Thursday, June 03, 2004

ON MY MIND

I know it can't just be me only. Frustration levels are rising with-in about rising gasoline prices, increasing Auto-insurance premiums, decreasing health care coverage and spiraling utility costs. Affordable housing is out of reach for many people; including myself. No. It doesn't end there...
Now, for most families, both Mom and Dad have to work just to keep the normal bills of living paid up.
Wanna hear the latest tricks the banks are pulling to rip off even more from consumers? Here are two examples: Now when you go to a bank machine to withdraw cash you'd better go to one displaying your bank's logo. If you don't, and go to a "competing" bank you are charged $1.50 for the privilege of withdrawing your own money. OR Here's a cute one that I've encountered when using my debit card to pay at a restaurant and some small businesses: The clerk punches in the total of your purchase, then it shows up on the debit machine screen. THEN a little notifier message comes up saying you are being charged anywhere from .25 cents and up for the privilege of spending your money at there business. Remember: Your bank is already charging you for that same privilege. You are being charged twice for using your debit card!

Here's what I did in self-defence: When that message came up in a shopping mall food court restaurant, I stopped the transaction and asked for my debit card back. "Oh that's okay," says the clerk, " I'll give you the .65 cents back. I refused. Why? Because if I allow that charge to go through, in effect I am telling the financial institution that I approve of the practice. I don't. I never will agree with the practice of paying to spend my money at a business. "No thanks." I say. "You can keep that $7.00 tray of food. I'll eat where I don't pay to spend my money." That situation has cropped a few times and I've reacted in a similar every time. Unfortunately most people don't do that. Their message to the banks is "It's okay to charge me to spend my money."

What can you do to fight increasing extra charges, taxes, interest, premiums, usage charges etc.? Well, for the extra bank charges for simply withdrawing money: go back to using cash.
For increasing gasoline prices and auto insurance premiums I may just reach a point where I'll park my little Dodge in the bank parking lot and hand them the keys. "Thanks," I'll say, "but I can't afford to heat my home and feed my family and pay for the gouging I'm taking from the oil companies and auto insurers. My family comes first."
"But," you say," that will give you BAD CREDIT!" I ask, "Do you know what percentage of the population in Canada has BAD CREDIT? It's bigger than you think! A very large percentage is scrambling to keep the bills paid. Check it out. People with BAD CREDIT is becoming an epidemic.
Now, one person handing his car keys back to the bank and canceling his insurance is quite likely considered an "irresponsible nut". But imagine if a sizeable portion of the population does this. Do you think someone would notice there is a problem? In Canada the banking industry, insurance industry, oil companies are killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
Here again, the meek and mild Canadian population for the most part just digs a little deeper, does with even less and sighs wondering, "When will it end." Answer: Not until the population learns to stand up for itself.
You know; it's funny. I was just thinking about taxes, interest, and ransom: When the government demands your money they call it "taxes". When the banks and department stores (28.8% that Canadian department stores charge is called Usuary in the U.S.) demand your money, they call it "interest". When the mob kidnaps someone and holds them hostage that's called "ransom". For a moment there, I thought, "The only difference is the "gang" making the demand.
I keep hearing, "It's a free country." My empty wallet says different.
Cheers anyway.

lh