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this is what you get for being a good consumer

Ordinarily I don't talk about finances publicly, but this one is just too good to pass up.

I'm purposely replacing names of businesses here because financial institutions have a nasty habit of blackballing you when you speak unkindly of them in public.

Situation: A week or so ago I headed into a major musical instrument retailer (we'll call them GC) to buy an amplifier. I applied for in-store credit but was denied. This confused me as to why because I have a line of credit with another major musical instrument retailer (we'll call them SA) - and that was approved easily. Bear in mind that GC and SA both use the same bank to offer lines of credit (we'll simply call them Stupid Bank).

Hmm..

It confused me even more when the sales guy said, "They denied you but wouldn't say why" when I originally applied at GC.

Hmm..

Okay, whatever. I didn't buy the amp anyway because it was a floor model they were trying to sell me without the original Fender-supplied footswitch. Like I said, whatever.

A week later I get two letters in the mail. Both are from Stupid Bank. The first one was your standard letter about the credit denial at GC, blah blah. But the second one was really interesting.

Here's a quote from it verbatim. I've highlighted the eye-opener part in bold:

As always, we appreciate your business and want to notify you of any changes that affect your Account. Due to the current economic environment, we have completed thorough reviews of our accounts and based on your Account history and other credit data, we have made the difficult decision to decrease the credit limit on your account to $0.

The "Account" Stupid Bank is talking about is for SA and not GC. This is an account I had paid in full earlier in the year and currently held a zero-balance.

Let me spell out in plain English what this means before continuing:

As a "reward" for paying my account in full and having a zero-balance, Stupid Bank closed the account, citing "current economic environment" as the reason for the closure.

But wait! It gets better!

As for "specific reasons" listed in the letter for the closure of the account, here's what they were (and yes they were written IN ALL CAPS):

Well! This sounded pretty SERIOUS. It even said SERIOUS in it. So I ran a credit report check to see what this SERIOUSNESS was all about.

Guess what I found.

All my accounts are in good standing. No negative marks. High credit score. No delinquencies whatsoever. I've got nothing but green OKs across the board. And, the kicker, I'm not what's known as being "underwater", fiscally speaking. The total number of inquiries: 4. A big whopping 4. Way too many, right? Wrong. That's not even a drop in the bucket.

The funniest one is obviously the SERIOUS DELIQUENCY bit. Serious? Does this mean they also send out letters citing reasons with SOMEWHAT SERIOUS or A LITTLE BIT SERIOUS, too?

What is Stupid Bank's definition of SERIOUS, anyway? Nobody knows.

In other words, all three reasons Stupid Bank mentioned were flat-out nonsense, especially considering I haven't any delinquencies.

But wait! It gets better!

Stupid Bank is the only, repeat, only bank that doesn't "like" me. I have absolutely no other problems with any other financial institution. None. Heck, I got approved for DFS earlier this week!

So what does this all mean?

It means that unless you currently hold a balance with Stupid Bank, they don't want your business, period. They want you in debt and lots of it so they can cash in on the interest.

I, being the good consumer with my SA credit line, paid off my balance well in advance and never had to pay interest (this was on a 12-month special no-interest/no-payment offer). As a thank-you, or should I say screw-you, they yanked the account. Read the above quote from the letter again: "..based on your Account history.." That means, "You idiot! You were supposed to go into debt and pay us interest!"

Both SA and GC routinely offer financing specials with up to 12 months no-interest/no-payment. This usually requires a minimum purchase of at least $400.

I'm guessing that most people who take advantage of this offer don't pay one red cent until the first payment is due, then get socked with insane interest fees to which Stupid Bank happily cashes in on. I obviously didn't do that and paid the balance off well before the interest kicked in.

Maybe that's what Stupid Bank meant by SERIOUS, as in "We SERIOUSLY wanted you to go into debt, and we SERIOUSLY didn't like it when you paid off your balance. SERIOUSLY."

My reward is Stupid Bank saying to me, quite tersely, "You're not making us any money. Bug off."

Fine by me. Good riddance.

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