Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Tuesday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on a messy situation involving Columbus Bank and Trust. CB&T offered credit cards with hefty activation fees, but never told customers in advance about the fees. Is this what Phil Carter was selling, before Bill Heard Chevrolet hired him?

The problem involved "Aspire" credit cards, which CompuCredit Corporation issued through CB&T. The cards were offered to people who already had troubled credit histories. This may explain why my computer thesaurus shows a synonym for "aspire" is covet....

CB&T and CompuCredit apparently didn't tell applicants that Aspire cards would cost as much as $179 in "activation fees." For many people, credit cards are available with no such fee. Only the card companies stick you in the "back side," if you miss a payment.

The newspaper article says some Aspire customers also accused CB&T and CompuCredit of using "improper tactics to collect debts." For instance, if the collection agents are wearing trench coats in the 99-degree heat....

Another complaint was that CB&T and CompuCredit signed up Aspire customers for outside programs they didn't want, then charged the customers to renew their memberships in those programs. At least the telemarketers from the Ledger-Enquirer stay on the phone long enough to let you say no.

The complaints involving Aspire cards have been settled, with CompuCredit of Atlanta paying $11 million - NOT through Georgia's Attorney General, but New York's. It begs the question of why Thurbert Baker didn't take the lead in this case. Was he too busy counting on CB&T and Synovus Financial for something else -- like a reelection donation?

CB&T apparently will NOT pay anything, in this settlement with New York's Attorney General. Bank President Steve Melton told the Atlanta newspaper it never meant to harm any customers. Besides, how many more hand-crafted board room tables does this bank need to buy?

CB&T President Steve Melton says because of the Aspire card case, the bank has added new phone equipment so customer service agents can be reached more easily. Does that bank ever need this! I took a call from a CB&T staffer last week - in response to a voice mail message I left in late May. [True!]

But Steve Melton says CB&T will continue a nine-year working relationship with CompuCredit, which includes issuing credit cards for the company. This only proves what many people already knew -- card games can be a tough addiction to break.

BLOG UPDATE: "Thunder on the Hooch" was alcohol-free - and at least while I was there Tuesday, it was politics-free. But I was there during the mid-afternoon. Perhaps candidates waited until later to show up - so they could "press the flesh," without sticking to it in the humidity.

Mayoral candidate Jim Wetherington plans to open his campaign headquarters Thursday night - but your blog has learned in the process, he's encouraging the violation of a new Columbus city rule. No, Bob Poydasheff has NOT banned all opponents from holding rallies....

Several weeks ago, Columbus Police began a crackdown on parking vehicles on sidewalks. Finally officers are starting to cleaning up a big issue of mine - because if walkers use the street instead of the sidewalk, it only encourages drivers to do exactly the opposite.

The Columbus Police sent a notice to the news media, warning they also would be subject to ticketing if they parked vehicles on city sidewalks. If they "get the story," they should get it legally - though it probably isn't grounds for defense attorneys to appeal, as it is with law officers.

But I'm told Jim Wetherington's invitations to his campaign headquarters opening says the news media can park on the sidewalk, along Wynnton Road. So this former police chief is inviting reporters to break city regulations?! Maybe this is a sneaky way of adding money to the police department budget....

Back to Thunder on the Hooch for a moment: the public address announcer said during the afternoon the fireworks would start at 9:30 p.m. - but they started exploding at 9:17 p.m. Was the crowd along the Chattahoochee River growing restless? Or did someone pull out one of those legal Georgia sparklers, and throw the professionals off?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now back to the race for mayor - well, at least we think it's a message about that:

Nah...Nah...Nah...Nah, Nah...Nah...Nah...Nah, Heeaaayyy.....Goodbye Bob!

The writer asked us to guess which song had its lyrics changed for this. I assume this writer only prepares the $100 questions on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

Now let's change blog categories from "Name That Tune" to "Odds and Ends":

+ Columbus had a record high temperature for Independence Day, reaching 99 degrees F. As brilliant as we like to think the founding fathers were, couldn't they have founded our country in mid-April or early October?

+ Westville held its annual 1850-style Independence Day celebration, by setting off explosives under anvils. I'm sorry -- but if those anvils aren't landing on the heads of coyotes, it simply doesn't look right to me.

+ WRBL reported Columbus fire station #6 on Brown Avenue is one of the 50 busiest stations in the country. Its crew went on more than 8,000 calls last year. And then scoffers say nothing's happening in midtown Columbus....

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported Columbus songwriter Willie Denson died over the weekend. He helped write the classic soul tune, "Mama Said/There'd be days like this...." Is anyone going to dare sing that at Denson's funeral?

+ Atlanta baseball manager Bobby Cox was grand marshal of that city's "Salute 2 America Parade." Some people were surprised that Cox did NOT get ejected, for arguing with a police officer about the route.

+ Instant Message to North Korea (assuming you have IM technology): This blog declared war on you more than three years ago. Now you've fired missiles in response - and none of them even reached Japan?! I'm feeling more victorious than ever....

COMING THURSDAY: Second thoughts about that ethics complaint against the mayor....

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