10 Tales of Financial Terror
Tales from the Walking Dead
When my husband passed away in 2000, I knew his Social Security payment would be deducted from my bank account. Yes, a slip came through and I had to deduct it. Then a few days later, MY Social Security check was deducted, I was ready to cry. I called Debbie at my bank and she said, "Well, another pink slip came through." I said, "Debbie, I am alive!"
She said, sadly, "Well it often happens that when one spouse dies, the other soon follows."
Yes, that sure cheered me up. Oh thanks a lot.
So I had to go to the Social Security office downtown and prove I was alive. The man next to me said, "You sure look alive to me."
Back in the inner office, the worker squinted at his computer. He couldn't figure who was at fault and soon rectified it. I don't know what color the next form was that went to my bank, but all was solved with a credit. A living DEPOSIT!
-- Dolores Weaver, Alton, Ill.
Mechanics, Credit Cards, and Blood, Oh My!
Once upon an eerie afternoon I was told to take our car to the local garage for a transmission estimate. It seemed to be slipping. We were frighteningly low in our checking account with no extra money anywhere, plus I was expecting a baby. Out came the vampire mechanic who talked to me and had me sign (in blood, if I remember correctly) the contract. I made known my request for an estimate.
After a window-shopping extravaganza, I returned for our car. Out came the vampire mechanic who scared me with a bill over $300. In order to get possession of my car, I had to pay the total bill with our only credit card. I proceeded to float home, but the vehicle did anything but float. It jumped, spit, snarled, stalled and did a multitude of tricks that I didn't appreciate. What a frightful situation!
I was afraid to tell my husband, who turned a ghostly white, when I explained to him what had happened. I called my dad, our sage. He told me to call the credit card company. And guess what? I did. They refused the payment to the garage. You probably can guess at the haunting I received from that garage. They called me, morning, noon and night asking for a chance to re-repair our vehicle. There was no way that I would give them permission to rectify the awful nightmare.
Finally, I went to another garage, explained what had happened and asked them what they could do to repair the vehicle. Oh, how polite and quickly our car was running as smooth as a black cat slithering down the street. By the way, the repairs cost much less and fixed the problem.
-- Lola, Riverview, Fla.
Things that Go Ponzi in the Night
I invested in a real estate trust at 18 percent return and received interest payments religiously every month for two years, when the feds realized it was a Ponzi scheme.
The hard thing about it was that they owned some of the prime real estate in the Boston area.
Needless to say, my investment went south. The principals spent time in jail, but we never got our investment back.
-- Bernard Z., Framingham, Mass.
Night of the Living Interest Rate
On a cold night in October 1988, we found out we would have to declare bankruptcy because my "partner" stole from our business, moved back to Montana and couldn't be found. The ghoulishness doesn't start just there -- we had taken out a loan for $4 million, putting $500,000 down cash to the bank that financed the bowling alley we were to build. During the first two years of operation, Frankenstein Bank had their own financial troubles, unknown to us, and went through four presidents and four audits. The original president agreed to accept interest only the first year of operation, until we could "get on our feet," then to finance the loan for 15 years. The loan was for $3.5 million at 7 percent ... or so we thought.
The bank had a clause in our contract that stated that, if an audit was triggered, for whatever reason, contracts would be renegotiated. Obviously, since they were having money problems, our loan interest rate did NOT go down, but went up, FOUR times. It went from 7 percent to 14.5 percent in four years, and we still owed $3 million on the loan.
A 7 percent loan on $3 million is $17,500 interest only per month, but a 14.5 percent loan costs $36,250 interest only per month. We were losing money. We would have to pay $61,250 for operating the bowling alley, and that did not even include paying on the principal on the loan. On top of that, I found out my "partner" was skimming money off the top of the vending and entertainment machines.
He had skipped town, and the bank held me responsible for the bill. We had to declare bankruptcy.
-- David, Hammond, La.
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