Friday, September 26, 2008

There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there is credit card

A man’s credit card was stolen, but he decided not to report it because the thief was spending less than his wife did. The last I heard of this guy, he was divorced.

When Alexander Parkes invented plastic, I am sure he did not imagine it would be used to make money. If he knew, he would not have died a poor man (Actually I don’t know if he died a poor man, but it is not a lie to use a fact without knowing if it is true or false). While we are on plastic, if I cut up my credit cards, did I do a plastic surgery?

The advantage of a credit card is that you don’t have to carry large amount of cash in bags and sacks (the way people shop these days) while shopping and eating out. However, people are not aware that they are spending money they have not earned. Heard of debit cards, anyone?

Smart (read ‘evil’) credit card companies somehow seem to know how to tempt people to increase their credit card use. First, they came up with points for your spending. Only 1% (my own estimate using a highly scientific statistical model called ‘inky pinky ponky’) of card holders actually redeem those points. Then came pre-approved credit cards. I feel people consider being pre-approved for a credit card mean they have to apply for it! Then they came up with add-on cards. It became prestigious to give add-on cards to your spouse and children. I have even given one each to my servant and driver.

I have mastered the trick to evade sales people who jump at you while leaving big stores like Big Bazaar or Food World and are willing to give you a credit card with an ID proof and invoice as the income proof. Now you know why I would never work for a credit card company. It also amuses me that they would not give me a credit card if I came to buy only bread in the morning (because then the bill will be only for Rs 15) even though my salary is Rs 25 lakhs. (I did not want to reveal my real salary; so I have mentioned only half of it!). Please don’t assume that I went to buy bread in the morning because I fought with my wife and she refused to cook breakfast for me.

An interesting thing I noticed about credit card holders is the number of cards they carry. If it is for convenience, then you need only one credit card. If it is for acceptance at multiple outlets, then you need two or three of Visa, Master, Amex, etc. If it is for drawing as much credit as possible, then you need more than two and the willingness to relocate often. And if it is to impress women and to lure them to go on date with you, then you definitely need a dozen.

The sad part, however, is that most of us are walking around with more plastic debt than we can repay in paper. Expecting the credit card companies to be fair is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian. The mantra these days seems to be that the way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it!

Millions of credit cards have enabled millions of people to get mired in millions of debt and have led to millions of bankruptcies. Without credit cards, people wouldn't owe millions of dollars to millions of credit card companies, on which they're being charged millions of interest. (If you wondered why I have used so many millions, I don’t know any number larger than that).

One big problem with credit cards is the enormous possibility of misuse. The statistics on credit card frauds are that one out of every five credit card is misused. Speak to four of your friends. If they don’t seem to have a problem, then it's you who is misusing a credit card! It is interesting that credit card companies always process the payments no matter how you signed the receipts.

An anecdote I read: “I was signing the receipt for my credit card purchase when the clerk noticed I had never signed my name on the back of the credit card. She informed me that she could not complete the transaction unless the card was signed. When I asked why, she explained that it was necessary to compare the signature I had just signed on the receipt with the one on the card. So I signed the credit card in front of her. She carefully compared the signature to the one I had just signed on the receipt. As luck would have it, they matched.”

The most affected people due to the credit card usage obviously must be the street side beggars, what with people no longer going around with change. The next would be the adult and instant entertainment sites, who would be saddled with a very high rate of charge reversals from visitors who claim to their wives when the statement comes that they never signed up for the service and that it must have been some prank or mistake.

While Larry King was interviewing Satan on his TV show, King asked Satan to describe the foulest deed he had ever done. Satan refused to name one, pointing out that there had been so much destruction over the years, so many lives cut short, and so many wars and calamities that none stood out. But King kept pestering. “Surely, if you think hard enough, there must be one dastardly deed you are most proud of.” Satan thought for a moment, his eyes brightened, and he replied, “Well, yes. I guess if I have to pick just one particularly evil thing I'm proudest of, it would be this: Several years ago, I invented credit cards.”

If you aren't saddled with credit card debt, congratulations, you are only a few steps away from sainthood!

Making a friend read my blog ….. $ 10
Buying a reader software that will read out the blog ….. $ 100
Having readers like you who keep coming back for more ….. Priceless!

44 comments:

Gazal said...

so true...

i had a post by that name a few months ago too...

and i have no shame in accepting that i do not have any credit cards.

i just prefer the smell of money to plastic.

I Witness said...

Personally, I am more cut up with the intrusion of the callers trying to sell you cards than the card in itself... could say with some conviction that I have been better off with cards than otherwise ...

Girlfriend, Driver, Servant, Wife (that's not in any particular order, just in case you think so) and a salary that's not too bad ... Man am I happy that you are my friend (and I thought friendship is something that money can't buy...)

sansmerci said...

i live on my CC and pay up my entire salary in the beginning of the month .. n from day 2 n bak on CC :D .. i kno its a vicious cycle but until now i havent gone beyond the period in which i don hve to pay int :P

as always had a good lauf .. keep em comin :)

rantravereflect/ jane said...

do ya know ya're a really funny guy :) rotfl at all those interjunctions:
i mean dun think i fought with my wife in the morning, paid porn sites making that big loss, alexander parkes dying a poor man (your assumption and non-lie), 50 lakh salary (--can i be ya second wife, trust me i'll make ya yumm ham n bacon for breakfast ;))

and i'm already a saint--> no credit cards.. hurrrrrrrrray :D

Chriz said...

credit card.. man i had five of them.. and i had to sell my underwear in the end... thanks for coming to my blog.. u r blogrolled bro

shri ramesh sadasivam said...

//If you aren't saddled with credit card debt, congratulations, you are only a few steps away from sainthood!//

Then I must be a saint. I don't have a credit card. :)

Keshi said...

Im not big on credit cards. I do hv one but I dun use it much..and when I do, I pay it on time. yeah, u can call me a SAINT :)

I know some ppl go gaga over their credit card freedom n max em all out until they r in severe post-shopping trauma. God help such foolish ppl.


Keshi.

Renu said...

we are writing the same thing but in such a contrasting way:) Your tongue in cheek description of everything is very interesting.
i use debit card most of the times, only for net bookings and all i need a cc.

Aneesh said...

Hey, thanks for dropping by my blog.
Nice post here about credit card. Daily, there are ladies calling telling their bank have offers and blah blah.. to take credit card.

Well, this depression now, I think, has made them quiet a bit

Salil said...

@Gazal:
Not having a credit card is not shameful, though I was wondering how you manage your shopping and other expenses. Ah then it struck me, husband’s credit card! :-)
Yeah, plastic may not smell like paper money, but it is CONVENIENT nonetheless.
Will hop around your post sometime.

@iWitness:
Oh, I missed to mention the callers. I have had many funny experiences on that front.
It is said that money can't buy you friends, but can get you a better class of enemy.
But I thought I did not mention my salary. Man, your intuitive skills are amazing :-)

@Sans:
Thank you.
This post is targeted exactly at people like you. Probably you should frame it and hang it next to your desk :-)
At the cost of repetition, heard of debit cards?

@Jane:
Thanks, I do a good job of ‘appearing’ to be a funny guy!
Having married once, what kind of fool do I look like to suggest I might do it again??!!
And my advice to you is don't marry for money; you can borrow it cheaper :-)
PS: I am amazed at the power of blogs; never in my wildest imagination could I imagine I will receive a marriage proposal! :-)
PPS: Probably it is the smell of money! But now I know what kind of blogs to write to get unmarried young women interested! Correction: 25 lakhs is only one-fourth of my salary. Get your friends also :-)

Salil said...

@Chriz:
Thanks for passing by and blog-rolling.
I guess you are now in control of your finances from your usage of ‘had’. Good for you.
Also I am amused to know that used underwear could be sold! :-)

@Shri:
Hi Saint Ramesh, nice to meet you.
As I said, credit cards are convenient.

@Keshi:
You know what, credit card companies HATE customers like you, who pay up the entire balance before the due date. They don’t make any money on you.
Well, living on borrowed money may be FOOLish for the person who does so, but it is so WISE of the capitalists to get people to do that. And as long as it exists, my job and hence, income, is secured. :-)

@Renu:
Thank you for your kind words.
That’s a very wise way of using cards. Way to go.

@Aneesh:
Yeah, the credit card callers are funny. Most of them don’t even know the name of the person they are speaking to. And I am sure atleast 50% of the people get mad at them.
Some benefits of depression, he he..

prg said...

Credit cards are very useful if you know your limitations. As i witness says it is the people trying to sell cards that bugs you. My friend has an effective way to handle these tele callers.
This is how it goes.

Telecaller(TC): Good morning am I speaking with Mr........

My Friend: No,He is not around. I am his brother.

TC: Oh! I am calling on behalf of XYZ bank.Your brother has a preapproved credit card and since he is not here right now , would you be interested.

MF: What is the credit limit?

TC: 5 lakhs.

MF: Oh yes I would be interested.

TC: Where are you working sir?

MF: I don't have a job. That is why I need the credit.

TC: ???????

and promptly hangs up. Word gets around and presto no more calls for a credit card. I didn't make this up. You should try it sometimes

DeeplyDip said...

hey came here for the firts time...nice post...enjoyed going through it...:)

ANWESA said...

njoyable post,ur 1st poker kept me in gud mood..

Devika said...

Nice read,Salil.

In this land, a credit card can buy literally anything. it can 'buy' even the card holder..many were packed last year from India..so many suicides..killings all in the name of credit card...

But well, then there are stocks that are becoming less available and that go for cash!!...:-))

I don't know more about credit cards...only my husband knows!!

You have a good sense of sales, Salil! can't help coming back :-)

Salil said...

@PRG:
Credit cards are useful if you can pay the balance before the due dates. But then that is just NOT what the credit card companies would like. So we have a paradox to that extent!
Your friend’s method seems to be a very effective one. While I was in India, I used to try various methods, but never tried this. I guess it would be a highly stressful job being a credit call caller :-)

@Deeply:
Thank you for passing by. Hope you come back for more… it would be priceless!

@Anwesa:
Thank you. Hope your good mood does not make you go out and overuse your credit card! :-)

@Devika:
Thank you for your kind words.
My own hunch is that credit card / personal loan portfolio of Indian banks has the potential of being the next crisis similar to the mortgage portfolio of US banks – next Factiva story?
I guess, being married, your husband knows more than his share about credit cards :-)

raj said...

Excellent post by you.Can you please employ me as ur Executive Assistant?? I mean who wudnt like to be one especially when you offer credit cards to your servants and driver.

Keshi said...

hehe true...

And I've always been a difficult and hated customer. lol!

Keshi.

Swarna said...

Wonderful read!
My hubby and I hold a couple of CC each. What we like most about them: once a year, call up the company and say we do not want the cards unless annual fees are reversed. Sailing along for about 10 years now.

Monika said...

I am actually an ardent user of CC's and strongly believe that if u use them well... they do more good than harm :)

Salil said...

@Raj:
Thank you.
You are in queue and your waiting list number is 587. And it would help if you are a good-looking blonde!

@Keshi:
I am an useless customer too. I pay up my entire balance before the due date.

@Swarna:
Thank you for hopping by.
I guess the guy who prepares the budget for the bank will be wondering how come they are off by annual fees of exactly two people every year for the last 10 years! :-)

@Monika:
Thanks for visiting.
If you are paying your entire balance before the due date, then you are definitely doing yourself a lot of good, but not to the credit card issuer :-)
Guess who pays for it – the person who already struggles with his finances and runs interest and charges on his credit card!

philip9876 said...

Bang on target. I cut up all my supplementary cards and just hold on to one visa card now. And i use it just for emergency case.

Keshi said...

hi-5! ;-)

keshi.

rantravereflect/ jane said...

"Probably it is the smell of money! But now I know what kind of blogs to write to get unmarried young women interested! Correction: 25 lakhs is only one-fourth of my salary. Get your friends also :-)

haaaaaa :)
by math, if it's 1/4 and not 1/2 ya salary, it does not double the NO. of women interested in ya, it just doubles mY INTEREST-RATE in you ;)
i'm twice interested now...

but ya wife n my bf are probably gonna kill the two of us in teh name of HONOR KILLINGS, and loot all ya savings n assets n canoodle for the rest of their lives..

sooo, ya think it'd be a good idea to give this a miss ;)
as for friends, haaaaa, if they're involved, ya wife is only gonna have a merrier time,, soo many more bfs to coochi-coo with!!

bwauhhhhhhhhhhhhh,,..

credit card or not, money buys TROUBLE!!!

anilk said...

"I feel people consider being pre-approved for a credit card means they have to apply for it" - how true!
Well written man. Had a good laugh.
Regards,
Anil (a priceless reader)

Rakesh Vanamali said...

I completely agree Salil, credit cards are evil and intended to make the holder spend beyond his / her means while being fleeced off considering the elephantine interest rates......

Nothing like real money..... you have it, you spend it.... else you dont!

"You want 21 percent risk free? Pay off your credit cards.” How true....isnt it?

Neetha said...

I dont have any credit cards!I use my dad's instead! :D
But stil i fall under da saint category rite?! ;)

Good writing Salil...Ur damn funny man!!! :D

Keep goin.. :)

Neetha.

Salil said...

@Philip:
Thanks for coming this way.
Glad to hear you did plastic surgery, I mean, cut up your cards. You seem to have a very wise head on your shoulders.

@Keshi:
Ok, hi-5! Jump higher!

@Jane:
Lol! Money $ure buy$ trouble!
I hope you have heard this – ‘A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.’

@Anil aka priceless reader:
Thank you for your kind words.
Hope to see you around.

@Rakesh:
Credit cards are designed to take advantage of consumer vulnerabilities. It is like a snake in your wallet, tempting you to sin.
But it definitely is convenient – you just need to know your limits, pay up your entire balances and overcome the ‘urge’ to spend just because you are carrying the card.

@Neetha:
Thank you. Take a bow.
I hope you have heard about the book ‘rich dad, poor dad’. Don’t make your dad write the book titled ‘was rich dad, now poor dad’! :-)

Shail said...

//If you aren't saddled with credit card debt, congratulations, you are only a few steps away from sainthood!// Meet THE saint! I have credit cards (yeah plural) and no debt! I think life has been made easier for me at least by this plastic money. I don't have to watch my husband doubling up with laughter watching me laboriously count out the money note after note. I only have to grandly have the card swiped and even more grandly sign the receipt and walk out in style!!

Vintage said...

I like the epigrammatic expressions at the beginning and the end of your post.
Nice job.

Prasad said...

lol! Salil you rock :-). I can identify with this post as I see my hard (or hardly?) earned salary go towards paying my credit card bills!!

Keshi said...

I dun need to...Im tall lol!

Keshi.

Salil said...

@Saint Shail:
Thank you for visiting.
I guess your husband would have preferred doubling up with laughter seeing you laboriously count the money to silently weeping on seeing your credit card statements. Yeah, I see your grand scheme :-)

@Vintage:
Thank you for coming by.
There were also 954 words between those epigrammatic expressions :-)

@Prasad:
Thanks buddy.
Then I would consider your financial position as very liquid. It is fast going down the drain :-)

@Keshi:
Well, you might be tall, but I am taller. I am 6’ 8” and growing :-)

imemyself said...

well... my hubby was a credit card freak ...but my constant badgering turned him into a debit card collecter !!

n I m so sick of those ladies offering me credit card on a daily basis that at times I really yell at them..

well now we just use one cc for online transactions but the temptation is just round the corner for hubby dearest....

Nikhil Narayanan said...

The ease with which these guys increase credit limits are so scary! Smaller limits are the safest.

-Nikhil

Devika said...

Hi Salil!

Indian credit card market is definitely in for a crisis..and Factiva stories --abounding! so much to cover...

btw, 'A Certain Kind of Woman' would wish to see you. Do visit her, when time allows :-)

see you again!
devika

Ms Cris said...

Plastic eh. I always thought it was metal :p

nimis540 said...

:) Good post..

I see it the other way..There is no such thing as 'good' or 'bad' in this world..Its just how you make use of it that matters..CC is a great ease of handling money and you can run to am ATM counter and have money even at 12 am,whihc isn't possible in the conventional banking method..Pros and cons are there everywhere..Obviously,people who are 'good ' enough to have a CC ought to be good enough in handling them too..If they have problem with it,simple,pls throw it in fire :)

We have lot of awareness around us and if people don't make use of info around them,it is their fault..


cough**cough** I hope nobody steals or frauds my husband's CC
;-)

Salil said...

IMeMyself:
Thank you for passing by.
Well, I am glad that you use debit card, which has all the advantages of a credit card without the disadvantages. The only trick is to have money in your account :-)

@Nikhil:
Thank you.
I agree with you. I heard that loans and credits are extended if you have good credit score, not necessarily repaying capacity. Why you may ask. The fundamental assumption is that you will do your best to retain the good credit score.

@Devika:
Good luck for your Factiva ‘stories’.

@MsCris:
Yeah, it is plastic, my dear friend. The choice is ‘plastic or paper’.

@Nimis:
Thank you.
I agree that credit cards have their advantages. But don’t debit cards have them too?
I am sure your husband’s bigger worry is not the misuse of his cards (by others) but the use of it (by you) :-)

Rajat Chaudhuri said...

Hey Salil

Enjoyed your credit card yarn. Yearn for more.

Bhai with Chai said...

amazing write up!

I do not use a CC for now.. future ka.. pata nai!

//And if it is to impress women and to lure them to go on date with you, then you definitely need a dozen.

hehe.. come on!


btw.. servants n driver hmmm?? employ me!!
but then..I am good for nothing!
:((

Ganga Dhanesh said...

I've an artist friend who is a hard nosed banker...and i always thought art and money never went together...now you...a humorous banker!!!

Sal said...

@Rajat:
Thank you for visiting this space.
Hope to see you around.

@Bhai:
Welcome back.
Credit card has its advantages provided you have discipline.
Good for nothing, eh? – looks like you will not have a credit card for a long time :-)

@Ganga:
Maybe art and money do not go together. I am neither rich nor a banker :-)

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