28 February 2013

You're Needed in Surgery...

No time for a full entry here, due to Life issues. Quite possibly the scariest phrase anyone can hear from someone with a JD instead of an MD is "I'm here to help you, but you may be terminal." And I've had to do that twice this week, so far...

In any event, I'd like to present a modest proposal for saving the United States Postal Service. It's a very simple, incentive-based system that depends primarily upon greed to make it work. One of the major consequences of the forthcoming end of Saturday mail delivery will be a spike in late fees, interest charged, overdraft fees, and so on as consumers' bills arrive on Monday (or Tuesday, all too often, after a three-day weekend) instead of Saturday... and the same for their payments, which is even worse, because they won't get into the outgoing mail until Tuesday (or Wednesday), frequently reaching their endpoints on Saturday (or the following week, especially for all of those credit-card payments going to South Dakota). This is going to be a particular problem with mortgage payments by senior citizens, many of whom do not and/or cannot use electronic transfers. This represents a windfall for the finance industry. It's a preventable windfall. I therefore modestly propose the following:

No late fee, overdraft fee, interest, finance charge, or any other fee based on timeliness of payment may be asserted or charged on any consumer obligation on or for any day on which there is no United States Postal Service delivery of first-class mail, excepting only twelve (12) designated federal holidays each year.

I suspect that the finance industry would fall all over itself to rescue Saturday (and even Sunday) delivery of the mail under such circumstances. It would cost somewhere around one cent per month per customer account across the industry to fully fund the USPS — and the finance industry would get all of that back, and more, in interest (etc.).

Not to mention that it begins to resolve my not-so-hidden agenda of attacking poor customer service caused by the finance industry's selection of days on which it won't do business, but continues to charge consumers time-based fees. Ever tried to reach your mortgage company on a three-day weekend with a concern about a misapplied payment? That is, reach it on a day on which you are able to do business with some privacy... and get anyone with enough authority to actually resolve the problem to answer the damned phone/e-mail/whatever? It seems only fair to me that if the finance industry is going to charge consumers money based upon time-value of money, that any day on which it assesses such a charge is one that the finance industry is open for business and resolving problems.