Monday, June 15, 2009

Pay Up
This article in the New York Times illustrates an increasingly-common practice in today's economy: credit card companies settling for less that the full amount owed in order to get delinquent accounts to pay something. You've probably seen the ads on TV for those credit counseling companies that offer to negotiate down your credit card bill.

Excuse me, but isn't that, well, stealing?

If you take something and don't pay for it, your a thief. If you charge $10,000 at Nordstrom and can't afford to pay it you get to negotiate so that you get that $10,000 worth of merchandise for only $6000? Why is that right?

Like most people, Husband and I have credit cards. And here's the thing, we pay our bills. Yes, I feel sorry for people who are out of work and in debt. But the thing is, and here's the hard lesson, don't buy things you can't pay for. I get the concept that if you have no money the idea of buying something and putting off paying for it is attractive, perhaps you might even see it as your only option. But you should have to pay for it eventually. And waiting until you're $10k in debt before you admit you can't pay for it is just wrong. But now it seems to be legal. Well I don't think it is. Nor do I think it's moral or fair. We pay our bills and I know we're lucky to be able to. If we couldn't pay them we'd stop charging things and find a way to pay the rest of the account. We wouldn't buy clothing we can't afford or trips we could live without. Yeah, if we were starving we might want to charge groceries. But I think we'd probably go to a food bank first because we would know we wouldn't be able to pay the bill once it came in.

Forgive my high horse here (what the hell does that expression mean, anyway?) but I'm tired of the sheer unfairness of it all. And it doesn't make sense. If you negotiate with a credit card company to pay, say $5k of a $7k debt it means you've got $5k to pay them with. Well why didn't you pay them the $5k in the first place so your account wouldn't be overdue? And why, when you're that much in debt and know you can't pay, do you continue to keep charging? Cut up your Visa card for fuck's sake.

1 comment:

FinnyKnits said...

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one that thinks this new practice is bullshit.

I mean, I got myself into some serious debt when I was in college because I got a credit card from one of those booths they set up in the center of campus just to lure in stupid college kids (Hi! Me!) and when I got out of school and had a ton of beer-run related debt and a very low paying job, I cut my card in two and spent the next 3 years paying the minimum amount so that WOO when I finally got a normal job I could pay it off.

And I've been a pay-in-full-at-the-end-of-the-month credit card holder ever since. Even though I prefer to avoid using the card at all.

And, you know, NO ONE was offering to "make me a deal" on my bills. I even called and asked the company and they told me, "You made the purchases and now YOU are responsible for paying up and NO we won't lower your interest rate."

What happened to THOSE people?