Once in a while issues are a lot like the pit bull the next door neighbor keeps on a short leash he has trained to “protect him and his family.” You know about it. You’ve even ranted about it to your wife. Maybe you’ve even complained a time or two, as gently as possible. Then one day the damn thing finds its way through the fence; or ignores the electronic shock, and bites you where you used to sit… until he bit you, of course.
So it is with Chase Mastercard and us.
We’ve had it for many, many years and… yes… I know we should have dumped it a long time ago. Amongst the den of unregulated inequity that is the credit card industry, Chase has a rotten record. But… we didn’t. Then, in 05, I noticed that there was an unexplained charge on the card: “payment protector;” something we had never agreed to. I even remember the call because, as I always do, I explained: “No, we don’t want it. I understand that we can cancel but the way we do things we won’t.”
A few months later I came home from tour and, damn, they put it on anyway. My wife called, said they apologized and took it off after they could find no record of us agreeing to it, and then she made sure to check the next few bills. “Nada,” she said.
The next part is a little tough for those who don’t live on the road to understand. The wife pays the bills by the very nature that I’m on the road so much. Sometimes I catch a bill and look over it, sometimes it simply doesn’t come in when I’m here.
So… you guessed it, sometime after they cancelled it for her someone… gee, I wonder who… this couldn’t be some cheap, sleazy tactic approved by Chase could it… the monthly charge was put back on the card. Couldn’t be the higher ups at Chase could it? Nah, because that would be fraud and outright theft, right?
So my wife called and had it cancelled again. They gave us two months payment and then promised to investigate.
I got suspicious; knowing Chase has some of the highest interest rates in the nation, and called. The rate? 29% Why? “Because the balance is so high.”
I said, “Look the balance wouldn’t be so high if someone hadn’t put that payment protect back on it.”
Didn’t matter. We simply didn’t qualify. So we paid the damn thing off and told Chase where to stick their card. The lady at the other end seemed to understand.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because this edition of Inspection has been brought to you by the deregulation of the credit card industry: another way of saying our politicians have legalized theft, usury and fraud.
And why is it that I don’t think a think will change whether it’s O’Bama, Clinton or McCain? The politicians most likely to challenge the big business interest called “the credit card industry” were ignored by another big business interest: the corporate media.
I’m waiting for the next step. I wonder: will they pay me big bucks if I do it for them? C-4… The Statue of Liberty and, instead, a big dollar sign. Forget, “Your tired, your poor…” Inscribe…
“Just come here, wretched or not, and give us your hard labor and all your damn money.”
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over thirty years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
I had problems with Chase as well, Ken, and finally had to cancel the card. I think it’s endemic to Chase (or whatever they are now) to squeeze that last little illegal dime out of you.
We had an even bigger nightmare with Citibank Visa — we had been billed by AOL (yes, and they well deserve the name A**holes On Line) without our permission and after they had promised not to bill our account without our okay. Even after several attempts to cancel over the phone, they continued to bill us and Visa continued to pay them after we had informed them that we were not using AOL. After many letters to AOL and Citibank, the account was finally cancelled and Citibank removed the charges from the bill. The next month, they tried to bill us a fee for removing charges from our bill. It was root canal to get that taken off the bill.
We got rid of AOL a while ago, RS. Someone hacked into my address… not an uncommon experience with AOL, and sent out porno. They shut us down without even contacting us. Once we straightened that mess out I started watching and noticed it kept happening. Never a response when I complained: my E-mails went unanswered… ignored. Finally someone started sending out a virus in my name and I got rid of AOL. Then they started begging me to come back…
I think at least one of our other cards may be owned by Citi… it’s a pain too. Bye bye as soon as possible.