Monday, September 05, 2011

They Are Back ...

For a while we did not hear from them. They did not call. They did not write. It is hard to say why. Perhaps they were embarrassed. Perhaps they felt threatened. It would be too much to think they were repentant. One thing is certain. It was nothing we had done. We went on with our lives the best we could after the 2007-2009 financial meltdown.

This year they returned. We strictly observe the rule that coincidence is not causation. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that their return coincides with the ascendency of the radical faction of the Republican party, particularly in the House of Representatives.

“This is Rachel with credit card services, calling in regard to your current credit card account. There is no need to worry. Your account seems to be in order. But you need to respond immediately to get the new reduced credit card rates…”

Rachel has a sister.

“This is Lisa. We have contacted you before. This is your last chance…”

Rachel and Lisa have another sister, who does not give her name.

“…In order to take advantage of this offer you must have $3,000 in credit card debt and at least one credit card in good standing.”

The above is an accurate representation from memory and not verbatim. One offer goes so far as to illogically reference “the current Federal stimulus package.”

One thing is certain about these three – they are all lying b…witches. The three weird sisters by subtle word choice would have us believe they represent the credit card that is in our pocket. Parse their sentences and it is evident they have no idea what credit card we have. Lisa has offered my last chance two, even three times in one week.

I have not returned their calls, so I cannot be completely certain of the extent of their scam. It would appear however, that their “regard” for my “current credit card account” is to switch it to another credit card. Since their offers begin with mendacity, it is highly doubtful that the switch will be to my advantage.

The wicked advances of the three weird sisters are small beer compared with the predatory lending practices of certain mortgage brokers that brought about the recent housing bubble. Nevertheless, our humble household has experienced the need for government oversight of the consumer financial market, maybe five times a week – sometimes twice in one day – by the three weird sisters.

Of course many, if not most, people are protected from the spells of the three weird sisters by good sense. Most people are not the prey of these anonymous overtures. The poor, the financially desperate, and those who are easily frightened are their intended victims.

Here come the radical Republicans. Mr. Eric Cantor has announced that the agenda for the next session of the House is to repeal so-called job-killing government regulations. Already the Republicans have significantly stalled the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and their efforts will continue. They have the backing of the completely unrepentant banking industry.

Let us concede that government regulations do kill jobs. Let us also recognize that the jobs of the three weird sisters deserve to be burned at the stake. And we have not even touched on the indefensible usury of payday lenders who charge as much as 524% APR.

Mr. Cantor and his colleagues need to be held accountable for siding with companies whose only purpose is to prey upon the poor and financially uninformed.


Nancy said...

The three "weird sisters" are merely telephone marketers paid to attract consumers to an alternate credit card using techniques devised by clever advertising firms. Nothing new, nothing devious. They or some version of them have been around for years. They are not evil. They intend no harm. The calls may be disruptive. That is easily solved.

Savvy consumers register their telephone number(s) at the National Do Not Call Registry to rid their households of this irritant. Problem solved.

Linking these telephone solicitations to Eric Cantor and the Republicans is a stretch. A long stretch.

Michael James Hill said...

Dear Nancy.

Indeed, there is nothing new about the three weird sisters. There have always been con artists and always will be. There have always been thieves and always will be. That hardly justifies tolerating thieves and con artists.

The first element of the financial markets, from life insurance contracts, to stocks and bonds, right on down to credit card contracts, is trust. Trust is undermined by lying. Lying is evil. Remember who the father of lies is.

The companies who employ the three weird sisters have no respect for the State or Federal No Call list (our land line is on both). The calls come from various states. Many times the calling number is blocked from caller ID, thus preventing any fruitful complaint. I could be wrong, but one time I believe one call actually came from China.

One could say the link of these calls to the deregulation doctrine of Mr. Cantor and the Republicans is a stretch. I was attempting to argue from the lesser to the greater. If government regulation is necessary to prevent mendacious solicitations from credit card companies, then it is all the more necessary in complicated mortgage contracts, etc.