"I Have Plenty of Issues"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Aging can be difficult especially with all the hassle imposed by utility and credit card companies. They seem to work hard to make sure we think it’s us; we’re the ones going crazy.

I have a credit card used only for fuel purchases. Its use was simple in years past but instead of adopting the policy: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” they decided to set up a new system. My wife started her morning a few days ago with a warning notice on her computer screen. The warning told her my account was overdue and must be paid immediately. It followed with another warning that I would be notified of a cancelled account and the card would not be accepted.

Somewhat in a panic because we, the same as most people, like to pay our bills timely. She quickly looked up our account history for the card in question. In addition to listing all activity the past six months, there was a sidebar offer. If we purchased a new car with our card we would only have to pay 1.9 percent interest for 72 months. The offer noted, “This offer is only available to our top rated customers.” As we continued to read down through the statement, the last item posted on July 2 announced payment received — and account balance zero. Yet an ominous warning notice was sent on July 5. Suppose they just wanted us to buy a car?

I believe card companies are working together to confuse the older generation (and many youngsters too). They have a great ally – the computer. It serves well to deliver warning statements yet, if you find errors on your account, they tell you, “The computer made the error.”

I admit, I’m confused. A credit card company put a stop on one of my cards but failed to ever tell me. I was making a purchase at my pharmacy with a long line behind me when the clerk announced, “Your card was refused.” Lucky I had another. When I called to inquire about the embarrassing event I was told — no kidding here; “Our fraud service was just checking your account to verify you had not lost your card and someone else was using it.”

If the card company had taken the time to review my card history the fraud service would have not had a reason to check it. I make purchases every month at the same location and my card has a picture ID on it for identification. I went on to ask them why I didn’t get a call saying, “We are going to impound your card due to suspicious activity.”

The answer was, “We never call card holders.” This statement was bizarre because just a day prior to my trip to the drug store I got a call from them asking if I might like to borrow up to $10,000 on my card at a reduced rate of 9 percent for the first six months.

If the credit card people don’t drive you to drink, consider what the utility companies do. Perhaps the worst are the telephone groups. I have had the same phone number for more than 30 years and survived having three different owners of my local phone service. Unfortunately, the latest company cannot give me the same service I’ve had in the past. When I leave for the winter, I can no longer have call forwarding or messaging as I used to. The only way to accommodate my wish for people to reach me is to leave the service on at the full billing rate — which includes all the fees, taxes and many unknown charges tacked on.

The phone company tells me, “It can’t be done because the system has been updated and your service has changed.”

Updated? Check your bill, mine still shows a monthly charge for a touch-tone phone. Aren’t they the only ones we can purchase? Fees on our phone bills for touch-tone were added when dial phones were still out there. The phone company refuses to acknowledge such and insists the fee is necessary.

Phone companies, cell or land line, just like to keep you at their mercy and if you don’t like it — so what. They just don’t care.

While I’m venting — let’s consider cable companies and what a delight they are to deal with. I had to remove my auto pay directive on my account with them because they kept charging ahead and adding on charges. They were reluctant to credit my account even though they acknowledged I had left the state. I am lucky enough to have the same company in Florida so when I turn the service on there the whole mess begins again. Literally, every single month a call has to be made to straighten out our bill.

I forgot to mention — since our latest upgrade, once or twice a day the picture turns into a puzzle; a giant jigsaw puzzle with pieces strewn all over the screen.

The list goes on but I’m sure you all have your own list and have heard enough of my gripes.

Bulletin: Retailers can now charge for accepting credit cards in lieu of cash!




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