Thursday, October 23, 2008

Charge !

I think I got my first credit card when I was 19. It was a JC Penney card. Over the years, I've had a lot of credit cards, and I've always used credit responsibly.

I received a letter from one of the big banks the other day. It was lowering my MasterCard limit because I rarely use the card. I've had credit cards for a long time, and that's never happened to me. I called the bank and told them I was lowering my limit to zero because I was cancelling the account. There was no effort to say "I'm sorry. What can we do to keep your business?" Enjoy the government bail-out, boys.

I realize cancelling credit cards doesn't do anything for your credit rating, but it was a matter of principle. I never came close to the limit. The balance was usually paid in full every month. I guess the bank didn't make enough money on me.

Staying with our money theme today, a woman in Scranton has an additional $19,000 in her pocket, courtesy of the city of Scranton. The woman was charged with disorderly conduct after an off-duty police officer heard her swearing at her broken toilet. A district justice threw out the charge, saying the language might have been offensive, but it was protected under the First Amendment. The city then had to pay up for apparently violating the woman's rights.

I'm sure the city's insurance carrier will pick up the tab for the out-of-court settlement, but still, it was an expensive lesson, and it's one that should have been taught a long, long, long time ago.