Thursday, April 30, 2009

Arlen Specter and Credit

Arlen Specter is one of the smartest people I've ever met. You could never stump him with a question. He is never at a loss for words. Specter seems to know at least a little bit about everything. You have to see Specter work a room. He is the consummate politician.

As you've heard by now, Specter jumped from the Republican party Tuesday. He's now a Democrat. I spent part of my Tuesday laughing at the boobs on cable television. They couldn't see this for what it is. It's not about political philosophy. It's about getting elected. Arlen Specter is a U.S. senator who wants to remain a U.S. Senator. He stands a better chance of achieving that goal as a Democrat. That's all it is. Plain and simple. Don't read more into this than is necessary. Two words: political survival.

Whether or not Specter can be liked, respected, and re-elected for what he did is up to you.

There was a high level meeting in Washington last week involving the Obama administration and the big banks/credit card companies. Call me cynical, but I can't see anything substantial coming out of this. There have been allegations the credit card operations haven't been consumer friendly, and I agree.

I got letters from a couple credit card companies recently. They were upping my interest rate. I rarely carry a balance, and if I do, it isn't that great. I didn't think that was any way to treat a loyal customer. I cancelled both cards.

One phone call was rather humorous. I finally got through to a human being. The woman thanked me for 22 years carrying the Discover Card. She then asked how she can help me. I said "I'm closing the account." The customer service rep offered me 1.9 per cent interest for six months to stay. I declined. She then said closing an account could have a negative impact on my credit rating. She is likely correct, but I don't plan on any major purchases in the near future, and the credit card I have left in my wallet should be more than enough.

When I cancelled an American Express card last week, I did it without ever speaking to a live person. Everything was accomplished via telephone key pad. At least, pretend you want to keep my business.

Like most people, the credit cards I carried accumulated over the years, but not to excess. I think I peaked at six. It's been pared to one debit card and one credit card. Yes, my credit rating was likely severely wounded. I can live with it. I read where the right thing to do was lock the cards away and never use them. However, I'm a hard headed chap at times. I couldn't let an interest rate hike and an anti consumer attitude go without protest.