Monday, August 30, 2004

Home Is Where The Mob Ain't

Amy came home this afternoon. I sort of feel like stopping there, but there's more to update although at times I feel like I'm writing a Christian soap opera.

Amy is conked. We'll see how well she adjusts to being at home, and handling her feeding schedule and gizmos.

I know I'm better adjusted already.

A few weeks ago I wrote that I was trying to convince our local credit union to increase our credit line so that I could transfer some of our debt from the mob-like rates we were being charged by Citi Card and Chase to something more reasonable. Over the weekend I received a form letter saying that the request was being denied because the credit union was "unable to verify my employment."

I thank God they gave that excuse, because that's the one thing I knew I could verify, next week I start my 20th year with the same employer. If the letter had said, "Sorry...but your credit sucks," I never would have pursued it further.

After talking my way through some woman who simply said, "Well, obviously you didn't qualify", I was able to speak with an actual loan officer. She told me the letter was wrong and it was my income level that primarily prevented an increase in credit. I asked what she had my income as being, and...although I ain't raking in the dough, I make substantially more than what she had been told. She said that could make a difference if I could prove it. I asked if a federal tax return showing how much Uncle Sam says I make would serve as proof, and she said, "yeah...that would do it." She also suggested I send a letter telling her the same things in writing I had mentioned on the phone, that Amy had been ill, etc.

I pay my taxes.

I write good letters.

Besides I had nothing to lose except a 28+ percent interest rate from Citi Card, "the card preferred by Don Corleone."

I wrote the letter as soon as I got off the phone and Amy faxed it from the hospital Sunday.

Today the same loan officer called me and said, "I'm approving your request. Your credit isn't that bad. Your income is higher than we thought, and I'm making a few exceptions because you actually followed through and that's worth something."

I stopped myself from asking, "You are from Earth right?"

For a moment I felt like I was in Frank Capra's Bedford Falls... a real human being listened to my story and was taking a chance on my character. I was beginning to think they didn't exist.

Luckily I wasn't allowed to wallow in idealism long...I had to call Citi Card. I think I spoke with a customer service rep named Vito or Wayne but I can't be certain. He couldn't care less that I was a 20 year customer of their organization (evidently to make your bones with Citi Card you have to demonstrate something more than loyalty...I'm not sure what but I get the feeling I'd have a better idea if I ever watched the Sopranos).

I told Vito, or Wayne to close the account immediately. He made no effort to convince me to stay with them. Yes, I was still on Earth...smack dab in America.

I then filled out an on line balance transfer form at my credit union which will reduce our interest rate to less than 8% from 28.49%.

If we pay what I think we can, we'll wipe out that particular debt now in one year and ten months, and pay about 900 dollars in interest. If I tried to make the exact same payments, which will be substantial - I know the minimum won't get it done - to "Yo, I'll Make Youse An Offer Citi Card" it would take me 2 years and 4 months and I'd be paying about $4500 in interest.

Oh man it was nice seeing Amy walk through our front door's also nice to know you can leave Citi Card without going out "feet first."