Insurers have to maintain a safety net of money to protect themselves from unforeseen market conditions, but a new study from Consumers Union says that some Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers took it too far, preferring to focus exclusively on stockpiling cash at the expense of customers. Two of the worst cases have stockpiles 5 to 7 times higher than state solvency requirements, yet continue to hike premiums each year instead of using the, uh, surplus surplus to offset customer costs.
Kevin received a surprise when he checked the renewal notice for his car insurance recently. A 260 percent surprise, in fact, even though he’s not a bad driver and hadn’t been in any accidents.
Comcast is going to start rolling out a $2 fee hike across the country this fall, which means your cable modem rental fee will go from $3 to $5 by the end of the year. Comcast says they absolutely have to do this or they’ll never be able to pay for service and equipment upgrades, which makes us wonder how the poor underfunded company manages to stay afloat at all.
Great news, laid-off Wall Streeters, minimum wage work just a got bit more lucrative! As of yesterday, the new minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
Chase just notified Greg that they’re more than doubling his minimum payment requirement. Because he and his wife are carrying such a large balance due to a promotional balance transfer offer a few years ago, this pushes their monthly payment to nearly $1,000.
We’re starting to think Capital One isn’t just hurting financially, but also throwing a temper tantrum about the new credit card legislation. Eric received notice that they’re converting his current fixed rate to a “promotional rate.” In January 2011 they’ll switch it over to an adjustable rate and hike it to 17.9% (it’s currently 9.9%). Erik has until July 28th to agree to the new terms or they’ll close the account on August 2nd, 2009.
Ryan pointed us to an article on Orbitcast about a rumored fee hike by Sirius XM. The increases appear to be for services that aren’t strictly protected by the FCC agreement, which is why they would legally be able to do this despite promises that they wouldn’t raise rates for 36 months after the merger.
Some customers who transferred their balances to Chase were hit with a new fee this month: a $10 monthly surcharge just for having the account in the first place. This $120 annual fee is pure profit for Chase and doesn’t get applied to the balance. Oh, and they’re doubling the minimum payment as well, although the sooner you pay off your Chase credit card and close it, the happier you’ll be.
William got an email from Vonage yesterday telling him they’re raising his bill starting in February.
If you have a Citigroup-issued credit card and you haven’t had a rate increase over the last two years, expect to be notified of a 2-3% rate increase on your November statement. Congratulations! You’re going to help Citigroup offset its losses in the global credit card division, whether you were directly part of those losses or not. As the New York Times points out, by doing this Citigroup is breaking the promise they made to Congress in 2007 that they would not arbitrarily raise rates on accounts—which may be why they’re offering a fairly lenient opt-out policy.
And let’s not forget the exorbitant booking fee for using miles for one of our tickets. The actual FLIGHT was only $280 round trip per ticket, but with the booking fee TO USE THE MILES TO PURCHASE A TICKET, we wound up paying over $500.
If there’s one group of Americans who don’t carry their weight and need to pay more money to the healthcare industry, it’s those layabout senior citizens! That’s why their Medicare drug premiums are increasing by an average of 31% for the 10 most popular plans beginning in 2009. If you were with Humana, formerly the cheapest Medicare drug plan you could get (its premium was $9.51 in 2006), you can expect to pay $40.83 per month in 2009, an increase of 60% over this year’s rate. As you would expect, Humana is no longer the cheapest option—so it may be time to shop around for a new plan.
Airlines and surfers must be involved in some secret war, because how else can you explain why airlines are targeting them so savagely right now? Sure, snacks cost us $9, bags are $50 each, and seat belts will probably soon be auctioned off during the preflight check—but if you’re a surfer, you can expect to pay up to $200 each way to bring along your board, pretty much blowing out the budget of any surfer who isn’t Patrick Swayze.
More about Bank of America’s inexplicable rate hikes against good customers who never pay late: the Charlotte Observer talks to some recent recipients of BoA’s infamous rate-increase letters from the past few weeks. The first person they talk to is a 60-year-old woman who “had never been late on a credit card payment, just refinanced her home at a lower interest rate, and just been rewarded by her credit union with a lower rate on her credit card there.” Bank of America just raised her card from 13% to 24.99%.
If you were eyeing the “budget-priced” Gateway P-6831FX and thought about picking one up at your local Best Buy, you’ll want to wait until this Sunday, February 17th, when Best Buy says it will lower the price again.
BusinessWeek has just published an article about Bank of America’s recent surprise mailings in January to some of its customers, announcing “that it would more than double their rates to as high as 28%, without giving an explanation for the increase.” These customers have good credit scores and hadn’t made any late payments, and those who called Bank of America to ask why this was happening weren’t given clear reasons. Industry experts say Bank of America has reached a “new level” of “lack of transparency in raising rates,” beyond anything Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase currently practice, because BoA is apparently using some undisclosed internal metric to determine who gets the rate hike.
American and Delta have rated rates in the face of higher fuel costs, the airlines said yesterday. US Airways and Continental did not match the hike, and United and Northwest said they are studying it.