I have given up my credit card, thanks to Barclaycard’s inability to distinguish its arse from its elbow.
So, I no longer have a credit card.
It wasn’t exactly my choice, I must admit. But after my nth call to Barclaycard to request a lower rate than the 24.9 per cent APR I was paying, and their nth refusal to change it, I cancelled it altogether.
I am furious, so forgive the following rant because I am absolutely blue with fury.
What, exactly, does Barclaycard consider to be a good customer? One who has been a client for 25 years? One who owns her house outright and her car outright? Who has no loans or mortgages? Who periodically pays off her balance entirely, always pays off the minimum each month and who pays by direct debit so she can never miss a payment?
And yet they couldn’t wait to get rid of me. To say that I am beside myself with rage would be an understatement.
The issue is that, clearly, I don’t fit into one of their little pigeonholes, so I am no use to them. I don’t have a monthly salary, being freelance, and I don’t have high outgoings. That is the kind of client the banks really want, so they can pull you in, fling you over a barrel and keep you there indefinitely. They are scumbags. No wonder the world economy is in such a mess. Over the years I’ve gotten well sick of banks phoning me up trying to get me to take out a loan, or a mortgage, or a remortgage for an extension I don’t need or a car I don’t want.
Back in the UK I have a friend, C, who with her partner runs an electrical goods shop, selling televisions etc. She has been amazed these past 10 years at the people who are buying the equipment – unemployed people, people on income support, people from the local council estate. The Waynes and Waynettas of the kingdom, or what we British call ‘Chavs’.
"It’s all on tick (credit) Trish," she told me, gobsmacked. "You know – WE can’t afford these things, these plasma-screen TVs and stuff – we just have an old colour telly. But all these people have credit cards and they come in here and they drop thousands…"
Myself and C, who was a nursing matron for many years, come from the same kind of background. Our parents weren’t wealthy. They were modest, hard-working people (we too lived on the council estate), but in those days credit – ‘the tick’ – was frowned upon.
My parents regarded it as little better than the pawnshop and what we couldn’t afford to buy, including our television, we rented. We bought almost nothing new – not cars, not furniture, not even clothes. "If you can’t buy it from your savings, then you can’t afford it," was their mantra, and over the years I have come to agree with them.
The truth is that the credit card exists to fill the gap between the person you are and the person you’d like to be – and God help you if that gap is too wide.
Time was when, blithe about my employment prospects, I’d run up large amounts on the credit card (though never more than a couple of grand) and just for things I wanted, rather than needed. But over the years I noticed the APR getting higher and I switched to using the card only for overseas purchases where I couldn’t use a debit card (Paypal, Amazon.com etc). But this is not the kind of client the credit companies want – the careful, organised shopper. They are simply not making enough money out of me.
So, now that credit stream is closed to me, and it looks like I won’t be buying from overseas any more (though luckily I can use a debit card on Amazon.co.uk).
Oh la. If that’s the way they want it. No-one has a right to credit, but all I wanted was a reasonable rate – the kind of rate that they offer their new customers. And if they can’t offer me that, then screw them – I’ll manage without.