Have any of you ever thought about taking an advance on your Master Card or Visa? Think twice! I was going to take an advance on my card one day for an item I could use in my side business. I never do anything like this, but the item was kind of pricey and I did not really want to deplete my cash on hand that much, in one swoop. I normally live by the rule that if I cant buy something with cash, I just don’t buy it until I can buy it with cash. So anyway, seemingly against all logic, (I did have the cash) I was willing to take an advance on my card.
Luckily it dawned on me to call the card company first, not because I wanted to know if I had the available credit line, I knew that would not be a problem, it was because I thought the card company might freeze my account if a large advance was suddenly attempted. That could be recognized as suspicious activity. So I called the handy dandy customer service number on the back of my only credit card and I immediately hear the obligatory message, ‘due to high caller volume’ the anticipated wait time is 5 minutes, (it is never 5 minutes). Next of course, you are prompted to push ‘1’ if you want English, (never mind that the illegal alien you end up talking with can barely speak English). Then, your asked to punch in your entire credit card number.
Now, you are like a hostage, listening to crappy elevator music, this music could replace water boarding at Gitmo! I am convinced this music is designed to drive people OFF the phone, so that companies will not have to deal with you! I’m nearly a broken babbling drooling fool by the time someone comes to the phone! On top of that cruel and unusual punishment, every minute, an automated voice cuts in telling me that I am a valued customer, and that my call is very important to them, (sure I am). You could call this 24 hour number at 1-AM and you would sit through the same B.S., (sure there is high caller volume) sure!
Finally, after 49 minutes, I swear to God, 49 minutes, some Cuban national answers the phone and in very broken Spanish asks you a series of questions, (for security reasons), what’s your name, what’s your SS#, what’s your mothers maiden name, what’s your dogs name, are you married, what’s your wife’s name, what’s your dogs birthday, what is your 16 digit card number,(that you had previously punched in), where was the great aunt of your mothers first cousin born, what was her doctors nick name? After you get through all of this BS she asks how she can be of help, I almost forget why I called, but it slowly comes back to me….
I was only calling to let you know that I was going to take a large advance on my line of credit today and did not want my account frozen, OK? I’m sorry sir I will have to transfer you to our security department, please hold. Noooooooooooooooooo! To late, I have been put on hold for another torture session with elevator music, fifteen more minutes go by, I am reminded every minute that I ama valued customer, it makes me feel important, I am about to break when someone who can actually speak English picks up, for me the fact that the music has gone away is a gift from God. I go through the same malarkey I went through the first time, (I guess they dont transferr notes). So I tell him the same thing about taking an advance, that I was just giving a courtesy call, (something that I will never ever do again). Then he tells me that just for my information,there will be a one time 3% transfer charge, and also, whenever anyone takes an advance, the % rate on that money is now at a higher rate, this peaks my interest. I ask how high? It will be billed at 19% sir. I almost fall off of my chair! 19%?! I have excellent credit, I have never been late on a bill in my life I tell him. He says, I’m sorry sir that is the policy, it applies to everyone, (unless your Congressman Christopher Dodds I suspect). Then he says, but the money that is already in there will remain at the same 7% that it is at now.
This gets better, next he says, you have to pay off the existing balance at 7% before any payments are applied to the advanced money at the higher 19% rate! At this point I visualize lobsters coming out of this guys ears! So, I say, let me get this straight, what you have just told me is that I would now be paying 26% on the entire balance of my card, 19 + 7 = 26%, is that correct? Not to mention the one time transfer fee of 3%! Well, yes sir it is. In Mafia circles that is called loan sharking, and it is highly illegal I tell him. But because its a credit card company it is legal!? Yes sir.
Boy, I think, isn’t Congress just looking out for us little folks, and not paying any attention to those greedy credit card lobbyists! Boy oh boy, what a swell bunch of representatives down in D.C.! (sure). So I say to this guy, I know this is not your fault, but take a note and pass it up the food chain would you please? Yes sir. Tell them s.o.b.’s that we, the tax payers of America bailed their asses out, directly due to their ineptitude, and now they have the unmitigated gall to charge their saviors 26% on our money!? On second thought, forget the advance, I am now glad I called, and when I kill off the balance of this card I will close it, tell them jack asses that for me would you? Yes sir! Then I did what I should have done in the first place, I bought that item with cash. Take note folks, this is your stimulus rescue money at work for you, courtesy of Congress! What do you think?
Mark Shean www.mafirearmsafety.com written 6-24-2009