Saturday, April 10, 2010

How I Fought a Credit Card Company and Won

Last summer, I decided I needed a pair of shorts. I went to the mall and to my favorite clothing store, Banana Republic.

The store was having a 15% off sale for store credit card holders. Having acquired a card the year before during a similar sale, I put the discounted shorts on the plastic. This was the first time I had used the card since I first got it, as I have no real need for a clothing store credit card, other than to take advantage of the odd sale.

A few weeks later, the credit card bill arrived, and I put it aside with the other bills. However, it must have gotten lost in the shuffle, because I forgot to pay it.

One month later, another bill arrives. This one, predictably, had the previous months balance, plus a finance charge. I expected this, and the finance charge was not much, as the shorts were only about 30 dollars.

However, to my shock and dismay, I also discovered a 25 dollar late fee! This fee was almost as much as the balance of my account!

Furious, I wrote a check for the full amount, including charges and fees. On the payment slip, I checked the box signaling a "change of address," to be written on the back of the slip. I flipped the paper over and proceeded to write in the address field, "GO FUCK YOURSELF. I WILL NEVER USE YOUR FUCKING CARD AGAIN."

I placed the paper and the check into the accompanying envelope, affixed a stamp, and mailed it off.

A month later, I received this in the mail:

GE Money Bank, as well as Banana Republic, were so afraid they would lose me as a customer that they credited the 25 dollar fee back to my card, meaning I now had 25 dollars to spend at Banana Republic.

"Ha," I said to myself. "They think they can win me over that easily? Fuck 'em." I had made a strong statement, and I aimed to stay true to it. I scanned the letter you see and threw away my card.

Two months later, I was going through the mail, and found a letter from GE Money Bank. "What now?" I asked myself.

I opened the envelope to find this:

A check, from GE Money Bank and Banana Republic for my 25 dollars. Victory.

The moral of this story is that if too many customers disagree with a company's practices, and those customers stop giving the company money, that company has no choice but to change those practices or go out of business.

Companies always chase the money, so don't give your money to a company who's practices you disagree with, and if you are already giving them money, stop.

UPDATE: I have been informed by a former credit card collections employee that there is a much faster way to do this. Often the collection is contracted out to a different company, who will usually waive the late fee since they only care about collecting some payment. If you call and say you'll do a check by phone if the fee is waived, they will waive it almost every time. If they don't, hang up, call back and try a different person.

I have also been informed that the best credit card to have is the Amazon Rewards card. It's through Chase, which according to my source is a good bank.

I swear I am not shilling for Amazon or Chase, though if they wanted to pay me, I would accept.

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