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Making Matters Worse: America's Credit Card Issuers

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     Just when one thinks that America's credit card issuers cannot become any more greedy and abusive of their customers than they already are, they manage to find new ways to scam us.  Take the latest, in the form of a form letter received from most of our major credit card companies.  Here is the typical wording, from one of the largest, the One that wants your Capital:

     "Due to extraordinary changes in the economic environment, we're reviewing our existing credit card accounts.  Having considered these economic  conditions, your account's current Purchase rate, and the length of time you've had this rate and account, we will be changing your Purchase and Balance Transfer rate." The "disclosure" then goes on to impose a variable rate, currently 15.9%, in place of our former user-friendly fixed rate. We are also told that their Cash Advance Annual Percentage Rate will go to 24.9% backdated to January 28, 2009.  And it is also variable, too!

     Now, maybe I'm naive, but one would think that given these "extraordinary changes in the economic environment" the nation's credit card issuers would want to give us a break, in the form of lower rates, better terms, and fewer and less-onerous provisions, charges, and fees.  Instead -- and the card changes quoted above are quite typical -- they seek to make matters worse for their customers.  If that isn't greed, I'm not an aggrieved American -- and, indeed, we should all feel aggrieved, used, and exploited by the credit card companies.

     To make matters even worse, most of the large credit card issuers are also banks or other financial institutions receiving TARP and other Federal bailout funds.  Obviously, they do not hesitate to take all those hundreds of billions of dollars, but they surely refuse to pass any share on to us, even indirectly in the form of more reasonable interest rates and credit terms.  Reversing the Biblical motto, these giant companies believe that it is far better to receive than to give --  except for the shaft, which they are very good at giving us. 

     Congress and the Obama Administration should absolutely stipulate that any and all credit card issuers (and, for that matter, other credit providers)  not be allowed to change their terms adversely against new or old customers once they have taken any form of Federal bailout money.  Such stipulations should not be necessary, but when firms put their greed ahead of our need for fair and equitable treatment, ultimately everyone loses. 

    In the present instance, the  card whose provisions were changed adversely as quoted above was cancelled by us.  We're happy that it is no longer in our wallets, to paraphrase their own annoying advertisements.


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Author's Biography Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)

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