I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Buyer Beware!

I've had a Chase Platinum Mastercard for several years now. For the most part I've been satisfied with it. I parked a balance on it a few years ago that I've been paying down; I had it targeted to pay off this year, actually. Never once have I ever been late on a payment, on this or any other card. So, today I get my bill and I notice that the balance fell a bit less than normal. I looked over the statement and I see that there's a $10 "transaction fee." Quite mysterious. I called up their service line... I waited for half an hour on hold before I finally spoke to someone. I was informed that in order to maintain my low interest rate, they were now charging the $10 fee each month. I could eliminate the fee if I agreed to a higher interest rate. I was informed that these are my only choices: pay the fee each month, or take the higher rate.

I am, of course, mortified. This card had a very low interest rate; it was actually one of the last cards I planned to pay off. Now, of course, it's jumped to next on the list. I'll pay them off next week.

I went and read reviews of Chase and see that I am by no means the only customer they've pulled this on. They must have performed some cold calculus and figured more people would pay this fee than they would lose as customers. So: Buyer beware. Chase is a corporation who will change the terms on you even if you have good credit. If you have an account with them, pay it off. If you don't, avoid them at all costs.

Also, I plan to write my congressman David Price to compliment him on voting for the TARP funds that are going to support these crooks. It's so nice to know that even after I cancel my credit card, the government is still going to bend over backwards to make sure this bank doesn't go under....


Lazy Bike Commuter said...

I guess this is just Chase's way of saying "You should cancel this and switch to a zero interest card."

James Maxey said...

Lazy, I gave this option serious consideration. I get offers every week for zero interest for one year cards. Alas, the reality of credit card contracts is that they have the right to change terms on you at their whim. There's no guarantee if I go to another credit card they won't change terms. Or, just as likely, they'll get rolled up in a merger and I'll wind up dealing with Chase again. The credit card in question didn't start as a Chase card. It started as an MBNA card many years ago and was purchased by Chase. I think that all my credit cards except for AMEX have changed corporate ownership in the last decade, and the future is only going to bring more mergers and turmoil.

I have a few decent lump sums of money coming to me during the course of the year. I had some economic stimulus in mind for the cash--new appliances, for instance. But, now I'm going to focus primarily on paying off debt. I should have Chase paid off by April. They'll get a decent infusion of cash from me and other good clients... at which point we'll all cut up their cards and never do business with them again.

It's a very strange business model, I think, to penalize your most reliable customers and drive them away. It seems like this would hurt a company in the long run. But, what do I know? I'm not a CEO paid tens of millions of dollars, so my business instincts are obviously flawed.