And: More bone-chilling
Gasp at tales of inflated car loans, banks that
are run either by idiots or evil-doers -- maybe both
-- and an elm tree evil enough to sit on Freddy Krueger's block.
Kids used for a fake charity
A middle-aged man and a female teenager showed up on my doorstep.
They were raising money for a local school and had a catalog with
the usual junk of overpriced candy and salami sticks. The young
girl pleaded that they were raising money for some obscure cause.
She had an official looking document that I didn't bother reading.
I ordered the salami stick box for $10. They wrote
my name down, took the money and promised to deliver the merchandise
in two weeks.
I'm still waiting for my salami sticks. I was conned
by the oldest trick in the book. Use children in a con and people
tend not to suspect the worst.
Attack of the expanding car
I was out of work and I had to make a mortgage payment. I borrowed
$800 from a finance company. Six weeks later they have my car and
they want more than $1,600 to get it back -- even though I already
paid them more than $400.
Bank with a tight grip
I decided to open a second checking account. Using the bank's Web
site, I applied for a checking account and was instantly approved.
The message I received from the bank encouraged me to make my initial
deposit as soon as possible. I went to a local branch and deposited
$400 in the newly opened account. One week later I received a letter
stating that due to negative entries on my credit report, no accounts
could be opened. I returned to the branch to receive a refund and
was told that corporate had put a "hold" on my account
and the funds could not be released.
After two months of letters, e-mails, telephone calls
and two bank statements showing interest earned, I received an apology
from the bank and a check for $392. Apparently I was charged a service
fee for closing the account in less than 90 days!
I appointed a small, local bank with a fabulous reputation as successor
trustee to a small family trust after they agreed to the investment
strategy of "balanced income and growth." They did a marvelous
job for seven years. Then, the bank merged with a larger bank but
still kept their own trust department. Everything went well for
several more years until the surviving bank was taken over by the
FDIC and sold.
Immediately everything went bonkers. The bank changed
the objective to balanced asset allocation. It sold most of the
good, high-yielding equities we had and replaced them with equities
with no track record, tiny yields and much greater, faster growth
My income kept going down and the portfolio grew and
grew. Since the bank's fees are based on market value, I was hit
with a double whammy: lower income and double the fees being extracted
from the lower income.
I learned to never sign anything irrevocably no matter
what promises have been made, and not to trust anything to a bank
except your checking and savings accounts.
Charging for son's missing
My son was supposed to receive his paycheck by direct deposit, but
instead they made a mistake and sent it in the mail. It never arrived,
so two weeks later, he finally got someone in payroll to cut him
a new check and they charged him $30 to reissue it!
Year of the living-dead tree
I noticed the 110-foot elm tree in my yard had a limb that looked
sick, with wilting leaves. I called the city tree inspector to request
an evaluation. He came out while I was not home and left a report
that it was nothing, probably just stress due to the wet and rainy
summer we'd had.
The next year, the whole tree looked sick. I called
the city tree inspector again. The same guy came out. This time
I was home. Cutting down a branch and removing the bark, he found
the signs of Dutch Elm disease, marked the tree for removal, and
told me it would cost $3,000 to have it cut down.
I made some calls to a couple of arborists and a horticulturist
to see if the tree could be saved. They said that surgery might
have saved the tree the year before, but now it was too late.
A friend suggested I call the electrical company because
the tree was next to power lines and they might cut it down for
free to protect their assets. They did cut down most of it. The
supervisor of the crew told me that he seldom gets calls from the
homeowner -- his calls usually come from the city. So, the city
bills the citizen full price, then calls the electrical company
and pockets the difference.
I called a tree removal company to cut down
the remaining trunk. They charged me $828. This company is the same
one the city contracts to cut trees.
Negative report for a product never purchased
I was sent a bill collection notice of $270 for a product I did
not purchase. The collection agency's letter said that if I did
not pay, there would be a negative report placed with the credit
bureaus. The collection agency had no telephone number. So out of
fear of harming my credit, I sent the collection agency a check
for $270. I recently pulled my credit report to do an annual check.
That collection agency sent in a negative report. I am now in the
process of contesting.