Oh, it’s on. These sociopathic banking bastards are tap dancing on my last remaining nerve.
At the beginning of May, my automatic payment to Chase for my credit card statement balance failed to post. I caught this quickly, reported it, and electronically transferred the $463.20 I owed to them. The root cause of this was a glitch in one of Chase’s own systems. But the fact remained, it was 18 hours past the due date.
I soon discovered I had then been charged $33.39 in fees and interest. That works out to 9.6% interest PER DAY. Being robbed at gun point and pistol whipped would have been a better feeling. But I had the inner peace and satisfaction that comes from knowing you’re right, and the maniacal determination to make that reality known to the cadre of clueless meatbags that stood between me and my squeaky clean credit history.
The next few weeks involved more phone calls and faxes than I care to mention. At one point Chase required that I actually had to print documents off of the Chase system and fax them back to Chase as evidence of my claim. This sort of bureaucratic bullshit is not incompetence. It’s a carefully crafted strategy to frustrate and abuse the opposition in hopes they give up and walk away. Not a chance.
They finally relented, and agreed to credit me the $33.39, which was damn sporting of them considering their computer caused the problem in the first place. I was frustrated, but contented. I got my due.
Today my June statement dropped. I opened it only to find a new interest charge on there. I grab the phone, dial the number and punch zero until the IVR cries uncle and connects me to a human being. I explain that I want to know what this interest charge is. The agent informs me he’d be happy to help me with that today. I somehow suspect he’s going to change his mind.
He cheerfully drops into a canned script about how interest charges are calculated, and I cut him off at the dangling participle. I explain there should be no interest at all as they credited me the $33.39, and otherwise the card is paid off.
He clicks away at his keyboard for a moment, and announces he has an answer. There were almost 3 weeks that went by from when the $33.39 was charged to me and when they credited my account for the same. This was the interest I owed on that overdue charge, prior to them issuing the credit.
I left the line silent for a moment assuming the insanity of what he just explained would trigger a follow-on statement, or at least a satisfying “splat” as his head popped and the gelatinous goo dripped from his monitor. But nothing.
“Let me see if I have this right,” I offered. “You’re charging me interest for failure to pay you money you agree I didn’t owe you?”
“Well Sir, the system doesn’t remove the charges, it merely credits you. And according to policy you are still responsible for the initial charges and any late fees or interest on those charges.” He spoke with a straight face, however improbable that may seem.
Donning the face in the illustration above I roared back, “This is completely unacceptable! Chase agreed I was not liable for initial problem. That’s why they credited the charges in the first place. I will not be held financially responsible for the vagaries of your internal accounting system. You agreed to credit the charges. I expect that to be all of them. And I do not expect to have to waste my time or yours having to explain this all over to someone else next month.”
Another long silence loomed on the line. Then much to my surprise, “Yes Sir, I’m going to go ahead and credit that interest charge back to your account.”
This should have been a good outcome. I ultimately got my justice (at least until next month). But at what price? Financially, I’m in way over the $33 limit if I remotely try to factor in the time devoted to this. And I’m sure they’ve spent way more dealing with this resolution as well. Yet I suspect that for every one of me who goes to the wall over this stuff, hundreds of folks just pony up the extra fees in the interest of keeping it simple. And that’s why banks do it.
I’d like to even think this was strictly a Chase problem, but it’s not. I’ve already stopped doing business with Citi and Capital One because of different situations where I was treated like somehow I should consider it a privilege to do business with them. Somewhere along the line the whole equation got inverted.
It’s not that these banks are too big to fail… it’s that they’re too big to give a flying f*#k about their customers.