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May 06, 2010

Visa misleads customers. Compliance is not “courtesy”.

  What did you say Mr. customer service representative?

About a month ago I received a letter from Visa, informing me that it will be canceling my credit card account. As I normally do when I get such bad news from a creditor, I put down the letter and let my nerves cool for a few hours.  This was especially bad news because of two problems: 1) This account, opened in college, was the oldest account on my record. Thus, closing it will have a major effect on my credit score.  2) I will no longer have access to personal credit.  (I still have my American Express card open, but I have avoided using it altogether because of the company’s insidious policies.)

After cooling down, I realized that this can turn out to be a good thing.  More than ever, I will be forced to maintain positive cash flow, which I have.  So, I decided to pay the outstanding balance of $2,569.85 in full and to close the account on my own terms.  (I wanted to make sure that my credit report shows that I closed the account, not the creditor. Also, I looked forward to the added satisfaction of sticking it to Visa first.) 

Right before I paid off and closed the account, the customer service representative says, “As a courtesy, I will waive the $14.95 fee for expedited payment via the phone.” I almost had a fit. According to the new Credit CARD Act, companies can no longer charge such a convenience fee.  I stayed quiet, fuming smoke through my ears and nose.  I was not in the mood to inform the representative of the law. I was most eager to pay the account off, close it, hang up, and blog about the experience. 

In short, I share this because it shows the continued skulduggery of some credit card companies which have not learned their lesson.  The more things change, the more they stay same the same.

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[(I wanted to make sure that my credit report shows that I closed the account, not the creditor.)]

I'm not sure if that makes any difference these days.

If I understand correctly, (and to be clear, I'm not claiming to be any kind of expert) the information as to whether an account was closed by grantor or consumer is not immediately displayed. That is, any company examining your report has to drill down a bit for that particular piece of information and, so far as I know, most of them are not willing to do so; all that matters to them is that a line of credit has been closed, full stop.

(Perhaps this might be something you could blog about during a slow blog day?)

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About Me

Greetings! I’m Kevin D. Johnson, a business owner who has recently assumed the role of consumer advocate and internet activist. Atlanta, Georgia is my home.

My Story

Upon returning from my wonderful honeymoon in Jamaica in October 2008, I received what I thought was an ordinary American Express bill, but to my surprise it was a disappointing letter informing me that my credit line was reduced by about 65% for a highly suspicious and discriminatory reason. Considering my excellent credit score and pristine payment history, it just didn’t make sense. However, what does make sense are the unfair and insidious policies that I have uncovered when asking why. It is time to change them.

Good Morning America tells my story.

The Goal

I created this web site to document and share my challenging journey to change what is wrong, unfair, and unjust in the credit card industry. The ultimate goal of this web site is to inform consumers of ways to stand up for themselves against treacherous business practices and to educate consumers about how to improve their credit. Finally, I hope to encourage a more open dialogue with credit card companies about their policies–good and bad.

Success

I am proud to say that this blog's unyielding demand for change led to an important amendment in the final Credit CARD Act signed by President Obama on May 22, 2009. Despite this major accomplishment, there is still more work to be done.

View video of bill hearing in Maryland

Testifying at a bill hearing in Annapolis, Maryland

Speaking Engagements

In an effort to educate as many people as possible about financial management, especially about how to manage the current credit crisis, I have begun to speak around the country at colleges, universities, corporations, chamber of commerce meetings, congressional hearings, trade organization meetings, etc. Having acquired a wealth of information that will help to empower people and to improve their financial future, I feel that sharing this information is the least I can do to make a positive impact. For information on my availability for speaking opportunities, please send an e-mail to Jennifer Silverman at jennifer@silvermanworldwide.com.


Speaking at a university

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