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I always pay my credit-card bill in full, every month. I'm not boasting, I'm just explaining. I don't use my credit card for cash advances, either, so I never incur any finance charges.  

Or never intentionally, anyway. When we were in Indonesia recently, though, I paid for our entrance visas with my Visa, and only later discovered that this was processed as a cash advance. Annoying, and the fee was ruinously absurd as a percentage rate, but it was small in absolute terms (and less than I paid in meaningless bank fees for ATM withdrawals on the trip), so I paid it and forgot about it.  

There was a tiny finance charge on the following statement, too. After some scrutiny I figured out that it applied to a prorated portion of the cash advance for the time between when the previous statement had been issued and when my payment had gone through. There was something morally offensive about this, a loophole that allowed them to charge me despite my paying my bill in full, but for $.50 I didn't feel like sitting on the phone to complain about it. So I paid it and forgot about it.  

But the next statement there was another $.50 charge. In fact, looking closer, I found that they were actually charging me $.01 on what was supposedly a $.50 cash advance, which was then bumped up to $.50 because that's the minimum finance charge. They were charging me finance charges on my finance charges! An infinite loop!  

I have worked as a customer-service rep, so I try to help make my customer-service experiences as efficient and painless for both sides as possible. So instead of pretending ignorance or assuming beligerence, I just called CapitalOne and explained in detail how one cash advance had led to them charging me finance charges on my finance charges. The rep listened politely, and then delivered a pre-scripted speech in monotone about the general concept of fees. I explained in detail again how one cash advance had led to them charging me finance charges on my finance charges, and the rep listened politely and then delivered a pre-scripted speech in monotone about the specific concept of finance charges on cash advances. I explained in the same detail yet again how one cash advance had led to them charging me finance charges on my finance charges, and the rep delivered a third pre-scripted speech in monotone about the advanced concept of finance charges on pro-rated balances of cash advances.  

At this point I got angry enough to point out to the rep that they'd now given me three speeches, all of which covered topics I'd explained in detail in my original description of the problem. So could I get a supervisor now? This yielded a fourth speech, in exactly the same monotone as the other three, about the regrettable necessity of consulting a supervisor to determine how to respond to this complex problem.  

I don't know that the supervisor ever understood the problem, either, but eventually, albeit without admitting that their business practices were developed by observing the behavior of ticks feeding on feral coyotes stuck in bear traps, they agreed to credit my account for "these charges".  

My next statement, however, contained not a $.50 credit, but a $.49 credit. The remaining cent was again accounted for as a cash advance, which thus generated an even tinier fee, which was then dutifully rounded up to the $.50 minimum again.  

I've just gotten off the phone with them again, having reached incrementally higher levels of authority and ostensible responsibility, and been assured that this time the whole thing will be corrected. If it isn't, I will keep calling until I am connected directly to the actual accountants in whatever sickly circle of Hell they malinger.  

But this must happen to tens or hundreds of millions of credit-card users, all over the world, every month, only most of them don't notice, or don't have the time or energy or self-confidence to complain. The aggregate corrupt revenue of negligently or deliberately corrupt business practices like this, across every negligently or deliberately corrupt world industry, is an internal measure of our collective moral failure, and while it's dwarfed by the aggregate corrupt revenues of active immorality and amorality, like resource depletion and selling sugar-water where there are no dentists, greater evils do not forgive lesser ones.  

Look around you, particularly where you work. Look for any evil you participate in allowing. Stop it.  

[A postscript, in fairness, since I mentioned CapitalOne by name: I use CapitalOne because it's the last card I could find that does not impose arbitrary, financially unjustifiable and far-higher-than-$.50 fees on transactions recorded in non-US currencies. But the avoidance of one evil doesn't forgive other ones, either.]
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