ASSume the position

WADR for those in romantic relationships with a banker and actually want it in the ass, the banking industry, aka: we caused the greatest depression since the last and are too big to fail this election cycle so we get money from the Fed for as close to nothing as is measurable and may or may not lend it to you for 33.3% plus fees, are, surprise, taking advantage of real, or will be real loopholes in the passed, but not litigated, totally ruled or commented, but well-monikered Credit Card Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009.

Duh? Just what do you think more than a million lobby dollars a day will buy in DC? Dinners? Jets? Sex? Condos in Puerto Rico? Elections? Sure, but the money is really for the details and the details are for loopholes.

Sure, the new law, aka: just another in a long string of Obama’s historic legislative achievements surely to pay off for one party this fall, has some truly wonderful consumer reform spins. Of course, only the banking industry has enough federally subsidized lawyers to turn reform into form instead of substance. The Wall Street Journal, not exactly a bastion of kiss ass progressive advocacy, has detailed some of the new ways the banking industry, aka: we aren’t as bad as Wall Street, because try harder to convince you we will love you in the morning, plus we offer KY jelly with each new qualifying account.

Here are some of the low lights from the low lifes:

  • Annual fees are up 18%.
  • Cash-advance and balance-transfer fees up 33%.
  • Promoting “professional” cards – similar to corporate cards and almost identical to credit cards, but somehow, not under the new law.
  • Issuing “rebate” cards – credit cards not covered by the law that issued at maximum allowable state rates which are promised to be rebated to very low rates until the nefarious bastards catch you doing something that violates line 47 on page 23 of their 6 point type disclosure at which point you are to assume the position.
  • Shortening the billing cycle before late payment and higher charges.
  • Setting the due date on a weekend or holiday, accepting payments, but not opening their mail.
  • Charging “inactivity” fees.
  • Charging upfront “processing” fees so that they can charge more than 25% of your credit limit before you’ve even used it.

Grab your ankles and smile.

10 thoughts on “ASSume the position

  1. Gita

    I assume you meant to write “get money FROM the Fed for as close to nothing….”
    I also don’t know what WADR means, so I started off this piece on unsure footing.

    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      Thank you, Gita. I have been warned that neither my proofing nor judgment should be trusted too close to midnight. WADR (With all due respect -- pronounced “wadder”) was intended to sound modern and cool by using a texting acronym -- it is also an AM radio station in Remsen, NY.

  2. Meg Gerrish

    “• Setting the due date on a weekend or holiday, accepting payments, but not opening their mail.”

    Our recent payment was made over the phone. They promptly sent a confirmation letter stating that the payment had been received, two days before the grace period would end, the date of which did indeed happen to fall on a weekend. We were charged a late fee in the next statement.

    Phone call” “Why?”
    Answer, “Because you were late.”
    “No we weren’t. And we have a confirmation letter from you that agrees.”
    “Well, it wasn’t posted, so it was late.”

    Which to us sounded more like a problem in accounts receivable and less like something we should be penalized for. Maybe they shouldn’t have laid off so many employees? Something like that? In the end we had gathered all pertinent papers, wrote a fairly snide note because those are my favorite, and they finally removed the late charge. Score 1 for us.

    Keep at it, Lee. You’re doing the good works.

  3. Monica Smith

    Every once in a while, our check to the credit card company gets lost in the U.S. mail on the way from New Hampshire to Georgia. Since the spouse takes these missives into the P.O. directly, it’s unlikely the problem is at the Yankee end. Also, it’s not that we don’t trust the mail carrier to pick up from the rural box; it’s that loutish teenagers take it into their brains, from time to time, to knock all the boxes from their perches. Oddly, the checks never show up. Means that the Yankee bank gets to collect a twenty-five dollar fee for canceling a piece of paper lost in the ether. This time around, the credit card service OFFERED to remove the late charge, suggesting that maybe somebody’s got a guilty conscience about not worrying “if you happen to lose stuff.”
    I wouldn’t bother to mention it, but when I stopped in Virginia, I noticed a lengthy communication to debit card users that their account would be charged and the sum held hostage and that any over-charge fees would be the “sole responsibility” of the user and that a correction would be filed (presumably if there’s not enough money), but that could take ten days to clear and any insufficiency in the mean time wouldn’t be the motel’s fault either.
    Was I wrong in thinking that debit cards simply withdraw money that’s there and the card’s refused, if there’s not?
    Really, I don’t think legislation is going to resolve this. How do we instill respect for people in the banksters and make it clear that legal thievery is still thievery?

    The problem with issuing prohibitions to artificial persons (public and private corporations) is that they can come up with new wrinkles quicker than you can yell ‘stop.’ That’s why the Constitution relies on a limited number of mandates — “this is what you may and must do, and nothing else.” We need to apply the same standard to private corps. Telling them to accumulate money is a prescription for lawlessness, ’cause the easiest way to accumulate money is to steal it.

  4. Jack deJarnette

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Several times a year I get a document from my bank that is written in Times roman numeral 2 point font that explains all of the Bank’s policies in exquisite detail. It is only 68 pages long and written by a lawyer, translated by a non-English speaking Namibian (no offense intended) into Farsi and finally into English by a Latin speaking monk in some distant monestary. Just about the time I start to figure it out here comes another one. All of the facts are there and I can rest at night secure in the knowledge that I have been fully informed of the screwing I am again going to have to take. Between bankers, lawyers, preachers, doctors, airlines, politicians, beaucrats and subway conductors what chance do we really have?

    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      You are right, Jack. But this story is also about how the banking industry is attempting to subvert the law (no surprise there) -- first their bribed Congress to create a little room, then they blatantly move into it -- here’s some of what Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the WSJ had to say (
      “The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, known as the Card Act, was intended to reshape the contours of consumer finance. Among other things, it forces card issuers to give customers more notice about interest-rate increases and restricts certain controversial billing practices such as inactivity fees.
      Yet some of the biggest card issuers in the U.S., including Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Discover Financial Services, are already rolling out a slew of fees designed to recapture some of their lost income, in part by skirting the new rules. Some banks may even be violating the law outright, say consumer advocates.”

  5. Gita

    I love my credit union. Everything they send me or email to me is in plain English, 11-point type or better. In 19 years I have never had a surprise fee, overcharge, “lost” payment or snafu. Car loan? Why sure, Honey. Lowest rates in town. VISA card? Same 9 percent it’s always been. I forgive them the over-cheery decorations on every holiday because they forgive loan payments in the month of December so families have extra cash on hand to buy presents.


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