Call your Senators!

Because this was somewhat buried at the end of my last too-long, ranty post…here’s something you can do to hold the credit card companies’ collective feet to the fire.

There’s something everyone can do to stop credit card companies from issuing unfair rate hikes, fees and loopholes to consumers who pay their bills. Call the Consumers Union Action Line at 800-944-6762. By putting in your zip code, they’ll connect you to your Sentor’s office, so that you can voice your support of the Credit Card Reform Bill, S. 414. The Senate is bitterly divided on this bill, and the only people suffering are the credit card holders.

For more info on the Credit Card Reform Bill, and what you can do to stop unfair creditors from preying on consumers, go to creditcardreform.org.

Injustice abounds

I’ve always had a thing about rule-breakers and general unfairness. I hate line-cutters. I hate when people don’t offer to move over in a crowded theater. I HATE when you do the right thing, but someone else doesn’t and you suffer for it.

Let me share some recent consumer disasters I’ve encountered.

We have a credit card with a certain unscrupulous creditor. I won’t name them for my own identity protection, but I feel confident that it could happen with any of the major (majorly failing) banks, so it’s not that important. They’re interchangable.

So here’s what happened. We have a very small minimum payment – like $20 or something. I paid $500 in mid Feb and then paid another $200 on Mar. 6. Turns out both payments counted for Feb. because the billing cycle is only from the 8th to the 28th of the month. Apparently, the 29th through the 7th is no-man’s land, and those payments count for the previous month. SO, then I didn’t pay again until the first week of Apr. Guess what? The March payment was never counted for the March due date, so we got slammed with a late fee and our rate DOUBLED!

I called to see what happended and the customer service person said, “I can see what your intention was, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t pay early. They won’t lower your rate and you’ll have to appeal the late fees.” Not only was she unhelpful, she was condescending, “well, that’s why you get statements.”

Let me tell you that nowhere on the statement does it say “if you pay during the month your payment is due, but prior to our arbitrary cycle date, you will be severly punished by us ruining your credit.”

So, I wrote a professional but mean letter to said useless bank and am awaiting a response. Albeit, with little hope.

Here’s the 2nd example. My husband changed jobs. His last day with one job was a Friday and his first day with the new job was the following Monday. These dates fell at the end of March, so his final paycheck came in April, where we saw that they had deducted the cost of his medical insurance. So, on April 6th, he was no longer employed by the company, but we had paid for one more month of medical care.

I needed to go to the doctor. I’d been coughing and coughing for five weeks. In a terrible culmination of fate, my regular doctor’s office was closed due to flooding, so I planned to go to Urgent Care. Before I left the house, I called the insurance. I said, “are we covered?” They said, “says here you are, but check with your HR dept. because they could back date the term.” Meaning, they could send a letter to the insurance company on April 6th that says, “this person is no longer covered as of March 31st”.

So I called the HR dept. They said, “says here you’re covered. We submitted a notice to the insurance saying your term ends April 30th. Here’s the address for an in-network Urgent Care.”

Bases covered, right? WRONG.

So I go to Urgent Care, wait 4 hours to see a Physician’s Assistant who gives me over-the-counter cough medicine. I’m not even going to go into that experience, which surely makes the list of injustices.

Fast forward a couple weeks and I get a bill saying the insurance refused payment because I wasn’t covered at the time of service. You could see that one coming, right? So could I.

So I start my phone calls again – “what’s up, insurance?” They say, “it says here that your insurance ended on March 31st.” Next I call HR, “what’s up, HR?” They say, “it says in the notes that you were told the benefits ended on March 30th”. Hmm, that’s funny, there are 31 days in March. So I say, “why would I go to the doctor if that’s what I was told?” And the very nice guy says, “you want me to put in a case-number and have the higher-ups listen to the conversation?” Hell Yes I Do.

So they listen. And I get a call today saying, “You were right. We told you the wrong thing. We told you you were covered and you weren’t. It was our mistake. I’ve very sorry. BUT, I escalated it and asked for an exception and they said no. They said your only option was COBRA.

Anyone out there familiar with COBRA? Well, let me tell you, it’s highway robbery. My bill for Urgent Care is $215. If we were to get COBRA for the employee plus one for ONE MONTH it would cost $998.02.

Laughable.

Time for more letter-writing.

I could probably submit the bill to the new insurance, because I’m pretty sure we were covered on day one, but that’s really not the point at all.

What if I had made that Physician’s Assistant actually see what was wrong with me? Ordered a chest x-ray that I surely needed or something else? Then that bill would be in the thousands!

I hate these people and their lack of responsiblity, service, general lack of regard for their customers. I hate them.

How’s that for a rant?!

We’re not helpless, though. I truly believe that. I know not everyone has the time for letter campaigns, frankly, neither do I. But if it’s a case of stamina – who will fight longer? I don’t plan to lose that fight.

Here’s something everyone can do to stop credit card companies from issuing unfair rate hikes, fees and loopholes to consumers who pay their bills. Call the Consumers Union Action Line at 800-944-6762. By putting in your zip code, they’ll connect you to your Sentor’s office, so that you can voice your support of the Credit Card Reform Bill, S. 414. The Sentate is bitterly divided on this bill, and the only people suffering are the credit card holders.

For more info on the Credit Card Reform Bill, and what you can do to stop unfair creditors from preying on consumers, go to creditcardreform.org.

As for the insurance companies, I don’t have a good resource for that one yet. But I plan to send letters to my Senators and Representative, and to the Senators and the Representative of the state where the company is headquartered. I think I’ll write Ralph Nader too, and see if he has any advice.

Squeak, squeak, squeak says the wheel! Power to the people! (just kidding – that was a little dramatic.)

Yay! Fame!!!!

Fame!
Fame!

I’m watching Bride Wars right now, and you know how I know I’m going to love it? Here are the previews – all of which I have added to my Netflix Queue:

Post Grad with the lovely Rory from Gilmore Girls and Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights!!!

My Life in Ruins – with Nia Vardalos from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Like a romance novel come to life! Oh yeah, and Rachel Dratch! Love her.

I Love You, Beth Cooper– with Claire from Heroes…a fun high school movie. My favorite!

and best of all – a remake that I have been impatiently waiting for for over 20 years –

FAME!!!

Here’s the official site. It’s got Kherington from SYTYCD, the girl from Summerland (does she sing or dance?) and of course, Debbie Allen! Woo hoo!!! Sept. 25, 2009!

Baby, remember my name…remember, remember, remember

FAME!

Happy Belated Earth Day

My new favorite blogger, Kirsten, posted a nice Earth Day “here’s what I’m doing to help the Earth” post with some goals for next year, and I really liked it. so here’s mine.

First, a roll-up of 2008’s efforts:

We’ve cut out all napkins and most paper towels. We actually gave up paper towels too, but the landlord had to fix the roof and he had tar on his hand, and I didn’t have anything disposable for him to clean his hand with! I think sometimes you just need a paper towel. But we only buy the 100% post-consumable recycled ones (like 7th generation), and we only buy about 3 rolls every 6 months or so. We also only use the 100% recycled toilet paper. Harder to find, but well worth it. Here’s why it’s important.

We’ve loved using the cloth napkins made from soft quilting cotton. I gave them out to all the family for Christmas and they were a big hit.

And I can’t say enough how much I love, love, love my reusable grocery bags bought from the store. I use them for EVERYTHING – carrying toys to the park, carrying library books, cleaning out the car, oh – and of course, groceries. They go on my shoulder – I can carry 4 or 5 totally packed at a time. Awesome. If I forget them, I don’t take a bag. The other day, I was juggling coffee creamer and milk and butter. I stuck some apples in my purse. It was awkward, and it motivates me not to forget my bags. I try to always keep at least two in the car.

Along those same lines, I don’t use produce bags at all. No need. Who cares if the tomatoes are all over the bag, as long as the milk isn’t on top of them. And I don’t take bags from stores unless I really really need it. If I can carry whatever I’m buying in my hands or purse, and still hold my kid’s hand, I don’t need a bag. It’s just going to my house anyway, right? No new bags in the house!

For 2009, my #1 goal is to wipe out the wipees. I use Kirkland baby wipees like there’s no tomorrow! Waste waste waste. And I’m sure they’ve got some wierd chemical component that is bad news.

#2 – plastic bottles. My husband worked for a water bottling company for the last few years, and now he works for a major soft drink manufacturer. We’ve always got plastic bottles around here. We’re pretty good about using them a couple times before recycling them, but still. No good. We’ve got to get rid of them. Just because he works there doesn’t mean we have to fill our house with them.

#3 – Turning off power strips. This is such a simple power saver, but I ALWAYS forget. My goal is to concentrate on the TV/Cable/DVR/DVD player strip and the computer strip. Every night. Switch them off!

#4 – Water. My kid loves to play with water. But he’s just as happy with a bucket full of water and a serving spoon as he is with a running hose. We’re working on that.

#5 – Pick up more trash. It’s not like I can’t wash my hands if I pick up that empty chip bag or crushed water bottle in the parking lot at the park. We pick up some, but we walk by a lot.

Sorry if that got preachy :) I was up on a soapbox for a minute there.

Unusuals

Is anyone else watching this show? I HOPE so! I love it – so quirky and funny. The cast is excellent. Great internal conflict for each character. Plus, when you’re a Jet you stay a Jet, so I have to cheer for Riff’s daughter :) And I LOVED Joan of Arcadia.

Here’s the low down:

Spoonsisters

I get little email newsletters from Spoonsisters, a super cute online shop full of fun gift items. This week, I got one with a Mother’s Day theme – and there are a ton of cute gift ideas. But one thing I noticed is how many of them I could easily sew myself. Here are a few pictures of things I think I could make…so many fun ideas out there. And the sewing is so simple! By the way, this is not a paid post…I realized as I was typing it that it seemed like one, but honestly, look how much money people sell small sewn objects for! I can’t really even believe it.

Needle and Pin Booklet, $24
Needle and Pin Booklet, $24
The Drop-In: Pursket for small purses, $18
The Drop-In: Pursket for small purses, $18
Satin Pillowcase for Satin Hydration Therapy (???), $33.95
Satin Pillowcase for Satin Hydration Therapy (???), $33.95
Doorganizer, $15
Doorganizer, $15

Gems on the Web Baby Edition

It’s been a while, but since I’m in search of good baby patterns for a slew of new babies on the way out, I’m finding some real treasure on the old www. Here are some links worth following:

To sum it up, I can’t believe I buy so many patterns. There are so many free ones on the internet. It took me longer to copy and paste these links into this post than it took to find them.

Enough looking – time to get sewing. There are two baby boys on the way – one by induction tomorrow, and one in a few months. I’m thinking quilt, wipes case and a couple burp cloths. Sound good? Now I need to buy some fabric. The best part.