Dear Mary: We just built a new home and got our loan through a local bank that does not report loan activity to the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Is there anything bad about that? — Jon and Lori
Dear Jon and Lori: This is not unusual. Lenders are not required by any law to report. The only reason this might be of concern to you is if you will be relying on your payment history with this company to improve your credit score.
Since you qualified for this mortgage, I will assume that you maintain a great credit history. That this bank does not report should be of no concern. Congratulations on your beautiful new home. I hope you enjoy many happy years there!
FIRST THE BAIT, THEN THE SWITCH
Dear Mary: The ad promised a great interest rate, but my rate was much higher when I got approved for the new credit card. Did I get scammed? — Earl
Dear Earl: I don’t know if I’d call it getting scammed, but you’ve definitely experienced the old bait and switch.
They drew you in with promises of a low-interest rate (it was a tease), got you to apply, and when they decided you didn’t qualify for the better deal, they made the switch.
These days, only people with good to excellent credit scores — typically above 740 — will get those low advertised rates. If you have a lower score, your application will be rejected, or you’ll be offered a card with a higher interest rate. It’s in the fine print.
EXTENDED WARRANTIES FAVOR RETAILERS
Dear Mary: My son works for a large home improvement store. He said that because planned obsolescence is even worse than 20 years ago, buying extended warranties on products is now important. I have always disagreed, thinking they are a rip-off, preying on customer fears.
My son purchased two warranties within the last five years on two major brand appliances (Whirlpool and Hoover) and had to use both. Do you think he’s right? Should we consider buying extended warranties? — Lynn
Dear Lynn: It’s a matter of dollars and sense, no pun intended. I wish you’d given me the figures — the amount he spent for extended warranties compared to the repair costs.
I cannot say that an extended warranty is a bad deal in every situation. But we have to deal with the law of averages. It’s like insurance. You consider your exposure, weigh the odds and react accordingly.
Never forget this: Sales commissions on extended warranties are quite handsome. Why do you think that is? It’s because extended warranties are a huge profit maker for retailers. They give salespeople a big incentive (commission) to sell them. If retailers and manufacturers lost money on these warranties, would they keep selling them at the current price? No way. They’d either stop offering them or boost the price. You be the judge.
SAVE THE BIG SCREEN
Dear Mary: My daughter colored on our TV screen with a non-washable crayon. The screen is not a smooth surface but slightly textured. The owner’s manual says to use a damp cloth, but that is just not cutting it. I am scared to just use anything. Any answers? — Samantha
Dear Samantha: Oh my, such a creative little princess! Ha. OK, first let me say that whatever you try, test it first in an inconspicuous place, like along an edge or bottom corner.
The manufacturer of Crayola crayons suggests using WD-40 (available in any automotive or home improvement store) to remove non-washable crayon wax from hard surfaces like glass, tile and porcelain. Simply apply the product to a soft cloth and then to the crayon stain. This will soften the wax and allow you to wipe it away. Follow with mild dish soap and water.
Another option is baby oil. Apply it instead of WD-40, allow to soften, and follow with dishwashing soap and water to remove all oil residue. I am hopeful one of those options will work well.
Got a question? You can send it to: DearMary@everydaycheapskate.com. Then keep your eyes open. You just might get an answer in an upcoming column.