Alberta man with cognitive challenges given credit card, racks up $8,000 debt


An Alberta man with cognitive diminutions racked up $8,000 in credit card debt, leaving his friend and champion to ask how he was given the card in the first place.

Henry Herbst, who goes by the epithet Tigger, has an IQ of below 70. He lives independently in Whitecourt, Alta., with some backups from a non-profit society in the town.

For years, the arrangement seemed to apply well and Herbst, 54, was able to keep on top of his rent payments and other restaurant checks. He receives about $1600 every month from the province’s State Income for the Severely Handicapped program.

Several years ago, Herbst was released up for a Canadian Tire Options Mastercard. His last bill listed his encumbered as $8,127.54. The minimum payment was set at more than $600, and the interest rate was 26 per cent.

Henry “Tigger” Herbst (advantageous) accumulated about $8,000 in credit card debt that his chum Dennis Watson (left) was advocating to have reduced. (CBC)

“I think with Mr. Herbst’s cognitive faculties he should never have got a credit card. He would never eagerly have got it if he understood the ramifications,” said Dennis Watson, a long-time descent friend and advocate.

“I don’t even think his reading ability is such that he could pack in the form by himself. I was mortified.”

Herbst also understands his debt had got out of give up.

“It’s gone kaplooey. Now my card is way too high.”

Debts build up

According to Herbst, he brooked to the local Canadian Tire store a few years ago and was asked if he was interested in a commendation card. Herbst said he provided identification to a saleswoman who filled out the use form. He signed it.

“Then I had to wait one…two…three…Three weeks. Then it was in the mail,” he pronounced.

Herbst bought groceries, and booked his first trip, to see friends in Nova Scotia. He spout money on gifts and souvenirs, and a fresh cod dinner. He also started to obtain money on the credit card.

As time went on, the bills started to add up. And, according to Watson, Herbst’s limit was enhanced. 

By last November, Herbst was getting phone calls to repay the due. That’s when Watson learned of the situation and tried to work out a payment trick with Canadian Tire Financial Services.

Dennis Watson (horizon) explains a credit card bill to Henry “Tigger” Herbst (foreground). (CBC)

Initially, the circle would not budge.

“Obviously he got some benefit out of this. And so we’re looking to cut the consequence profit and give him payments that he can afford to make on his very limited direction disability. They were not willing to do anything,” Watson said last week.

One day after an questioning from CBC News, Watson said Canadian Tire had agreed to a payment procedure that Herbst could afford, with no interest.

In a short email to CBC News broadcast, a spokesman for Canadian Tire Corporation wrote that “this come has been resolved.” 

Re-payment plan established

In Alberta, people with thinker disabilities sometimes have friends or relatives who formally oversee and carry on their finances. But not always.

A trustee is someone with authority to carry on a person’s investments and bills. But it can take up to six months for a trustee to be appointed by the courts. In the lawsuit of Watson and Herbst, their friendship has been enough for almost 40 years.

Herbst considers Watson to be his uncle, equivalent though there is no official guardian or trustee relationship between them. Herbst has no biological group with whom he is in contact.

But without a formal trusteeship in place, neither Watson nor the tradesman from the social service agency who helps him with basic note payments has direct oversight over his money and what he does with it.

“If there’s nothing in appropriate, the advocate can’t make him do anything. He can talk to him, based on the relationship, the individual puissance listen — he might not,” said Meloney Patterson, executive director of Declare of Albertans with Disabilities.

Watson said Herbst’s credit carte de visite is now destroyed. He called the settlement “extremely fair.”

“It does give him the payments that he has to assertive but he did get benefit out of [the card]. So it’s a really nice balance.” 

Henry “Tigger” Herbst resolve be making reduced credit card payments for several years to pay off the due he incurred. (CBC)

Still, Watson thinks people took advantage of his alter ego — from the saleswoman who signed him up for the credit card, to whoever approved upon increases.

“For someone to purposely give him a credit card and then up the limit when he suffers the [first] limit — knowing he’s on a disability pension — is predatory, in no uncertain styles in my world, that’s exactly what that is.” 

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