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This post is to announce two additional lawsuits against Chase. So now we’re counting, four.

Thanks to Lyn, this post is to announce two additional lawsuits against Chase (so now we’re counting, four, plus at least one investigation). 

The first one is, Peter G. Knapp, on behalf of himself and a class, Plaintiffs, vs. Chase Bank USA, N.A., Defendant, filed in Illinois.  The second one is, Alfred D. Morris, individually and on behalf all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, vs. Chase Bank USA, N.A.; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; DOE Defendants 1-50, Defendants, filed in Hawaii.

Have you ever consulted with an attorney about a matter, only to have him or her inform you that after court costs, attorney fees, expenses, and time, something that you felt was wrong simply was not worth it?  I know I have.  The lower the dollar amount, the worse this situation of practicality under the law becomes.  If you are a small business person trying to collect on an invoice that is valued at just a few hundred dollars, you will not get that money back.  Forget it.  The only reason to go through a collections process at that point, is a matter of principle.

Now that there are four active lawsuits, I’m betting that there will be more to come.  I kind of like the idea of  an interactive map of the U.S., sort of like during the elections.  I’d like to see every state colored in, to represent lawsuits as they are filed (not counting on South Dakota or Delaware, because elected officials in those states already made their “deal with the devil” — that’s why credit card companies have been able to engage in legalized loan-sharking).

So, relative to the above, since we’re talking about a new $10 per month finance charge, as compared to my example — say as may be applicable to a small business — how can this be “worth it,” you may be asking yourself?  From an inverse perspective, especially if you are not a victim of Chase and don’t think this matter is really worth all the fuss, how can $10 per month be worth fighting over?

Well, lawyers will explain their views regarding an answer their way, in a legal context, and I’ll explain in my own way why I think this is a “cause,” in the first place, and also, why it is worth fighting for: 

This isn’t just about $10 a month in new finance charges (compounding at a higher rate).  The problem is, that account holders were tricked into signing up for long-term loans, and Chase has decided not to honor those loans; instead, it’s “calling them in” by imposing a blow to customers that, if this situation was likened to a boxing match, would be characterized as “below the belt.”  Hopefully, in our culture we still have an appreciation for fairness, and we don’t want a company to be able to get away with that.

It’s like a schoolyard bully, really, no different.  The first time they’ll fleece a kid for “chump change,” a few quarters.  But that bully will be back.  The next time it will be for dollar bills.  Then it will be a bike, or a knapsack, or both; plus that kid’s lunch, and all of the money, and a demand for the next week’s allowance.  The credit card industry has grown accustomed to pushing people around.  In fact, “35 percent of their [credit card issuers’] active U.S. accounts were assessed late fees and 13 percent were assessed over-limit fees in 2005”  (United States Government Accountability Office report, 2006).  

As for me, I’ve never taken too kindly to bullies.  And in this particular instance, Chase picked on the wrong group of people, account holders who have done nothing wrong.  Actually, it’s the other way around, these account holders (including myself), have been doing everything right, meeting their monthly payment obligations.  I borrowed money, a lot of it, frankly, to attend graduate school at mid-career.  I wanted to become qualified to teach, and I wanted to help aspiring entrepreneurs who came to school to learn.  I’m now doing that.  But what kind of teacher would I be, if I did not include lessons about right and wrong, relative to ways of doing business? 

In fact, the really big, lumbering, stubborn bullies, typically don’t run away with a simple warning: “Stop it.”  Sometimes class action lawyers have to force the issue.  I’m sure they’re working on it, their way. 

In the meantime, at ChangeInTerms.com, a growing number of contributors, helpers, and visitors, are cooperating and sharing information, and we’re doing it our way, before yet one more victim is brutalized out in the “schoolyard.”  It doesn’t matter to me who that next victim is that Chase may be contemplating: small business owner, a single individual, or someone with a family that is being “squeezed” with a whopping monthly payment increase and a new finance charge (coercion is a favorite method of bullies).

In my most recent letter to the OCC, which I expect will be forwarded to Chase (that seems to be about the extent of the OCC’s usefulness to date — a courier service), I have demanded that Chase back down by issuing a press release, retracting its change in terms notice.  Moreover, I know if you don’t  stand up to bullies, they’ll always come back for more, as long as you let them.  I’m not letting Chase get away with this.  I’m going to fight for what’s right in a free and fair society, and that’s always worth it. 

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