Car loan, or why we hate bankers

I bought a Ford Fiesta from Robins Ford in Costa Mesa on Friday, July 30. It’s a great car. The price was good. The salesman was helpful and intelligent and didn’t do car salesman B.S.

I had a preapproved loan from my credit union for 6.1%.

The finance guy worked me a bit for upselling on warranties and insurance products, but wasn’t very pushy. He then wanted to get the loan business. He told me he could get me 6% or better. He was going to work on this over the weekend.

On Saturday he called me and said “I got you 6%.”

A couple of weeks passed. I got a number of loan rejection letters in the mail from various banks. I got no approvals. I called him and asked if there was something I needed to sign additionally, and he said no, they would mail me.

A couple more weeks passed. I called him asking what loan I had, and when I should get the mail. I got voicemail and the call was not returned. Repeat twice.

I called Ford Motor Credit. They had no loan for my car or anything in my name.

I received mail from Chase Bank announcing that my loan had been approved and they’d given me a lower rate because I qualified for same. My rate: 8.39%.

I called Robins Ford and was told that my credit guy no longer worked there. I talked to a new guy. He was polite and professional. He said “look at your contract; whatever is on there is your rate.” He agreed that the whole thing was upsetting. He also said that it was possible to get the credit union to loan me at a lower rate and pay off this worse loan immediately, which was a good thought.

My contract (here’s the part that’s my fault) said 10%. Credit manager guy had literally waved his hand over this as if it was a formality, or some kind of placeholder. Burned.

I applied to the credit union for a loan to repay this one; it was declined due to excessive debt. Doh.

Meanwhile, it was time for me to make my first payment. I already had a Chase account paid by bank transfer, so I set this up for the auto loan also. The system rejected my information at first. I assumed I had made a typo, and tried again. Another failure. Looking carefully at my bank’s site, I saw that they now had a separate transfer number for electronic payments of this kind. I re-entered my bank info and now it was accepted. I paid the current bill and set up automated payments.

On the 22nd of September I got a late payment phone call from Chase. Looking at my account online, I saw that it said the following: next payment due date: 9/13. last payment made: 9/13. Account late. Amount due: my monthly plus a processing charge and a returned check charge.

I called Chase and a comedy ensued. The rep was very pleasant and professional. Together, we took a journey through madness and finance. It was clear that I had paid on the 13th, that the transaction was bollixed, and that a week later the computer decided that the transaction had not gone through and they were considering it a bad check. There was no late fee yet. I mentioned twice that this was during the time when Chase had an exceptionally bad I.T. disaster involving their loan systems, but he was silent about this.

I made my one-time payment with the rep on the phone, and he said he would get the bounced check charge remove.

Today, I looked at my Chase account. The account was now listed as overdue with a late charge. The last payment still said the 13th. And my new payment was listed as “in process.”

The bankers have mentioned recently that their feeling are hurt, that they feel bruises, that they are being unfairly vilified by the media and public servants. Why do we attack their large salaries? Why do we resent their guaranteed bonuses? Why are we insisting that the regulators regulate instead of sipping the bankers’ Scotch? Why do we fly into tantrums when their bold, risk-taking, disruptive innovations in finance blow up and kick shrapnel in our faces?


But it’s a snappy little car.

Bob Trout’s Patented Landlord Revenge Method

To be used only as a last resort if evicted by or fleeing a truly evil landlord. Note: extremely illegal; may result in fines or imprisonment. Not endorsed by anyone sane.

Freeze 2 lbs ground meat.

Place frozen ground meat in five or so concentric zip-lock freezer bags. Make hole in wall large enough to admit bagged frozen meat.

Place meat in hole.

Plaster and paint over hole so that it appears to be just fine.

Move out.

Roughly six months later a damp explosion occurs, causing a stench that no man can smell and live, and requiring the destruction of the apartment.


While the Malaysians struggle with the issues of Islamic prayer in orbit, the Koreans have a more serious issue: how do we take our national comfort food with us?

Kimchi – the Final Frontier

April 2008 will see the first kimchi in space when Korea’s first astronaut journeys to the final frontier. With the help of cutting-edge technology, the national delicacy acclaimed for its taste as much as its healthful properties will become “space food.”

Space kimchi is being developed jointly by a team in the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute led by Dr. Byun Myung-woo and domestic food maker CJ. It looks much the same as the kimchi Koreans eat every day. Those who have tried it say it has zest and makes them feel much the same as the terrestrial variety, while the color is also similar. But a look through the microscope reveals the difference in the micro-organisms that help ferment the vegetables. The U.S. and Russia put top priority on safety when they approve space food, all of which is thoroughly sterilized. If living micro-organisms were to mutate into killer germs in space, the reasoning goes, there would be no way to prevent them from wreaking havoc among the astronauts.

Heating food kills the micro-organisms, but in the case of kimchi, that would produce kimchi stew. To address the problem, KAERI used cobalt-60 gamma rays, which attack and disconnect DNA or enzymes of bacteria and thus prevent them from multiplying. Radiation has been used for various space foods since it was first used to sterilize the ham that went up in Apollo 17 in 1972.

In zero gravity, the air does not move and astronauts cannot smell, so their sense of taste, too, is dramatically reduced. Space kimchi is expected to be of great help in stimulating astronauts’ appetite with its zest and spices. In addition, it is effective in promoting the intestinal functions, which tend to be somewhat sluggish in space, with abundant fiber.

After being irradiated, the kimchi is deprived of all the gas, but the possibility remains that the juice will squirt out when it is opened just as soda does in a low-pressure environment. There would be kimchi juice all over the ship. For that reason, CJ has developed special packaging for space kimchi.

KAERI concluded an agreement with the NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center to develop space food last year. The institute is to sign another agreement with the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) of Russia this August to conduct safety tests for space kimchi. If kimchi successfully goes into space in 2008, there is a good chance it will remain on the outer-space menu for U.S. and Russian astronauts, and before you know it, Korea’s national dish will have conquered a new dimension.