Every year at this time I take care of one last pile of things -- magazine subscriptions, gifts to universities, professional memberships (American Physical Society, American Chemical Society, American Association of Physics Teachers), and any other odd bill.
This year the financial meltdown has made people even stupider, so while I used to give myself about a week to expect a first-class envelope to get somewhere to pay a bill, I've been backing up the dates. Pay late and a credit card company will (a) hit you with a late fee, (b) jack up your interest rates and (c) reporting this to the credit score geniuses may cause other accounts to jack up your rates.
Now this would be one thing if we're talking about deadbeats here. But we're not. We're talking about anybody these companies can chisel in order to make up for their own financial stupidities.
And I don't want any part of that shit, which should be illegal anyway.
You've Got To Be Kidding Me
So imagine my surprise when I open my AT&T Universal MasterCard bill and see a huge minimum payment and a bunch of other crap. Now I know I paid last month's bill, and I checked the checkbook and yes -- there it is.
The thing that really made me livid was that I paid off the new Fujitsu U810 UMPC and other purchases, so we're not talking about making the silly usual "minimum payment", I'd sent them over two thousand dollars. And they didn't get it? I was so mad that the first time I tried to punch in that stupid sixteen digit card number into the phone I messed up, and my angry, determined, carefully spaced voice apparently couldn't be understood by the computer, so I had to input the number a third time. And then I hit "0" instead of wading through all those stupid menus and immediately got someone.
About this time, Mrs. Dr. Phil came upstairs, having heard me roar at something. (grin) And pulled out the latest bank statement. Luckily the statement periods overlapped just right, so the bank confirmed the big check had been cashed. So WHERE THE HELL WAS MY MONEY?
Eventually we determined that AT&T Universal Card managed to take my check for my MasterCard account (in my name) and paid it to the Visa account (in Mrs. Dr. Phil's name, for which I also have a card). Even though the addresses are not the same.
You know those partial sheets of paper you have to tear off and return with your payment? The ones that have your name, your address, your account number, and a place to put down how much you paid? Apparently THOSE DON'T MEAN A DAMNED THING. Don't they use those slips of paper to call up the record? Doesn't someone key in the payment amount somewhere down the fucking chain, even if they separate the checks from the statement slips? Shouldn't someone NOTICE THAT THIS PIECE OF PAPER SAYS THIS GUY PAID MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS -- WAY OVER THE MINIMUM AND WELL BEFORE THE DUE DATE -- AND THERE'S NO MONEY PAID TO THE ACCOUNT?
Don't you think someone would notice that?
No. Instead you get a statement that you are overdue, you are being fined and when you call the credit card company the automated voice says, "Your payment is overdue. Do not use this credit card until you have paid on this account."
Now I Have To Say
Priya, the Indian woman whom I talked to, did a careful and pretty good job of ascertaining the problem, figuring out where the money went, and resolving the problem. We've had these accounts since the early 1990s, and this is the first time the payments went awry. And she assured me that it would never happen again.
But I Still Reserve The Right To Be Pissed
I shouldn't have to ride herd on AT&T Universal Card, which for the record is owned by Citicorp and not AT&T these days, and do their due diligence in a timely fashion for them. And I really hate that I now have to go and triple-damn check the triple-damned credit rating companies and make sure their records show that this was COMPLETELY AT&T Universal Cards' fault and I had better not see any problems down the line anywhere on this.
Because I personally believe that we are going to see another disastrous round of credit stupidity in this country, as banks move to foreclose on people who are late with bills other than their mortgage, or try to foreclose on bunches of mortgage paying people because the mortgage crisis has made more people upside down on their mortgages.
And I want no part of any of that shit. And no one else should either.