Early last month, Blueprint for Financial Prosperity linked to a Consumerist article about Chase representative spilling the secrets. I enjoyed Jim's article as well as the original Consumerist one.
Only two things mentioned in either article seemed scary to me as a credit card holder.Â Before I get to those, here's what wasn't a surprise:
- Credit card companies hate me. I pay off my cards all the time and collect $100 check after check in reward points.
- Treat the representative well. This is a universe truth when dealing with customer services - it doesn't matter what industry it is in.
- Say what you want at the beginning of the phone call. This sounds pretty obvious. I'm sure that the customer representative gets scored on how many resolutions he has during the month. If you are blabbing on and on, it's not going to be helpful for him.
And those two scares:
Read Your Contract - This should go without saying.Â However the representative says:
The one constant I see is people never ever read the agreement, then are surprised by things later. Please, read it, or at least call customer service and ask any questions you need answered.
There is no doubt the representative has seen a credit card agreement. As a member of customer service doesn't he think that this problem lies with the credit card companies? The writing is small, full of complex legalize and industry terms that the average consumer can't understand. Then they make changes to their agreement and send you an amendment leaving it up to you to find out which two words they might have changed (or if they have changed everything). Of course they do this because it's profitable to keep their customers ignorant. Credit card companies have to be more up front with the contract or deal with the phone calls of angry customers.
Don't say "I Didn't Get My Statement" - The representative says:
Hmm, for the past 5 years you've always gotten a statement to the correct address on file, but the one month you're late it didn't show up. Right. Somehow, whenever the car payment or the mortgage is due, people never forget that, even without a paper reminder.
Does the representative know that the mail works that way sometimes? In general the US Post Office very reliable, but over 70 bills (5 years), the odds of one getting lost in the system can be high. I'm sure that some people forget car or mortgage payments as well. These two types of billed shouldn't be compared. First, the car and mortgage payments are fixed each month. Second, those expenses can be automated. I can't remember the last time I wrote a check for a car, mortgage, cable, or cell phone bill. Each of them comes out of my bank account or is billed to my credit card automatically. If the credit card companies want people to pay on time, give them the ability to automate payments. Credit card companies don't want this to happen because they'd lose all the money on late fees.
Finally, I want to thank Chase. I noticed a finance charge on my bill last month. I thought this was odd because they posted my payment with plenty of time. After a lot of discussion with the customer service representative it turns out that instead of paying $1314.21, I paid $1014.21. When I wrote the check, I forgot to write "three hundred" out even though I had $1314.21 in the box. They could clearly see this from the scanned check, but are legally required to take what's written in the words. It would be nice if they noticed that discrepancy and called me, but I'll let it go - it was clearly my fault. The representative says that kind of careless error happens all the time and he waived the fees.
Sometimes even a non-profit customer gets a break.
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