Property Grunt

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Things that make you go: WTF!

I am a man that respects perfect credit especially after seeing rental deals going up in smoke because a client's credit sucked a$$. When it comes to my own credit, I am insane. I am very selective in what I use it for because I know that credit card companies are compiling a psychological profile based not only on paying my bills on time but also on my consumer purchases. When I can, I pay in cash.

Which brings me to this article of outrage.

Got Perfect Credit? You Could Be Charged For It!

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Loraine Mullen-Kress carries a Bank of America credit card and religiously pays off her balance.

"Flawless credit," she boasts.

Yet now, her good credit habits could cost her. Earlier this month Bank of America started notifying customers like Mullen-Kress that they will be charged a new annual fee of $29 to $99.

"There is a big segment of their population that they will have never made money on, which is people who pay their bills on time every month," said Ben Woolsey, Director of Consumer Research at

Bank of America said in a statement: "At this point we're testing the fee on a very small number of accounts and haven't made any final decisions." Citigroup is also trying out an annual fee with some card holders, and analysts expect more banks to follow their lead.

The banks are starting to charge fees to reliable customers in response to a slew of new credit card industry regulations that will limit when banks can hike interest rates. Cardholders who get a new annual fee notice in the mail will be in a no-win situation.

"They can either pay that fee or they can close the account, and if they have had the account for a while and they close it, they are potentially going to hurt their credit card score," said Woolsey.

Analysts say right now the banks are trying to figure out what their customers will tolerate. Many say they'd cancel cards with a high new annual fee.

"I think it is really bad. They're encouraging you to be a bed creditor or not have good credit," one New Yorker told CBS 2.

Said Mullen-Kress: "An annual fee would not be tolerated."

Credit card companies call the fees an experiment. Whether they stick depends on whether customers are willing to pay for something that's been free for so long.

If your credit card company does start charging you to carry its card, call and complain. If you have a good credit score and you've been a loyal customer, they may be willing to waive the fee to keep your business.

You may also see annual fees go up on cards that offer rewards like miles and hotel rooms. That's when y ou'll have to weigh whether the rewards are truly worth the higher fee.

Banks are on the never ending search for more revenue streams because once the credit card laws go into full effect, the money tap will be turned off.

Which brings me to this scene from Goodfellas that I often refer to.

What happens when all the hogs are slaughtered? Where does one go when there is no more blood to suck? What do you do when there is no place to bust out?

They go after us.

Banks have no where else to go. The credit markets are still in a coma and with TARP, the Federal government has every bank's nuts in a vise.

It is not ironic, it is absolutely twisted that banks are even thinking of making us, the customers that honored their words, pay for being honorable.

But you know what? Let them do their f**king worse. Slap with me as many fees as you f**king like. Because I will cut up the plastic. I have always been a cash and carry man and I have no problem with returning to my roots.

It gets nuttier.

Iceland says goodbye to the Big Mac

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) -- The Big Mac, long a symbol of globalization, has become the latest victim of this tiny island nation's overexposure to the world financial crisis.

Iceland's three McDonald's restaurants -- all in the capital Reykjavik -- will close next weekend, as the franchise owner gives in to falling profits caused by the collapse in the Icelandic krona.

"The economic situation has just made it too expensive for us," Magnus Ogmundsson, the managing director of Lyst Hr., McDonald's franchise holder in Iceland, told The Associated Press by telephone on Monday.

Lyst was bound by McDonald's requirement that it import all the goods required for its restaurants -- from packaging to meat and cheeses -- from Germany.

Costs had doubled over the past year because of the fall in the krona currency and high import tariffs on imported goods, Ogmundsson said, making it impossible for the company to raise prices further and remain competitive with competitors that use locally sourced produce.

A Big Mac in Reykjavik already retails for 650 krona ($5.29). But the 20 percent increase needed to make a decent profit would have pushed that to 780 krona ($6.36), he said.

That would have made the Icelandic version of the burger the most expensive in the world, a title currently held jointly by Switzerland and Norway where it costs $5.75, according to The Economist magazine's 2009 Big Mac index.

The decision to shutter the Icelandic franchise was taken in agreement with McDonald's Inc., Ogmundsson said, after a review of several months.

"The unique operational complexity of doing business in Iceland combined with the very challenging economic climate in the country makes it financially prohibitive to continue the business," Theresa Riley, a spokeswoman at McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, said in a statement. "This complex set of challenges means we have no plans to seek a new partner in Iceland."

McDonald's, the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, arrived in Reykjavik in 1993 when the country was on an upward trajectory of wealth and expansion.

The first person to take a bite out of a Big Mac on the island was then-Prime Minister David Oddsson. Oddsson went on to become governor of the country's central bank, Sedlabanki, a position that he was forced out of by lawmakers earlier this year after a public outcry about his inability to prevent Iceland's financial crisis.

Lyst plans to reopen the stores under a new brand name, Metro, using locally sourced materials and produce and retaining the franchise's current 90-strong staff.

Ogmundsson said it was unlikely that Lyst would ever seek to regain the McDonald's franchise with Iceland still struggling to get back on its feet after the credit crisis crippled its overweight banking system, damaging the rest of its economy, last October.

"I don't think anything will happen that will change the situation in any significant way in the next few years," Ogmundsson said.

It is not the first time that McDonald's, which currently operates in more than 119 countries on six continents, has exited a country. Its one and only restaurant in Barbados closed after just six months in 1996 because of slow sales. In 2002, the company pulled out of seven countries, including Bolivia, that had poor profit margins as part of an international cost-cutting exercise.

AP Business Writer Jane Wardell reported from London. AP Retail Writer Ashley Heher contributed to this report from Chicago.

McDonald's is like herpes. Once they lay down tracks they never leave. So if they are shutting down , it just goes to show how f**ked up things are.

But don't worry. The UN is here to save the day.

Impeccable timing as always.