How to bring down the System

There are a lot of angry people out there. I see it every day in my writing. All you have to do is look at the comments at a site like Zero Hedge to realize that fact. To some extent you saw this in the last election. Those who vote (less than half the population) sent a message and as a result there has been a significant change in the political landscape.

But what do the voters get for sending the message? A slap in the face. A few weeks later we get a monster tax break for high end earners, a roll over of the tax treatment for hedge fund mangers (just obscene), another $120 billion “stimulus” that won’t do a damn thing but add to the debt and an extension of unemployment payment for yet another year (now three years!)

If you pay bills (who doesn’t) you know that all banks, credit card companies, utilities, insurance companies and all the others are just nickel and diming us to death. Every month I am nicked for some damn thing or the other. I think the FinReg rules that were supposed to protect the average Jane or Joe actually just codified what the bastards could charge. As a result we get hit with new fees, charges and higher costs.

The very frustrating part of all this is that there is not a thing you can do about it. Go write you congressperson, you’re lucky to get a form response. Get on the phone to your CC provider and bitch over a $25 late charge on a $15 balance? Good luck.

I have been doing something for the past few months that might send a message. If I continued for the next hundred years it would not make a dent. If a hundred thousand did as I am doing it would be noticed but still wouldn’t mean a thing. But if the number got into the millions it would start to make a difference.

I have been sending 1 cent more than what is due on every bill that I get. Citi sends a CC balance of $134.82? I send them $134.83.

I have a small sample of about 30 bills that I have been doing this with. Well more than half get it right. On the next month CC bill you get the Prior Balance as (-0.01). What this means is that a real person actually got the bill and the check (or electronic payment) and made the correct entry and gives you the once cent credit you deserve. This result should not be surprising as people make incorrect payment amounts all the time. What I am trying to do is force more human intervention. That is time and money.

I paid a six-month insurance bill and added a penny to what was owed. So far I have two letters that show the credit. How much does two computer generated letters cost? At least a dollar a pop. There is no better measure of success of my approach than to get a letter like this.

More exciting are the bills that do not pick up the one-cent variance. When this happens your penny is lost. It will show up in an Exception Report. Some computer recognizes that there is a penny that is not properly accounted for. I assume that this happens (accidentally) thousands of times a day. But what would happen if the number of Exceptions all of sudden exploded to 20-50 million a month? Once again, this would force humans to get involved.

The cost of this social protest is very minimal. Say you get 4 bills a month. 48 pennies a year is the maximum cost. Based on my experience the net cost would only be 20 cents or so. But the rewards on the 20 cents just keep on giving. Every month after you can see the results. Either they do it right or wrong. Either way there is an incremental cost. Your penny is gumming up the system.

What if 10mm people did this on a regular basis? That would be a half billion one-penny exceptions a year. If just one in ten resulted in an “exception” it would mean that there would be an incremental cost someplace of at least $50 million. In my dream world 25mm people would do this and get just two letters a year as a result. Cost of that? Who knows? It would imply 1.2 billion exceptions a year. That would be noticed. (It would blow their collective minds if this started to happen)

So if you’re mad at the system and want some revenge send an extra penny to your friends at the gas-company, electric company, insurer, bank, CC company, etc. I highly recommend it. The cost is negligible. Yes, it is true that this form of protest will accomplish very little unless it catches on like a fad. But should you get (as have I) some evidence that your lousy penny is in fact causing someone someplace to spend time and money trying to figure it all out you will beam with happiness at your success. I am.