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Monday, July 11, 2005

In arrears...

Oh buggery bollocks! Just what I need days away from my final paycheque and with no guarantee as yet where the next one will come from. I have failed to pay the minimum balance on 2 credit cards and incurred a total of £44 in fines.

This is pretty galling, as I have always been a sensible user of credit cards. Eight years as a student has made me extremely wary of borrowing money. My main credit card is used almost exclusively for online purchases, since it has fraud protection (unlike a standard switch or delta debit card). I almost invariably pay the balance off within a month and have never paid interest once.

My second credit card was a Barclaycard. I opened it to take advantage of the 9 months interest free period so that I could spread the payment of my laptop. To my disgust, after weeks of to-ing and fro-ing, they granted me the generous credit limit of £300. This was because I am the first occupant of my apartment and for the previous 18 months had been using the wrong sodding postcode (supplied to me by my letting agent). Mail gets there no problem, but the address doesn't officially exist, so no credit record was built. Bugger. Anyways, they refused to take into account my unblemished 10 year credit history, so in a fit of pique I decided that the card was going in the shredder the moment I pay off the £300 owed on my laptop (My mate, still a student, has £5000 - I might not need £5000, but it pisses me off nonetheless).

Well, I put my hands up to the first fine. The last month has been extremely hectic, with weddings, job applications and recalcitrant experiments. For the first time in my life I simply forgot to pay. Ooopsie. I'm not thrilled about paying £20, but it's my fault, no one elses.

The second fine is a bit more irritating though, and may be worth a pleading phone call. I have been paying off the £300 balance at a rate of £50/month since I got it. Along the way though I lost track slightly. I knew that I owed either £50 or £100 to clear the debt. So I paid £50 on pay day 2 months ago, figuring that I would be able to tell when the statement arrived. It arrived 4 days after I clicked Pay on my online banking. The balance was £50. However, had I just paid that £50 or was that what was left after the £50 was subtracted? The time taken for funds to be cleared and to be subtracted from statements is an entirely random event, dictated by how much interest Large Bank Plc thinks it can make on the overnight currency exchanges investing this "dead" money as it shuttles between institutions.

Well, it would be easy enough to tell - just wait for the next statement. It never came. Seriously, I'm the only person with access to my mailbox so it hasn't be taken out by someone else and stuck on a shelf somewhere. This was when I made an extremely naive mistake - I figured "my balance is obviously zero - they haven't bothered to send a statement". So I celebrated the fact that I officially own my laptop and forgot all about it. Imagine my shock when I opened my mailbox today. I still owed £50 and now owed a further £24 and the card has been suspended. The other bank simply asked "have you forgotten to pay your card?" (and still fined me £20 obviously).

So do you think my boyish charm and apology will save me £24? Well, it can't hurt to try can it?



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