Credit Card Victims Muzzled, Ordered To Release Financial Histories Before Sharing Their Experiences

Four credit card victims were ordered to sign waivers allowing their creditors to release their private financial records to the public before they could testify before the House Financial Services Committee. The consumers had flown in from across the country to share their stories at a hearing on the Credit Card Bill of Rights, but credit card companies insisted—and Republicans and Democrats agreed—that it would only be fair to release documents like credit scores and a list of recent purchases in order to rebut the consumer’s claims. “Fair is fair,” Congressman Spencer Bauchus (R-AL) barked, as he defended the absurd request. Ultimately, the consumers didn’t testify, but one invitee, Steven Autrey, released his prepared statement, which slams creditors for their abusive and predatory business practices.

Here is what Steven Autrey planned to tell the Committee:

Thursday, March 13th, 2008
Testimony of Steven Autrey

Ladies and Gentlemen of the subcommittee, Ranking member, and Madame chair: Good morning, and thank you for inviting us to speak before you.

I would like to give you a brief recap of some negative experiences both my wife and I have had with one particular credit card issuer. Though Chase, Citibank, and GE Money Bank have engaged in similar behavior, I would like to make you aware of the actions of Capital One with regards to our retail credit card accounts.

When a consumer applies for credit with a card issuer, or as we did – respond to a “pre- approved” offer, upon establishment of an account, a bona-fide financial contract exists between the consumer and financial institution. It is because of consumer protection laws at the federal level, that the rates, rules, and terms of the contract are spelled-out in advance of the first use of the card. Both the customer and financial institution trust that the other will live up to the terms of the agreement.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of credit card issuers are engaging in less-than- ethical practices at an alarming rate. Unilateral, or one-sided changes in the terms of the contract – most always in favor of the credit card company – are becoming routine practice at an alarming rate. These one-sided changes are bad for consumers, bad for our national retail credit health, and essentially violate the spirit and letter of Title 15 Consumer Credit Protection Law.

My relationship with Capital One goes back to 1999, when I was solicited with an offer for a Visa card with a “fixed” 9.9% rate card. I applied over the phone, and was approved. The card was used for both purchases and balance transfers in a positive relationship with Capital One for eight years until July, 2007. That’s when Capital One advised me in a billing insert that my “fixed” rate of 9.9% was being raised to 16.9%. No reason or explanation was given – I was not late on payment, and had not utilized the entire credit limit. This was a unilateral change to the terms of our agreement.

In August, of 2007, I wrote a letter to Mr. Richard D. Fairbank, Chairman, President, and CEO of Capital One, at their McLean, Virginia home office. My written statement will contain a copy of Capital One’s response which includes the line, “Unfortunately, changes in the interest-rate environment or other business circumstances may require us to increase rates, even for fixed-rate accounts in good standing.”

Other issues should be of concern to this committee as well. My wife holds a Capital One-issued MasterCard credit card. Last October, she experienced a medical emergency and had to leave work to spend hours at a medical facility to receive tests and treatment. Arriving home later that evening, she immediately logged on to the CapitalOne.com website to pay her bill online. It was approx. 9:00pm on the due date. Although she made the payment on the due date, it was 6 hours past the 3:00pm cutoff time.

For being six hours late on her payment, she was hit with a $39.00 punitive fine labeled as a “late fee.” That late fee, when added to her account, pushed her balance over the limit by $16.00. It was at this point that Capital One added a second $39.00 fine in the form of an “Over the limit fee” to her account.

In tears, my wife called Capital One and explained her situation and the emergency medical treatment. She was told the late fee was not going to be removed, she was late and that was that. They did tell her that as a “courtesy” they would remove the over limit fee on a one-time-only basis. Ironically, at the same time, my wife had a credit balance of over $300.00 for her overpayment on the total balance of her Capital One Auto Loan.

The NFL does not allow one team, in the midst of the fourth quarter, to unilaterally move their end zone 20 yards in their favor just because they don’t like the point spread. The rules are laid out before the kickoff, and the umpires enforce the same rules for both home and visiting teams for the whole contest. It’s time for legislation at the federal level that tells the credit card industry, “Game Over” to unilateral, one-sided, rule changes.

As a registered Republican, it has typically been my philosophy that business and commerce flourish and perform better with minimal government interference. However, when an industry sector proves time and again that it is unable to police itself and behave and engage in fair and ethical trade practices, legislative intervention is required.

With some progress in our consumer credit laws, and reform of the monopolistic credit scoring cartel controlled by the Fair, Isaac, and Company (“FICO”), perhaps once again consumers can have a level playing field in doing business with credit card issuers.

The Credit Card Bill of Rights is an excellent pro-consumer piece of legislation that would:

  • Ban arbitrary rate increases
  • Force creditors to provide 45 days notice of any rate increase
  • Ban double-cycle billing
  • Empower cardholders to set limits on their cards and ban over-the-limit fees once that ceiling is reached
  • Ban excessive fees
  • Ban lending to subprime borrowers
  • Require creditors to mail bills at least 25 days before the due date, instead of 14 days as currently required
  • Require creditors to apply payments first towards high interest items

You can see why the credit card companies were pulling out all the stops to harm this bill in any way possible. What is more surprising and disappointing is that members of the Financial Service Committee would help muzzle consumers whose only desire was to share their personal experiences. Congresswoman Maloney has vowed that “regular people” will testify at a future date.

Credit Slips Goes to Washington [Credit Slips]
Mr. Autrey Speaks for Himself [Credit Slips]
Credit Card Hearing Starts With a Surprise [Alpha Consumer]
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Comments

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  1. Bill Brasky says:

    Visigoths.

  2. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    This surprises who? Our “Representatives” were bought and paid for long ago. ALL OF THEM.
    When congress won’t even force them to put something simple on your statement, like “how long it would take to pay off your balance if you make the minimum payment”…

    Wake up and realise the three branches of government are Banks, Oil companies, and the Insurance Industry. “We the People” aren’t even a speck on their windshield.

  3. cuiusquemodi says:

    How else can we be sure that people testifying before Congress aren’t making up wild stories unless we can all see their credit records? It’s not like contempt of Congress or perjury is a crime, or anything.

  4. nequam says:

    Is it too late to put Congress on the Worst Company balloting?

  5. landsnark says:

    “Fair is fair,” says Congressman Spencer Bauchus (R-AL).

    What a douche. Will Alabama ever elect a non-douchebag Republican?

    One of the consumer advocates at the meeting, Elizabeth Warren points out here [tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com] that the credit card company advocates were not held to the same standard as the consumers who wanted to speak. Officiers from credit card companies made all kinds of claims without having to supply corporate data to back them up:

    “College students have the same default rates as our other customers,” “98% of payments are made for free,” or companies raise interest rates “to control risk, not to increase profits.”

    OrlY?

  6. Mr.Ninethree says:

    Ahhh yes. A little off topic, but this card reminds me of my Best Buy store credit card and there rediculous fees.

    My due date every month is the 17th. I like to pay my bills online so when I first got the card I was excited to learn that I could pay my bill online! So, first month rolls around and I log in on the 16th, pay my bill, then go to sleep. I check a the online account 2 days later and I have a 39.00 late charge.

    Apparently, you ACTUALLY have to pay your bill 2 days BEFORE the due date because it “takes 2 days to process”.

    Ok fair enough, the second bill date comes around. This time the 17th happens to fall on a Sunday. So, I went online Friday around lunchtime at work and paid my bill.

    Again, as usual, I check in a few days later only to discover that OH, it’s late AGAIN, even though I paid it on FRIDAY the 15th!!

    So now, I’m already closing in on being OVER my credit limit because of this crap and not once did I ACTUALLY pay my bill late.

    So, then THIRD bill comes. Now this month, I’ll admit, my bill slipped my mind by the 17th, but I figured I’d give them a call and see if there was SOMETHING they could do for me to not have ANOTHER late fee. So, I call the customer service line, which goes right to India. I get a guy on the phone tell him my situation, and he tells me in broken English that I can make a payment over the phone…GREAT!! Let’s do it.

    He takes my info. and says ok, just give me the debit card number as I was paying with my bank check card, so I give it to him. Then it dawns on me, he didn’t tell me how much he was going to charge to the card, so I ask him. To which he says $698.00!! I’m like, what?! NO! (my minimum payment is $10 but I usually pay $30)

    So I tell him I’d like to pay $30 dollars, NOT $698. He says that is fine, but would I like him to add my $15 OVER THE PHONE CHARGE to THIS payment or add it to my balance?!

    I’m like, this is going to be processed right away and you want an extra $15 dollars for ME calling YOU to GIVE YOU MONEY?! He says yes there is a charge for “rush” payments(even though it’s the 17th which is my actual due date mind you)

    Anyways, I let it go through, and take the $15 hit.

    All of these fees and when your bill is “actually” due is absolutely insane.

    That’s my 3 cents worth.

    (sorry so long but damn I hate these companies)

  7. burgundyyears says:

    What would eventually happen with this legislation is credit card issuers will simply return to the early days where they were restricted for those with good to excellent credit histories and established banking reputations with the issuing bank. Bring it on, I say!

    Though I did find this most amusing:
    # Empower cardholders to set limits on their cards and ban over-the-limit fees once that ceiling is reached.

    If that doesn’t say “my spending is out of control and I can’t be bothered to keep track of it myself”, I just don’t know what does.

  8. P41 says:

    This is the best testimony they could come up with??? Some lady waits until the very last day to pay her bill, has an emergency, and misses the deadline? Geez, whose side is this guy on???

    Far better to put on some of the Consumerist.com stories, some of which are more like “I declared bankruptcy after beating cancer and divorcing my axe-murderer spouse, they said they didn’t care about the BK dischargement, kidnapped my child and started mailing me fingers they’d cut off until I paid up.”

  9. UpsetPanda says:

    @Mr.Ninethree: You complain about his broken English but you can’t spell “ridiculous”?

    The bill was due the 17th – most companies tell you, do not wait until it is due. You waited until it was just nearly, almost due, and it doesn’t surprise me they hit you with fees. Pay the thing a week before it’s due, just to be safe. I pay my bills as soon as I get the statement – in fact, I paid my last credit card bill before I got the email telling me it was ready.

  10. darkclawsofchaos says:

    @cuiusquemodi: I agree that their credit histories should be made public, but it isn’t fair that the credit companies doesn’t have to pove what they said like landsnark said, what’s with the double standards?

  11. WraithSama says:

    You guys will love this one.

    I’m fighting with a 1st Financial Bank issued credit card right now. I checked my balance online and mailed them a check for that exact amount. Only 2 or 3 days later the payment posts to my account. I go back to their site to check my balance, which I expected to be zero. Nope, they claim I owe them like 63 CENTS. Note that this occurs about 2 weeks before the end of the current billing cycle.

    I email them asking what’s up, and they explain that as a “courtesy for people who want to know exactly how much credit is available to them”, interest is calculated and added to your balance DAILY, meaning that if you mail them a check for the amount you owe, it won’t be the amount you owe anymore by the time the check is processed and added to your account.

    So, I made an electronic payment through their site, figuring that since it’d be instant the same issue wouldn’t occur. Well, I was partially right. My payment was instant, but discovered the next day that they charged me a $9 online payment fee after they credited the payment.

    Yes, I paid $9 to make a $1 payment (they wouldn’t let me pay less than a dollar for the 63 cent balance). And who the hell charges a fee to make an online payment! I can kind of understand charging a fee for over-the-phone payments since they have to pay people to man phones to receive payment, but online payments are so cheap to process they’re almost free, plus they’re automated.

    So, now they’re saying I owe them $8 and some change, and giving me the run around over crediting me back that amount. My question is, how the hell am I supposed to pay my balance in full with them pulling this BS? Mail a check and overpay, I guess, or bother to take the time to try to calculated exactly how much interest will acrue while the check is in transit, the time of which would be an estimation to begin with.

    I’m about to cancel this f’ing card…

  12. Mr.Ninethree says:

    @UpsetPanda I agree, most companies DO tell you. But apparently you didn’t notice I was referring to BEST BUY, which, let’s face it, if you are reading consumerist at all you already know they suck.

    P.S. Ummmm…are you the guy from India? Because that IS how you spell ridiculous…look it up dude…

  13. Mr.Ninethree says:

    Disregaurd last comment. I’m man enough to admit to a mistake. I still like you.

  14. 5h17h34d says:

    BoA routinely makes my due date sooner in the months following a payoff of the balance due. I will be paying mine off here shortly and I will guarantee they will make the due date the following month a week or 10 days earlier so they can try to burn me for $40 late fees on a balance of less than 10 or 20 dollars (I charge Netflix to my card every month so it seldom is actually zero).

    Shall I document this and start a story about it here on Consumerist.com?

    I think this should be the subject of a class action suit of epic proportions. These banks are simply criminals.

  15. CindyLouWho says:

    @Mr.Ninethree: I think it should be noted that when you have a Best Buy credit card, it goes through HSBC. Now, I hate HSBC more than Best Buy, actually, but I think it should be noted that it was their policies and practices you were dealing with, not Best Buy’s.

  16. chiieddy says:

    @Mr.Ninethree: You man ‘disregard’ right? :)

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist after all that spelling hoopla.

    The whole rediculous/ridiculous thing bothers me beyond all measure. WHY do people think it’s ‘rediculous’? Is it script kiddies trying to be cool? Is it a common spelling error only manifesting itself in the past year online?

  17. esqdork says:

    @UpsetPanda: I would rather pay closer to the due date because it earns interest (such as it is) in my acccount instead of the credit card company’s.

  18. Serolf Divad says:

    @WraithSama:
    Online or over-the-phone payment fees are the world’s biggest scam. I’m convinced that they exist only to make it less convenient to pay your bill, and more likely that you’ll make a late payment.

    The financial sector, especially the credit card companies, are bottom of the barrel scum suckers. Their profit model is becoming more and more dependent upon late fees and penalties, thus they have less of an incentive to make it easier to pay your bill on time. They want you to pay late, because that’s where they make their money.

  19. Zimorodok says:

    @WraithSama: Go ahead and try to cancel your card. You’ll get the retentions department and they’ll probably credit you that nonsensical fee.

    I stopped using my First Financial card a few years back, and after a year they charged me a $20 fee for “non-use.” WTF? Pay you because I *don’t* use your card? I decided to cancel it then and there, but the phone reps credited the fee and made sure I never got charged another one – they just wanted to keep the account open.

    I figure, whatever – it’s my oldest account so I’d take a little credit hit if I cancelled it, and every year they send me a $0 statement.

  20. bohemian says:

    This is all why I no longer use credit cards.

    The credit card bill is just payback for the credit card industry sponsored gutting of bankruptcy laws. I also have a feeling if someone really dug into existing law FICO would be illegal.

  21. brainologist says:

    So, if CC companies can arbitrarily bump your interest rates up, is there any way we can just as arbitrarily bump them down? Say, a certified letter reading:

    Dear CC Company:
    I am writing to inform you of a change to the interest rate in our contract for my CC card. Whereas it was previously 10%, beginning immediately my APR will become 5%.

    “Unfortunately, changes in the interest-rate environment or other consumer circumstances may require me to lower rates, even for a fixed-rate account in good standing.”

    Looking for anyone with some chutzpah and a good attorney to take this plunge…

  22. pal003 says:

    5h17h34d: I just had this happen with my Citibank account. After years of the same payment due date – suddenly in 2008 – the due date was moved up a few days, so of course a late fee of $39 was on my next statement. So I called up customer service (in India) annd had to explain many times that I was not notified that they had suddenly changed the payment due date and I was not going to pay that late fee. She said she would credit the late fee.

    I feel like it was a ‘gotcha’ thing and I wonder how much money they will make off of the people who do not complain?

    Elizabeth Warren is such a great champion for consumers – and Rep. Maloney and most of the Democrats at the hearing were really good in grilling and even embarrassing the Credit Card Issuers representatives. Forget Bachus (R-AL)who received almost $200k contibutions/bribe from the Banks so far in 2008.

    I am hopeful that this could be a good time to get this Cardholders’ Bill of Rights passed – so please write of call your Congressperson!

  23. nequam says:

    @brainologist: Nice idea, but here’s the problem: When the CC company decides to increase your APR, you have the option to say no (which requires you, of course, to stop using the card). By the same token, the CC company would have the option of saying no to your proposal.

  24. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @bohemian: Yes, exactly. Bad enough that you have to pay someone interest for the privilege of advancing yourself your own money. Now they make you play keep-away games with it as well. Plus after they successfully pull a fee scam on you, if you are not fast enough or loud enough or litigious enough to make them stop, they have the ability to ruin your credit and your life.

    At least with a debit card, if something happens to my money it’s clear who the criminals and scam artists are, and I didn’t sign an agreement with them saying they could dick me over when and how they pleased without my consent.

  25. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @nequam: Yeah, but catch them canceling the card at that point. Vampires.

  26. @landsnark: I think ‘douchebag’ is redundant at this point.

  27. shanoaravendare says:

    @WraithSama: I’m glad that I’m not the only one fighting with that stupid company! I get such a kick out of the fact that NO WHERE in their documentation does it ever state that you will be charged $9 for paying your bill online. I was making full payments on my 1st Financial Card via the internet and I was still finding that I was owing $9, so I finally called them and then (and only then) did they tell me that there was a $9 fee for paying via the website.

    They’ve hit me for late fees for bills that they NEVER SENT to me and then told me to my face that I was lying when they called to harass me about the payment. And I do mean harass, I would get maybe 10 calls a day at my apartment and 9 of them would be 1st Financial. When I brought up the fact that they are only allowed to call every 4 days or so the operator transfered me to a supervisor who told me “If you weren’t trying to scam us out of our money we wouldn’t be calling you 9 times a day.” And this was after 5 years of not missing a single payment and most of those payments were of the entire balance on the card.

    They keep telling me I’m such a wonderful customer, but I wonder if what they really mean is that I’m a wonderfully gullible customer. I’m probably gonna cancel this card once I pay it off. Even though it’s got the best credit limit of my cards, the interest rate sucks.

  28. deedrit says:

    They should have had to provide evidence to back up the claims. I haven’t heard of anyone I know having their credit rates increased for being on time with their payments. Only reason a credit card company would increase rates would be to cover some sort of risk. Maybe the guy was late too often a few month before and they finally had a chance to review his account. We won’t know.

  29. Nezumiiro says:

    @UpsetPanda: Nah that’s bull.

    I’ve taken to paying my credit card by mail. I’ve sent it on the due date itself and did not get a late fee.

    I too have gone through the phone payment and the online payment circle before. It does not take 5 days to process a payment. The phone payment is a scam.

  30. Parting says:

    @deedrit: Pfft, credit cards try to recoup costs from defaults by raising rates on regularly paying customers.

    It used to be true, but not any more. Credit cards now raise rates when they feel like it, not when the customer misses a payment.

    With mortgage crisis in US, more customers load their credit cards and default.

  31. Sammysan says:

    Can someone please explain to my how the location of the CSR you speak to makes a difference? These outrageous policies are being determined at banks and corporations right here in the good ol’ USA. The quality of service I have received from CSR’s has everything to do with the company they work for and nothing to do with the accent I hear on the other end of the phone.

  32. mrjimbo19 says:

    for a while I was playing the credit card game of trying to keep balances transferred and pay them off over time. It was hard to do especially with all of the other random costs in life. The most rewarding day of last year other then getting married was making that final payment and being debt free (save for the car payment). I believe that any person who gets in CC debt over a certain amount should have the option to have some type of counseling and or talk with a debt counselor to see what happened and work to not have it happen again. In my case it was making a stupid mistake of fronting money for a friend… go figure we do not even speak any more.

    The only 2 positive experiences I can take away from my debt run were #1 I have a credit score in the 800’s now and #2 I learned the value of good cards with rewards.

  33. jawacg says:

    I can relate to the fact that a lot of companies take every advantage they can to screw consumers, but I have a Capital One card and have to call bullshit on part of this. You can schedule online payments in advance anytime you want for whatever amount you want. If they were that concerned about the balance on their account they wouldn’t run it so close to the limit or would have scheduled the payment beforehand. I’m not trying to be holier than thou either. I have been there and done that.

  34. Buran says:

    Since when did you have to reveal anything about your personal private info (of any kind) to testify before Congress? Can anyone give another example of this?

  35. whuffo says:

    Credit card companies (particularly Capital One) engage in a regular practice of increasing rates on their customers.

    Especially when they carry a balance. Think you’ve got a great rate on your Capital One card? Go for a couple of months paying your minimum payment and see what happens to your interest rate. Even if you never carry a balance they’ll increase your interest rate when it suits their mood.

    They’re in business to make a profit. They want to make an increasing level of profit every year to meet their corporate needs. That means that they’re going to get it from their good customers – not the bad ones, they need to get enough from the good ones to make up for what they lose from the bad ones.

    Watch what happens when Congress takes up credit card regulations. Watch how the credit card companies fight tooth and nail against regulation – or any exposure of their practices.

    They’re not all the same; some are better than others. But companies such as Providian and Captial One are the worst of a bad bunch.

  36. spinachdip says:

    @Buran: Remember when Roger Clemens testified before Congress, and he had to get his bring copies of his medical record and all his drug test results?

    I don’t remember that either.

  37. Sir_Walter_Raleigh says:

    The behavior of credit card companies is pretty ridiculous.

    Bank of America recently processed an extra payment in error on my BofA credit card. This extra payment would have caused my checking account balance to be overdrawn if my rent check processed before my next paycheck, so I called BofA to get it reversed.

    First, they told me the additional payment was my error and could not possibly be theirs (LIE #1). Bank’s make mistakes. I know this.

    Then they told me they couldn’t directly credit my checking account because I don’t have a BofA checking account (I have a Wachovia account), and that they would have to send me a check (LIE #2). Of course an electronic transfer is possible. And it’s not like I couldn’t have walked down to BofA, picked up a check, and walked over to Wachovia to make a deposit since I live in Charlotte, but of course that wasn’t an option.

    I told them not to reverse the payment, since surely I wouldn’t get the check and be able to deposit it before payday, and told them I wanted to close my account. The CSR from retention informed me I could make a balance transfer from my credit card to my checking account which would have the same effect as reversing my payment (1-2 days for processing). Ok, but there is a $12 associated fee. So you’re going to charge me for YOUR mistake? So they agreed to waive the fee. The CSR told me he couldn’t guarantee everything would go through if I closed my account, so I held off.

    I checked my accounts a few days later to confirm everything went through. Luckily the balance transfer posted to my checking account before I was overdrawn. But when I checked my credit card online, the $12 fee was present, as well as a payment reversal, in addition to my balance transfer. I called them back and they confirmed the reversal had been process despite me telling them not to and I would receive a check in a few days. It was not big deal since I can just make another payment after I deposit the check, but I was still angry they reversed the payment after I told them not to.

    When I informed the CSR the $12 fee should have been waived, I was initially told that it had been, and that a credit would appear on my account at the end of the billing cycle (LIE #3). Later in the call it came out the fee had in fact not been waived.

    I will be closing the account as soon as I confirm the $12 fee is waived.

  38. silentnight913 says:

    Since the worst company competition is underway, why don’t we nominate someone for best?
    USAA does list online how long it will take to pay off your balance if paying the minimum. They give free financial advice on their site and over the phone. They do not charge ATM fees for using other banks ATM’s, and refund fees that other banks ATM’s charge you. When you call them, they are awesome. And if that weren’t enough, they are also an insurance company with excellent rates.
    If you qualify, open an account. You’ll wonder why you waited.

  39. To verify the claims of those testifying at the hearing, this information must be released. Public credit companies open their books to the public on a quarterly basis; why should consumers be held to a different standard?

  40. spinachdip says:

    @ADismalScience: Because people aren’t listed companies?

  41. superdewa says:

    @silentnight913: as far as I can tell, USAA is only for military members and their families?

  42. @spinachdip:

    What’s the fundamental difference? Consumers are simply being asked to bear similar risks as those that they have a grievance against. There is absolutely nothing unfair about that. Their unwillingness to provide even basic information to validate their claims against these companies speaks casts a pall on their credibility.

  43. hof1063 says:

    Commercial banks are all out to make as much money as possible. Asking useless er Congress to intercede on our behalf is a waste of time. What we should do is target the most anti-consumer bank and remove all our money. If all we ever do is express outrage and nothing else, then nothing will change.

    I use a credit union as my bank and payoff my BoA credit card religiously at the end of every month. The day I get a late fee notice is the day I drop them like a hot potato. I don’t need a credit card and I suspect that if we all tried to live within our means they would not have the power to screw us at every turn.

    Whatever happened to cash? Do we really need loan sharks in our lives?

  44. PeteyNice says:

    When you buy congress critters you too can strong arm your opponents by making them jump through unreasonable hoops in order to expose your shady dealings.

    The United States Government – the best government corporate money can buy!

  45. Landru says:

    @chiieddy:
    Not only is “ridiculous” spelled wrong so much, but “definitely” is almost aways wrong; so much so that I’m afraid the misspellings will become correct under common usage.

  46. kbarrett says:

    Wraithsama: My question is, how the hell am I supposed to pay my balance in full with them pulling this BS? Mail a check and overpay, I guess …

    Yep … that is exactly how you make the last payment on a card … overpay by about $10 or so. Then get your balance a month later, and fill your gas tank with exactly that much gasoline, or somesuch.

    If you want to really screw with their heads, leave a one cent positive balance forever. The internal costs to handle that positive balance will make them want to cancel the card for you. Heh.

    I had one high interest rate leach card break down after a few years, and send me a check for one cent, plus a letter stating the card was canceled.

    Consider paying them all off, and just use cash for all local purchases. Get a decent cash-back card for internet purchases, and pay it down to a positive balance each month …

  47. Really, how long is going to be until we all say, F it, lets just buy everything with cash. And not buy anything mass produced, just the basics. And be happy with it. I won’t shed a single tear for all those ibankers that get put out of business.

  48. JiminyChristmas says:

    @ADismalScience: You have to be kidding. Entities like BofA and Citibank are: a)corporations, and b)publicly traded. Since they enjoy benefits unique to publicly traded corporations they are legally mandated to publicly disclose certain information.

    Also, a bit of legislative insight: Congressional staffers routinely have private citizens testifying before Congress sign privacy waivers so that Congressional staffers can independently, but privately, verify testimony. That’s not what the Republican Senators wanted the people to do in this case.

    The language of the waiver would have allowed the credit card companies to discuss the credit histories of those testifying in public, in any venue, at any time. That goes way, way beyond ‘providing basic information.’

  49. Jamieo7 says:

    Silentnight913

    You are correct about USAA, but it is restricted to active/retired military officers and current and former dependants.

    But they are good. Initially, I had auto insurance policy with them. When my clunker got totalled years ago by an uninsured motorist, I got unofficailly steered to their bank, found out I was pre-approved for a car loan, and they got a new car wholesale for me in less than a week, at a good rate in those days.
    A good, helpfull crew, all run out of San Antonio.

  50. joe714 says:

    @esqdork I’ve got two cards from Chase, and you can set an online payment to take effect at a later date. So if the bill is due on the 30th, I schedule the payment online as soon as the statement closes (usually about 15 days before it’s due), but it doesn’t actually take money from my checking account until the end of the month.

  51. ceriphim says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll read any article with a lolcat picture in the banner…

    i can has blogs?

  52. @JiminyChristmas:

    First off, Republicans AND Democrats as per the OP. This was a request approved in a bipartisan manner. The credit histories of the complainants are material, factual evidence in the discussion – if it cannot be proferred, so be it. I suppose the backers of new legislation will have to make the case for this “bill of rights” without evidence.

  53. cuiusquemodi says:

    @darkclawsofchaos: I fear my second sentence wasn’t enough of a sarcasm tag. If the testimony is false, there are methods of uncovering it without this sort of thing, which just seems intended to have a chilling effect.

  54. @5h17h34d: Yeah, BofA is CONSTANTLY changing my due date. It pisses me off, and not just because it’s sleazy, but because I like to sit down and pay bills twice a month, not “whenever BofA feels like sending us a bill.”

    I mean, honestly, they’re sleazy AND they’re adding a ridiculous amount of inconvenience to my life. They’re like telemarketers calling at dinner, going out of their way to interfere with my ability to conduct my life in an orderly fashion. (It’s our backup to the Amex, and only until we get to a point level convenient to cash out at.)

    And I’d really like that 25-day mail thing. Mail problems suck.

  55. ohiomensch says:

    @UpsetPanda:

    I used to do that too. But I have at least one credit cards where the due date is around 7-10 days before the month close, so if I paid my statement when I got it, there were a couple of times where the payment hit before the month close, making two payments in one month and being “late” on the following month.

    Then there is the card I finally paid off and closed that had a 24-day billing cycle.

    Monthly bill my Aunt Fannie. That’s 15 payments a year. My lesson of 2008… Credit card companies are bad, m’kay.

  56. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @Mr ninethree

    Oh stop your whining. It’s idiots like you that contribute to exaggerated fees, higher interest rates, and the overall crumbling of our economy. Any chance you have a sub-prime mortgage and ‘forgot’ when the rate resets?

    The first time you payed your bill and were dinged a late fee, I sympathize with you. Really, I do. But then you should have seen if the ‘two days to process’ included weekends and to see what ‘days’ actually meant… does it count as a day if you pay at 12:30 pm, or 3:00 pm? Many banks/cards only consider a payment made on that day if made by certain time… And the due date is not ANYTIME during that date… it varies…might be by 1 pm that day or by 6 pm that day (in a certain timezone). So don’t blame Best Buy or the guy in India because you didn’t bother checking how long things take to process. READ THE FINE PRINT.

    And why you want to make payments of $30 a month or so on a balance of almost $700 (at least $500 before late fees and accrued interest) isn’t my business…but you don’t seem to have ANY reason to complain (except the first time you were dinged for late payment).

    Oh, and your English is WRONG! “…there rediculous fees…”
    Don’t you mean “…Their ridiculous fees…”

    Hate to blame the customer, but 2 out of the 3 times are your fault. Stop crying.

    And make sure you are right before criticizing someone’s grammar.

  57. peacemongermom says:

    @landsnark: a non-douchebag Republican

    Is there such a thing?

  58. bravo369 says:

    i don’t see what the problem is. the guy is testifying about his credit cards so whats the harm? He also gets no sympathy from me about his wife. What happened to the other 30 days where she could have paid the bill? i do believe that one change that should be instituted more than any other is that if a credit card raises your rate, it will only apply to future purchases on not the balance that is already on the card. The balance should stay at the old rate until paid off. this would give people the chance to continue to have the old rate and stop using a card if the rates increase.

  59. bben46 says:

    If fair is fair. Shouldn’t the so called public servant (congressman) have to provide his credit history to the public also? BTW, I believe that should be REQUIRED to run for ANY public office.

  60. Angryrider says:

    Ah, a football analogy… The only way a congressman can understand your woes…
    [www.rawstory.com]

  61. skilled1 says:

    Can you stopped use LULz Catz.

    Seriously, fucking lame.

  62. emjsea says:

    Keep using LOL Cats. Seriously, fucking hilarious.

  63. Leah says:

    man, all you people have crappy credit cards. I’ve had great online experiences with both USBank (REI Visa) and Citibank (WaMu Visa).

    I pay online, and I always pay in full, so I never accrue interest. I have no idea how they deal with less than paying in full, so take that as a caveat. But among the things they do really well are (1) as long as I pay by the due date, I’m good to go [tho I typically do pay earlier just to save my butt], (2) they don’t have any of that “pending charge” crap — they show me exactly what has cleared and been charged to my account, and (3) if something doesn’t clear before the bill goes out, even if I charged it before the bill due date, it just goes on the next month’s cycle.

    Also, I’ve never had them move a due date up. My statement comes out on the 26th of each month, and I have to pay by the 15th. I try to pay by the 2nd just so that I never have to worry about it in case something crappy happens (my payday is on the 1st of each month). If they moved the due date 10 days, I’d have to pay pretty much immediately after getting the bill, so I don’t see how they’d be able to do that more than once, unless they also gave me shorter billing cycle.

    In short, I’ve found that I am quite happy with my credit cards, and I hope I never have any of the medical/money emergencies some of the folks here seem to have.

  64. teapartys_over says:

    @5h17h34d: That is ridiculous. And I do get the feeling my cards keep moving their due dates up a few days every month. So if you paid them immediately, as someone here suggested, pretty soon you’d be paying them 2x/month. The whole point for me of having a credit card is the convenience of paying everything once a month.

  65. teapartys_over says:

    @Serolf Divad: I finally gave in and started paying online when they started mailing my bills to me a week before the due date. God forbid I was busy or away for a day or 2, I risked being late if I mailed in the payment. So credit card companies:1. I still pay in full every month or pay only zero interest installments, so I am still a “deadbeat” in their eyes.

  66. teapartys_over says:

    @deedrit: OK, fair enough. But then shouldn’t the credit card companies ALSO have to provide evidence to back up all their claims? They testified for 3 1/2 hours and made a lot of statements that needed to be verified or clarified. But their statements were taken completely at face value.

  67. PatrickTulskie says:

    Rule of thumb… if you can’t afford it and won’t be able to any time soon then you probably shouldn’t be buying it.

    I have a Discover card and their customer service is friggen awesome. I’ve had problems with payments and stuff like that and after clear explanations to them they always get stuff resolved. I don’t even know what my interest rate is, but I do NOT carry a balance on it for any reason.

  68. JustAGuy2 says:

    My credit card company allows me to go to their website anytime and set up a payment for the due date. Means I go ahead and do that as soon as I get my bill, and the bill actually gets paid on the due date, so I maximize my float.

  69. stevegoz says:

    Rule of thumb: if, like me, you pay your balance off in full each month and always send payment the moment you receive the bill, you can bloviate about how you’ve never gotten screwed over by your credit card companies because their nefarious practices involving random interest-rate increases, late fees and due date changes don’t affect you.

    It’s fun being Marie Antoinette — until they go all off with your head….

  70. Adposs says:

    I am lucky enough to have accounts with both the best and worst credit card companies in the industry. USAA, as others have said, is a fantastic company to do business with. They’ve never raised my rates, are always helpful when I call and have a question, and have dirt cheap auto and renter’s insurance. If they had more branches I’d probably do my banking there as well.

    Capital One, on the other hand, has done nothing but dick me over since I got the card. Despite always paying my bills on time, Capital One saw fit to raise my 9.99% “fixed” rate up to the high 20’s. When I called up and asked why, the lady rudely told me “well you don’t carry a balance so what do you care?” Umm…because potentially I might have to carry one in the future and don’t want to pay interest rates that would make a loan shark blush? To this date I’ve never got a satisfactory answer for the rate increase. If it weren’t my oldest credit card I would have canceled it long ago.

  71. blainer says:

    @JiveMasterT: Yeah, but with a Discover card, it’s easy not to carry a balance since it’s not accepted anywhere. My Carte Blanche and Diner’s Club cards don’t carry balances either. ;-)

  72. Magister says:

    When you go to pay your Capital One online, the posting dates are available via a click, then I’m pretty sure that they appear onscreen during the confirmation and on the screen with the details. I don’t know why they raised Mr. Autrey’s rate, but his wife really has no excuse for not knowing that payments have to be made before 3pm, Virginia time.

  73. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @UpsetPanda:

    More than likely he can say it correctly so you’re comparing apples & oranges.

  74. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @deedrit:

    There have been multiple stories *on this very website*, with hard evidence, about CC companies changing the rules mid-game.

  75. Bamaboy says:

    My former credit card used to send thier statements just a few days before they were overdue.

    I didn’t stay with them very long.

  76. rhombopteryx says:

    @ADismalScience:

    First off, stop being such an apologist for bad behavior. This was clearly intended to, and clearly did, have an intimidation effect. If anyone wanted to contest the truth of what the individuals (intended to) say, the individuals were going to talk – you know, statements made out loud that can subsequently be easily verified or disproved by anyone. It’s not like they were going to whisper secret coded meanings that required a decryptred transcript beforehand. As cuiusquimodi points out, lying in Congressional testimony is a federal offense anyway, so lying is not exactly likely. The speakers’ entire credit records and financial history don’t need to be ‘released’ in the name of fairness. Only the transactions actually testified about could possibly need verifying – and everyone will know about those transactions as soon as the speakers open their mouth, signed waiver or no.

    Waving your hands and pointing to totally unrelated quarterly financial reporting obligations of the credit card companies is entirely missing the point. Yes, those companies do file some form detailing profits and losses somewhere, but so what? That has nothing to do with the subject of their abusive credit card practices. The consumers who were going to testify file taxes with the IRS, so by your logic, hey -they’ve put out the requisite records – what are you still complaining about?

    Finally, if the committee was going to make ridiculous, intimidating demands, how about some consistency? As Elizabeth Warren aptly points out, “fair is fair” doesn’t apply when the Credit Card Cos. weren’t required to provide any records, data, or verification at all for any of their testimony, much less sign a release forever granting other parties the rights to see their underlying data. Why not say “fair is fair,” and actually require the Credit Card shills to actually put up data for B.S. assertions like “this legislation will cause rates to rise xyz percent” before they are permitted to testify.

    And in a final sweet note of poetic justice, at the hearing Rep. Spencer Bachaus (R-citibank) said that there was originally a “bipartisan” agreement to require these consumers to sign the waivers. Then the Democrats changed the terms of the deal “after the fact.” Gosh, it must really be sucky and unfair when someone (or some credit card company) changes the terms of an agreement (or credit card rate) on you unilaterally without notice after the fact.

  77. Consumer007 says:

    As a registered Republican, Steven gets NO sympathy from me, because, STEVE, THAT BEHAVIOR IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU VOTE FOR. Every registered Republican needs to realize that by voting that way they vote for abusive Anti-consumer legislation that gives companies the right to bend us all over and not use lube – ever.

    If you want consumer rights, do NOT vote Republican, ever! duh….

  78. royal84 says:

    You know maybe I’m just lucky but I have never had a problem with my Credit Card (I have a Wells Fargo Platinum Card). I decided to get this card my sophmore year of college in 2003 and have never had a problem concerning it. In fact I have been only pleased with it 99% of the time. There have been times when I have gone over my limit and been charged a fee. I knew you would get charged a fee for doing so but I was being irresponsible. I was stupid with my card for a little while. However about a year after owning it a took charge and started making more than the minimum payment on it (25.00) and now just keep a little balance on it too keep Wells happy and the card in good standing. My payment is always due on the last day of the month, unless of course the last day is on a weekend then it is due that friday (duh! banks only PROCESS transactions when the Fed is open which is only on business days). Really if you want to avoid the 2 day lag time then just go to the branch and make the payment thats what I due on the 15th of every month on pay day. I think we all need to take a little charge of our credit cards and stop expecting those company’s to kiss our ass cuz it isnt going to happen. They are in the business to make money, the sooner you understand that the sooner you’ll stop screwing yourself with minimum payments and paying the bill on or the day before the due date. If your CC is with a company out of your immediate area then go to a local bank see about transferring the balance an cutting up your old card. I believe this will increase your convenience and relationship with your bank anyway. Thats all I got really, any discussion concerning this is most welcome! Forgive me for my grammer and spelling…I rarely spellcheck.

  79. ShanghaiLil says:

    When I see 20% interest rates, it makes me want to return to the medieval practice of burning people at the stake for the sin of usury. Seriously, I’m not being hyperbolic. The concept that usury was bad and not just good business was, I think, really really good for society.

    Also, those of you feeling very wise for having instituted reasonable systems to ensure that your credit-card payments are never late or unaffordable, wait until something really disruptive happens in your life, like an unexpected job loss, or a long, serious illness. See how much your history of regular payment counts for…

  80. royal84 says:

    well lets see when something unexpected happens your supposed to have set aside money in a “savings” account. This money is used when things take a turn for the worst or when your accruing money for a sizable down payment on a car or home so your not screwed with a high ass payment each month. But hey if you want to keep bitching rather than taking care of priorities go on ahead.
    Also if you see a card with a high rate that you don’t agree with…do yourself a favor and DON’T get the card.

  81. Rusted says:

    The waiver did backfire. It made the news, so the credit card companies looked bad anyway. I got rid of my credit card years ago. No need to owe money right now.

    @ShanghaiLil: Exactly, which is why I don’t have one. The convenience of such is being outweighed by the hassle.

  82. YouCanEatMe says:

    People seem to be missing the point. Yes, these folk got themselves into trouble but the CC companies asked for it giving CC’s to people who probably shouldn’t have them. There WAS a time when that happened you know. The fact that they tried to muzzle these people only serves to PROVE the point that the CC companies are reaping what they’ve sowed but they certainly don’t want the public to know that. How long until Bush is gone and an actual real live adult in the White House can undo the damage? After all, he DID stack the deck in their favor by changing the Bankruptcy laws no?

  83. YouCanEatMe says:

    @ADismalScience: Because the general public has certain rights to privacy in matter such as this. A listed company, not so much.

  84. aaronw1 says:

    USAA is not only for military and former dependents – it’s any commissioned officer. My father used to be an FSO (Foreign Service Officer) so he got USAA, and as a result, me and my siblings do as well.

  85. BugMeNot2 says:

    @silentnight913: as far as I can tell, USAA is only for military members and their families?

    No, Congress men may join as well.