General Electric’s shameful behaviour“.

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