Last week I paid off one of my credit cards.
But I'm not sure which excites me more having less debt or having one less automated service to deal with.
It seems our greedy friends at credit card companies aren't content with sucking every little penny out of us plastic-using consumers. They're out to push our buttons. And let me assure you, my friends, that I have some easily pushed buttons.
Allow me to illustrate.
The other day I received my monthly bill from a clothing company I shall not name. For the third time in recent months I had to call customer service because my bill was first sent to my old address and then forwarded to my new address. Mind you now that I've had this conversation twice already to have my bill sent to my new address and not the old one, which miraculously finds its way back into their system.
Now this particular credit card company has switched to an automated service that is almost completely voice activated. The voice on the other end asks you to dial or speak your 16-digit account number, and after that there's no more dialing on the caller's behalf. That means there's no buttons to push but my own.
So as I'm pacing around the house and waiting for the option that eventually will connect me with a customer service representative, I close a door behind me apparently too loudly and the automated operator says, "I'm sorry; I can't understand you."
And my little temper flares up.
"That's because I didn't say anything!" I scream in my head, for fear of speaking out loud to the sensitive operator. I've learned to be quiet from other experiences with this company, but apparently I shut doors too hard.
So by the time the operator has started over with my endless available options, and I've finally been connected with a real live person somewhere in Bangladesh, I've become a tad irate.
It's all I can do to tame the anger in my voice when I tell this person I need to change my address once again. When that process is over, however, it's her turn to press my buttons.
"Since you've been a loyal customer for six years, we'd like to offer you a second card," she says.
As politely as I can muster, I tell her I don't need a second card.
But she continues her routine of why I do.
"It's just me," I say. "I don't need another card."
"You can give it to your wife," she suggests.
With all buttons pushed, I finally snap.
"I don't have a wife!" I bite back. "I don't want the card."
"OK, is there anything else I can help you with today?"
I say no thank you, but I really want to say, "Yeah. Quit pushing my buttons, lady, and while you're at it, drop that interest rate."
Shannon Jenkins is the education reporter for The Daily Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com or (770) 957-9161.