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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cash Rules Everything Around Me

Sometimes when you think you are ahead, you're really going backwards. I just got off the phone with Bombast...I'm changing the names to protect the insolent. Turns out my year long plight with them hit another speed bump. Recently, I had been paying way more than I thought I should or could afford, so I called the cable giant and had words. You would think that keeping a log of all communication and price changes with them would go a long way with being able to cut through the B.S. with them. Turns out, they just don't care what you did in the past. In fact, they can't even recall your account information all that well. Hey, buddy, I worked in customer disservice for five years. I know how to lie to a customer when it comes to being in the wrong. You are just not cutting it. Go back to training and learn how to disguise the sound of pounding keys in vain.

Anyway, after all was said and done which included, "Oh, your promotion ended," " I don't know why that charge was different," and " I think your bank messed up that one" we finally got things straightened out. Then I check my dwindling bank statement to see that a debit to them was $30 more than last month. I called, I hemmed, I hawed, and left unsatisfied. Funny how it's always the last person's mistake not the company's and apparently, that person no longer is in that department. They must have been promoted to CEO.

I accepted the latest of four different total prices for service, took the CSR's name and wrote it down on my laundry list of issues with them and said, "That'll show you." Meanwhile, that guy turned in his headset for a corner office and key to the executive washroom. Tomorrow, he'll be wearing a three piece suit with a pocket watch chain draped across a matching vest while chomping on a cigar spouting Gordon Gekko mantras.

No sooner did I hang up the phone but my long time friend, National Pity, call to interest me in some low, low, so low we can't even advertise interest rates on loans. I had been fumbling through my online statements and noticed a discrepancy, and it wasn't the fact that my checking account dwindled down to triple digits. There was a finance charge on my Visa card. I had opened the account in November to play the balance bounce game once more. That's where you have an outstanding balance from six years ago and you keep transferring it to new 0% credit cards for a year until you pay it off in full. I am a credit card companies worst nightmare. I am the equivalent of a credit booty call.

Mr. I-am-so-natural-with-reading-a-script-that-Hollywood-is-calling-next-week was quickly thrown from his spiel into checking out my huge $10 finance charge. Why not? I would have been calling them anyways. He transferred me to someone who informed me that the fine print at -26 pt. font below the -2 pt. font states that the promotional 0% rate was for only six months and I'm actually two months to my advantage in not being billed. I used the tried and true way to deal with folks of this ilk and asked if there was any other promotional offers going on before I decide to pay off the balance and cancel the card. "Well, let me transfer me over to someone." This of course Customer Service speak for, "Yeah, you caught us jacking you up to 12.99% and now I'm going to transfer you to someone with the same amount of authority as me to make it seem as if they have more power. Pay no attention that supervisor behind the curtain!

Ms. I-have-an-important-sounding-title-yet-it-means-no-more-than-customer-service-rep informs me that they are going to set me back to 8.99% on purchases and index. I asked if that was promotional. She says, no, that's what it's going to be going forward. See what I mean about getting caught. Of course, that 8.99% isn't some fixed rate. It will probably bounce around because it's 2% plus some arbitrary median rate which at the moment is 6.99%.

I still intend to pay off the balance and close the account. That's where my one step forward came into effect. Thanks to an increase in my tax return from having a child and the Economic Stimulus checks, I've been able to take a huge whack out of my debt. Yes, I still have a car payment, a mortgage payment, and various bills, but this is the first time I've actually been able to make a dent in my debt. As soon as I pay off this last amount I will begin making payments towards my wife's. Hopefully, by next year, I can start making a bigger impact on my mortgage and start saving more for my daughter and retirement.

It's funny that at age 33, I've started thinking about retirement. Hell, I'd like to retire tomorrow with a nice fat bank account but no rich benefactors have decided to step up and make a contribution. I'm still hopeful, though.

So, here I am all happy that I'm being diligent and making more than the minimum payments and actually getting my financial life headed into the black and now I have to scramble and back fill my bank account with some of my super, secret, don't-tell-the-wife, slush fund in order to cover the outstretched hands coming from all around me. It's like they know when you're doing good with your finances. "Hey, guys, he's almost paid in full, start ending all his promotions and start making 'clerical' errors with his account. You, too many hyphens in your name, cancel his services. Where's my cigar?"

So, there you have it. Just remember that you are in control when it comes to your finances and always keep an eye on the bills. Computers make mistakes as much as people do. Always ask about promotions, reductions in rates, and if you notice a mistake, I'm a tell you like Wu told me. Cash rules everything around me. Singin' dollar dollar bill y'all (dollar, dollar bill y'all)

Where my money at?

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