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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Credit cards: 4 things that can go horribly WRONG

Credit cards: 4 things that can go horribly WRONG

Last updated on: September 4, 2012 09:36 IST

Credit cards: 4 things that can go horribly WRONG

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Remember Aladdin's fabled genie? The one which fulfilled every wish of his master at the snap of a finger. Or Nelson's genie (this for the people who grew up in the 90s with a heady dose of cheesy translated versions of American Sitcoms) -- the pretty lady in pink who was as desirable as the wishes she granted.

Credit cards always remind me of these genies. Fulfilling every wish like a dream. The only catch -- instead of popping out of an old lamp, these pop out of banks and of course, the wishes they grant come with a price.

The concept per se is exciting, the inevitable side-effect of unwanted splurging notwithstanding. If utilised with basic sense and intelligence, these cards can be an excellent way to spread out our expenditures in a fashion that is convenient to our personal economics. Besides, these cards are extremely handy in emergency situations which may surpass immediate availability of liquid cash.

From downright luxury to absolute emergency, these cards are useful in more ways than one. And we like to believe that this was the primary motivation behind their design.

We can write pages praising the utility and value of credit cards in modern life. But any number of pages as ode to these cards cannot outdo the complaints that land up on our desk every week dealing with issues concerning credit cards.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: WRONG , Nelson , Aladdin

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Most of us are pretty much aware of the broad concerns. However, given the far reach of these cards, we thought it would be worthwhile for us to flag at least a couple of issues that are commonly faced by credit card holders, though not so obvious when it comes to common knowledge.

1. Reported in default list at CIBIL for cardholders who actually never used/were issued a card in the first place

Imagine if one fine day, the authorities land up at your doorstep, charge you with a crime you never committed or even heard of and throw you in jail.

That just begins to summarise what a consumer feels when s/he ends up in the CIBIL default list without any fault. One would think the best way to avoid any such trouble of ending up in a defaulter list is not get a card issued at all.

But you would be surprised by the number of complaints that land up on our desks where the consumer either never got the card issues or never used and still ended up in the list of defaulters at CIBIL.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: CIBIL , WRONG

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The consumer in most such cases comes to know about her/his 'defaulter' status only when s/he applies for a loan. The shock is palpable and the so called 'defaulter' is clueless about the default, let alone the ways to redress the situation.

How on earth this mix up happens is something we are still trying to figure. Mix of names for two consumers holding cards is to an extent understandable. But, what about the consumers who never ever got the cars issued in the first place?

The only plausible explanation -- the records are maintained in those rusty old files which were a common sight in 60s movies and they end up being nibbled by house-rats. The concerned officials just guess the name of the holder from the nibbled records!

We really wish we had a concrete solution to this fantastic issue but the only way ahead that we suggest is first approach the concerned authorities and if they don't rectify their fault, drag them to the Banking Ombudsman with all your might.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: WRONG

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2. Charging wrong bills

Another spin to above issue is when such amount is included in credit card charges which the consumer never actually spent.

For instance, one of such complaint concerned a consumer whose account was debited with an amount for a telephone bill he never really owned!

This may happen even for the non-credit cardholders but for obvious reasons, credit cardholders are more vulnerable of the lot.

In all such cases, a formal complaint with the bank and approaching Banking Ombudsman if the issue is not redressed is the best course of action.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: WRONG

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3. Non issuance of NOC (No objection certificates) even after the outstanding dues are settled

We would have thought that issuing an NOC (No objection certificate) is hardly a point of trouble. After all once everything is settled, how much does it take to issue one small official document saying this one is clear? And yet, for some inexplicable reason, consumers continue to face trouble when it comes to getting an NOC issued.

For us, it is just a case of habitual red tapism that is so ingrained in every system in the country that it just refuses to die.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: NOC , WRONG

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Credit cards: 4 things that can go horribly WRONG

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4. Recovery agents' menace

Harassing recovery agents is one of the most widely discussed issues when it comes to credit cards. And despite the fact that consumer forums across country have been crying hoarse about the illegality of this awful practice, it just continues to flourish.

Recovery agents cannot, we repeat CANNOT, harass you in any fashion and this includes verbal abuse, threats-physical or otherwise and even telephonic harassment.

If they do, none of the consumers should take it lying down.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: CANNOT , WRONG

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Our legal system already has been condemning and taking action against this practice but it needs to know when this happens to be able to extend help. No legal measures can be successful unless there is awareness at the grassroots level and the individuals concerned are willing to stand for their rights.

So even if there is slightest whiff of harassment, take up the matter before the consumer forum and raise a storm if you have to. Whether or not you are a defaulter is irrelevant. This is concerned with basic dignity of every individual and every consumer and nothing, whatsoever, can justify unwarranted harassment.

The list above has one important conclusion -- if you are a credit cardholder, you should be friends with at least the Banking Ombudsman!


Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: WRONG

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On a more serious note, the issues listed above are merely illustrative and are confined to the concerns which are either fantastic enough to be ignored as one off incident or recurrent enough to raise a concern or serious enough to be flagged for every concerned consumer.

The issues that credit cards entail are way too vast to be covered in one single article and we will keep touching upon the issues in our subsequent pieces. However, the important take away from this list is the fact that no consumer should tolerate something s/he thinks is wrong just because s/he may be the only one troubled.

The most fantastic of consumer issues sometimes are the most common ones and all one needs is to stand up and look around. What is crucial, as we have been reiterating since forever, is awareness and vigilance.

For a world where consumer rights are respected as they should be, every consumer must have an awareness of her/his rights, vigilance to know when they are breached and courage to stand up for them when required.



Tags: WRONG

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