By Ivo Henfling
Years ago, we would all get hundreds of flyers in the mail, offering all kinds of services and products. Some years later, we would get all these faxes in the middle of the night, because it is cheaper. Then the spam emails started, hundreds of them, every day. The latest waste of time and a huge bother for many is phone calls and text messages from banks, cable TV services and the phone company, offering their newest services.
I wish they were just offering, sorry, I should say PUSH their services. It drives me nuts. I sell products myself; I sell real estate in Costa Rica. But I send you only a blog once a week, and if you don’t want to receive it, you just unsubscribe from the service, you will never get it again. Financial institutions have other ideas though.
But not the people who push credit cards and cable TV packages. They keep calling, at every time of the day, over and over. If you tell them you are not interested, 5 minutes later someone else calls you from the same company. You tell them to take you off the list and sure, with pleasure. No matter how many times you yell at them, they’ll keep calling. Oh, if you could kill someone through a phone line, we’d have a lot of dead people by now. I’m sure many of you are getting sick and tired of all these calls and messages. Stay calm and don't get mad at them. They're just employees and you are on their calling list. But don’t despair because I got great news for you.
Citi Bank in Costa Rica was sued for harassment by a client, annoyed by the constant calls from Citi Bank to offer their credit card service and the client won the case. A precedent was just set in Costarican legislation, although Citibank may appeal in higher court. According to Alberto Castillo, Citi Bank client’s attorney, the first court ordered Citi Bank to pay one million Colones as a fine, though he had requested 6 million. The case dates back to 2009 when the calls made by Citi Credit Card Department started and the affected recorded as the calls evidence.
Though the fine is totally ridiculous for someone who harassed a client (yes, a CLIENT!) for two years. Who wants to harass a client, duhhhh. The problem is that if you shut down your account with a bank in Costa Rica like that and open one with another bank, the story goes on. Then the new bank will harass you too. Phone companies and cable companies tend to do the same thing.
Hopefully this case will be the first step to also stop banks to push their credit cards on the younger generations who do not know how to handle a credit card. Some years ago, I had to pay off my 22 year old son's credit card, filled to the limit on Taco Bell, McDonald's and Pizza Hut junk food, that would take 15 years for him to pay it off. Most kids do not realize that Costarican banks charge up to 55% interest rates on credit card debt. I made my son pay his bills with no interest and he learned. But how many don't and the banks are getting richer and richer. Where is the social responsability the banks should have as much as you and I have?
Let’s hope this case will trigger a series of similar claims from other people bothered by phone calls as this ruling creates a precedent in national legislation.
By Ivo Henfling, your Costa Rica real estate agent who would not ever want to harass anyone, even less a future client. I invite you to read other articles about banks on this blog.