|by Jason Steele|
The following reader question has been edited for length, spelling, and punctuation.
Greetings Mr Credit Card,
I have had a Bank of America Alaska Airlines credit card for close to 10 years. In that time I have had marital status change, job changes, life changes, and had contacted BOA regarding the billing cycle and income cycle that were not copacetic with my finances. It was like talking to a flippen brick wall as they would never work with me and of course when payments came late there were periodic charges and rate increases. I ceased charging and continued to make payments, sometime not on time but always payments. They made lots and lots of money on my charges, my credit line was originally only $3,000. Well this April, I made a $2,000+ payment to clear off my balance, I also stated on my bill that I wanted to close my account.
Well they did close my account but the payment was received 10 days past due and since have been billing me $30 a month as penalty. I called and was treated like the scum of the earth and given policy crap, passed on the more anal managers and of course I am so flippen mad that I am looking to scream and shout legally and NOT pay this, not only that I want my credit repaired by these guys.
I have another credit card which was actually paid off with zero balance and received a letter from them reducing my credit limit $3,000 to $1,500. Which I am sure is either because my Union Plus MC is either owned or reviewed my credit history with BOA. This tweaks me, not because I want more credit but because they have exercised control that incorrectly portrays my financial responsibility. I am a single mom of 9. I have ALWAYS found a way to cover my debt and raise my family. Now I am looking to start my own business and have this to address. I know these companies have people on staff that are real and understand the loop holes to work with people. This is ridiculous that I have found rude and disrespectful corporate staff who really don”t care what your situation or story is. Bottom line. I paid my debt, and them some. I not only want this billing to stop, I want my credit cleaned of their unsavory opinion. How do I do this. How do I find out who the corporate officers are that I can submit a letter to? Would it be the Federal Trade Commission that I could also complain to?
There is a lot of emotion here. You clearly don’t like your former credit card issuer, Bank Of America. Let me get a few things of my chest before I try to answer your question. You start by saying that you had that card for 10 years, and it has seen you through a lot of changes. It seems that you have felt like you had a personal relationship with that bank, and now you are upset that your relationship went bad. You should really step back and realize that it is now and has always been just business for them. You should treat them, or any other bank no different. Fortunately, we live in a country where there are dozens of banks with hundreds, if not thousands, of credit card offerings. If at any time you do not feel like your business is valued, cancel your card and get another.
That said, there are a few inconsistencies in your story. On one hand, you admit that you have sometimes made your payments late, yet on the the other hand you insist that you “have ALWAYS found a way to cover my debt and raise my family”. Congratulations on raising your family, I know that is a very challenging job. Otherwise, I have to tell you that making your payments late is not covering your debt in the world of business. It may work with your friends or family, but when you accepted your credit card, you agreed to pay on time. When you did not, they were in their rights to charge you late fees and interest, as unfair as it may have appeared. The first time or two, you probably could have just called them and asked them nicely for the charges to be waived, but now you are way past that point.
Since you have canceled your card, now the bank really has little incentive to bend the rules to retain you as a customer. If you have proof that you made your final payment on time, then you should be able offer that evidence to them and ask them to waive the fee. If you do not have proof, and they will not waive the fee, I recommend paying it. As you found out, they have the ability to damage your credit, and that damage will be worth far more than $30.
Going forward, I strongly recommend that you organize your finances in such a way to ensure that you will never again make a late payment. You should be using the online bill paying service that is offered free with almost all checking accounts these days. In this way, the bills are paid on time and you have proof of the payment should it ever come into question. This will be important as your rebuild your credit. Needless to say, you should really pay your balance in full at all times and never carry a balance.
Finally, you are asking to which Federal authority you can complain to. Certainly it can’t hurt to complain to any number of Federal Agencies and elected officials. I should tell you that the best case scenario, that the law is changed to make it harder for banks to cheat you, has already happened. If you haven’t heard the news, President Obama has signed the Credit Card Bill of Rights into law back in May. On the other hand, informing the Bank that you will be alerting regulators might give you the extra leverage that you need for them to drop that final late fee.
This may be a little outdated, but here are some executive contacts at BOA. Please be sure to keep your request brief, polite, and well written if you hope to have any effect.
Thanks for the question.