Bent over, without lube

Holy crap, this weekend held a firebomb for us.

As I’ve mentioned here before, Mary and I have been going through a tough financial situation over the past few months. Some of our credit cards have gone unpaid for several months, and we’ve been getting calls from collection agencies trying to get their money.

To try and stabilize our financial situation somewhat, Mary has applied for a supplemental student loan that will effectively act as a kind of debt consolidation; the money from the loan will go towards paying off our high-balance, high-interest credit cards, and change it into a lower interest loan with payments deferred until after she graduates. It looks like we’re going to get the money (thanks to assistance from my Dad, who cosigned the loan), which is good.

This past week, we got a call from one of the agencies who has been after us, threatening legal action if we didn’t settle our outstanding debt. I got back in touch with them, and explained that while we didn’t have the money right then, we would be getting a cash infusion from a loan that should come through in early July.

I set up a plan where we made a good faith payment of $150 on Tuesday, with the balance scheduled on July 26th — one month later. When we received the money from Mary’s loan, we would call and reschedule the balance payment. While we got a couple more calls from them wondering how the paperwork for the loan was going, everything appeared settled.


On Saturday, Mary stopped by the Wal-Marts to pick up some formula for Ty, and when she went to check out the debit card was declined. This was a little odd, as she had made a deposit just a few minutes earlier. She popped over to the bank branch in the nearby grocery store (conveniently open on Saturday) to check the balance.

It was in the red. Red like hemorrhaging blood — a fitting analogy for the state of our accaount.

A semi-panicked call to me, and a visit with the bank person, turned up the reason. The firm I had scheduled the payment with earlier in the week — the payment that was scheduled for July 26, was submitted for payment on Friday. It cleared (because we had some funds in the account), but left us in the hole, big time.

The bank was very helpful, filling out the paperwork to challenge the withdrawal, and even gave Mary cash for the money she had deposited earlier so that we could buy groceries.

A call to the firm later that morning revealed that for some reason, they thought I had authorized payment for the full amount, knowing that it would bounce.

Let me repeat this point, I knew the check would bounce.


Why, in the name of all that is good and decent, would I authorize payment when I don’t have the money? Why would I subject myself to overdraft fees, other bounced payments, and dig myself into a deeper financial hole? The idea is, to put it mildly, complete and total bullshit.

So, I composed an angry, pointed letter to the woman I had been dealing with at this firm over the past week (she wasn’t there on Saturday), stating that I did not authorize the change to the payment plan, the idea that I would authorize such a change was ludicrous, and that I expected the problem to be corrected at once, or I would pursue action with the appropriate authorities.

Needless to say, Saturday afternoon and evening were not a whole lot of fun in the Harrison household.