John Clinton Tuttle of Seattle, Wash. is waging guerrilla warfare against high interest rates and other depredations of the credit card industry. He's literally sticking it to 'em -- he's launched a campaign to encourage angry consumers to put bank-bashing stickers on ATMs.
"The credit card business is unethical," said Tuttle, 60, who told HuffPost he put 40 stickers on ATMs in Seattle last Thursday. The stickers say "Stand up to the rich bankers!" and direct ATM customers to Tuttle's website, www.creditcardrevolt.com, where he makes the case for five basic reforms for the credit card industry, including a 15 percent interest rate cap, better disclosure of rates and fees, and clearer contracts.
Tuttle enlisted the support of Georgie Bright Kunkel, who stars in three YouTube videos promoting the site. In one video, Kunkel, 89, swings a baseball bat, saying, "We can put an end to these evil, evil lending practices!" In another, she posts a flier on a Bank of America ATM.
"I've never posted a flier in my entire life. It's my first time!" says Kunkel in the video. "That makes me a flier-posting virgin!"
Tuttle, a retired public transit supervisor and former bus driver, told HuffPost that his antipathy for credit cards started 20 years ago when his wife was fighting a brain tumor.
"She was off work so we got into credit card debt," said Tuttle. "I had kids who were three years old and five years old...It was just that I was in debt and I was sinking and they wouldn't help me out on the interest."
The PBS series "The Secret History of the Credit Card" crystallized his view that somebody needed to take a stand against the industry. But Tuttle said he didn't take action until after the president signed credit card reform into law last year.
"I thought when Obama won, that would be the end of it. I thought there would be real credit card reform," he said. "When the law passed in May, I saw that it was another joke. They pretended like it was reform but they were just tweaking the fine print. The real sign is the vote in the Senate -- 90 to 5. That's total baloney."
The credit card reform law will take effect on Feb. 22. While it prohibits things like arbitrary interest-rate hikes on existing balances, it doesn't cap interest rates, and it won't necessarily make credit card contracts much easier to read. And there are other sneaky things credit card issuers can do despite the new law.
Tuttle said that he has climbed out of credit card debt and is in the process of moving his money out of Chase bank to a local credit union.
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