I was taking care of the monthly bills, and considering ways to make them sting a little less. Right about that time I got a phone call from one of those companies who offer to help you negotiate with your creditors to reduce your interest rates and maintain the accounts, yada, yada, yada. "How serendipitous!" I thought. I got passed from one rep to the next and I explained how I was newly widowed and had a reduced income and needed some ways to manage my debt. With each time I was able to control my voice a little more (the word "widow" catches in my throat sometimes), felt a little stronger, more in control. I convinced myself I was making a sound financial decision.
The next thing I knew, I had signed up for their service at $698.95 to be put on my card with the highest balance, since that's the one they were going to go after first. It was when they told me that the charge would appear under a company called 3.14, and not First Secure Management, that the first of the little alarm bells began to go off. By the time I had browsed around on their website for a few minutes, I WAS the alarm bell, and it was the klaxon announcing a base-wide alert! They were going to charge me $700 to do something I could do for myself!
I immediately called the credit card company to put a stop to the charge and contacted First Secure Management to let them know that I wished to nullify the agreement. Keep in mind, that this was within one hour of speaking with them. I explained once again, that I was newly widowed and that I had realized upon hanging up the phone that this arrangement really was not in my best interests. I was certain, that as an ethical company, they would honor that request. I had not yet received any goods or services from them, and they had not yet received my money. What could be simpler?
I was told that I would have to forward them a doctor's certificate declaring me incapable of making my own financial decisions. That's when I went a little medieval. I had to hang up before I started saying things I couldn't or wouldn't back up with action. I did tell the young woman that she should be ashamed of herself (that's when I knew I was slipping over into "out of control") and that I was going to contact my lawyer. I did contact my lawyer; it never hurts to be protected. And I finally did get a phone call back from the rep that signed me up and he agreed that the contract would be nullified and I would not be charged.
There are three things that came out of this:
- My dear grandmother was amazing when it came to money. From her I learned: Don't be pressured into any kind of big-ticket decision that has to be made right now with no study or consideration. I know this. I preach this to my kids. I KNOW THIS! But I am grieving. I am temporarily crazy. I need to be sensitive to that, and put a lock on any kind of decision with financial implications until I consult with at least one other trusted friend/relative.
- Given the full-blown anxiety attack that this kicked off, I would say I still have some fear issues. Damn! Well, at least I can recognize it when it is coming at me now, and I don't end up sedated and in a darkened room. And I know that money issues trigger it, so that means I have a great deal of control over the situation. I eliminate money issues. Yeah. Any other ideas?
- Not everyone is looking out for the widow. Some of the people I spoke with today are predators, pure and simple. I need to let Pollyanna be Pollyanna, and Sharon take care of Sharon because that's who is here.