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Woman revolts over credit card interest

She takes her case to YouTube, won't pay bill

By Teresa Mears Sep 15, 2009 5:56PM

Ann Minch is mad as hell and she's not going to take it anymore.


Like many, she has seen the interest rate on her credit card jacked up (in her case, to 30%), even though she made all the payments on time, wasn't over her limit and didn't in any way violate Bank of America's rules. She had been making the minimum payment on her account for years, about $130 a month.


After trying, and failing, to get the interest rate reduced, she has, in her words "fired the first shot in the debtors' revolution" by refusing to pay another cent of her $5,943.34 debt unless Bank of America returns the interest rate to its previous level, 12.99%. She has staked out her position in this YouTube video, which has circulated widely on the Internet and has been viewed more than 150,000 times.


Minch calls the credit card companies "evil, thieving bastards," which, she says, "have reaped ungodly profits in your behemoth casino scams, then lost -- only to turn around and usurp the wealth of this great nation by the outright rape and pillage of middle-class Americans whose sweat and toil built it." She adds, "Every last one of you should be rotting in prison."


Arthur Delaney of The Huffington Post did an interview with Minch, who is 46 and lives in Red Bluff, Calif. She recently lost her job as a mental health case manager. She notes in her video that she has nothing to lose, since she doesn't own a home and has no assets, but a plunge in her credit score could hurt her job search.


Ed Mierzwinski, program director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, told Delany that credit card lenders had better be paying attention.


"Historically, powerful and arrogant corporations, often protected by lazy regulators, have ignored consumer complaints -- now social media tools are leveling the playing field for victimized consumers," Mierzwinski wrote in an email to the Huffington Post. "The old web 1.0 sites that no one found are being replaced with real-time viral outrage that will require big business to start treating consumers more fairly or pay the price."


We can only hope.


Jason Steele at Ask Mr. Credit Card applauds Minch's decision to close her accounts at Bank of America. He also likes her use of social media to plead her case with the company's executives once appealing through normal channels failed.


But, he thinks she is misguided and that her viral protest will have no impact. Using some of the $5,000 in savings she withdrew from her account to pay off the debt, or doing a balance transfer, would have been much more responsible, he says.


"Acting in an irresponsible and financially self-destructive way is a terrible strategy," he said. "Encouraging others to follow her is morally wrong. The bank will survive her default, but she will be financially ruined."


What do you think? Is Minch engaging in a courageous act of civil disobedience or is she just being foolish? What should consumers do about credit card company practices they consider unfair, especially if they can't pay off their debt immediately?


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