Sunday 19 October 2008

How I solved credit crisis with just one phone call

Forget the global economic turmoil. I faced my own personal credit crisis when I received my credit card statement from DBS last week.

It said I owed $353.10 even though I didn't use my DBS Black American Express or my DBS Platinum MasterCard last month. In fact, I hardly used them at all.

So why did I owe $353.10? Because of the annual fees - plus GST.

My wife was furious because she didn't want me to get those cards in the first place.

It all started when I received one of those annoying cold calls from strangers peddling various financial products.

My wife would hang up right away, but I would let them finish their scripted sales pitch - and then say no.

I figured, hey, if they were willing to waste my time, I was willing to waste theirs. The trouble was sometimes I said yes.

That was how I ended up with a couple of credit cards I hardly use.

I figured, hey, since the annual fees were waived for the first year, what did I have to lose? I would enjoy the card benefits for one year and then cancel the cards.

The trouble was I forgot to cancel the cards. So now I was stuck with a $353.10 credit card bill and a pissed-off wife.

She insisted that I cancel the cards immediately so that I wouldn't forget and owe another $353.10 in 12 months.

So I called the DBS "hotline". When I finally reached the customer service officer, he asked why I wanted to cancel the cards. I told him about the annual fees but not the pissed-off wife.

Then the guy asked whether I would keep the cards if he waived the $353.10 charge.

What? You mean this guy on the phone could magically make my $353.10 debt disappear just like that?

What if I hadn't called? What if my wife hadn't insisted on cancelling the cards? I would've stupidly paid the bill and be out of $353.10 for nothing!

I was angry - yet not that angry because I just saved myself $353.10.

Are other people stupidly paying their credit card annual fees or would I have been the only one?

Anyway, I decided to keep the cards and when they bill me the annual fees next year, I would simply call again and threaten to cancel the cards.

If only the world's credit crisis could be solved just as easily.

I just had to figure out how to tell my wife.

- Published in The New Paper, 19 October 2008