Tuesday, August 10, 2010
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In the wake of recently enacted legislation limiting how much credit card issuers can charge and for what, banks are cooking up innovative fees and fines — and new ways of implementing them.
The new limitations that spurred this cash-reaping renaissance are, for the most part, reasonable. For instance, one states that consumers paying more than 19 percent interest on more than $20,000 debt racked up during online shopping sprees must be given a barrel with comically large suspenders attached.
Nevertheless, the best and brightest and most evil minds at the credit card companies are hard at work looking for nanotube-sized loopholes to make up lost revenues.
This should surprise nobody. Credit card companies are, in essence, giant juggernauts designed for the sole purpose of coming up with ways to charge money for intangible, and in some cases incomprehensible, services. They are unstoppable entities that don’t feel pity or remorse or fear and will absolutely not stop, ever, until you fork over $35. Attempts to rein in the fee-charging are like a weed-whacker unto kudzu.
Most of the banks’ solutions are simple things like raising interest rates at the slightest provocation and charging higher processing fees when you sign up for a card. However, the sources in my head tell me that up the sleeves of the credit card companies, more innovations are afoot.
If you think the current charges are devious, check out what they’re possibly maybe coming up with:
• Credit card companies will charge a $65 acceptance fee, a $75 rejection fee and a $150 lack-of-application fee.
• Account balances will be rounded up to the nearest $100, “just to keep things tidy.” Consumers who refuse this service will be charged $10 per month per significant digit.
• Letting marketing calls from the credit card companies go to voicemail will be interpreted as legally binding acceptance of whatever offer they’re calling about.
• Cash-back offers will be replaced with “cash-forward” offers, where you will be charged ahead of time for purchases the companies feel you’ll probably eventually make.
• Instead of hotel stays and airline flights, points accumulated through credit card purchases will only apply to Mafia Wars. This will make the credit cards even more popular.
• Paper bills will come with a surcharge for paper, ink and postage. E-bills will include a surcharge for electrons, photons and magnetic particles.
• Late fees will be replaced with “on time, but cutting it way too close” fees.
• People with personalized credit cards that incorporate a photo of their car will be charged a $200 “douche charge.”
• Consumers will still be limited to a $50 liability for charges on lost or stolen credit cards, but only if they can demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to protect the card, such as keeping it in a large iron safe at all times, or having it physically incorporated into their body.
• Cards will be charged a recursive “asking what this fee is” fee.
You might think these fees are ridiculous, but remember that, while being able to charge people money for spending money may seem like an easy road to profit, it’s a slightly more difficult road to massive megaprofit. If you’ll look deep into your hearts, you’ll find that you’ve already checked a box legally obligating you to agree.
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Born helpless, nude and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg eventually overcame these handicaps to become a creditor, a creative and a credenza.