Sunday, August 17, 2014

My friends Ann and Bowers were here for a brief but very busy and fun visit a week or so ago.  On their last full day we did a little excursion up to Craggy Pinnacle and did the short hike to the top (elevation 6,100 feet) since at that altitude the weather is much milder than it is in town.  This was one of the pictures I took of them with Felix, who is a growing boy.  People keep asking me about why I don't have more pictures of him but it is because 5 month old puppies rarely stay in one position long enough to get a picture and it is particularly challenging if the person taking the shot is also trying to hold onto the puppy in question.

At his last weight he was up to 61 pounds. . .getting bigger almost while I look at him.  He is still a very sweet boy.  He likes just about everyone and has a good time no matter when we go or what we do.  Lucky me.

I just turned off Frank Stasio’s interview with Sarah Creech, a young novelist, that he did on today’s episode of The State of Things and was, once again, horrified by the tendency of people who are otherwise seemingly intelligent, making themselves sound like idiots because of a speech pattern.

Ms Creech answered every single question posed to her by beginning her response with the word “so”.  I noticed the explosive growth of this speech pattern about 6 months ago and have found it very annoying.  These people sound like the Valley Girls of the 80s who were so successfully ridiculed by Moon Zappa in her song of the same name that some young women actually stopped talking like that.

Ms Creech exacerbated the impression that she is of this ilk by demonstrating her use of up-talking. . .the tendency to finish every sentence with an upward inflection as if she were asking a question.  The combination of these two traits is lethal, in my opinion.  Part way through the interview I found her so annoying that I turned the program off.  Since she was there to promote her book, it is unfortunate that she managed to lose at least one potential reader by sounding so infantile that I couldn’t imagine her writing is worthwhile.

To be clear, I am not picking on Ms Creech.  These two tendencies in speech are pervasive at this point although the dramatic nature of the “so”-speakers sudden appearance on the public airwaves has surprised me.  Up speech has been around for years, and while irritating, doesn’t, for some reason, make the speaker sound as ignorant as those who begin every answer with “so”.  I realize that English, like no doubt most languages, is fluid, but it doesn’t mean we have to accept each and every trend, regardless of how stupid it makes the speaker sound.


Okay.  That is my rant.  I have always appreciated the sort of yin and yang in life and in keeping with that I think it is time to post a rave as well.  To my utter amazement this time the rave is for a large member of corporate America. 

I have had a Capital One credit card (with Abner’s picture on it) for many years.  It is one of those cash back cards I read about once when I was shopping for a credit card.  It has no annual fee and rewards are paid in cash without an annual limit and with no restrictions whatever regarding when you redeem your refund.  If you have $122.68 in the account you don’t have to wait until it is exactly $150 to redeem (like you do with Wells Fargo’s card) or other nonsense.  They also allow you simply to apply it as a credit toward your bill on any month that you want to.

Anyway, I have always appreciated the simplicity of this card and its use and generally, as soon as I get an e-bill from Capital One with the amount due and the due date I log into my online bill pay service and set up the payment for a date that will pay it very close to the due date without going past.  This way I don’t pay interest or late fees.

A month ago I got my bill and it said the due date which would have required payment to leave my account on July 27th to post on time in my Capital One account.  Inadvertently though, I entered the payment to go out on August 27th instead of July.  Two days after the due date I got an email from Capital One politely asking if I forgot to make a payment.  Horrified, I looked up the account in both the Capital One website and my online banking website and realized what I had done.

In the past, when dealing with other credit card companies, and in particular the odious Citi card system, I realized that if you are even one day late, they charge you a late fee as well as interest for the previous month and for the next month.  Then if you pay it off completely you get hit with yet another interest charge because the payment you sent in in month two didn’t include the interest they would charge for that month.  In the end, the only way you can stop this cycle once it has started is to get a quote from customer service as to the exact amount due on the day you talk to them, including interest to date, and pay it with a direct bank draft that day.  Then you put the card away for one complete billing cycle so nothing can be charged on it for which they can compute interest, even for a partial month.  That way you end up starting over as if it were a new account.

I called Capital One with every intention of following this plan but to my surprise the extremely pleasant young man who answered my call said that it wouldn’t’ be necessary.  He said he would be happy to waive the late fee and as long as I authorized him to debit the past due amount from my bank account, the only interest I would have to pay would be the interest due to that date.  That way I didn’t have to stop using the card.

At a certain point I thought I would have to go to the emergency room because  of the heart attack that would no doubt come from being treated well and generously from a large American bank without asking or demanding it.  I can’t remember any similar experience with the banking sector in the US.  As a rule you talk to people in call centers in India, Bangladesh, the Philippines or similar whom you can barely understand and who very obsequiously tell you there is nothing they can do to help you and that if you want to avoid interest charges you really have to cancel the account and start over.  This experience with Capital One came as such as surprise that I feel like I need to thank them publicly for such a small but generous and reasonable act.  Little things like this are the kinds of actions that breed brand loyalty.  If more American Corporations realized this and acted accordingly I suspect they would be in better shape and their customers would be far more content and loyal.