|by Jason Steele|
I like to think of myself as a pretty big consumer advocate. I can and do call out banks on their outrageous credit card practices. I strongly supported the CARD act and would have supported an even tougher law. You know that someone is taking their feelings too far when even I start to roll my eyes.
Credit Card Protester Takes Campaign To MSNBC
The story in the Huffington Post wasn’t too bad, but watching the video was downright painful. I don’t know who was worse, the protesting consumer or the sycophantic TV personality and his terrible questions. Where do I begin? For one, why would you protest credit cards at ATMs? I have never, in my entire life, used a credit card at an ATM. Check cards and debit cards, sure, but you get the worst possible rate when you withdraw cash with a credit card from an ATM. Secondly, most of my credit cards come from banks who don’t have ATMs. I suppose there might be an American Express ATM or a Capitol One ATM somewhere, but I haven’t seen it. The stupid stickers that these people are putting up are, at best, a minor nuisance to remove for the people who service the machines. At worst, they are probably just going to end up as litter in the parking lot. Finally, the entire interview is devoid of any mention of the CARD act, which takes effect in just a few days! How could you possibly talk about this subject, at this moment in history, and not even mention CARD?
What Does This Guy Want?
Amazingly, he is able to articulate five demands. Let’s take a look:
1) Print the interest rate on each card. I don’t know how this would work. Do you get a new card if your rate goes down? Do they cancel your card if you pay late and get kicked to a default rate? What if you have a promotional rate that is different from the regular rate? If you have so many cards, that you can’t remember what your rate is, maybe you need to have fewer cards.
2) The contract should be less than one page. This might be his best idea, yet it would hardly make a difference compared to the meaningful regulations contained in the CARD act.
3) Cap interest rates at 15% Fantastic idea, except that credit cards will only be issued to a small minority of people if this were to ever happened. Why don’t we just make interest 0% as long as we are bending the laws of economics.
4) Show transaction fees on sales receipts. Ethically, cash ers should pay 2% less. This is the worst idea ever. Basically, he would like to shift transaction fees away from merchants to consumers. Brilliant, because what we need now are additional fees tacked on to every transaction we make. Merchants don’t have to accept credit cards, but they do because handling cash is more expensive and risky.
5) Require online calculators so consumers can easily check statements for accuracy. I just don’t get this one. I have never found a math error in a statement. Banks are failing consumers in many different ways, but math just isn’t one of them. There are plenty of calculators he can use if wants to check his bank’s math. Many credit card companies will allow you to download your statements from their web site, or you could just cut and paste them into Excel and do your own calculations. Personally, I have better things to do with my time than duplicate a 4th grader’s homework assignments.
I have just about had it with all the phony populism going on today. Congress passed and the President signed a credit card reform law that is pretty damn strong. They did it early last year, during a time of record low public opinion of the banks, and record high gains in Congress for the Democrats, the only party that would ever consider stronger regulation of the banking industry. The worst part of the law is that it took so long to become effective. Now, we are only 11 days away from it’s implementation, and we have to listen to this crank come up with some silly videos and some truly stupid ideas. If you don’t like your credit cards, cut them up and carry cash with you every where you go.
Until then, just grow up.