Friday, May 31, 2013

1181 Crime and Punishment

1181 Crime and Punishment

The crime you commit is committing. Your punishment is your reward.

Usually, when you do something reward-worthy, you can expect a reward.  But not when your reward worthy deed is loyalty.  At least not all the time.

We’re forever hearing about loyalty.  Loyalty to country, loyalty to family, loyalty to neighbors; loyalty to employers.

Loyalty to country is returned by the government coating you and itself with fast drying cement.

Loyalty to family?  Most of us have decent ones if not somewhat dysfunctional, but then you get the kids who kill their parents or their siblings or each other or themselves.

Loyalty to neighbors: acknowledged by the guy breaking your riding mower and even then not returning it.

Loyalty to employers?  Expect a pink slip any day now.

But this is nothing new and this is not the worst of it.  The worst of it is a class of companies that “reward” loyalty by finding new ways to break the bank.  Your bank.

Let’s start with banks.  Have you seen interest rates lately?  They’re near nothing.  Okay, not great. But at least your money is safe.  More or less.  But when it comes to credit cards, the rate is … what... the best deals around are in the eight percent range.  The worst are almost 30%.  Even if you’ve had the credit card since JP Morgan personally ran the bank.  Loyalty for longevity?  Nah.

The thieves who issue “payday loans” where interest can be 200% a year -- that isn’t a typo -- are looking for ways to continue bleeding you now that their short term lending practice faces actual regulation.

Meantime the commercial banks have figured out ways to make payday loans at slightly lower but still disastrous interest rates that fly under the regulation radar.

This used to be called usury and you went to jail for it.  Now it’s “best practice.”  Makes going to Benny the Shark look like a good alternative.

Banks are not alone.  How about insurance companies.  We all know the goal of every insurance company is to never pay a claim. When forced to, they go down fighting.  Okay.  We understand that. But take note:  every auto insurance company is fighting for your new business with bargain rates.  Customer loyalty?  Doesn’t count.  Your rates go up most years even without your filing a claim.

Telephone companies:  You’re with your cell carrier for a decade and you’re locked into a contract.  You upgrade, and the costs go up.  You swap your land line for a home-based over the air service, sign your life away and then realize that your bill is slightly lower but you can’t call overseas anymore or your calls to toll free numbers aren’t toll free anymore -- they count against your allotments of minutes.

Auto dealers: You’ve been buying your new Plymouths from Jollie Chollie on Bruckner Boulevard for 30 years and now that they don’t make them anymore, Chollie has a “great deal” for “long time customers” on one of those aluminum foil two-seaters … just as soon as Fritz over in the Boblingen factory figures out how to keep the passenger side door attached during a crash.

Loyalty.  It’s a good thing.  But it’s becoming a crime.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2013

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