Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Scumbags of the month: Chase Bank

Read the complaint. My name isn't on that complaint, but these guys have my name, address, and phone number if they need another name to put on a revised complaint.

How it works: a few years back, Chase made an offer to me: transfer a balance to their card, pay a one-time transaction fee, and it would be 3.99% until the balance was paid off. I took them up on the offer and transferred a balance to their card (the balance being basically what it cost me to be unemployed for six months then to move from Phoenix to the Silicon Valley, or roughly $16,000). Since then I have faithfully paid on the balance every month, never a day late, never a dollar short, and the balance is now significantly less than that. I have, in short, lived up to my end of the contract.

Chase, however, has not. They have apparently decided to take that $35 billion of taxpayer money that they got from TARP, and use it to illegally try to kick the "deadbeats" (i.e., those of us who pay our bills every month) off of their books. I can see why they don't want my loan on their books -- while they're getting money at 0% from the Federal government, still, 3.99% sucks as an interest rate. But they made a deal, and now they don't want to live up to it, instead charging a bogus "transaction fee" that is not allowed by the promotional agreement. And oh yeah, they've also accelerated the payment, but that doesn't bother me, I'm paying off my credit cards and all that's doing is shifting which credit card I'm paying off. No big deal. It's the bogus monthly transaction fee that's not authorized by the agreement we had.

I personally don't see much chance of the class action lawsuit succeeding. I'm not a lawyer, but that arbitration provision in the cardholder agreement looks pretty ironclad to me. But that doesn't make Chase Bank any less scumbags. If you have an account with these people, MOVE IT IMMEDIATELY. Unless you're actually costing them money. If you have a no-annual-fee credit card with them, pay it off and then charge a $1.50 soda with it once a month. And then pay your bill via a check and US Postal Service. That way they have to pay mail handling fees, check handling fees, and otherwise spend money on your account. But hey, it's what scumbags deserve :-). In the meantime, my credit cards are going to be paid off by the end of this year (and I have the money to pay off Chase immediate but prefer to put it to use elsewhere). Good riddance to them all.

-- Badtux the Ripoff Penguin


  1. Wow, Tux, when I read accounts (no pun intended) about your trouble with credit card balances, and other people who detail their credit travails on blogs, I realise how fortunate I am.

    Mrs. Bukko and I are hardly thrift-amish people. We live well, and charge strategically on our cards. The holiday flight we're taking to Perth and Ningaloo Reef in March is already paid for with airline miles we accumulated on credit cards. It takes thousands of dollars in charges to get a flight. Mrs. B is a genius about that sort of thing, what cards to use, how to do things like pay for part of our car with plastic, etc.

    But we've never had a balance we couldn't pay off at the end of the month. We've had good jobs, and been paranoid/foresightful about the direction the economy would take. It also helped that we had relatives who died and left us money from time to time. To our credit, we didn't act all "hippie rich" when the windfalls came, blowing the money on drugs or frippery. We lived well, but within our means.

    I thought that was just normal. The thought of paying interest to some bank (except on my home mortgage) has always griped my stingy Scottish genes, so it was anathema to me. Therefore, I kept my spending under control.

    But I keep reading about people, even smart ones like you, who have fallen into the debt trap. I thought I was normal because I avoided that, through planning, thrist and the lucky accident of birth. Now I see I'm the freak, albeit in a good way.

  2. I've paid Chase on time for years and they also did the same thing to me with the "transaction fee". I've gotten my credit card down to just a few hundred now, paid more than I could last month to do it so I can screw them. Thanks for the insight about charging $1.50 a month. I surely will do it!

  3. It wasn't a "debt trap", Bukko. It was being unemployed for six months while having a house note *exactly* six months after running down my savings to buy the house. The awesomely huge amount I got from Arizona's unemployment compensation department was $236 per month. Yeah, you read that right. My house note, including taxes and everything, was $1400 a month.

    So anyhow, I did what any red-blooded American does in that circumstance -- I borrowed money to make it through until I could sell the house six months later. I used credit cards to buy food and gas, a line of credit to pay on the house note, and the $5,000 I'd managed to save between the time I bought the house and the time my job evaporated into a puff of 9/11 went to pay for electricity and phone and stuff. And then came the problem of moving to the Silicon Valley when I finally *did* find a job. I borrowed for that too. The net result, after all of this was done, was a significant debt load -- but one that was quite manageable with my income, and that now, five years later, is just about paid off. The line of credit is paid off, and I now have more cash in the bank than I owe on the card, though it's not all readily accessible so I'm just going to continue with their accelerated payment schedule until those CD's mature.

    That's what happens when perfect storms hit, and one reason why I laughed at the morons who told me I should buy another house. A house is just an albatross around your neck. If not for that goddamned house, most of that debt wouldn't be there. I would have simply rented a storage locker for my stuff and moved in with a relative for the duration. Never again. The only house I will ever own again will have wheels on it and sit on my land in Louisiana for me to retire to. A house simply ties you down too much and sucks you dry when the shit hits the fan.

    - Badtux the Rental Penguin

  4. This also demonstrates another issue that I think should be banned: unilateral changes to contracts. It seems like everybody does it now days. Really, I thought the whole point of a contract is that it sets out the terms under which business is conducted.

  5. No criticism intended about your decisions, Tux. I'm mainly musing about my good fortune, and patting myself on the back. I do that too often. We all have choices to make and deal with the consequences.

    I AM thankful that twice in my life, I've hooked up with women who have lifted me to higher ground instead of going into the hole. (No cheeky pun intended.) I wouldn't have changed careers from journalism to nursing if my back hadn't put up against the wall by Mrs. Bukko #1, and wouldn't have had such an easy time of advancing from LPN to RN while being semi-employed if it wasn't for Mrs. Bukko #2's income. Ah, women -- they're good for SO much more than being cute when they dish your pho at the resto down the block...


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