Taking money out of a cashpoint machine on a credit card is something I would never do, so I tend not to read the terms and conditions that apply to doing so. It’s just something that wouldn’t happen, so I don’t worry about it. Recently however my wife took out some cash against our Tesco credit card unintentionally and as a result I found out quite how unpleasant the situation is if you do. Here’s what happened.
The first bill I received after it happened, there were charges for interest applied. There was no explanation as to how these arose or were calculated, but after spending quite some time on the phone waiting for Tesco’s staff to answer it was explained that one was interest on the cash being taken, and the other was interest on the fee for using the service of taking cash out against the card. I’m not entirely happy about the idea of being charged interest on the latter, but it wasn’t a huge amount and I paid the whole lot off on time thinking that would be the end of it. Lesson learned and all that.
However, the next bill also had charges for interest and no explanation of their origin, so I spent another happy hour on the phone (you know I’m not telling the truth there, don’t you?) waiting for Tesco to answer. It was then explained to me by the woman I eventually spoke to that these were interest charges for the time between the statement being generated and them receiving payment.
Now that confused me. I’d paid the bill on time. Why was I being charged interest? Because there were a number of days between the statement date and me paying, and those days accrue further interest, apparently. I was mildly surprised and inquired as to whether I understood correctly that even if I paid the bill in full on the day I received the bill I would still be charged interest and that there was no way to get out of that situation? Only if I pay on the day the statement is produced (that is, before I even know the statement is actually on its way), apparently, or if I call and find out how much is due at the time I call and pay there and then.
Whilst I accept that those are the rules and will pay to clear the debt owed, I suggested that this absolutely reeks of grubbing every last little penny out of the situation in as underhand a way as possible, but the woman just kept saying “That’s the way everyone does it”. And therein lies my problem. “Everyone does it” is not a reason. It’s an excuse. It’s hiding behind mummy’s skirts because you just don’t have the balls to come out and say “Actually, this isn’t a reasonable way to behave”. It’s a clear attempt to trap people in a never-ending spiral of interest payments and, frankly, it stinks. If I were late paying the bill, or didn’t pay it all off then I could accept further interest charges, but not if I pay by the due date, and especially not when I can’t avoid them even if I pay on the day I receive the bill.
So, Tesco, as soon as I have another credit card sorted out, you’re going to lose our business. And not just our credit card business either. We used to spend an awful lot on food with Tesco. That isn’t be happening any more. I’m sure they won’t care about losing our business. There are plenty more customers where we come from, I’m sure. But there are plenty more banks and supermarkets too, and from now on we shall be taking our money elsewhere.