Why is this Legal?

I just got off the phone with my credit card company, and I’m spitting nails! Barclay customers have been notified of a 5% interest increase, effective in November, and this isn’t just on new purchases, but also on existing balances. The way I see things is that I borrowed that money with the agreement that I was paying a certain percentage of interest on it. How they can change the terms of that transaction after the fact is beyond me. I suddenly feel like I’m dealing with a loan shark instead of a company that I’d previously respected. The notice added that if we don’t agree with the new terms, we can simply pay off our balance and close our accounts. If I could pay off that balance, believe me, I wouldn’t have it on my card! No one in their right mind carries a balance at the rates I’m paying on that card if they have the cash to pay it off, you know?

So, I called them this afternoon to ask what I’ve done to deserve such a usurious rate hike. Was it that I’ve paid my bill on time every month since I took out the card? That I’ve recommended the company to friends? That I’ve been a (sadly) regular customer? No, I was told that it was “across the boards.” When I asked why, the representative told me that because of the economic situation, the company “needs” money. And I don’t??? I’m still trying to get a grip on the fact that it’s perfectly legal for them to say, “We need money, so we are taking yours, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You borrowed money from us, so we can do absolutely anything we want to you until you pay it off.” Who do they think they are? The government?  This is legalized robbery, and I’m furious!

In addition, with a great amount of fanfare, it was also announced that there was a new due date for my bill. For the entire time I’ve had that account, the payment has been due on the 4th of the month, with occasional changes to the 5th when there was a holiday involved. The new date I was given was the 11th. The next month the bill was due on the 10th. This coming month is due on the 9th. This sort of messing around on the part of a credit card company easily results in people missing their payment date, meaning that the company then can levy more late fees. I asked the representative today to tell me what the earliest date will be that my bill will be due. He said he couldn’t give me a day, because there are a different number of days in each month, and that I’d just have to check each month. When for years, the due date had been a specific date, why the change to a constantly shifting date? And why when fees and  interest rates are being hiked dramatically? I think the answer is very obvious.

So, my measly savings account is now earning about 1% interest, and my credit card company is taking over 20% interest. If you’d have told me this would happen when I was 20, I’d have laughed until my sides ached. Now I just wonder how to cope – and how to get that blasted bill paid off before they decide to hike it to 30% interest.

Okay… I think I need to go knit and cool off a bit…

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  1. I am having a similar experience with a Barclay’s VISA right now. My September payment apparently arrived a few days late — and I am usually always on time — and now, after that one misstep, they are hiking my account’s percentage rate from 9.99% (which isn’t bad) to 30.34%!!! I called and told them I felt like I was dealing with a loan shark (same words you used above), and expressed my outrage, and they said well, they could maybe only jack the rate up to 27%. No thank you!! I am going to pay off that balance as quickly as I can and close that account. What a lousy way to do business!


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