I like to think of myself as an aware consumer, always reading the fine print and double-checking it before I put my signature on the dotted line. Well, Capital One taught me that I have much to learn about many things, especially dealing with credit cards and their balance transfer offers.
Back in February Capital One sent me a balance transfer offer of zero percent interest for 18 months. What a deal! Since my son had recently started his own business and still needed startup funding, I used that balance transfer offer to help him out.
On the second billing cycle, I noticed Capital One applied a finance charge to my account. I called Capital One’s customer service about it. After wading through people from all over the world, I finally connected with Account Manager #1, someone with some level of power. I told her my situation and she apologized for the inconvenience and told me hat she would take care of things.
By the fifth month, two months month after I had spoken to Account Manager #1, my finance charge continued to collect in the account at an astronomical rate.
Again, I called Capital One’s customer service. I asked to speak to Account Manager #1. Naturally, the woman with whom I now spoke didn’t know Account Manager #1 or from which location she worked. I took a deep breath and told my sad story again. She sat patiently and listened. After what seemed like an eternity, she put me on hold and when she came back she announced that a higher office denied my “request.”
What request? I didn’t request that they remove my finance charge because I thought it was unfair. The finance charge shouldn’t have even been there!
The lady from far off who-knows-where got tired of my lamentations and transferred me to Account Manager #2.
Account Manager #2 wasted no time informing me that I had used the wrong check. Imagine that, I used the ONLY check Capital One had given me and it was “the wrong check.”
Need I say I blew a gasket?
I demanded to speak to someone with more authority.
SENIOR Account Manager #1 listened to my argument and then asked if I had kept a copy of the check and the written offer.
I did not have a copy of either one—a lesson from which I learned to copy EVERYTHING!
She said that I had used a purchase check and that all purchase checks were at an annual rate of 14.99 percent interest.
I stayed firm in my protest that I didn’t use a purchase check. I used a balance transfer check.
She stood just as firm on her claim that the “higher office” determined the check I used was the wrong check. And unless I had a copy of the check and the offer letter, she could do nothing for me.
I was stuck with the 14.99 percent interest rate like everyone else who used the wrong check.
I hung up.
I panicked a few minutes and then realized my bank probably made a copy of that check. They did and were happy to send me a copy of it free of charge. The catch was it would be 5-10 business days before it arrived in the mail.
In the meantime, I had to get out from under this ridiculous interest rate or it would drive me to the poor house. I called another credit card company with which I had done business previously and asked them to help me out. They did, for a fee.
With a promise here and a signature there, my 14.99 percent loan became affordable. Not free, like the promise made by Capital One, but affordable.
Yesterday I got the copy of the “wrong check” and called Capital One customer service.
Again, I swam the sea of Capital One’s customer service representatives searching for Senior Account Manager #1. She was nowhere to be found. I refused to speak to anyone but a Senior Account Manager. Senior Account Manager #2 promised me the moon and then hung up. I didn’t trust him so I called again.
Senior Account Manager #3 reiterated what Senior Account Manager #1 had said—that I had used the wrong check because it wasn’t in a particular number sequence.
Actually, it was. It was one of the numbers RIGHT in the middle of the sequence. I had NOT used the wrong check. She said she would have to request a copy of the check to see for herself.
Now, mind you, I had already arranged to have the balance transferred to another bank so I wouldn’t get pinned down with exorbitant interest rates.
The next day, Senior Account Manager #3 called and said that yes, the check was in the correct number sequence and that she has credited our account the finance charges we had paid and if we hadn’t already paid the balance off, she would have been more than glad to honor the original balance transfer offer. Wasn’t that nice of her?
So, if you have a Capital One credit card and someone asks, “What’s in YOUR pocket?” You can tell them, “The hand of one of the sneakiest, low-handed, thieving companies out there.”
If anyone else has suffered a similar balance transfer scam from Capital One and wants to join me in a class action lawsuit, please post a response to this blog. I'm researching class action attornies this week. Thanks.
Product or Service Mentioned: Capital One Credit Card.
Monetary Loss: $2.