Friday, January 29, 2010

I feel a rant coming on!

Big problems rarely get to me.  Pesky little irksome problems sometimes hit me so hard that I fixate and can't get back on my normal track for days.  Here's my latest fixation:

DH and I use our Mastercard for most of our charge purchases.  We are in the habit of paying off the bill every month.  If we do use another retail charge card, we also pay the balance off when the bill arrives.  With a difficult economy, we are fortunate that we can do this and avoid the high interest rates you face if you only make minimum payments.

We used our Macy's charge over the Christmas buying season to take advantage of the extra coupon savings.  (By the way, another pet peeve of mine is that these "extra savings" coupons have dozens of exceptions.  You have to be Sherlock Holmes to find something you actually want to buy for which the coupon can be used!)  I got the bill this week.  At first glance, it looks like I owe Macy's $167.30.  That amount appears in bold print on the top of the statement under New Balance.  It also appears, again in bold, on the payment slip under "New Balance."

I dutifully check all my receipts and find that I actually only owe $164.07.  Back to the statement.  Oh - there's a line item for Interest Charges of $3.23.  Interest charges?  I haven't used my card in 6 months.  There couldn't be interest charges, could there?

Back to the bill.  Here is what is written, in very small print, on the statement:

To avoid Initial Interest Charge:  If you pay your New Purchase Balance of $164.07 by Feb 6, 2010, your Initial Interest Charge of $3.23 on your Revolving Account will be refunded on your next statement.

My first reaction, other than confusion and anger, was that I had to pay the $167.30 then wait to get a credit of $3.23 on my next bill.  Since I don't plan on using my charge card for the foreseeable future, I would carry over this small amount for month after month after month until either (1) I used the card, got both the credit and ANOTHER Initial Interest Charge entering an endless circle of purchases I really did not want to make; or (2) Macy's finally gave up on me and sent me a refund check or, more likely, a credit slip that could only be used against a charge purchase!

On reflection, and many hours of internal ranting, I decided to pay the $164.07 and prepare my attack when the next bill comes showing that I "owe" $3.23.  Now, there is a chance that my next bill will show a 0 balance, and I'll have a clean slate.  The evil part of me hopes that the $3.23 shows up as an amount due - maybe even with a finance charge on top of it! - and I'll be forced to go into attack mode.  Imagine a senior citizen on the brink of Medicare eligibility cutting up her credit card in the middle of the Macy's business office!  Delightful .....

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