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Law & Government

Published on December 29, 2010
Since it is Christmas, we are shopping.  For most of us, that also means we do not have much money and so we shop with credit cards.  Some stores offer “zero interest” on a purchase or on a credit card.  But be cautious!  Read the fine print and get all of the details.
I had a client recently who made a purchase with one year “same as cash.”  About ten months into the arrangement, the company actually changed the billing statements.  The date the money was due was listed, but not clearly identified.  At the end of the year, the client got a letter saying that $700 was due for interest.  When we looked back at prior statements, the very tiny print listed the due date.  However the “amount due” in big bold letters said there was no money due.  So read every statement very carefully, including the back of the statement and any small print.  Should you find yourself at odds with a credit card company or store, remember the basics.  Be nice.  Although you are angry, screaming at people actually does not make them more likely to do what you want.  At most businesses, there is a customer service department and then a customer service supervisor.  I usually ask for a supervisor early in the conversation.  If you calmly explain your concerns, they will often perform your request.
For those shopping with coupons at the last minute or at “after Christmas” sales, I also caution you to read the fine print.  Several department stores have additional discounts only if you use their credit card.  Check your receipt immediately to see if you received proper discounts.  Remember, you can use the store’s credit card to get the discount then immediately pay off the balance.  This is a perfectly legal way to “beat the system.”
I am pleased to say that this column is celebrating its one year anniversary.  Many thanks to our editor for her patience.  I look at deadlines as “guidelines” and she takes them more seriously.  Based on the feedback, however, it seems most of you are enjoying the subject of law and government.  We appreciate the readers and advertisers that make it possible.
I wish all of our readers a beautiful Christmas and healthy New Year.  The past year has been eventful, to say the least.  I am grateful to everyone who has helped me in the establishment of my own business and in my recent endeavor to serve the citizens of Portage County.  Besides my Villager “family,” I am grateful to my family and my friends.  Real friends are the ones that love you when your column is great and even when it is not your best work.  Real friends love you whether you win or lose an election.  Real friends help you put up Christmas decorations to get ready for your Christmas party.  So to Mattie, Mom, Dad, Jamie, Joe, David, Caryl, Sam, Sammy, Michelle R, Barb, John, Michael, Carlie, Tom, Michelle Z, Chris, and Heidi – I love you guys.  Merry Christmas!

This column does not seek to provide legal advice.  Neither Tommie Jo Marsilio nor the Villager are providing legal advice to readers.  This column is for education and entertainment only.  The advice of an attorney or other professional should be sought regarding any individual situation or legal question.

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