A few months ago Chase Bank introduced themselves to California by taking over Washington Mutual Bank. I did not bank with WaMu, but based on my experiences with my WaMu credit card, I certainly feel sorry for those that did. Chase Bank is abusing their power and taking advantage of the small businessman, like myself. Just over a year ago I started Unconventional Media and took advantage of an offer from Washington Mutual for a transfer of funds to my new business account. The APR offer was 1.99%.
A couple of months ago I was informed that Chase Bank was now the proud owner of Washington Mutual. There were lots of cheesy pictures of happy consumers and reward programs, but no mention of interest rate increases, even in small print.
This March, I received a credit card bill reflecting an APR increase of 23.24%. I immediately called Chase customer service and spoke with a very nice lady named Brandi. They will not give you their last names, in fact who knows if these are even their real first names. Brandi informed me there was an increase, but they had made a mistake and some of the finance charge would be credited to my account in 7-10 business days. I received a letter that informed me of the rate increase to 9.99%. This month, I received a statement with no credit and still reflecting a 23.34% APR. I called Customer Service and talked to a very rude women named Wanda from Texas, who basically said that was the corresponding APR now on my account. There was nothing I could do about it and no one I could talk to about lowering it.
Well, there is something I can do about it. There is something we can all do about it. I wrote letters to the President and California Senators Boxer and Feinstein. The banks took billions in taxpayer bailouts, then turned on their own customers – hiking interest rates on credit card balances, changing fixed rates to variable, adding new card fees, reducing good customers’ credit limits. If at all possible, boycott Chase, find another bank, an honest bank. There are a couple. Several comprehensive credit card reform bills have been introduced in the House and Senate during the 111th Congress. For instance, Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) has introduced the “Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009” (S. 414). This legislation would prevent credit card companies from increasing interest rates on customers in good standing for reasons unrelated to their behavior. Additionally, it would require credit card companies to notify customers 45 days in advance of an interest rate increase and would allow the customer to cancel the card prior to the increase. Support this bill, call your Senators, congressmen, sign the petition at www.Creditcardreform.org
I’ve paid off my Chase credit card account, but I am owed hundreds of dollars in overages. I imagine the same thing is happening to many other people, some who don’t have the luxury of paying off their bill. What the bank is doing is illegal credit card abuse and the industry must be reformed to protect the American consumer.