Saturday, May 30, 2009

Adventures in Real Parenting; This Mama Don't Raise No Idjits


The long version....

Dear Credit Card Companies:

I realize that over the last few years, and with the help of our Congress, and, yes, even our now Vice President Biden, you have pretty much gotten your way on everything. You've been allowed to write your own laws, "regulate" yourselves (the idea is laughable), and pretty much thumb your nose at good business practices, ethics and just plain old humane behavior. Things are changing for you at the macro level and I hope like hell that they are going to change at the micro level, too.

I am prepared to do my part.

Brace yourself, old chums, because you're about to hear a word you're not used to hearing. And you're about to hear it repeated. Repeated repeatedly. A lot.

No.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. And NO.

No, you may not have our oldest daughter. You may not have her heart, her soul, her social security number, nor her future. None of it. As long as I am here, you will not have her.

Look, I am not an unreasonable woman despite what you might have heard. I understand that you are in the business of making a profit. I am in full support of profit, but I believe that companies can do business in an ethical manner and still make a profit. If not, get the hell out of the business. If you must behave like thieves to make the kind of money you think you should be making, then you must reconsider your choice of business. I mean, what if we all used that philosophy? Where would it end?

Consider, if you will, what would happen if all of your customers decided that they were going to behave like thieves, too. We would all just mail you back your postage paid envelopes filled with clever and disgusting things (the imagination runs wild). I, for one, would take great pleasure in mailing you a hand made smiley face with the message "Get Stuffed" scrawled underneath. There would, of course, be no check enclosed.

Even using legal methods, we were unable to treat you with the same disdain you treat your customers. According to the laws that you've had a large role in writing, our Chapter 13 bankruptcy required that we give up our home - the place where we lived - and a car - the thing that got me to my job so that I could pay those bills. But you? Oh, you're still getting your money with payroll garnishments. Yes, you are taken care of. You saw to that when you purchased all those lawmakers over the years.

So please consider this your cease and desist letter from one mother of a recent high school graduate with no means of supporting herself. Stop sending those solicitations now. Because as taken as she was with your wicked cool choices for card decor, our daughter has been made painful aware of the role you've played in her family's financial mess.

If any good has come from our mistakes, it's the life lesson for our kids. They have been thoroughly schooled on the evils of credit and living beyond your means. For every vacation not taken, every lean holiday season, every time the purchase of clothes, food or shoes have been put off with the stock answer that there is no money, they are reminded that the lack of funds is due in large part to the fact that even though nearly all the items and services purchased over the years on those credit cards have been paid for, we will still spend the next three and a half years paying off interest, crazy charges and junk fees because credit card companies have better government representation than consumers do.

Look, you blew your chance. I tried to give you The Dancer back when your abusive collections agents started calling me at work, at home, on my cellphone. Remember that time when I'd probably had a bit too much to drink and I felt like so many things were just crashing down around me? I called you for help. That at-first friendly young man with the tell-tale accent (overseas call center, cough, cough) thought I was joking when I said perhaps you would take our first born in exchange for wiping out our debt. Remember that?

He laughed oh so heartily at what he thought was my cliched joke. But then I started to cry and he realized that I wasn't kidding. He started calling me ma'am at the end of every sentence he uttered. (You know that customer service agents are getting exasperated when they start ma'aming and sir'ing you all over the place.) I cried harder and asked if his supervisor could talk to me about working a deal. Wouldn't a young white girl be worth something to them? All I've heard on thinky news shows is about the Asian sex trade.....

Click.

So you see, you could have had her then, but no. You thought it would be more fun to garnish my wages and go through the bankruptcy process. Well, you got your wish. And now you come sniffing around now, but not for an exchange, but to snatch her up, handcuff her and metaphorically do to her what would have been done to her had you gone for my original plan.

Well, we've wised up to you and your wicked ways. Her parents may be your indentured servants, but The Dancer will never be as long as I draw breath. We've educated her and her siblings about your tricks, seductions and lies. The transfer your balance bait and switch. The low interest rate tease. The hard to use travel discounts and nearly impossible-to-redeem airline miles. Hell, I even had one credit card company tell me that if I took their card, my boobs would shrink to a more manageable size and my crows feet would disappear.

Now I know better. And may your siren song of Have It Now fall on deaf ears from now on.

So...........once more and for all time (because we have two more children to usher into good money management adulthood) NO. No. No. And finally NO.

As an added protection, we have added The Dancer to the credit card solicitation opt-out list. (See Federal Trade Commission info here.) So suck it.

With all good wishes,

Lisa Golden


The short version.....

Dear Credit Card Companies,

Please take those smiling cherubs and peace signs that you think an 18 year old want on their shiny new financial handcuffs and shove them straight up your collective, money-grubbing, unethical ass. Also, do the same with all your solicitations, fees, charges, lobbyists, collections agents.......you get the idea.

Thank you and best regards,

Lisa Golden



33 comments:

  1. Great post....I even being a CPA for 25 years lived beyond my means and because of the lure of credit cards ended up filing bankruptcy and losing my house six years ago...only because the credit card companies would not work with me to lower my interest...in the end they got nothing....luckily for me my daughter learned the evils of credit card companies and is impeccable with her money managing skills....I take responsibility for making bad choices but with Lisa plead to teach your children to make better choices and fight against these mother fu**ing credit card companies soliciting our often innocent children

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  2. Good grief; well-said, Lisa.

    It makes me sick to think of you paying off that wicked interest for years.

    I came from a family where it was non-negotiable to pay off your credit card bill (entirely) every month. I've been lucky in lots of ways, but after reading this post, I added another one to the list.

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  3. They send stuff to my son all the time too. I tear them up and throw them away. I sometimes mail stuff back to them with nada in it when they include the postage paid envelope. Hey it's only 42 cents I think, or is it more now?, but it feels good to thumb my nose at them any way I can.

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  4. Why do you hate American business so much? What are you, a Communist?

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  5. I hate American Business and credit cards companies. Ultimately, I hate them because of tax breaks.

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  6. Such a great post, and yes those credit card companies SUCK!!! They prey on young broke 18 year olds....all part of the have it now mentality, and sadly we bought into it way too much, we have to protect our kids from it!

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  7. Don't forget that whenever you get a prepaid envelop from the bastards you can write out their address and mail it to whoever you want on their dime.
    The post office doesn't care cause they get paid anyway and it's not even illegal.

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  8. You are obviously not American, and should be shipped Express to the Master of all Card to Discover what Visa really means.

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  9. Fantastic post.

    When I was a college freshman, I had nine credit cards. NINE. The CC reps used to stand in between buildings on campus to solicit customers. If I could go back in time, I'd kick them in the nuts.

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  10. Whew! You go girl.
    You are right while they ask you to pick which shiny design they want on their cool new credit card,
    it is designed to distract from all that teeny tiny fine print with *boring* gobbeldy gook about terms & conditions.
    Variable rates
    Fines, Fees & their right to change the terms should you *blink*.

    But they are kindly-- if your payment is due today, they can charge you $30 bucks to process a payment.


    My kid got his first credit card solicitation when he was in fricking diapers. I'm not kidding.....
    I was dirt poor & super low income.

    I have no idea how they got a hold of his name to solicit. He was into liquid assets of a different sort at the time & we declined the offer- aka round file.

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  11. Lisa! You missed my *panty post* scroll down 1 post.....

    believe it or not, it is related to finances....

    titled "Taking it in the shorts"

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  12. I love the short version and think it should be written in the clouds by a sky writer, over every financial district in the world.

    Credit! Yeah right...

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  13. But aren't there so many others we could blame? TV for enticing us with things we simply must have? *Forcing* one to live beyond one's means simply because it's so very *easy*? The neighbors with their brand new gas grill... I simply *must* have one or I am not as good as they are! F*cking neighbors. :)

    I personally think the companies are smart, not evil, and we must work very, very hard to not fall into their trap.

    While soliciting college kids might be over the border of good ethics, they are still offering a service. If you know what you're getting into you can get out of it just as easily. This from someone who paid their groceries with credit cards in college but now lives debt free.

    Spread the good habits, arrest the bad. :)

    I just turned your comment section into a medium for me to rant. :\ Forgive me.

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  14. yes yes yes and YES! this is so true the way they come after our innocents just as they spread their wings and prepare to enter the big BAD world...it is simply disgusting that they will not legislate these practices away but rather make them even more free to make contact...it makes me sick and I am glad, if for nothing else, your terrible experience of the past year will have taught your children this ugly reality...clearly these companies have only one goal, to enslave those blind enough not to see or know what is behind those lovely peace signs and puppy dogs...

    sickening it is...
    xoxox

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  15. Love both versions, and hope The Dancer is paying attention.

    I've been mailing the empty envelopes back to them for years. We did the opt out thing, too, but still get offers. Not as many as we used to, but apparently it's impossible to shut off the flow completely.

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  16. Grrrrr! I'm with you. Take those cards and shove it!

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  17. Brilliant post. And aimed squarely at what I consider to one of the biggest scourges of modern society. And don't even get me started on the input they had with those bankruptcy laws.

    Damn. Now I'm piseed again . .

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  18. sub human
    thats what they are
    (the CC companies that is)

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  19. My aunt and uncle refused to get a credit card until they had to to reserve a hotel room about five years ago. Then again, they were the type of people who pay cash for a new car. And no, they weren't millionaires (might be now)--my aunt was a teacher and my uncle a printer--but they both had the benefit of union employment and they saved (they also couldn't have kids, so they could save). Long and short, they instilled in me and my brother that credit cards were evil and should not to be (ab)used. And yes, I'm grateful for the lesson.

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  20. **If you know what you're getting into you can get out of it just as easily.**

    Ah, but isn't that the point of all the "ooo! Shiny!" b.s? And the language that only a lawyer could love? And a financial lawyer at that.

    I can honestly say that I am grateful that Keith and I couldn't ever qualify for a credit card when cc companies had standards and when they stopped having standards, we were informed through example by our friends who had gotten them that it was a horrible trap.

    We now have one secured credit card with a $400 limit through our credit union. I'm happy with that. And, we keep it paid off or at least paid ahead.

    Now that The Girl is heading toward 18, I'm hopeful that she's gotten enough of an education through us about financial difficulty and credit issues that she won't fall into the trap.

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  21. But they have a card that has Fruit Loops on it!

    But seriously, I just wiped out all my debt, including my over-two-grand on my Capital One card. I then went to my little home town bank, applied for their 1000-dollar-limit credit card, put a tank of gas on it, immediately paid that shit off, and then stuck the fucking thing in our safe. ...the whole ordeal still gives me the shakes.

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  22. both versions are great- real and true- way to go Mrs Golden, I am exactly the same with my kids regarding spending money they do not have.........
    and it is a con- they make it all seem so easy to the kids.......gggrrrr

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  23. credit cards are the devil

    that being said - i just refinanced my mortgage and Chase sent me a credit card without even asking!

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  24. Think this post hit a few nerves ? They are the scum of the earth. I like stashing hundreds in the basement now it seems like I am getting away with something ! Living on cash is kinda like getting away with something these days.

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  25. I taught at the local community college for almost ten years in one of my former lives, and at least two or three times during the semester, I'd come in to find these cradboard holder thingees stapled to all the bulletin boards, stuffed to bursting with credit card applications. I hate those folks almost as much as I dislike the military recruiters who stalked the campus. I would routinely then tear them down and throw them away. When asked by a student why I was doing that, I'd just say, "Because this is MY CLASSROOM, not Bank of America's" (or whoever).

    A kid called me on it once and wanted to know what "gave me the right" to do that. I took one of the applications from the trash and we went over it. We discussed the APR% rate on the thing, which at that time was something like 25%, like what Guido the Loan Shark down the block would charge.

    He got it then.

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  26. Good for you!--for teaching your daughter such a valuable lesson! :) Iwanski and I had some credit card trouble when we were younger--thankfully we've got those suckers paid off now--but it certainly wasn't easy!

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  27. Lisa,
    Your letters are sooooooo perfect!!

    (It is now illegal for anyone under 18 to get a credit card unless there is a co-signer!!)

    When I was a kid, dunno how old now..we got stranded in Vero Beach FLA cuz our car threw a tie-rod (whatever the fuck that is) and the car repair wouldn't take the one credit card we had at the time... They only took MC and we had Visa, or the other way around.... Kids; more vacation.... parents; worst nightmare....

    Chloe will do well by you and MM, of this fact, I am sure!!

    I LOVE Bandobras trick!! Randal is hilarious!!

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  28. Thank you for telling those CC companies exactly what we are ALL thinking. I have an old credit card that charged so much exorbitant fees and such during one of our hard times that I absolutely REFUSE to ever pay them. They will never get a dime. All the purchases I ever bought were paid for TWICE and I feel no compunction to pay them the remaining interest and fees they charged up my wazoo for years after that. F-em.

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  29. You were wise to stop those incessant offers. Besides, it's so easy for someone to hijack one's mail and apply for cards at a different address.
    I had the solicitations stop as well.

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  30. My dream is pay off all these companies and cut up the cards!

    You are in a better place, that is for sure. Have a great week Lisa.

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  31. Absolutely crazy. I don't hold out much hope that the credit card reform making it's way to Obama will change this targetting of minors.

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  32. Amen, Sister! (Or whatever is more appropriate.)

    Fantastic post!

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