Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Black Monday

The recession came to my door last Monday.

That was the day I received the results of a recent appraisal of the Turbopalace, which judged that it is worth 90% of what I paid for it. After making a 20% initial downpayment, and paying the mortgage (not to mention property taxes) for seven years, I now own (according to the appraiser) 21.7% of my condo. Which, according to the mortgage broker, is not a sufficient percentage to qualify for refinancing it (that, aside from depressing myself, was the whole point of getting an appraisal.) So overall this was glum news.

The same afternoon, I received a letter from a large bank (let's call them "Bank of Amscareica") which issues one of my credit cards. The letter indicated that I am a "valued customer", that they "appreciate the opportunity to serve me", and went on to inform me that they were cutting my credit limit by 50%. The letter indicated that this decision was "based in part on information provided by TransUnion Consumer Relations."

So I went over to our friends at TransUnion and downloaded my annual free credit report, which showed not a single late payment or other flaw, and my credit score, which was lovely. Then I called the bank and spoke to several people. All of them confirmed that my credit is indeed lovely, that there are in fact no concerns whatsoever about my finances, but that, still, they intend to cut my credit by 50%. The best explanations I could get are "We're doing this for everyone" and "We're doing it because you don't need more than that." I pointed out to the valued customer service people that I had had a checking account at the bank for 17 years, and the credit card for 5, and that this sort of shenanigan does not help to keep me as a customer. Still, they would not change their decision.

It's kind emotionally painful to be told that yesterday you were considered dependable to pay back up to X$, but today you're only good for 0.5X$, for no reason. And it pisses me off to the point that I may indeed close my accounts with them.

But what pisses me off the most is that a few months ago, when the bank itself was having a spot of financial trouble, and needed a loan to hold them over, I sent them $146.92. I did, and so did every other living U.S. citizen. That was money I really could've used for something else. They haven't paid me back for that yet, and I kind of doubt they ever will. So they really have a lot of nerve, after taking my helping hand, to write me a letter saying they're cutting my credit.


Blogger C Neal said...

Don't take it personally: Bank of Scamerica is broke. They're not cutting your credit because they don't trust you to pay it back - they're cutting your credit because they can't afford to lend you that much money in the short one- to four-week periods between your purchases and your payments.

But I do think that you should send a link to this post to the guys at NPR's Planet Money blog, who'd appreciate it:

4/22/09, 11:14 AM  
Blogger charlsiekate said...

I recently bought a house, and since I bought the house, I got the first time buyers tax credit. I used almost all of this money to have the house fixed, it had been part of an estate and needed a good bit of attention, including some appliances. I have an american express card and a sears card, both of which have very low limits and low balances.

The one splurge purchase I made was a big screen television. When I went to buy it from HHGREGG, they tried to get me to open a credit account with them and I thought, hey, no interest, that can't hurt till I get my tax credit money.

THEY DENIED MY CREDIT! And when I called (since I've always had great credit) and asked why they denied my credit, they said that because I had just purchased a house I was a high risk, that my credit report had been run too many times in the past month and that every time you have your credit report run you lose points.

WHAT? So every time I do the responsible thing and check my credit, I'm penalized and lose points on my credit score. Sweet.

So I bought the tv from sears.

4/22/09, 4:28 PM  
Blogger Bobba Lynx said...

For chalsiekate: when you check your own credit, you don't lose points. When you look at different lenders for a mortage, yep, you lose points. I'm more concerned that we haven't had a post since "Black Monday." C Neal is right: BAM (as they call it) is broke and nasty. They are being investigated all over the place. Hang in. You live in a good town, or it sounds like you do. The prices will come up, as long as no one knows what you have to do to get a boat permit in that town. !

5/1/09, 8:17 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

Just for clarification: it is not MY town that has the insane dinghy-permit system. MY town is not the second-richest (or first-richest, or third-richest) town in the state... that town is just where I have the mooring...

5/1/09, 9:28 PM  

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