Consumers Love Hate Relationship with Credit Cards

The Sunday May 27, 2007, edition of the Washington Post contains an article entitled “A Highly Charged Relationship” about Americans’ love hate relationship with credit cards. What what we all love is the convenience, but we hate are the practices hidden in the fine print such as unfairly high interest rates and penalty fees; confusing policies that constantly change, almost always in the lender’s favor; and near-insurmountable hurdles to getting help when a consumer falls into trouble or when a company makes a billing mistake.

The article states that most complaints involve “over limit” fees and penalties; interest charges on the whole debt even when part of it has been paid; billing errors (in the case discussed, Capitol One harassed a dad mourning the death of a son who had left a debt of $217 – – Capitol One erroneously insisted that the debt was more than 6 times greater); refusal to work with credit counselors who are trying to help the card holder; “workout plans” that don’t reduce the consumer’s debt; and “due dates” on days when it is literally or effectively impossible to make payment (here, the consumer paid in person at the bank on Saturday, in advance of the Sunday due date – – a date on which it was impossible to pay – – but since Saturday payments are not credited until the next business day, the consumer got hit with a late charge).

For the complete article, go the Washington Post website and search for the article by Kathleen Day.

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