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When you are on a journey and the vehicle breaks down, then you get out and continue on by other means. You push. You pull. You walk. Or you crawl.

People who know me are aware that I have been through a challenging year.  Last summer, a contract fell through on our home for sale in Tennessee.  That was just a few days before I was to begin work in a new faculty position at Western Carolina University.

At the time, my wife and I thought that since everything was packed, and our ultimate destination was North Carolina, anyway, then we should go ahead and move it.  (Usually there is little or no moving allowance by the way; it’s Penske trucks — and a massive DIY packing project when we have moved — ever since I began my second career in academia.)

Over the phone (although we had seen the property on a house-hunting trip when we were under the impression that our home sale would close), we leased a 3-bedroom, 2-bath condo.  Our thinking was that we would live there (in the condo), and visit the house in Tennessee until it sold.

We keep an extremely clean and well maintained home (I was without a home, i.e., homeless, at one point in my adult life, so I am very obsessive-compulsive about taking care of what we do have), and our real estate agent expressed confidence in the property’s prospects for selling again soon (during the fall 2008).  The condo manager was kind, and even negotiated an “out” clause in our agreement, in the event that we did sell.

We left just enough things in the Tennessee home to get by: the guest bedroom bed, a scaled down but working kitchen, a few chairs, a small (old-style) TV (we don’t own one of those fancy, newfangled flat-screen TVs), some folding chairs and folding tables, and just a few pieces of furniture in the great room.  The kids’ rooms were emptied completely.  The washer and dryer were moved.  Most clothes, linens, and anything such as personal effects, photographs and memorabilia: they were packed and moved.

After my first week of new employee orientation, we all got in the car and headed back to Tennessee, from the condo in North Carolina.  When we arrived in the early hours of the morning (about 1:00 a.m. on a Saturday, having left on a Friday night), we found our door unlocked.  Yep, a real estate agent had shown the home and failed to lock the door properly.

I could fill up a whole new blog expressing my sentiments and experiences with real estate agents, if I only had the time (noting that blog is short for web log, which originally suggested an online diary).  I’ll skip that for now, because I want to simply point out why we came to the immediate conclusion that someone had to stay in Tennessee, to baby-sit the house.

This was because irresponsible, unprofessional, incompetent realtors (spell-check wants me to capitalize here, but I refuse to do so), don’t give a second thought about sellers’ properties (all they work for is commissions, those so-called buyer’s agents are not in a position to be either “free” or objective when they earn their living by taking their “cut” off the top of every transaction).  They act like your property is their property, to show (calling from a cell phone in your driveway), but they sure as heck don’t bother to extend any respect otherwise.

Since my job was in North Carolina, my wife and kids were the ones to stay with the house for sale.

“Should we bring stuff back?,” we wondered to ourselves.

“No, we’ll wait it out — the house will sell again, soon,” we said; our agent said.

In the meantime, my wife and kids lived as though they were “camping out,” inside of a suburban home.  People have suffered worse; I have suffered worse (as I said, I was once without a home for a period of time).  But, things were not working out as we expected.  I commuted.

My university office was in transition, because the College of Business building was being renovated.  I was advised not to unpack, there.  I had no intention of unpacking most of what had been moved to the condo, either.  Everywhere, most of what we had was either “nothingness” (in Tennessee) or packed and stacked.

As a teacher, I have always enjoyed bringing in exhibits to support what I may have to discuss on any given topic; these resources were packed.  As a researcher, my books and files: packed.  I was not getting “settled in” at work.

As the fall semester was winding up, we were debating where to spend Christmas.  We had signed with a new real estate listing agent (our third), and among the assurances given in the agreement was one that stated that the home would be secured after any showing.  We ended up spending Christmas day in North Carolina, but as can be learned from reading my How Chase Card Service Stole Christmas eBook, that day was destroyed.

The new spring 2009 semester soon began.  My dear cousin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; my wife was scheduled for major surgery in February.  Chase had threatened everything I had worked for, for years.  Chase jeopardized my family.  Chase cornered me, although I had done nothing wrong, and evidently, hundreds of thousands of other families and small businesses.

I have been fighting my own personal battles for a long time: to acquire a formal education as an adult learner at the undergraduate level (finally, at the age of 28, I earned that first degree); as an employee in various industries; as an entrepreneur (who has both failed and succeeded); as a husband and father; and in recent years as an academically employed individual.

It’s true.  I have incurred and carried a significant debt load.  However, my debts are primarily associated with my decision to return to graduate school, with the aspiration of becoming qualified to teach; my desire was and is to try to help and serve others.  I had been paying down my debts.  I had been meeting my obligations (I am still doing both, but I am referring to where I stood as I began the spring 2008 semester), and Chase, had decided to attack its most loyal customers.

The spring semester marched on:

My wife had surgery, and recovered (stranded for six weeks with food at arm’s reach on a folding table) in a near-empty house, primarily under the care of children;

Our third real estate agent resigned earlier than the contract specified (she did not have the professionalism to do so in person; she sent emails and subsequently an administrative assistant to have us sign off on the termination — good riddance!);

My dear cousin died;

Chase sent its letter stating that it had “incorrectly” included my account in its infamous “5% minimum payment; ‘service charge’ that ‘is a finance charge’,” change in terms;

(But) by then, my personal financial matters became public information, as I felt the only way to fight was to be willing to talk to the media, and use this blog to communicate my disdain for the abusive practices of credit card companies at large against consumers and small businesses;

By May, our house was on the market without a real estate agent (during this period, we observed some of the most unethical treatment of all);

By June, I gave notice at the North Carolina condo — I was moving (almost) everything back to Tennessee.  If we had to look forward to an indefinite period, during which we were still trying to sell, at least my wife and kids could live like normal people in our home;

During the month of June and July, I moved.  A lot of hard physical labor has been involved (my wife has recovered but she is in no condition to be doing “heavy lifting”);

A few weeks ago, in mid-July, the site went down.  The host suggested that it may have been attacked because a “malicious” hacker file was found in one of the folders;

Concurrently, Chase has mercilessly attacked hundreds of thousands more account holders, hurting consumers, small businesses, and all those who might be considered collateral damage – employees, families;

My emails have piled up;

One of my emails, from someone who knows me and about my advocacy and concern for entrepreneurs, states: “Just as you feared…..Here’s a small, growing business about to be put out of business by Chase’s change in terms.  These folks did what a lot of us did – used Chase credit cards to finance their business”;

My home is now put back together, and habitable (as of several days ago);

Long overdue personal matters have been serviced (tires, dental exams, and the like);

I don’t know where I will be living this coming semester, but I think it will be in hotels (at least I can come home more often, not worrying about our personal things being left in North Carolina);

Here is where I stand, now:

I think I have managed to restore the site, with the exception of the missing posts and comments since June 22, 2009.  I am very disappointed with the hosting situation — that’s a long story.  To make it short, data centers are often attacked, or there can be other naturally occurring issues that arise.  That’s what backups are for, and the reason the site is up again at all is because it was restored from a backup, except for the missing data which for some mysterious reason simply is not in that database – I have looked (at the actual database).

Meanwhile, the company that does the hosting is engaged in a transition, and is moving its customer base to new servers held under a different company name.  I can’t predict the future relative to that transition and the consequences that may arise.

I do not want to complain.  However, it seems that I have no choice but to state a lament: I have said I do not want donations because it sends the wrong message (the long version is elsewhere on the site).  Yet, it remains the case that help is needed in support of this cause in other ways.

I am not a programmer.  I have a career and a lot of responsibilities (and also a very challenging personal situation with a home that has not sold in Tennessee, while at the same time my job is in North Carolina, as detailed above, perhaps ad nauseam).

I have received a number of emails expressing concern that the site was down altogether or not functioning properly.  These tell me that I am not alone in my concern over the issues between credit card companies and their abusive treatment of consumers and small businesses.

That being said, I have felt very much alone in the technology support arena, and it has been up to me to “fix” these problems.

I’ll do the best I can.

No reader should interpret the above to suggest that at some point, frustrated with technology, I would throw in the towel relative to the larger cause.  The site is a tool in the fight, but not the only one.  When you are on a journey and the vehicle breaks down, then you get out and continue on by other means.

You push.  You pull.  You walk.  Or you crawl.

I am on a journey, and I sometimes get to travel fast, and at other times progress is slow.  It can be the case that everything comes to a standstill, or we lose ground and go backwards.  If you are with me, against the abusive treatment of consumers and small businesses by credit card companies, then rest assured that I will continue fighting.

As long as we are right and the leaders of credit card companies are wrong, they will never win the race.  Faith is mightier than fear, and with the former you shall prevail over all obstacles.