Ending a 20 Year Relationship


I cancelled a credit card account last week. It was gasoline credit card the wife and I had opened nearly 20 years ago. In fact, we’ll celebrate our 20th anniversary next week and it was the first credit card we got as a married couple.

It started out as a Texaco card. A few years ago it magically became a Shell card for some corporate merger reason. And I noticed a few months ago, it had morphed again into a Shell-Citibank card.

We hardly used the card at all for many years, but when Female Offspring Unit #1 started driving a few years ago, I gave her one to carry for when she needed to fill up. When FOU #2 turned 16, I gave her one, too.

We paid the balance in full every month. But one month a while back the bill must have gotten thrown away in the junk mail sorting exercise we do over the wastebasket. A $45 dollar balance with a minimum payment of around $7 carried over to the next month. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that the interest rate on the card had been raised to. . . wait for it. . . 31.5%.

Now because we pay the balance in full every month, the interest rate is not really that big of a deal. What was a big deal to me was the principle of the thing. So I waited a couple of days so I could cool off, and then called the customer service number on the back of the card.

I ended up talking to “Todd” who chipperly asked how he could be of service.

“Hi Todd. Can you tell me what your records show as the interest rate for charges on our account?”

“Sure, hold on. . .let’s see. . .I’m showing 31.5% Mr. Holland.”

“Hmmm. Okay. And can you tell me how long this account has been active?”

“Let me see. . .[keyboard tapping]. . .wow. . .it shows the account was established in 1988.”

“Almost 20 years then. Hmmm. Todd, do you see anything odd or incongruent about those two statistics?”

“I’m sorry?”

“We’ve carried this account for two decades. And our interest rate was recently raised to north of 30% because a $7 minimum payment was missed? Really?

“Well sir, the card agreement clearly states that the company has the right. . .uh,. . .under these circumstances. . .”

“Yes, and technically I can divorce my wife if she burns my eggs, but I’m not going to try it and then expect her to continue cuddling with me at night and doing my laundry.”

“Well, the card agreement. . .”

“Excuse me, Todd. I’m going to need you to close this account for me.”

“Are you sure, Mr. Holland.”

“Oh, yes. Quite.”

While my daughters carried that card, Shell/Texaco had a monopoly on their (my)  gasoline purchasing business. But Texaco-Shell-Citibank forfeited the right to any rational expectation of keeping me as a customer the moment they exercised their fine-print rights on a 20-year customer.

As I mentioned several weeks back, the Hollands, like a lot of other people we know, are in the process of getting companies like Citibank out of our lives completely and for all time.

Credit card companies really are quite wicked. And I don’t use that term cavalierly. My question is, why would anyone voluntarily do business with any entity that treats it customers the way these companies do?

I won’t. I’m done. If 20 years doesn’t mean anything to them, why should it to me?