A few days ago, I received my monthly credit card statement (the only card that I still have open) and much to my shock, my APR jumped from 9.99% to 24.99%. I have held this card since 1996 and have been late on but a few payments. Tonight, I finally got around to calling customer service. I took a few deep breaths before getting my new pal on the phone. As I explained my situation, he quickly responded with, "Sir, your new rate is actually 29.99%." "Oh really? Wonderful!" I responded. It turns out, at least according to this young chap, Citibank mailed me a letter in October which outlined two options: 1) cancel my account or 2) accept a 29.99% rate. I don't recall ever seeing this letter. I'm sure they popped it into one of those letters that appears to be junk mail so their customers would just toss it.
When my new buddy said there was little he could do, he offered to transfer me over to his manager. This new lad, who had the most lifeless and monotone Flanders voice known to mankind, proceeded to tell me that they raised their rates across the board because of "economic conditions." "Is that right?" I said. "Sir, we have not seen economic times like this since the 1930s." Oh yes, I was mere seconds from witnessing my iPhone stuck inside the Sony TV that I haven't turned on in months. "Well, sir," I began, "do you think that perhaps a certain company called Citigroup had a little something to do with what led to the near collapse of our economy?" He paused. "That may be so, but that doesn't influence where the economy stands now." "Excuse me?" I shot back. "Sir, I've done the best I can do. I will get your rate down to 22.99%." "I've done business with you guys for 14 years, had a 9.99% rate and have been a consistent customer, yet the best you can do is to RAISE my rate 13% points?" "Sir, it's the economy."
If I hadn't recently found out that I've accrued quite a few frequent flier miles via this card, I would have canceled it that moment. I did, however, pay it off in full. My balance is now $0 and once I take that trip to Fiji or South Korea or Bangor, Maine, well, that card will cease to exist.
I urge you all to check your rates this very second. And where is Ralph Nader when we need him?