Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Predatory Business Practices

About a year ago Chase credit card company sent me some "special checks" that could be used any way I wanted at a low interest rate of 4% for as long as it took to pay it off. I knew better than to jump at this right away. If I still had a balance on my regular credit card through them—the one that had a really high interest rate of 18%—my payments would go first to the lower interest rate "check loan" while huge interest payments would build up on the credit card. So I paid that credit card off using another credit card and used the 4% interest check to pay the second card off.

Essentially, I used those special checks to lower the payments I had to make overall from 18% to 4% and help myself stay afloat. All legal on my end and intended to help me continue to pay off my debts in the best way possible.

Well, big oops on that one! Remember what I was saying about companies including clauses in their Terms of Service contracts that say they can change the Terms of Service at any time without the customer having any recourse? That's essentially what happened at Cafepress and it seems to me that a contract like that is not a contract at all. But we've all been used to seeing contracts like that from our credit card companies for years now. They all say things like that! Almost all of us need to have a credit rating to buy certain things so I doubt that anyone ever really thinks twice about accepting these agreements.

Thing is, in the past the credit companies rarely pulled any crazy stunts to abuse their customers. If you payed your bills on time it used to be that your payments stayed at approximately what you would expect them to be month after month.

Well, that's not true anymore. Chase increased the minimum payment I expected to be paying right from the start and just informed me that they intend to more than double my minimum payment rate again for no good reason. My credit rating is about as high as it gets. I've always made my payments on time and until Paul and I got into a financial bind this past year I rarely if ever even made payments, I just paid off the balance in full every month.

But we did get in a bind and I did fund our business using the "low interest rate" loan they offered and now that that we've lost our Cafepress income and the economy is hitting all our other businesses hard, I can't pay this high a rate. What good is a low interest rate if the minimum monthly payment is sky high? I'm going to be expected to pay MORE per month than when I had 18% interest and I've already paid down on that account for more than a year.

I called Chase and told them I can't make double payments and wanted to speak to a loan officer to negotiate a payable rate. They said NO. I told them that this decision could be pushing us over the edge into bankruptcy and wouldn't they rather get something than nothing at all? I WAS making the payments they agreed upon before. They said I had no recourse and there was no one I could talk to about it.

What the hell?!!!


Renee[Q][C] said...

Wow, I'm really sorry to hear that! I'm really surprised Chase wouldn't come to terms w/you. I had the same thing happen to me about 2 years ago and I had to stop paying my CC's. Now I have to wait the 7 years for it to drop off and my credit is shot.

Melanie said...

I have a Bank of America credit card that used to be about 4% interest. Never missed a payment. All of a sudden, they quadrupled the rate and upped my minimum payment. That would be after they took all those billions in taxpayer funded bailout money. Makes me want to scream.