The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 April 2004

Alternative minimum tacky

Sometimes you just shake your head in disbelief. And if you don't, well, I do.

I'm looking at my Visa statement. Now it should be a surprise to no one that credit-card issuers will do almost anything legal — some of them have actually gone beyond legal — to improve the take. (The fine print on the back of this statement says baldly, "We will allocate your payments and credits in a way that is most favorable to us.") What happened here falls into the category of "legal but kinda silly."

As it happens, I owed no finance charge at my usual rate, the result of careful juggling of promotional schemes, but there was $3.77 remaining on a previous balance transfer, which, charged at 5.99 percent annually, works out to one cent of finance charge.

Except that there is a minimum finance charge of $1 for any month where there is any finance charge at all, so I was duly charged a buck for my $3.77 balance, and the legally-required disclosures pointed out helpfully that this works out to an effective annual percentage rate of 322.72 percent.

Ah, well. Life is like that. Next time I should do the math a month in advance, eh?

Posted at 5:38 PM to Common Cents

When I got married, I had a nickel left on a phone bill (must've mistook a 3 for an 8 or something). The phone company refused to roll that nickel to my new household bill, and it refused to forgive it.

So, I had to spend 33 cents on a stamp and a check to get them their nickel.

Not really the same thing, but provokes the same ire.

If you call them and complain, they'll drop that if you're a good customer (just to keep you). Phone company - why would it care (at least back then) - who else are you going to go with? In your case, it might not be worth your dollar.


Posted by: hln at 8:02 AM on 15 April 2004

My own thinking is that I probably saved more than the 99 cents by shuffling the balances back and forth in the first place, and that if I push this issue, I'm just asking for a dose of bad karma.

Besides, there have been times when I would have been willing to pay a buck, or more, just for an idea for a blog post.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:27 AM on 15 April 2004