Monthly Archives: September 2006

Watch out for the military

Update: I have some more stories for you to read if you wish.

Here is a Time blog where the terror bill has been a topic for a while. Good reading if you want to scroll through it and read all of it.

Here is a story about Bob Woodward. He wrote book (a whole book) about the military under-reporting the number of attacks in Iraq. Are we repeating what we did in Vietnam with under-reporting the death figures?

Here is a quick link to a discussion of the torture devices they wish to employ. I got this from the Time blog.

Tuco has something to say too. A Canadian perspective.

Well, they have approved the terror bill allowing torture and coercion and making it legal to hold “suspects” indefinately without cause or a trial. I thought we would take a look around the web to see what people are saying about this.

The general news media is here.

Here is another explanation. (HT: George)

And still another one here. And more thoughts here. (Bush interpreting anything on my behalf is scary.)

I guess Bushie doesn’t believe this anymore. (HT: George)

There will be more on the blogsphere about this I’m sure. I’ll update if I see something to post.



Fun with Customer Service Reps

I recently had an interesting run in with a customer service rep for our primary credit card. I thought I would detail the discussion here.

We had the misfortune of running a little short last billing period to completely payoff our primary credit card. It was just a timing issue as the bill was due the day before a paycheck came in and we were a little short. I figured this is no big deal really because we could pay off about 80% of it on the due date and then I would send in the leftover amount a day later. (We pay electronically so I can’t play the mail/check float game, but should have in this instance)

I figured we could handle the couple of days of interest for the 20% until it got paid off. No big deal. I should explain to you now that the way we budget our income is to put everything that we possibly can on our cashback credit card. (maximize cash back) If the card stays below our specified target balance each month we pay it off and then know that we are doing OK budget wise. This is a lot easier for us compared to tracking down every single penny like some people, and works well for us because we always pay ourselves first. Not mention that we typically use the cashback aware to pay for our Christmas presents so we automatically have a predetermined cap on that spending. Anyway, this leads to us having a large balance each month that we payoff, and have, since we got the card about 8 years ago. Except this time.

I thought that we would be charged a couple days interest on the remaining 20% balance and that would be all.

But then I got my bill. They had charged me interest on the entire balance, and on some of the balance we had racked up in the new billing period, and hadn’t given me any credit for my paydown. I was less than pleased with the situation. While I accepted that I would need to pay some interest on my remaining balance I have a real problem paying interest on money that I had paid them already prior to their imposed due date. Not to mention they are charging me interest on the money I haven’t even been billed for because they use the stupid average daily balance thing. So I’m being charged interest for money I have not even had a chance to pay them yet because they haven’t told me how much it was.

So I pick up the phone. After about 15 minutes (pretty quick I think for these companies) this is where we start.

CSR: How can I help you?

Me: Can you explain how you calculated the interest on my card?

CSR: Sure. You see the average daily balance figure on your statement? We multiply that by the daily interest rate figure and then add up each day’s interest and summarize it on the front page.

Me: Ok. But how did you get the average daily balance figure? It’s way higher than the amount I was billed for.

CSR: Well sir we keep a running tab of your balance each day and then multipy it by the daily interest figure and summarize it for the front page.

Me: I understand how you figured the interest. I have a Finance degree. I can do simple math. But how can you charge me interest off a balance that I haven’t even been billed for? Your average daily balance figure is a lot more than what you requested I pay you. How can I be charged interest on that balance when I haven’t been billed for it yet? On top of that, I was charged interest on a chunk of the balance that I paid you before the due date. Shouldn’t I only have to pay interest on the leftover amount from the previous month?

CSR: Well sir, we charge interest from the beginning of the month and waive it when you make your full payment.

Me: How can it even be legal to charge me for money I haven’t been billed for and on top of that give me no credit on my balance when I make a payment?

CSR: It’s in your cardmember agreement sir. That’s how we calculate the interest.

Me: Oh, that packet of legal mumbo jumbo you send me occassionally that no one but attorneys can understand?

CSR: Yes sir.

Me: Well that sucks. I’ve had this card for 8 years and this is the first time I didn’t pay it in full and you totally took me to the cleaners.

CSR: Sir, I would be happy to waive that interest for you if that would make you happy to be a cardmember.

Me: (Good answer) Yes, that would make me very happy.

CSR: OK. Hang on. (Pause) Sir, I waived that interest and also the residual interest that would have appeared next month.

Me: Great. Thanks. Have a nice night.

Ha! Take that credit card company! You’ll get no interest money from me! I know why they did it. The percentage kickback they get from each retailer we use our card at equals more than this amount of interest in about 4 months. They just want me to keep using the card so they can get their 2.5% of each dollar I spend, or whatever the amount is.

I just found it humorous that they caved on the interest so quickly. I mean, they are in business to make money right?



I was reading through my recent Fortune magazine and they had a little blurb about the social responsibility of Starbucks and how they have finally developed a cup with FDA approval that has recycled paper in it. (This bodes well for other companies to use the cup going forward) The article peaked my interest to go out and hit the Starbucks site to see what else they were doing. We can debate the merits of Starbucks for a long time, but I found it interesting that such a large company had such an intense social responsibility part of it’s being.

To read more click here.


I didn’t even know Burley was having trouble.


Scary shopping

My wife sent me to Target last night to get some jeans for the boys.

I don’t want to do that anymore. It’s scary. They have racks and racks of clothing. All poorly labeled. There isn’t anyone around to help you find what you are looking for. You have to dig it up yourself. Very scary. I’ll take cooking and yard duty anyday.

I would much rather go to Old Navy where someone will walk me to the section I need and pull out what I need. That is much safer. At least once I looked through the section I was able to slink over to the food section where I feel more comfortable.

She gave me a pair of jeans as an example. I came back empty handed. Turns out I was searching for jeans for the wrong boy.

As I was checking out at the register a couple of teenage boys were behind me with 4 18 packs of eggs. Me thinks they weren’t making a big omelet.


A big question finally answered

This past weekend we took a little road trip down south to visit my parents. Although they give lip service to their excitement to see us we know it’s really all about the grand kids. And who can blame them. With kids this cute you have to be excited to see them, right?

Anyway, because the Arkansas Razorbacks were playing Alabama in nearby Fayetteville every hotel room in the 4 state area was full. This doesn’t impact me as I wouldn’t pay for them anyway when I can stay for free at my parents, but my grandparents were there too (for reason see grand kids above but insert great grand kids) and they weren’t able to get a hotel room like usual. So they stayed at my parents. This necessitated that I sleep in my sister’s room with my wife. (she was relegated to sofa city) No big deal. I can handle this. Sleeping in an almost out of teenage years sister’s room can’t be that bad. Besides, she’s away at college so she can’t have much there anyway.

But when I walked in I was unprepared for what I saw.

I saw something that I had only heard about. Something I thought existed only in fairy tales. Something I never thought I would see with my own two eyes.

Staring back at me from the top of the TV was a real life copy of the movie Crossroads. One that someone actually bought. One that my sister apparantly had decided was worth her hard earned money.

The disbelief I felt was intolerable. I couldn’t believe someone in my own family would do something like this. How could she? How could she support these spawns of Satan? I would have felt less contempt if she had told me she thought Dumbya was the best President we had ever had. At least then I would be able to look her in the face for having an opinion. But how can you defend this? You just can’t.

At least I finally know who the person was that bought the one copy that was sold. You know, just in case it comes up in Final Jeopardy or something.


New posting

My first feature article is up over at Groovy Green.

Check it out here.