Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Read Mail From Your Credit Card Company Carefully

Every day, we’re bombarded with mail and most of us sort it over a trashcan, extracting items of interest and discarding the rest. Periodically, among the stack is a notice from your credit card company announcing changes in the agreement. If you have more than one card, you may become nonchalant, assuming they are increasing their late fee and you simply file it away with the statement.

I urge you to read these notices carefully!

Here’s why…A few months ago, I had diligently researched credit card rates online and signed up with a popular bank that was touted the best deal by consumer sites, offering a rate of 9.99%, an award program and no annual fees.

Recently, in an attempt to lower my bills, I grabbed my statement to double-check my rate. Lo and behold, the rate on the statement had jumped to 26.99%! After picking myself up from the floor, I wondered how on earth the rate had jumped so high. Had I accidentally paid late? Had I gone over the limit? I immediately contacted customer service and was informed that I had not paid late, but it was simply a “universal rate adjustment”, meaning that the rate had been adjusted for all customers, and that I had been notified 8 weeks ago of the adjustment by mail. I grabbed the folder where I stash all the statements and other correspondence, and there it was. I’ve attached a copy below, with personal information blacked out for security purposes.

It is absolutely unbelievable to me that these companies can get away with this. The letter makes no reference to the ridiculous rate hike, but rather conveniently distracts the consumer by not only placing an ad for DHL Express Shipping in the middle, but by enclosing a DHL flyer. The cardholder agreement fills the entire back of the letter in tiny size 6 font, and ¾ of the way down the page, in the middle of a paragraph, it outlines the new rate. I had to read the agreement three times to find it.

They thanked me for being a valued customer and offered to lower my rate to 19.99% just because I called. I offered to take my business elsewhere and never use this card again.

(click on the image to enlarge)

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