Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My Penance for Art School

I wiped the hard drive from the G3 and need to get rid of a whole bunch of shit in my house: clothes and shoes, mostly. A car would be a handy thing once or twice a year. Goodwill won’t come pick this shit up; I gotta, like, rent a car. But I don’t got no license even for that. I want to get rid of a lot of things in my life, material and otherwise. I’m trying to simplify. Every weekend I get a little more done. Things are starting to make sense. Spending time at home, reading, listening to interesting lectures, or walking around the City, have been really nice.

On the other hand, I really need to streamline my life in such a way as to cut down on the cost. My biggest weakness seems to be eating out. I have to learn to cook more and bring lunches to work and all that. I don’t even know where to start.

But, financially, I WILL make inroads. I HAVE made inroads in the past year or so, and continue to do so. I've started reading about money. Even when it doesn't apply to me, I'm trying to become more literate.

Money can be a sticky subject to some people, but I'm trying to bring it into focus in my life. After all, I spend a lot of my time going to work to get it, so it better be worth something. What do I have to show for that part of my life spent at the office? What do I WANT to show for it? I know I'm not a flat-screen TV and fancy car kind of girl. But, consciously, what do I want? What am I willing to trade my time and effort for?

Something I’ve been doing lately is trying to pay down my student loan debt faster. I’m on some sort of auto-pay plan where the consolidation bank takes payments directly out of my checking account every month. I’ve been on that plan for a few years, and it grants you a reduction on your interest rate.

Well, since I wanted to pay it down a little faster, I decided to start sending them additional money by check every month as well. Sounds good, yes? Well, it’s good for me, but less good for them. It’s a fine line creditors walk: on the one hand, they want you to be in debt. They want you to be buried in it, and just pay the minimum all the time. More interest for them, more money for them to invest in the interim. But they don’t want you to be so buried that you can’t pay. A very fine line. It’s a shitty game they play, and you’re a fool if you let them play you with it in the realm of credit cards. It’s a little less foolish to have the debt for student loans and houses. But still, you want to pay that shit off. Interest charges are free money you’re giving to someone who already has plenty of money.

My $104.69, or whatever it is exactly, is supposed to go out of my checking account automatically every month, and then I was going to send in extra checks. But I wanted them to continue to take the “EZ-Pay” (that’s what they call it) money out every month to keep me on track and keep my discounts. Hell, they even sent me a letter last month that my interest rate was to go down again because I’d been doing EZ-Pay for so long. Oh Boy!

How do I make this happen? Huh. I looked all over the payment coupon to find a checkbox or something, to apply this additional payment without upsetting my schedule: nothing. After reading all the fine print on the back of the statement, I did see a note that you could pay extra without advancing your next scheduled due date if you indicated that on the coupon. Which, since there’s no express place to “indicate” that, I assumed meant you had to write it on there yourself. STUPID. But I did it. Twice. Handwritten on the front of the coupon. Really, that’s good because it’s so noticeable I guess, you can’t miss the handwritten note?

I realize I am a Rocket Scientist.
Dumbasses ignored it. Advanced my payment, and won’t fix it. I spent some time on the phone with “Linda” this morning, who didn’t seem thrilled to deal with me. I was a little irate, and she sounded like she hadn’t had her coffee yet. When I deal with customer service or tech support people who are not particularly interested in being helpful, I assume that it’s because they are sick of irate customers. If they are sick of irate customers, I assume it’s because there are a large number of unhappy customers. So, Citibank probably sucks, is what her tone told me. It’s not her fault the people in the other department didn’t feel like following handwritten instructions, just like it’s not those envelope-openers’ fault that someone in management doesn’t have a checkbox put on the payment coupons to make this fucking simple. It’s nobody’s fault. That’s shitty corporate America’s telephone tree customer support model. Nobody you talk to can actually fix anything.

The conspiracy part of me thinks they don’t do that because it doesn’t benefit them to have you paying this thing down faster.
The part of me that dealt with Linda this morning makes me think they are just stupid and lazy. That’s also the part of me that’s been looking at their pathetic website.

Oh, and also the info on the website about my payment due and amount due don’t match the information on the telephone system. I’ll have to take Linda’s word, and the word of the auto-telephone recording, that I don’t have a payment due in two days, since that’s not what the website shows.

So, fuck you very much Citibank Student Loans.

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