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Jan 16 2014

Die, banks, die

When I got home last night, I saw something ominous. Leaning up against my door was one of those overnight letters from Fed Ex. This:

bankamerica

I thought, uh-oh, who’s suing me now? Because there’s nothing I’m doing that requires the urgency of an overnight letter (it even announced on the back in big bold orange letters “EXTREMELY URGENT!”) right now. Then I saw it was from the Bank of America. They hold my mortgage — which I pay promptly every month, also kicking in a little extra on the principal — so I thought maybe it had to do with something essential about that.

You know where this is going. I opened it, it contained a one page letter offering an appointment to refinance my mortgage. Absolutely nothing urgent about it, and also something I’m absolutely uninterested in doing, since we got in at a good interest rate and already have an affordable payment. This is Morris; we’re buying our house with payments that are two thirds of what we paid in rent for an apartment in a Philadelphia suburb.

But I’m getting annoyed at the persistence and lies. You know this wouldn’t be something to my advantage; the banks aren’t really at all interested in helping me pay them less, and this thing promised me an average reduction of about 20% in my monthly payment. They’re already constantly dunning me with requests to refinance every week in regular mail, requests that get dumped in the trash unopened, but this is a new attention-grabbing low.

I’ll tell you what, Bank of America. You want to save me money and altruistically reduce my payments? Easy. Unilaterally credit me $5/month and stop wasting money sending me these stupid letters. You’ll save more money than that on printing and postage, I’ll have less trash and save a little bit each month, we both win. Alternatively…eat shit and die.

127 comments

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  1. 1
    ChasCPeterson

    I’ll tell you what, Bank of America.…eat shit and die.

    Dude, have you taken leave of your senses??!!!!?
    *glances warily over shoulder*

  2. 2
    Captaintripps

    I’m quite happy with both of my banks.

  3. 3
    ArtK

    Chase uses UPS but it’s the same thing. What a $)@#%&) waste of money — my money since I have several accounts with them already.

  4. 4
    Rey Fox

    Too Big To Eat Shit And Die

  5. 5
    Lauren Fitzpatrick

    Your anger makes me gleeful. I have been the recipient of several such envelopes and every time, every time!, I have a mini heart attack before discovering it’s just an ad.

    Fuck them.

    The Outernet – Kickstart a documentary for and about Internet communities

  6. 6
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    Every single piece of unsolicited marketing mail – be it a credit card, loans, refinancing, insurance, whatever – should, on the outside of the packaging, have the following three things:

    1) The name and return address of the company – I have had it up to HERE with unsolicited mail coming in blank envelopes except for my name. Who sent this? I don’t know. Could be someone important? Nope, just a credit card.

    2) A brief summary of the content of the mail – “An urgent letter from Cox” can BITE me if all that’s inside is an advertisement for their Internet, TV, and phone package.

    3) A toll-free number to their unsubscribe mailbox – There’s no way except going through a crazy load of people to get off those mailing lists. I do not want a Discover card, I will never want a Discover card. Stop sending me mail.

    In addition they should not have your name anywhere in the mail. Not on the letter, not on the envelope. Just “Resident” on the envelope and “Dear Sir / Madam” on the letter inside. That way you can throw it out and not lose your identity.

  7. 7
    Redfox

    I think Zack Weinersmith gets similar letters from his bank too:

    smbc-comics.com/?id=3226#comic

  8. 8
    ChasCPeterson

    Too Big To Eat Shit And Die

    beautiful

  9. 9
    Kagehi

    Bloody people that hold my student loan keep changing the site, so that it “illegally” (I assume, but it doesn’t sound legal to me to play games like this) excludes the option to pay extra into principle. The latest nonsense was to remove the option (but allowing for the, “I am stupid and just want to delay my next payment.”, option, only.. its doesn’t say that, precisely any more either), then say, “Overpayments are dealt with via our standard policy.”, with a link to their help section, which then goes on to say, “We usually apply payments that are over the amount required “first” to interest, then anything left goes into principle. Ok, right, so.. instead of F-ing putting the whole thing into principle, and reducing the total, you are going to pay the interest on the next payment, then reduce what ever is left? I know am not like a bloody math wiz, but that seems to me like your still charging me more interest on the remainder, which hasn’t been reduced, the next F-ing time…

    Banks are assholes.

  10. 10
    Mike

    My brother just got done with the whole mortgage review process to get his mortgage reduced. He was one of the lucky ones in that BofA didn’t jack him around too badly and he actually got about 30% knocked off the mortgage. It still isn’t true market value but it won’t take 25 years to recover to assessed value so he’s satisfied for the most part. Not more than 2 weeks after the final paperwork was filed he got his first offer to refinance, and he gets a new one every week like clockwork. These companies just don’t have any idea what each piece is up to, or the shame to worry about it.

  11. 11
    borax

    Last message I got from BOA was a notice that my loan had been sold off to another lender. Someone even worse than BOA. Please choke to death on razor blades Greentree.

  12. 12
    Alverant

    There’s a reason why they’re called BoA (as in boa constrictor). They tend to squeeze their clients. They were the banks who were foreclosing on properties they didn’t even own. Granted the other big banks aren’t any better but BoA’s the worst and the one in greatest need to have their boardroom raided by cops in a mass arrest.

  13. 13
    scienceavenger

    Its a sad reality that the easiest way to tell your mail is not important is it says “Important” on it.

  14. 14
    chrisv

    Am I wrong, but when one refinances a mortgage, doesn’t the rule of 72 kick in and suddenly you are back to having your monthly payments going mostly to interest and hardly anything to principal?

  15. 15
    tubi

    Well, at least they used FedEx’s earthsmart carbon-neutral envelope shipping.

    But seriously, they can fuck off.

  16. 16
    borax

    @14 chrisv. Mostly yes.If you happen to have a shitty lending rate and have only a couple of years into your current loan than re-financing can make sense. But most of the time the lender is trying to get you to go further in debt using your home as collateral . I may be wrong, but that is my experience.

  17. 17
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Chrisv #14

    Am I wrong, but when one refinances a mortgage, doesn’t the rule of 72 kick in and suddenly you are back to having your monthly payments going mostly to interest and hardly anything to principal?

    Depend on how long you refinance for. After about 10 years, we refinanced our 30-year FHA loan to a 15-year mortgage. That actually dropped our interest payments slightly.

  18. 18
    Paul

    One of the prerequisites of retirement for us was to have our mortgage paid off before we pulled the plug. We also remain otherwise totally debt-free, paying off any credit card purchases when the bills come in.

    But it turns out there was a down side to this strategy: we recently saw a HUGE jump in the premium on our homeowners insurance. Naturally, we dug into the situation, and found that the insurer used that insane notion that somehow their risk was related to Credit Score, and our Credit Score had taken a beating because someone discovered that we HAD NO MORTGAGE! Credit raters just assume that “no mortgage” means “poor risk.”

    Fortunately, we got the insurance company to go to bat for us, since they understood that the property they were insuring was wholly, fully OWNED by us, NO MORTGAGE REQUIRED. I’m still not sure that our Credit Score is what it should be, but at least we got that premium put back into a reasonable realm.

    It isn’t just the “banks”; the whole credit industry sucks big time.

  19. 19
    george gonzalez

    Yeah, we get an actual phone call about every 44 days from BoA informing us how they can HELP us by refinancing our mortgage. At maybe 1/4 of a percent lower rate than currently. What kind of Butterballs do they think we are? The only reason the mortgage is at BoA is because our local bank promptly sold the mortgage to someplace that sold it a few months later to CountryWide which went kaboom a while later and BoA scooped up their remains and then BoA had to pay $887 million for that shady deal. I’m going to refinance with these guys?

  20. 20
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Our local Bank of Americas were recently sold to another company — the offices and the customers. The only reason Wife and I were aware of it is that our in-laws had an emergency account at BoA that we could access if something happened to them and BoA was a bank we both had access to. One of Wife’s coworkers (another one who works a street corner) got a letter from the new bank — and it included the fact that they were not FDIC insured. Took her and her husband a month to get their pensions and SSR payments routed to a credit union.

    Boy banked at BoA for a while. And ended up overdrawn frequently because of programmes they signed him up for but didn’t notify him about until it was too late.

    Assholes.

  21. 21
    David Marjanović

    Why doesn’t this kind of thing ever happen over here?

    Is it illegal somehow?

  22. 22
    weldonribeye

    Of course BoA isn’t trying to help you. They are trying to not lose you to some other lender. It may be worth your time to see what one of the on-line mortgage lenders (Quicken, Greenlight, etc.) could do for you on a no-cost 15-year fixed mortgage, for example. If you can knock a hundred bucks or so off your monthly obligation but keep making the same payment you have been then you could pay it off much earlier than expected.

  23. 23
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    David, you barbarians in Europe just don’t understand the plus side of deregulating everything — fewer regulations leads to higher profits leads to more jobs at higher wages.

    Yeah. Kinda breaks down at the last one.

  24. 24
    OldEd

    sorry folks… You are all WRONG!!!!!

    it should be… EAT, SHIT, AND DIE.

    See? Three separate actions, and they can omit the first two as redundant if they are going to do the third.

  25. 25
    Eamon Knight

    @18: That is truly fucked up. As in underpants-on-head, lobotomized, recto-cranially inverted, inside out and backwards, stupid. It’s not like it should be hard for a credit report to note that one HAD a mortgage and PAID IT OFF, which should be a GOOD THING, bonus points if it was discharged ahead of schedule.

    Pretty much tells you that credit reports are bullshit, because they measure all the wrong things, and are used for all the wrong purposes.

    Fortunately, things in Canada seem not to be so predatory, though I’m sure Harper & Co. have plans to fix that.

  26. 26
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Refinancing is really dependent on your circumstances. It really worked out for me since I’ll have my house paid off 5 years earlier, have greatly reduced monthly payments, will save ten to twenty thousand dollars in the end, and I no longer have to deal with a company that couldn’t decide if it wanted to acknowledge that I set up automatic payments or not. Usually not though when it did they sometimes liked to pretend it was about five days earlier so that my paycheck had yet to be deposited, causing me to go into overdraft a couple of times.

  27. 27
    Area Man

    You know this wouldn’t be something to my advantage; the banks aren’t really at all interested in helping me pay them less…

    It’s not that simple. The value of your mortgage on the secondary market is already priced in by lower interest rates, so as far as the bank in concerned, it’s a security they purchased years ago and probably don’t own anymore. The existence of the old mortgage is largely irrelevant to originating a new one. They largely profit off of the origination fees. That doesn’t mean it’s bad for you; the fees may be worth the lower rate.

    …and this thing promised me an average reduction of about 20% in my monthly payment.

    And that’s a bad thing… why? If your interest rate is lower with the refi, the reduction in monthly payments is due in part to a profit earned by you. Part of it may also reflect a longer amortization schedule. Either way, do the math. Is there a specific reason why this refi offer (or a better one, which you can probably find) is a raw deal? If you are currently paying anything over 4-5%, you can probably come out ahead with a refinance.

  28. 28
    justsomeguy

    @PZ: You know we can read your address on that envelope, right? I’m guessing you noticed and don’t care, but maybe not.

  29. 29
    Area Man

    Am I wrong, but when one refinances a mortgage, doesn’t the rule of 72 kick in and suddenly you are back to having your monthly payments going mostly to interest and hardly anything to principal?

    It depends on the amortization schedule. If you refi into a 30 year mortgage, then yes, almost all of your payment will be interest for the first few years. If you refi into a 15 or 10 year mortgage, not so much.

    But you shouldn’t care about that. You can pay down the principle any time you want. In fact, if the interest rate and fees are the same (they’re usually not), you’re always better off with a longer term since it gives you the flexibility of lower payments. In the meantime, if someone is lending you money at 3% or less, you should be in no hurry to pay it off. You’re better off investing your money elsewhere.

  30. 30
    Gorg

    #12:

    There’s a reason why they’re called BoA (as in boa constrictor)

    My friends that bank there refer to them as “B of A-hole”. I use “Hell’s Cargo” for my some of my banking. We couldn’t think of a snappy name for Chase so we just refer to it as “blue colored shitbag bank”.

    #6:

    Every single piece of unsolicited marketing mail – be it a credit card, loans, refinancing, insurance, whatever – should, on the outside of the packaging, have the following three things:

    Yep. Absolutely! All of these points, a thousand times over. Comcast has started flooding mailboxes here pushing their “Business” internet service. All the ads I’ve seen from them are addressed to “Resident” or “Current Resident” or “Business Owner”. That should be required of all paper spam.

    It’s beyond frustrating that there’s no easy, direct, straightforward way to opt out of these types of mailings. We need a federal “Do Not Mail” list.

  31. 31
    dianne

    Never a mob with pitchforks and torches around when you really need one.

  32. 32
    eneaszbrodski

    I’m a big fan of returning all Business Reply Mail stuffed with other junk paper. This costs the spamming company money (hopefully discouraging this act) and funnels that money to a valuable public service which could use more funding (the Post Office)! Everyone wins!

  33. 33
    jbabs073

    Someone already said it, but they are trying to retain you as a customer. My guess is that, though you may think you have a low interest rate, the prevailing rates today are much better. That would be why you would have received an overnight notice. They wouldn’t want you to look elsewhere if you were aware of the rates. Refinancing to a lower rate and term can save you thousands of dollars over the remaining life of the loan. Sure, the bank would rather you pay more on interest on the current loan, but they would rather drop your rate than lose you. A refinance would reset your amortization, which yes, would mean you would pay more towards interest than principal than you likely do now for a couple years, but a mortgage is a long term loan. There have been abusive lending practices in the past, but mortgages are quite regulated now with strict benefit to borrower standards and with steps to ensure a borrower has the ability to repay a loan.

    The arguments against banks has reached crazy conspiracy levels in many circles.

  34. 34
    Rey Fox

    Three separate actions, and they can omit the first two as redundant if they are going to do the third.

    I suppose you think you’re being clever here, but no, the eating of shit is very important to the demand.

  35. 35
    left0ver1under

    When a bank or other scum sucking financier comes calling on me with an “offer”, I write one out – an offer that favours ME in every way (e.g. 1% interest, low payments, no fees or penalties for anything, etc.) and then return it.

    Inevitably the idiot reading it says, “This isn’t what we’re offering,” to which I say:

    “You contacted me for negotiation, which means you are offering to talk on my terms, I on not yours. If you’re not agreeing to my terms, then don’t waste my time ever again.”

    It doesn’t really do much to silence companies, but it certainly shuts up that one individual.

  36. 36
    Jerry

    In the US, it is not difficult to significantly reduce junk mail and other unwanted solicitation. It is summarized at
    http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

    If you have ongoing business dealings with a company, then they will often honor a request for them to stop sending you marketing materials. In most cases, it just takes a telephone call to the number on the marketing letter. After all, a company that knows it is annoying you is a company about to lose a customer. I’m not sure how well it will work on BofA or a local monopoly. Any junk mail sent to “occupant” isn’t worth any reply, since it is cheaper for them to bulk mail an entire region than to target individuals. Still, I have cut my junk mail down to nearly nothing.

  37. 37
    Jerry

    left0ver1under, comment #35:
    Have you read about the guy in Russia who altered the terms of a credit card application, the bank approved it, and he got it to stick in court? Zero interest, no late fees, no limits, etc. Mind you, Russia has wildly different laws than the US or UK, but still, it was a thing of beauty. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/borrowing/creditcards/10231556/Man-who-created-own-credit-card-sues-bank-for-not-sticking-to-terms.html

  38. 38
    Gorg

    @jbabs073 #33:

    they wouldn’t want you to look elsewhere if you were aware of the rates

    The overnight delivery is nothing more than a marketing trick similar to putting the words “IMPORTANT NOTICE” or “ACTION REQUIRED” on “official looking” junk mail.

    Using a genuine carrier like FedEx not only draws attention to the package itself (“Whoa. FedEx. This must be important!”) but it also makes it less likely the person is going to toss it out unread. How many of us would toss a FedEx or UPS flat envelope – even if we didn’t recognize the sender? I’m guessing most wouldn’t. Some would of course but most wouldn’t and marketers know that. The junk mail aspect is camaflouged, especially if it’s from a company that you have an existing business relationship with. E.g. PZ thinking – given the sender – it might have been a legitimate issue with his existing mortage.

  39. 39
    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)

    Well, of course. This is what happens post-regulatory capture. The government is wholly-owned by the big banks, to the banks can do whatever they want. “When cat and mouse agree, the grocer is ruined.” When the Democrats under Clinton decided to get just as, er, banker-friendly as the Republicans, this was the inevitable result, and since Obama’s economic advisors are uniformly from the banks, he’s not about to alter any of this. (But don’t let that stop you, Democrats, I’m sure it’s worth it to keep voting for these bozos, for reasons which will eventually become clear if we let them rob us long enough. Maybe after they’ve turned the country into a 3rd-world banana republic, they’ll make sure we all get complementary mints on our pillows, assuming we still have pillows, or something.)

    Incidentally, it’s interesting that “eat shit and die” didn’t set off the “no violent language” finger-waggers like <a href="http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/01/15/poor-put-upon-wingnut-flings-silly-accusations/comment-page-1/#comment-738659"violent language does from commenters. Is that because everyone hates the banks so much that they are considered an acceptable target for violent fantasies, or is it for some other reason?

  40. 40
    Lithified Detritus

    Do you have a credit union in Morris?

    I fired my bank a couple of decades ago. I’ve been quite happy with my credit union. I do get mailings from them, but none of this deceptive crap.

  41. 41
    chigau (違う)

    No, it’s not interesting.

  42. 42
    Eamon Knight

    @38: Some years ago, AMEX went through a phase of using this tactic in my area. I heard one story where the special delivery letter was diverted to the depot because the designated recipient wasn’t at the address (IIRC it was a grown child who had moved out). So they trekked across town to pick up this Terribly Important Mail, only to find that it was just a credit card offer.

  43. 43
    nora

    eneaszbrodski – I’ve been doing that for years! I save all the postage paid envelopes and the offers and every few weeks I put them together. I’ll send Capital One applications to Bank of America and time share solicitations to life insurance companies. I try to stuff as much as I can into each envelope so I save magazine inserts and junk faxes after removing any identifying information.

    It makes junk mail fun. And I’m helping the Postal Service make money.

  44. 44
    twas brillig (stevem)

    <tangent ALERT!>

    Re “do no mail” lists:

    Isn’t there already some kind of law forbidding “junk mail”? Prolly not: spam snail-mail is still ubiquitous.

    But that made me think of the “Do not call” list that used to exist but is now quite defunct (check snopes for verification of that fact). Used to be, marketing could only call land lines and only land lines could be put on the DNC list. Now cell phones are also fair game for marketing calls. About once a month my cell phone will get a call (recorded voice, of course), marketing some form of “mortgage reduction” or “free wireless security system”. And if I don’t disconnect immediately, I’ll hear it say “…this will be your FINAL call…” But they still make that “Final call” repeatedly. ["final"? doesn't mean what they think it means]. I’ve also (sometimes) listened a little longer, “… to be removed from our calling list, press 9″. I press 9 and the phone voice says, “you have been removed from our calling list.” I say “Thank you, good riddance” [to myself] But then (next week) they call again! and again the week after! Each time I’ll hit 9 and get “removed” from their calling list. [???] Now, I don’t even wait that long and just disconnect immediately.

    I’m sorry PZ, but banks don’t need to die, “bankers” (doing actual banking, and not scamming) serve a useful function, I blame “marketers”. Marketers can ES&D, ASAP.

  45. 45
    magistramarla

    About twenty years ago, our mortgage was sold to Wells Fargo. A few years later we took out a home equity loan with them to help the last two daughters with college costs. The only way that we could get the 5.78% rate was by having a checking account with them so that the payment could be automatically deducted from it. Fair enough – we arranged for our decent military bank (which wasn’t doing home equity loans at the time) to deposit the payment into that account each month. That is the only thing the WF account was used for in ten years. Luckily, I keep an eye on all of our accounts and payments each month.
    In January 2013, I suddenly noticed that the WF checking account was no longer visible online. I called and was told that the account was deleted because of “non-use”. What?? Only one use per month is apparently no longer considered an active account. The guy promised to have it re-instated within three days. Not trusting them, I immediately arranged for our regular bank to make direct payments to the loan. I kept checking and calling, but that account was never re-instated. If I hadn’t been on top of it, we’re certain that WF would have been threatening foreclosure because those payments didn’t get to the right place. We wondered if this might be how those big banks set some people up for failure?
    This summer, we filed all the paperwork to re-finance with our decent and honest military bank. WF was uncooperative with them and dragged the process out for three months while they kept sending us offers. We now have a much better rate, payment and a bank that never sends us junk mail. Everything is accomplished online.
    WF got in one more twist of the knife. We now have to personally pay our state property taxes. Our rep at our good bank told us that WF would receive that bill from the county and would forward it to us. Since I don’t trust them, I went to the county website and made sure that those taxes were paid on time, and set up with the county that all future bills will come directly to my e-mail. The letter was never forwarded to us by WF – no surprise there.
    And, we walked into the nearest WF branch with the checkbook to that account to wipe it out. I thought that there might be $15-$30 sitting in it. To my surprise, there was $71. I’m sure that WF would never have offered to return it to us, either.

  46. 46
    Ray, rude-ass yankee

    I love junk mail! Every time I get some I think of all the people (myself included) who are employed by the US Postal Service to process and deliver it. Send me more, woohoo!
    Banks, on the other hand, can suck. I’m pretty happy with my credit union for most of my banking needs, but my mortgage was at another bank and has changed hands probably 5 times over the years. I did refinance once years ago to lower my interest rate, but I’m too close now to paying it off to want to start that process again.

    The Vicar@39, I second chigau@41 Plus, he’s not just another commenter, this is PZ’s blog, he can say whatever he wants.

  47. 47
    bushrat

    This is why I like Canadian Banks, as greedy and stupid as American Banks, but thankfully regulated by the government.

  48. 48
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Pretty much tells you that credit reports are bullshit, because they measure all the wrong things, and are used for all the wrong purposes.

    This is true. Apparently the fourth or fifth worst thing you can do for your credit score is “don’t get strung out on credit in the first place.” Quite a nasty shock when I suddenly developed a legitimate reason to get it.

  49. 49
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re 44:

    Sorry for not reading 36 before posting. [read entire thread before commenting. Rule #1] to quote 36:

    In the US, it is not difficult to significantly reduce junk mail and other unwanted solicitation. It is summarized at
    http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

    I just went to that site, and registered my cell phone on it. T minus 31days, countdown begins…

  50. 50
    Paulino

    At least they didn’t steal your house as they’ve done elsewhere.

  51. 51
    David Marjanović

    We need a federal “Do Not Mail” list.

    …Over here many letterboxes have stickers that simply say “no ads”.

    Incidentally, it’s interesting that “eat shit and die” didn’t set off the “no violent language” finger-waggers like [...]violent language does from commenters. Is that because everyone hates the banks so much that they are considered an acceptable target for violent fantasies, or is it for some other reason?

    The latter: it’s not violent. It’s not “I want to inflict pain”. It’s not even “I want to force you to eat shit & die” – it’s “do me those favors already”.

  52. 52
    eoraptor

    As an “older”* American, I truly hate junk mail where the sender expends every effort to make the envelope and contents look like official government mail. In every case they were trying to separate me from my money for little to no value in return. It enrages me, not because I’m fooled, but because I know other people ARE fooled. My 84 year old mother fell for one of these. Fortunately, I have a good friend at the U.S. Attorney’s office.

    * Scare quotes because that’s what they’re trying to do to me.

  53. 53
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Azkyroth #48
    Likewise. Among other things, (not that I’m in a position to make a down payment atm, but regardless), my spotless 15 year rental history means fuck all in terms of getting a mortgage. Just demonstrating that I regularly pay for my housing on time and go to enormous lengths to do so? Pffft. Means nothing.

  54. 54
    ivyshoots

    PZ, there will be more, I promise you.

    I have an adjustable rate mortgage with BoA, which was steadily decreasing each month for a couple of years, and they were overnighting those exact form letters to me (well, my husband, technically) every few weeks.

    We have dogs who go ballistic when delivery trucks come by, so it was really disruptive for no good reason, and the waste of money just added to my anger. I called the number to tell them to stop Fedexing the same letter over and over, and they refused because my name wasn’t on the mortgage.

    My husband had to tell them in writing to stop Fedexing this crap. So, yeah — die, bank, die.

    OR you can enter your zip code at this site, and get a list of local banks/credit unions who aren’t all global and shit http://moveyourmoneyproject.org/find-bankcredit-union

  55. 55
    inflection

    Count me in on the bandwagon complaining about fake notices on the envelope too. Annoys the hell out of me. Ridiculous “instructions” like “Postmaster: Deliver only to addressee” or “Carrier must obey all postal regulations” surely must tick off mail carriers.

    Anybody that sends me mail plastered with fake announcements like “Extremely Urgent” or “High Priority” that aren’t actual mailing instructions gets round-filed almost immediately, even if it’s from an outfit I might have otherwise liked.

    Regarding the refinancing, PZ, it’s entirely possible that if interest rates are lower now than when you bought your house you could save a substantial sum each month, enough that the difference in present values of the loans (old to refinanced) would be enough to cover the fees. A new bank is happy to make that loan, and even the same bank will often be pleased to get money now (fees) for less money later. (That calculation depends on what return they can get on your fees.)

    However, all of this would cost time and effort on your part, which is why most times people just leave this alone, even when the deal would be profitable in terms of money.

  56. 56
    stripeycat

    The Vicar @39
    In addition to what David M noted, the banks aren’t human beings. Telling a company to “eat shit and die” is quite different from telling a specific director ditto.

  57. 57
    inflection

    ivyshoots:

    You have an ARM? Listen, now is a really, really good time to find a fixed rate mortgage. Rates are about as low as they’re going to be, and if the economy improves over the next few years, which it’s likely too, rates can start going back up, and your payments with them.

    I am not a financial consultant, just a math prof, but this is definitely something you might want to talk with someone knowledgeable about (who has no percentage in selling you a new loan, of course).

  58. 58
    zibble

    Capital One keeps sending me colored envelopes saying “URGENT! IMPORTANT INFORMATION! READ IMMEDIATELY!”

    I don’t even have a Capital One account.

  59. 59
    Paul

    Pretty much tells you that credit reports are bullshit, because they measure all the wrong things, and are used for all the wrong purposes.

    True. And I’ve never been able to find a way to increase a score. Add an account, the Score goes down. Close an account, the Score goes down. Borrow more, the Score goes down. Borrow less, the Score goes down.

    If one can believe the simulator at Credit Karma dot com, every effort an individual can make causes the Score to go down. Even the most bizarre “favorable” changes make it go down; I can’t find a single change that makes it increase even by a single point.

  60. 60
    Juliana Ewing

    We discovered years ago that our lender wouldn’t LET us refinance when our principal was too low. We would have had to re-borrow our own damn money to get the mortgage back up to most of what it had started as before they’d let us have a lower rate. Feh.

  61. 61
    unclefrogy

    I used to think that the Banks were OK just kind of conservative in a good way as in frugal or careful with money. That was in the past I think something else has happened in their growth into giants powerful important institutions that are now considered to big to fail. As with the recent economic collapse and recession brought on by their mortgage schemes which so clearly demonstrates it is simply incompetence. They are too big to manage it is their massiveness and momentum that is making them profitable and their insider advantages with regulation rather than good planing that is well regulated.B of A’s purchase is a good example it made them huge but because of their lust for the power was purchased at an overly inflated price. Good management with a well executed plan would have done much better.
    If the cost of those kinds of “special mailings” is worth it in terms of profits generated that would tell you how much they are making out of it. I doubt it though I would bet it has more to do with short term cash flow and the different parts of the company do not know what the other is doing. more than it is a good long term practice.
    As an indicator I received a notice concerning my not having any home owners insurance policy and that they were going to cancel the loan. I called them with the number given and told them that I did have Home owners policy and had always had one. I asked them why had I received this notice?
    They said that they had not received the notice of the paid up premium and that I should contact the agent. I had to look for it as I have had the policy for a very long time. There it was at the bottom of the insurance bill. The agent for the policy was the fucking bank that was trying to cancel the loan and demand payment in full!
    incompetence top to bottom.
    uncle frogy

  62. 62
    magistramarla

    Ivyshoots @54
    “I called the number to tell them to stop Fedexing the same letter over and over, and they refused because my name wasn’t on the mortgage.”

    I really, really hate when business people refuse to do business with “the little woman”. When my husband does talk to them, he simply tells them “I have no idea, since my wife does all of the finances. Here, talk to her.” They usually sputter a bit when I get on the phone.
    We were just recently taking bids on renewing the roof. One roofer lost out because he refused to talk with me. He even totally ignored me when he came to the house to do the estimate. Bye, bye roofer!

    I recently had a call from a research group, who asked to talk to my hubby. When I offered to help the lady, she told me that she was calling on behalf of our bank (the military one) and would call back later. I explained that I’m in charge of finances and always deal with them, and she hung up on me!
    Little did she know, daughter #2 happens to be an assistant executive director at that very bank. I told her about it, and she talked to the marketing director about it.
    Since the bank deals with many active duty military couples, and often one is deployed, the bank always treats them as equals. That contracted marketing research firm is going to get a talking-to about how to deal with military spouses.

    We’ve been married for 37 years, and we’ve always considered ourselves equal partners. Some business people, especially those here in the south, seem to have a difficult time with that concept.

  63. 63
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    The latter: it’s not violent. It’s not “I want to inflict pain”. It’s not even “I want to force you to eat shit & die” – it’s “do me those favors already”.

    To be fair, that distinction hasn’t stopped fingerwagging in the past.

  64. 64
    alwayscurious

    @9
    Kagehi, I’ve made sure to tell everyone I know what’s happening. The older generations assume that student loans still work the way they did when they were in school. Most discussions about student loan rates in the media are unhelpful due to their obsession with the Perkins loan. It’s the cheapest loan, in the shortest supply, and most eligible students require additional loans to make up the difference. My best friend, his wife, my sister and several other friends all have the same problems you mention. I barely escaped by a timely windfall that paid off my school loans prior to the big educational loan shuffle. One of these loans, for example, charges a fee for processing payments of any kind (except auto-deductions)! So sure, 7% doesn’t sound completely unreasonable…except it’s “effectively” closer to 9% interest. Lowering the interest rate is helpful, but it exaggerates the fees even further.

    As far as junk mail goes, I send back all the business reply envelopes! (empty or with competing offers) I figure it helps the post office, doesn’t take much of my time, and sending it back will double their costs into the venture. Really, if I wasn’t interested last week, why would I be today?

  65. 65
    weatherwax

    My parents stuck with BoA for years, way back before any of this loan fiasco. They stuck with them despite the fact that they had to go into the branch every payday because the bank had inadvertently withdrawn their paycheck instead of depositing it. It would take an hour of arguing with the manager to get the account restored to the point it was at before they’d deposited their paycheck, and another hour of arguing to get the paycheck actually deposited. And this would be after having to wait in line with everyone else who had the same problem.

    I went to Well’s Fargo instead and have not had any issues, though I do not have a mortgage.

    By coincidence I got a confusing credit card offer today. I am the executer of my mother’s estate, and today the bank holding the estate account sent the estate a credit card offer. I’m confused.

  66. 66
    weatherwax

    #’s 44 and 49
    Re the ‘Do Not Call List’

    The people calling repeatedly with offers to refinance your mortgage, re-negotiate your credit card dept, install a walk in bathtub or a free medic alert system are all illegal boiler room scams. They do not give a damn about the ‘Do Not Call’ registry, or for that matter any other laws or regulations. A lot of them use spoofed phone numbers anyway.

    You should still report them, but remember it’s going to take time to track them down, so the calls won’t stop right away. And even after they’re caught the punishment is garbage, anyway.

    Pressing any number to be removed from their call list just validates your number and keeps them calling back, not to mention selling your number to other marketers.

    My own solution is to get a salesman and call them every foul name I can think of. Won’t do any good but it gets the point across. Note that they’re trained to act hurt and unfairly picked upon, but like I said, they’re thieves.

  67. 67
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Vicar, #39.

    While I’m not sure of the translation of PZ’s conclusion, it’s quite obvious that the title of this post is, from the german:

    The banks, the.

    Obviously PZ isn’t quite as familiar with German grammar as is Sideshow Bob.

  68. 68
    ivyshoots

    inflection @57 — I’ve been monitoring the monthly rate rate closely, and it did start increasing a few months ago, after a couple of years of decrease, to a low of about 2.25%. I would definitely refi to a fixed rate if we intended to keep the mortgage, but the house is for sale and we hope to be rid of it soon, so I think we’ll be okay, but you are absolutely right. Thanks for your concern!

    magistramarla @62 — We have a lot in common! Been married 27 years and have always done all the financial stuff, and can’t count the times I got the brush-off like that.

    But in all those years, USAA never once treated me like “the little woman” (hubby was in the Marines back in Desert Storm). Aren’t they the BEST? I can’t count the number of times they’ve helped us with credit card disputes, insurance claims, house sales, etc. I feel so lucky to have them. Tell your daughter thanks from me for HER service!

  69. 69
    robro

    Just picked up my copy of this BoA offer from my front stoop. Amusingly, neither my partner or I have jobs so getting a refi approved might be difficult.

  70. 70
    Desert Son, OM

    Not bank-specific, so I apologize if this is a derail. Following on Jerry’s comment at #36, another piece of advice for the process to reduce junk mail . . .

    I used to work in marketing (nobody’s perfect), and one of the things that you can use to your advantage when you contact a retailer sending you shit you don’t want is a short, simple phrase:

    “Please remove me from your seed list.”

    Now, actually getting to talk to someone who can process your request is intentionally very challenging, because, of course, the company doesn’t want you to stop receiving their solicitations. However, if you do get through to customer service, there should be someone you can talk to to have your name/address/telephone number removed.

    The specific phrase “seed list” is something of an insider term in marketing. A company that hears a customer use that term may realize (though, to be fair, they may not care all that much) that they are talking to someone who knows a little bit about the game.

    No guarantee that it actually carries more weight, and it should be enough to simply say “remove me from your mailing list,” but I hope it might help out even just a little in a profoundly annoying and discouraging process.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  71. 71
    changerofbits

    @32 Brilliant! I’m totally doing this with my 4 year old (she like to write barely legible letters/words, that I assume the letter openers at the bank will enjoy seeing) when we finally getting a rainy day out here in sunny California.

    PZ, you’ve just tipped your trolls a new method to harass you. Let us know if you get any pictures of Shermer’s thumb by overnight package.

  72. 72
    Lofty

    I must say I sort my mail right by the recycle bin. On a good day, 20% makes it in the door, other days, none. I’ve gotten over getting angry at the financial crooks’ offerings, that bin loves a good feed.

  73. 73
    LykeX

    @Eamon Knight

    It’s not like it should be hard for a credit report to note that one HAD a mortgage and PAID IT OFF, which should be a GOOD THING, bonus points if it was discharged ahead of schedule.

    Hardly. Banks don’t make money off people who pay back their mortgages. A person who pays back their mortgage is a dried up revenue stream. No point in lending them money.

  74. 74
    twas brillig (stevem)

    Credit scores must be based on a very antiquated algorithm. They only care if you make your payments on your loans on schedule. And they only look at if YOU make your loan payments, and the only way they can do that is if you pay them with a check (for the papertrail). Cash payments are disregarded (i.e. using cash from your ATM doesn’t leave a papertrail). They don’t care if you pay your bills, they don’t check with your landlord, that you pay your rent on time, nor check your utility bill payments (cable TV is out of the question). Paying bills on time might be considered, but you gotta show them all the canceled checks [cash don't count] of those payments over the course of a year or so. So, if you’re debt-free and pay your bills on time with cash, your credit score is ZERO. And they’ll tell you it doesn’t mean you’re a “bad person”, they just have no evidence to trust you with a new loan. If you want a loan you better already have a loan. They took this to the extreme, causing the “financial meltdown” of the auts; giving huge loans to people who were unable to make the payments (cuz they could pay tiny loans).
    [Maybe my imagination is running away with me, but this is how I've treated the issue for many years and it has served me well.]

  75. 75
    weatherwax

    “giving huge loans to people who were unable to make the payments (cuz they could pay tiny loans).”

    I think it was more of a case that they were bundling the loans and selling them to larger banks, so they really didn’t care if you pay in the long run, anyway.

  76. 76
    paulburnett

    eneaszbrodski (#32) suggested “I’m a big fan of returning all Business Reply Mail stuffed with other junk paper.”

    I do this. Years ago, I carefully disassembled a postage-paid return envelope and used it as a mailing label on a carefully wrapped brick.

  77. 77
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Area Man #27
    The fact that there even is such a thing as a secondary market in mortgages is a very large part of the problem, actually.

  78. 78
    chris

    re: “Do Not Call” lists

    I have dealt with this vigorously for around twenty years. I seldom get calls. I even register each cell phone number in our family with the “Do Not Call” list.

    Then after the phone company called our house three times in twenty-four hours I wrote them a snail mail letter. I told them that since we now had multiple options that we would drop them if they ever called again. No more calls, except I got one last week. It seems that a system change which included a company name change made them lose that letter. I will be sending another, the last one worked for over fifteen years.

    Though I did tell the young man who claimed it was a “courtesy call” that it was rude to call around dinner time (6pm), and that they should check FTC “Do Not Call” list as a courtesy. Because people who sign up for it are more likely to get angry.

    Woo hoo! I just got a call from someone who just gave his name and wanted to talk to dear hubby, but would not tell me why. He said he was a research assistant and could not tell me why. I told him to start by researching the FTC Do Not Call list. He then said they were a research company and exempt from that list. To which I replied: “So what does your research say about calling people on the list if you will not explain what you want with the person, would they be happy or angry?” Then it was bye-bye. Sometimes I like those calls because I can have lots of fun being angry. Especially since these “survey” calls are actually sales calls, and they know I won’t let the call through.

    To magistramarla and others: make sure that your name is on your mortgage account along with your spouse. Joint accounts with survivorship rights are very important, especially if something happens. Dear hubby did take a loan out once early in our marriage where he did not put me on it, and they did try to talk to him. They did not even want to talk to me even when I told them we lived in a community property state. So both of our names are on all but our retirement accounts (can’t do it for those, though the survivorship is called out).

    I have do all of the finances. So I made sure that stupid loan without my name was paid off quickly. I also have written down all of our financial details in case something happens to me, and told both dear hubby and daughter the location of that piece of paper. Now I have to get my act together and call a consultant to set up a limited guardianship for our disabled adult son, and then get a new will drawn up.

    Crud, I hate getting old. It beats the alternative, except I do have to plan for our mortality.

  79. 79
    weatherwax

    #78 Chris.
    I left ATT because they called me repeatedly trying to sell me additional services, despite many requests not too. For years. Knowing I worked graveyard they still happily called mid morning, sometimes twice a day.

    A week after I dumped them, and made clear why, they called me, mid morning, to try to entice me back.

    Interestingly, whenever there was an outage or a billing problem, there were never any operators available to help me.

  80. 80
    ck

    They’re being forced (probably Obama’s fault) to send bank junk mail via courier now? You know they’re going to have no choice but to increase the bank account fees to cover that. Their hands are tied, really.

  81. 81
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Please don’t be too unkind to people who call you to sell you shit. They are mostly paid very badly and it’s questionable how much most enjoy harassing people on the phone (who then treat them like shit).

    They probably can’t even check whether your number is on the Don’t Call List because they are supposed to select numbers from a list they got (which someone else didn’t vet) or more probably, there’s automated calling, so they really can’t help.

    If management wanted to pull numbers that are on the Don’t Call List, they’d do it. They just don’t want to. That poor person on the phone has as much power over that as you have. Or less.

    /what I heard from friends who did cold calls, and some experience doing surveys on the ground

  82. 82
    chigau (違う)

    Does FedEx charge Them™ the same rate as FedEx charges (generic) you?

  83. 83
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    You Little People ™ don’t understand. It is all Very Complicated¹.

    .

    (By which is not meant the mathematics or intricacies of the financial system, but rather the scale and scope of the iniquity of it all. It is hard for a decent person to comprehend how perversely the financial system has been put together.)

  84. 84
    alexanderz

    As someone who has worked in that industry I’d like to second Beatrice:

    The list we got were either simple phone-book pages, divided by residential area (so if you need to sell an expensive product you get the wealthier part of town, and the opposite for cheap products) or a general “customers” lists. The lists are always outdated by several years and are obviously not processed to remove people who don’t want to be called.

  85. 85
    unclefrogy

    I have a friend who suggests if you really want to get even with those boiler-room callers the thing to do is keep them on the phone as long as is possible to do. They are not making any money talking to you so do what ever you can do to string them along put them on hold keep telling them you are really interested but just a minute. my friend can be really mean. Me I just hang up.
    uncle frogy

  86. 86
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @unclefroggy

    I remember when, as a bored teenager, I was home alone and recieved a cold call trying to sell us double glazing. I pretended to be the homeowner and kept the poor guy on the phone for well over half an hour, talking about different styles of frame and different patterned glass and getting quotes and all sorts, before informing him that we already had double glazing and hanging up.

    Knowing what I know now about the cold-calling industry I feel a little guilty, but at the time it was pretty fucking funny :)

  87. 87
    playonwords

    The collective noun for a group of bankers is a “Wunch” – as in “A wunch of bankers”

    @ chigau (違う) #82

    Big companies arrange special rates with delivery companies. The mailings will be pre-sorted before going to the delivery companies and because it is a bulk mailing with minimal handling costs on a contract it is charged at break even. All other deliveries in the area then become profit.

  88. 88
    kevinkirkpatrick

    On a lighter note… Should representatives of the bank charge that you’ve made an overt threat with this post, or that it somehow makes you just as evil as them, you can claim that the blog title was actually german for “The bank, the.” You’ll be firmly vindicated in the court of public opinion, with most everyone realizing that nobody who speaks german could be an evil man.

  89. 89
    kevinkirkpatrick

    And… now seeing that Crip Dyke @ 67 beat me to that by a HUGE margin…

    “D’oh!”

  90. 90
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Oh good lord. I had this happen a couple of weeks ago, but with one of our credit cards (the Mr and I don’t have a mortgage.)

    It was a letter from the credit card company, shipped overnight USPS, requiring a signature. I wasn’t home at the time, so my downstairs neighbor signed for it and called me. When I saw it, I panicked (finances have been… rough lately and I didn’t think that my husband would stop paying anything), I tore the damned thing open and there was a letter thanking us for making payments on time, but maybe we should consider paying a bit more? We could call the helpful 1-800 number if we have any questions…

    Fuck you, Chase.

  91. 91
    vattene

    Long time lurker; first time commenter. I have the same frustrations with credit reporting. I’m 23 so I have no mortgage, I paid cash for my first car at 16 from working two jobs (a car I’m still using), and I received a full-ride scholarship. I have no need for debt now, a feat over which I’m quite proud, but I know I will in the future (if nothing else, for a mortgage at some point). So, how do you build up a good credit score without taking on unnecessary debt?

    I tried to work within the system to get my credit score up. I took out just about any store credit card early on, from Walmart to Kay Jewelers to Banana Republic. They’re easy to get (though at 25-30% interest) plus at many stores you get 15% off your purchase when you sign up. Accounts that haven’t been open for very long count against you but I figured by the time I buy a house it may have been long enough to work in my favor. This credit score algorithm is supposed to be so complex and guarded, you would think they’d figure out a way to make the age of the account relative to the borrower’s age!

    I pay off absolutely everything in full on time – I’m not paying one cent of interest if I don’t have to – so I get free money lent to me by all these big companies. Macy’s tried to charge me a bullshit $2.00 minimum interest payment even though I had proof I paid on time. After a couple of calls and a little bit of hell raising, though, I was able to get them to credit my account for that.

    Hopefully this pays off. My credit score is in the mid-700s. Not too sure how great that is (another closely-held secret), but it is above the national mean. I think I’ve found a way to beat the system! Or at least work very well within it!

  92. 92
    tbp1

    Two words: credit union.

    They’re not all created equal, but a good one is pearl beyond price. We’ve been at ours for 20 years. No-fee checking, no-fee ATM cards, excellent rates on loans, personalized service from people who know our names when we walk in and who will work with us to solve any difficulty (and we haven’t had many at all, none of them major).

  93. 93
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    What tbp1 said, too.

  94. 94
    vattene

    Re tbp1 @92: I think the same can be said for community or even regional banks. It works because of competition. Isn’t this what capitalism is supposed to be all about? What makes it so great? When there are a lot of smaller, competing players in the market no one gets too much power. You have to treat your customers with a modicum decency for fear they will leave you.

  95. 95
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re “autodialers”:

    <nostalgia alert>

    Back in the 80′s when autodialers started being used by marketers (illegally; as autodialers were only for fire alerts by the F.D. or snow-day announcements by schools) there was notice about how when one gets called by an autodialer, only *after* you pick up the phone does it try to connect you to one of the marketers, and so you’ll usually have to wait a few seconds before a human answers the phone. So the autodialer would be trying to connect two people simultaneously: the “operator” and the “victim”. Only when one of the operators hung up would you get connected to him/her; xis phone would ring, to connect to you already on xis line. I think part of the delay was the mechanical relays used to do the autodialing, that then got speeded up by electronic only dialers, also one of the reasons they replaced the “operator” with the automated recording or computer to talk as soon as you are connected, no waiting for a live person to connect also.

    That’s why one should be “courteous” to the “operator”; they aren’t dialing your phone number, they’re just answering their own phone. To them, they’re being called by you, and they are just reading the script their managers gave them that morning. They are desperate to sell you that stuff, their wages probably include a small “bonus” for each sale they make. As soon as the “live human” is on the line, ask for xis manager to talk to. You want someone with authority to make changes, the operator is powerless. “Remove from call list” is impossible for them, that’s why you need to talk to the manager.

    Good point about using the phrase “seed list” instead of just the word “list”. I can easily see where “list” could be interpreted as just the current, temporary list being used at that moment, while the ‘seed list’ is the list that is used to create all the daily ‘temporary’ lists.

    [apologies. marketing is a subject that is prone to endless speculation and discussion. moving along now....]

  96. 96
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re 91:

    Yes credit scores are tough to acquire and maintain. <nostalgia again> I remember back in the 70′s the advice to kids trying to become financially independent (from their parents), was to get a Sears credit card (@16 y.o.) and occasionally (monthly) buy something small from Sears (that you had already saved the cash for). Buy it with the credit card, keeping the cash in your savings account for the interest income, and as soon as the bill comes, pay it in full with the cash you saved, within 15 days. Sears will let you extend the credit duration for a small interest and late payment fee, but that will damage your credit score. Doing that for a few years will get your score sky high, able to borrow any amount for a mortgage. Also, keep that Sears card forever, even if you don’t ever use it again. Credit score is heavily weighted by the longevity of each credit account you are responsible for. Do not cancel your oldest card just because you got a new one, keep the oldest one, delete only intermediate ones, keep the oldest one forever, for a decent credit score.

  97. 97
    pailott

    One thing I learned. I refinanced last year, and I asked the credit union why were they doing this. Why make it so easy. Turns out the banks get paid to refinance a mortgage. Then they sell it to Fanny Mae or someone else. So yes, they are not “doing us a favour” as we all susoect. They are just finding another way to pick societies pockets. Financial instututions are no longer (if they ever wre) interested in the long term. All they care about is the next 1/4. If America (and the west) live another 50 years or not, if Americans have real jobs (instead of “service” jobs) or not doesn’t mater to them. They cannot see past the next dividend/financial report. Usually << 1 year. This is a sick economy.

  98. 98
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Our banks used to phone us—same reaction: “What have I done now?” I told them to stop.

    You can tell them to take you off their mailing list for offers and you will contact them when you want something. It cuts down the volume for a while.

  99. 99
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    My son was given a list of numbers to call and even when he marked a number as “Not interested–do not call” it would still appear on his list again the next day.

  100. 100
    chris

    Beatrice: “Please don’t be too unkind to people who call you to sell you shit.”

    Actually I am usually very nice when I tell them that it is bad business to call those on the “do not call” list.

    I was mostly irritated that the clueless caller last night because he refused to provide any information about who he was and the type of “research” company. He insisted I had to blindly hand the phone over to hubby. If he had said “We are doing a survey on such and such” I would have had something to ask hubby if he was interested.

    We have a house policy that you do not hand the phone over unless you know who is calling and for what reason. There is nothing more irritating than to have a sales call handed to you. This was more important in the 1980s when before there were caller-id that various calls for scams would come in, like for penny stocks. The scenario was often one where hubby was in his workshop and I’d get a call asking for him. I would ask who they were, and if I did not recognize them I’d ask the reason for the call. One guy just whined “But I am calling long distance!.” To which I told him that I was not dragging hubby from his shop until I could tell him why.

    Weatherwax: “I left ATT because they called me repeatedly trying to sell me additional services, despite many requests not too.”

    My requests were sent by the US Postal Service in registered mail with a return receipt. It is more expensive, but there was a record of the requests.

  101. 101
    weatherwax

    #81 Beatrice

    “Please don’t be too unkind to people who call you to sell you shit. They are mostly paid very badly and it’s questionable how much most enjoy harassing people on the phone (who then treat them like shit).”

    They are calling me illegally with the intent of scamming me out of money/ selling me a non-existent product/ stealing my credit card number, so no, I’m not sympathetic. Even if the caller isn’t personally in on it, and I think most of them are, they’re working for someone who probably isn’t going to pay them anyway. The sooner I drive them out the better.

  102. 102
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    101
    weatherwax

    They are calling me illegally with the intent of scamming me out of money/ selling me a non-existent product/ stealing my credit card number, so no, I’m not sympathetic. Even if the caller isn’t personally in on it, and I think most of them are, they’re working for someone who probably isn’t going to pay them anyway. The sooner I drive them out the better.

    Way to miss the point. Not everyone calling you is a scammer and they don’t have control over who they call. Scammers aren’t even the topic of the post or anything. It wasn’t what Beatrice was referring to either. We’re talking about the aggressive practices of legitimate businesses. I’ve worked in customer service and call centers, one of which was debt collecting. It really is an automated calling system. I’ve seen it where marking them “do not call” doesn’t take them out of the system. That’s the higher ups fault. It has nothing to do with the peons on the phone, who are just trying to make a living. Being mean does nothing but make their lives awful. Do you really thing they enjoy calling people and being treated like shit? They are just trying to survive. Maybe you should go read about the livable wage thread for a clue. Or at least read this one.

  103. 103
    weatherwax

    #102 JAL
    My original post was in response to posts about getting repeated unwanted phone calls despite being on the ‘Do Not Call’ list. I pointed out the problem, ie scammers don’t care about the law. My own response is to cuss them out.

    Beatrice suggested “Please don’t be too unkind to people who call you to sell you shit. They are mostly paid very badly and it’s questionable how much most enjoy harassing people on the phone (who then treat them like shit).”

    But the ones I’m talking about ARE scammers. The legitimate sales people don’t call me, because I’m on the ‘Do Not Call’ list. If you do call me, you ARE harassing me.

    “I’ve worked in customer service and call centers, one of which was debt collecting. It really is an automated calling system.”

    Precisely. You’re calling specific people to negotiate a debt. You are not auto dialing random numbers to scam people out of their credit card numbers.

    “It has nothing to do with the peons on the phone, who are just trying to make a living.”

    I have to be blunt: Grow a thicker skin. Every job has parts that suck. I work in poison oak a lot. I hate it but I know I’m going to get poison oak.

    If you work in a business that disturbs people, they’re going to let you know about it.

  104. 104
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    But the ones I’m talking about ARE scammers. The legitimate sales people don’t call me, because I’m on the ‘Do Not Call’ list. If you do call me, you ARE harassing me.

    Wrong. I’ve called people to sell things from a legitimate business and so many said they were on the do not call list. So many requested to not be called. You know what happened? They showed up on my machine that does auto dial the next day.

    I have to be blunt: Grow a thicker skin. Every job has parts that suck. I work in poison oak a lot. I hate it but I know I’m going to get poison oak.

    If you work in a business that disturbs people, they’re going to let you know about it.

    We’re not taking about inanimate objects or sucky tasks like cleaning the toilet. These are people you’re taking to that aren’t at fault for what you’re cussing them out for. There’s scams out there, like people calling about viruses on your Windows computer but I highly doubt the majority of calls are scams.

    Business are supposed to respect the do no call list but I bet there’s a lot more that violate it than those reported. After all do you think all these were scammers?

  105. 105
    Inaji

    weatherwax:

    But the ones I’m talking about ARE scammers. The legitimate sales people don’t call me, because I’m on the ‘Do Not Call’ list.

    You seem to have a great deal of faith in the DNC list. It doesn’t work the way you think, you’ll still get calls from legit businesses. Don’t let that stop you believing that every person who calls you is a criminal, though, because you seem to thoroughly enjoy being abusive to them.

  106. 106
    ChasCPeterson

    I discovered a great way to deal with unwanted calls. I say “No thank you” and hang up. Done. This can be done even while they’re still talking (that’s only a tiny bit rude).

  107. 107
    Inaji

    Chas:

    I say “No thank you” and hang up. Done.

    Back when we had a land line, that was my method of choice.

  108. 108
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I discovered a great way to deal with unwanted calls. I say “No thank you” and hang up. Done. This can be done even while they’re still talking (that’s only a tiny bit rude).

    I go a bit further. I say “I do not respond to telephone solicitation. Take me off your list. Good day” and then hang up.

  109. 109
    rnilsson

    As long as we’re swapping anecdotes:
    In another country, another century – in fact, another millennium – the laws were pretty strict on private credits. In order to qualify for a savings loan, one had to make punctual deposits quarterly in a savings account for 2 1/2 years, and then one could apply for a loan of triple the saved amount, IIRC. Well, it turned out my bank and I had counted the months differently, so when I had an offer to buy a good used Mercedes on very favorable terms and wanted to execute that loan to pay for it, my bank told me no, but offered me to make the next payment and then start over from zero. Because I had withdrawn a small amount, accidentally on the wrong date.

    OR, I could just walk down the block to my new bank and open an identical account there, only not starting at a negative value. Hmm. Hard choice. Oh, and in order to take out that loan, one had to become a “member” (it was a co-op, originally agri bank) which turned into a windfall when New bank went public and my parcel, based on my commitment to the bank then including the loan, turned into shares, worth actual money, which actually increased in value because New bank possessed a sense of business. So That Was Worth Some Money, Think About It. (Thank you, Paul Simon)

    Ever true to The Invisible Black Finger of The Market, I took the obvious choice, and additionally withdrew all capital except for about $1 from the First bank (actual name:) and let them maintain the account for over ten years, calculating a yearly compound interest of maybe 5-10 cents, mailing me yearly paper reports and reporting all this income to the Tax Man. I figured that would learn them.

    Instead, First bank merged/bought New bank so I cashed in my suddenly valuable stock in New bank and changed to my present bank, my invested stock in which has grown by a good 50%. Present bank also handles a majority of my finances, swiftly and mostly perfectly.

    Oh, and a relative trusted me with a private loan, which I paid back, for the best car I ever had, until it fell to pieces eventually. Sic transit gloria mundi. Some cars later, I’m now looking for my first new car.

    Happily ever after!

  110. 110
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    I got great amusement as a child when I answered the phone for the telemarketers who asked for “Mrs. Dadsname” or “Mr. Momsname” (as my mother did not take my father’s surname). I would explain that Mrs. Dadsname (my grandmother) lived in New York, and was unlikely to be found at this number, or that Mr. Momsname had been dead for a number of years, and was therefore unlikely to be found at any number (both true.)

  111. 111
    weatherwax

    “I discovered a great way to deal with unwanted calls. I say “No thank you” and hang up. Done. This can be done even while they’re still talking (that’s only a tiny bit rude).”

    I’m happy that that actually works for you. But I still receive multiple calls, every day, with offers to lower my mortgage payment (I don’t have one), re-negotiate my credit card debt (from people who don’t actually have any of my credit card info), or give me a free medic alert bracelet (that I have to pay for). All of them from illegal auto dialers and opening with illegal recorded sales pitches.

    They are scams. All of them. And in fact some of the people behind the medic alert scam are finally being prosecuted

    http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/pi/judge-halts-suspected-medical-alert-device-scam-b99182956z1-239947171.html

    On the other hand, I almost never get sales calls from legitimate sales people. On the rare occasions that I do, yes a polite request to not receive more calls generally does the trick.

    We are talking about two different things.

    “You seem to have a great deal of faith in the DNC list. It doesn’t work the way you think, you’ll still get calls from legit businesses.”

    I’m not really sure what you mean. Legitimate businesses check the list people who do not wish to get called, as required by law. If they continue to call people they get fined.

  112. 112
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    What is needed is a *XX for spam calls. The FTC should then be required to see if they called someone on the DNC list, and if so, criminal charges are automatically filed past a small number, say fifty *XX. If the identity is hidden, triple penalties are automatic.

  113. 113
    Oliver Hailey

    @59

    The FICO score in the U.S. is composed of approximately these factors:
    Payment History – 35%
    Credit Capacity (total revolving balances/total revolving limits) – 30%
    Length of Credit – 15%
    Accumulation of Debt in the Last 12-18 Months – 10%
    Mix of Credit – 10%

    Based on that, here’s are some things to improve your credit score:

    – Make all your monthly payments, even if it’s the bare minimum payment. Don’t get into debt you can’t afford.
    – Keep your aggregate credit card balances no higher than 30% of your limits, even if it means you need to make multiple payments a month.
    – Don’t close out credit cards if you can help it, especially your oldest one, unless you never use it and want to prevent potential fraud, or if they start charging an annual fee.
    –Don’t apply for loans or credit cards too often. Space out the applications. If you’re denied for a loan request, try to figure out why you were denied and try to fix it, rather than just applying at more and more places.
    –If you’re in a lot of credit card debt, try to refinance it into a secured loan. You could refinance your auto loan and get additional cash out to pay down your credit card debt. Even a signature loan will most likely be a lower interest rate and also will shift your revolving debt to installment debt.

  114. 114
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Oliver Hailey #59

    And what about those of us who prefer not to go into debt at all, but would also like to engage in ordinary aspects of life like, say, purchasing a place to live? My question, and I suspect that of many others here, is not what I can do to improve my credit score, but what can be done to prevent a triumvirate of unaccountable private businesses having such a massive degree of control over my life?

  115. 115
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    That should have read #113

  116. 116
    left0ver1under

    I have to disagree with most posters in this thread. They are speaking from the view that people should have to opt out of advertising and unwanted phone calls.

    People should never have to opt out of things they never asked for in the first place. Marketing targeted as individuals by name should be opt in only, and only if the person gives explicit, willing permission to receive it.

    Buying something does not equate to permission. Registering with a company or web site does not equate to permission. Any phone call, email, letter, or knock on the door for sales that comes without informed consent is unwanted and unwelcome.

  117. 117
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Marketing targeted as individuals by name should be opt in only, and only if the person gives explicit, willing permission to receive it.

    Permission that must mandatorily be granted to access some other service or buy something not counting as “willing,” of course. I like it.

  118. 118
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Nerd 112, left0ver1under 116
    I agree. I tend to feel that the use of things like autodialers and unsolicited mass mailings ought to result in a fine of, say $100, to the power of the number of offences. So, one phone call made by autodialer costs the company $100, ten such calls cost them $100^10, etc. Failure to pay results in immediate dissolution of the corporate charter and seizure of all assets for auction.

  119. 119
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    weatherwax,

    We’re not talking about different things, we’re talking about the same thing. We’re just aware that the lowest person on the ladder, that’s the person on the other side of the line) can do less about stopping those calls than we can.
    I guess they could compile a list of numbers each day that want to be taken off the list and take it to their manager at the end of the day and then…. nothing. They’d probably get fired or laughed at. Businesses like that don’t really appreciate initiative from phone operators. If one doesn’t want to just do what they’re told, there’s ten others waiting for the job, badly payed as it is.

    If you argue with them, all you’re doing is venting your frustration and rising theirs. Nothing else. And I rather wouldn’t make other people more miserable, if I can help myself.

    left0ver1under,

    People should never have to opt out of things they never asked for in the first place. Marketing targeted as individuals by name should be opt in only, and only if the person gives explicit, willing permission to receive it.

    Buying something does not equate to permission. Registering with a company or web site does not equate to permission. Any phone call, email, letter, or knock on the door for sales that comes without informed consent is unwanted and unwelcome.

    Agreed.

  120. 120
    left0ver1under

    I meant to say, “Marketing targeted at individuals by name…” not “as”.

    I wasn’t trolling when I wrote that post, but I thought people were going to disagree with me. Evidently not. I’ve said similar things elsewhere and been labelled “anti-capitalist”.

  121. 121
    weatherwax

    119 Beatrice

    I spent many years as the lowest person on the ladder, at legitimate companies. But these are SCAMS. They are trying to steal gullible peoples money. That’s why they are instructed to lie, and to hang up if you ask too many questions. Like the name of the business or their telephone number.

    They don’t get any sympathy from me.

  122. 122
    Oliver Hailey

    @Dalillama, Schmott Guy #114

    That’s an excellent question and I see your point. While credit scores were originally used to predict how you will make your future loan payments in the next two years, nowadays they’re used a general risk assessment factor for a large variety of avenues—car insurance, cell phone companies, rental agencies, whether you’re eligible for a checking account, etc.

    So yes, it seems that living in the U.S. requires a good credit score in order to have the most affordable payments on all sorts of things. While paying for things solely with cash is possible, it’ll be more expensive and sometimes difficult to get what you want without a good, established credit score. Such is the nature of our economy. I’m not sure what the answer is to turn away companies’ reliance on credit scores for risk assessment though, without surrendering more privacy.

  123. 123
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    left0ver1under,
    I’m not too fond of capitalism.

    weatherwax,

    It’s really nice that you can feel superior to them. I don’t. I haven’t been in the position where I had to take any job, no matter how distasteful I found it, but I feel empathy for those who were.

  124. 124
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    @weatherwax, do you think repeating something makes it true? I worked at a call center for a while, and we didn’t pay any attention to the DNC list. The client we were working for was the March of Dimes, but I guess you probably think charity is a SCAM too.

  125. 125
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Also, people who asked nicely would get marked “do not call” in our database (although management liked to reset that fromm time to time), but assholes like you never would.

  126. 126
    Inaji

    Beatrice:

    I haven’t been in the position where I had to take any job, no matter how distasteful I found it, but I feel empathy for those who were.

    I’ve been in that position. Found myself work calling for WIC. I loathed the idea of calling people to hit them up for money, but I was that desperate for money. I was always polite, I took no for an answer, and I took a fair amount of abuse from doucheweasels like weatherwax.

  127. 127
    weatherwax

    OK now you’re putting words in my mouth. I HAVE been in a position where I had to take any job, but I still didn’t try to steal from other people.

    Dysomniak, I’m tempted to not even acknowledge your childish comparison, but just to make clear:

    The March of Dimes is a charity. They have done good and important work. Charities are exempted from the ‘do not list’. As well as polls and political organizations. I’m not rude to them, and they usually honor requests to be removed from their call list.

    And a note, usually the people calling you are not working for the charities directly, but for a company representing the charity, and they take a percentage. So the charity gets more of the money if you just send it directly, and not through a caller. And if the caller won’t give you an address to send the money, but will pick it up at your door, it’s a scam.

    To be clear: Honors the ‘do not call’ list, removes you from the call list if you ask: legitimate company.

    Ignores the ‘do not call’ list, calls you repeatedly day after day and is dodgy about who they are: SCAM.

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