Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Big Payback

Five years ago, when I was drowning in credit card debt, I signed on for the debt consolidation services of The Credit Network, an organization dedicated to helping people get debt-free. They seemed legit. They had all kinds of Better Business Bureau certificates. And besides, they were a nonprofit. So surely sending off a bank check for $500 to get me started wasn't anything more than a security deposit. I was used to paying those as an apartment-dwelling resident of the five boroughs of New York.

For about six months, I noticed that my credit card bills never seemed to get much smaller. In fact, I was incurring late fees. Finally, after struggling to come up with the punitively large monthly payments for about a year, I noticed that I actually owed more than I had when I started. And still this place was helping itself to a portion of my payments. I called their always-busy customer service department and was told if I thought I could do better on my own, then I should go for it. "I need to eat," I said, and quit the program. Turns out that they weren't always making payments on my behalf as they agreed to. In fact, my credit was now worse than it was before I joined. I was marked as being a late payer.

I'd joined a real credit counseling agency and put this whole disaster out of my mind long ago when Friday I received a peculiar, yet wonderful email. The former owners of The Credit Network have been the subject of a large class action lawsuit for skimming the payments of their clients and misusing nonprofit tax status, to the tune of $35 million. Another settlement is also pending from the wife of the owner, who was also implicated in these doings. I could get back at least part of what I paid into their lousy program! Probably only a fraction of the original amount, but the satisfaction would be large.

What goes around comes around, as they say. If you wait long enough, the bad guys screw themselves in the end without any help.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Just musing out loud

Is driving a big SUV a red flag behavior or a forgivable quirk?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Corporate etiquette

Our dept. vice president was downsized yesterday. She was given the old-school escort out of the building 10 minutes after she found out, so no one knew about it till she was gone.

A lot of people are behaving as though she has just died. They have purchased and are passing around a card for her (not really sure what the card says - "good luck?" - "we'll miss you?"). I think it's too soon to send this to her at home. Who would want to receive that card right after having been canned from over 30 years of service?

Our VP was at best a figurehead, rarely visible, not really involved in our day to day activities. She did advocate for us with management, making sure we had staffing resources, but was pretty sparing with both praise and raises and she was old-fashioned and hierarchical when it came to promotions (one of our best people cannot be promoted although she is already doing the work - because she hasn't completed a library degree, even if her work experience says she is more than qualified).

I just wonder if my lack of mourning is mean-spirited. Am I being a grinch?