Macy's Keeps Lowering Shopper's Credit Limit Without Warning

Trey is upset. Four times in the past year, Macy’s has reduced the credit limit on his card without advance notice, even as his card membership level keeps going up. (Apparently he really likes liked to shop at Macy’s.) “I lit into them for not advising me of my credit limit decrease, especially considering just three days before I received a brand new Macy*s platinum card in the mail, where they had the perfect opportunity to let me know it was now only $800.”

In the past year, my Macy*s store account credit limit has adjusted four times without my knowledge. Each time the credit limit has dropped from $1,500 to $1,200 to $1,000 to $800. Each time the drop occurred I only found out because I was in Macy*s and the cashier rudely told me my card declined. Rather than helping me with the situation they sent me up to their ‘courtesy’ phones that are linked straight to their credit department. Each time was equally embarrassing and felt like I was being sent to the principal’s office for my due punishment. Each time I called I got the bad news.

So when I called the credit department in store today they told me my limit had be downgraded again and that they’d transfer me to the credit department (I thought I was already speaking to them) to see if I could have an increase. The man rudely advised me no I could not – not like I exactly asked considering I was simply transfered away from the original agent. So that was that, I left the store head hung low without a purchase in hand. I will not buy their merchandise without their coupons because its simply overpriced otherwise and you can only use the coupons with their stupid credit card.

Well, today I was fed up with this ever moving credit line that leads only to in store embarrassment. As I headed to the parking lot my temper boiled. I made a special trip out to the mall and spent a lot of time, that I did not have, finding the items I wanted to purchase. Having been the fourth time this happened to me was enough! As soon as I got in the car I called the credit department on my own cell phone and went into a tirade. I lit into them for not advising me of my credit limit decrease, especially considering just three days before I received a brand new Macy*s platinum card in the mail, where they had the perfect opportunity to let me know it was now only $800. The women on the other end became insta-defensive of Macy*s inane and unpublished procedures on not letting their customers know their credit limit. I said that I was sick of being embarrassed by rude customer services associates and like a well trained robot she read from her ‘Customer Service 101″ script of platitudes and fake apologies. I was then extremely angry and screamed you can be as “nice” as you think you are being, but shove it – cancel my account! I won’t be embarrassed in your store again!” She then replied off of her script again “If I issue you a 15% off shopping pass, is their anyway I can prevent you from closing your account today?” I said “No! I already have about 20 stupid coupons at home that all have about a 112 exclusions anyway – plus my card doesn’t work!” She then retorted angrily “Well the account is closed!” I then hung up.

They do not publish your credit limit on there website where you can check your account activity, nor when they issue you a new card. I know this for a fact because in the past year I got upgraded from their basic card to a gold card and then last week to a platinum card. So as I ascended their credit ladder of customer proof of purchase I was downgraded in credit limit (each upgrade corresponds with a dollar amount spent during the past year). I do not receive paper statements so I have no idea if they publish the credit limit there; I rely on my online statements as I do not like crap clogging up my mailbox.

Macy*s and I are friends off! I spent ungodly amounts of money at that store in my life especially considering what I earn per year as a student! Nothing makes me instantly pissed like a customer service person reading a script like a robot. They have no compassion for people and their problems. I have worked countless jobs in customer service from being a bagger at a grocer to one of those people on the other end of the phone in a call in center and it takes not an ounce of effort to show a person compassion for the misgivings of the company – might I add without giving the company an admitted black eye either. From the original customer associate in the store that sent me away to the courtesy phones to the three other people I spoke along the rocky road to account closure they could have easily assuaged the situation. Anything from a mere “I’m sorry about that, I’ll certainly let my supervisor know of your concerns regarding our policy on advising customers of their credit limits – can I have you contact information so we can get back to you?” Or, “You had a rude associate in the store? Do you know their name so we can address this so you or any other customer never gets embarrassed again!”

Oh well, just another bad customer service experience and another store that will lose my business. I didn’t really need the extra debt anyway!

That was going to be our advice anyway, Trey—just avoid the department store credit card altogether. Oh, and don’t bother with Macy’s crappy coupons.

(Photo: Getty)

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

    An $800 Platinum card? That’s almost an oxymoron.

  2. ncboxer says:

    What is the advantage of a Macy’s card vs. a regular credit card? Extra discounts when using the card?

  3. jaydez says:

    I’ve have had a Macy’s card for 6 years (I used it once to get 10% off a suit). I have no idea what my credit limit is with them but get the coupons all the time and can never find anything to buy with them…

    And the credit limit is not on the statement in the mail either.

  4. disavow says:

    Aren’t they required under FCRA to send adverse-action notices when they drop people’s credit limits?

    [www.creditinfocenter.com]

  5. KenSPT says:

    I didn’t even know Macy’s still had stores, I thought they just did parades … ;-)

  6. chrisdag says:

    They may be intentionally doing this to Trey (trying to lose an unprofitable customer).

    Trey is doing everything “right” — using their own coupons with their card as a way to save money. He probably also makes the “mistake” of paying his balance on time each month. This leaves Macy’s without the business-as-usual routine of recouping promotional price losses with finance charges and late fees.

    Trey is playing the game and coming out ahead – this is probably enough to trip some backoffice ‘revenue enhancement’ engine that will slowly put the screws to Trey and people like him until they drop in frustration. I can totally see this credit limit drop as something that happens automatically to people they really don’t mind losing…

  7. Eilonwynn says:

    Maybe I missed this part of the letter (it’s a long letter), and I’m far from the first in most cases to jump on the “blame the consumer” bandwagon, but most people in this situation will not shut up about the fact that they “always pay their bill on time / early / with psychic accuracy four years in advance” – i see none of that in this letter. I understand that macy’s should have let him know that it was reduced, but I’ve got to wonder why.

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    I’m wondering what her credit situation was like with them anyway… did she pay her balance off every month or was she revolving most of it?

    I don’t want to be all “BTC (Blame The Consumer)” here but it sounds from her letter like she’s been bouncing off the limit on her Macy’s charge for a while now. Maybe Macy’s is taking a harder line against people who carry big dollar balances. As customers pay the balances down, Macy’s lower the credit limit to reduce their risk. That way if the customer defaults, they only lose $800 instead of $1500. Multiply that over a few thousand customers and you’ve got a significant reason to take a stance like this.

    That said, there’s no reason why they can’t tell you that they’re lowering your limit. Or that they need to be rude or short on the phone. That’s just uncalled for. But really, what can you do now that you’ve spent Macys’ money? “OOhh, I’m an angry consumer, I’m going to …uhh… cancel my account and then pay you back …. grrr.”

  9. polyeaster says:

    The SAME thing happened to me- I had to keep calling to get it corrected…they’d lower the limit to be below my balance, then charge me overlimit fees. I was denied for an auot loan b/c my credit showed i was over limit.

  10. Coelacanth says:

    Actually, I had my own Macy’s horror story….

    I opened up a retail card in order to save 10% off of some cold-weather wardrobe for a trip to Chicago. I asked the sales associate that I wanted only the Macy’s store card, since they were offering a Macy’s VISA card as well, which worked as a credit card with ridiculously bad terms.

    Two weeks later, my new Macy’s VISA card arrived in the mail, even though I specifically told the sales associate I did not want the VISA portion. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a big deal since I never planned on using it.

    One time, I went to out and realised I had forgotten my most of my credit cards at home, but I had the Macy’s card on me, so I used it. I paid the statement that came in the mail in full, and had a $0 balance.

    Three months later, Macy’s sent a collections notice. Apparently, they were asking for the $15 charge and $50-something in late fees. I always used their website to pay my bill, in full, and the Macy’s credit centre could verify it.

    Only then did they tell me that the one card had TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ACCOUNT numbers, and they had my wrong address on one. I never got the paper or online statement with the VISA-portion of the card.

    Fortunately, they allowed me to pay the $15 balance, waived the late fees, and marked my account as current. I asked to close the VISA-portion as I never wanted it in the first place, to avoid future confusion.

    Turns out, they just lowered my credit limit, but never closed the account.

  11. smitty1123 says:

    … so, your card was declined at $1200, declined at $1000 and declined at $800? I know Macy’s stuff is expensive but good lord that’s a lot of clothing.

  12. DeeJayQueue says:

    @DeeJayQueue: Shows how much I read… Plz to be changing all gender based nouns to “He” instead of “She.” kthx!

  13. valarmorghulis says:

    @Eilonwynn: i caught the same vibe. also, i’d like to point out that he lost all of my sympathy when he stated he “tore into…” these aren’t programed automatons who will respond to volume and vitrol with expediancy. this jerk called up, vented, and when somebody tried to be (apparently misguidedly) helpful with what she could could do, and he continues to yell at her. KARMA’S A BITCH. From my days working in customer service, these are the ones who’s complaints end up being written off as a ‘angry whacko’ regardless of how valid their points may be.
    i don’t even care if macy’s was doing it because he was gaming the system and making it work for him. needs a “DON’T BE A DICK” tag.

  14. B says:

    “Macy’s and I are friends off!” Is now my favorite complaint. I’m going to use it whenever I’m in a situation where I need to break ties with a company.

  15. zeepow says:

    @valarmorghulis:
    Exactly. Once you come across as being a douche, there is no coming back from that, even with a good CSR.

  16. CMU_Bueller says:

    I’m shocked they’re declining instead of racking up ‘over the limit’ fees.

  17. valarmorghulis says:

    @zeepow: Yup, it’ll usually get notated on the account too.

  18. emilymarion333 says:

    They did the same thing to me. Now my limit is $100. I never use it – I just need to close it. I am not sure what you can buy at that store for under $100 anyways!

  19. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @DeeJayQueue: If the credit limit is $800, and he’s at the counter getting declined, then he *hasn’t* paid it off in full. Which means he’s not as ideal of a customer as he’s trying to make himself out to be.

    For a customer to not know his or her own credit limits is nobody’s fault but their own. He admitted he doesn’t get paper statements, but receives online statements. I myself have a macy’s card and receive statements online, and they post the credit limit there. He needs to read better.

    I guess I just hopped on the BTC train. Sorry, but why is not being aware of your own spending ability Macy’s fault? I understand the being pissed at not being notified that his limit had been decreased, but don’t blame it on macy’s that YOU don’t know your own credit limit…

  20. DeafChick says:

    Aren’t they losing money? Anyhoo good riddance to bad rubbish.

  21. alice_bunnie says:

    I only use my Macy’s card for sales and the coupons (when they actually apply!). I’ve recently gone up to the platinum level. I know I’ve received something with my credit limit on it, but I can’t find anything with it on it right now. Maybe they only tell you if it’s gone up? And, I (almost) always pay off the Macy’s bill.

    Anyway, if it’d happened to me before I definitely would have called before being embarrassed again, and I never would have called a customer service person and start out screaming and expecting anything but defensiveness.

  22. devsgurf says:

    While I haven’t been in the same boat of roaming credit limits, I have dealt with the horrifyingly rude customer service at Macy’s. I accidentally paid twice in one billing period and missed the following billing period. I got a call from Macy’s saying my account was over a month late although the due date had just passed 2 days earlier. When I called to ask why the 2nd payment hadn’t brought my account current, I got blasted on how Macy’s doesn’t apply future payments and my account was in collections. Since I hadn’t paid at all in the billing period, I was considered 33 days late. I chopped up my card with much enthuasim and haven’t used it since. I would rather have the unused credit than get a sweater or some such for a few extra dollars off.

  23. DeeJayQueue says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers: That’s exactly what I’m saying. If he *did* pay off the balance every month and was trying to charge over $800 all at once at Macy’s, well, he’s got more deep-seeded problems than a shrinking credit limit considering how he’s a student and all.

  24. DjDynasty says:

    800-264-0069 is the Macy’s Inc. Executive Services direct number.

    Have a nice day, and Ben, make sure you post this as it’s own post. remember, brought to you by a Macy’s boycotter!

  25. bohemian says:

    My guess is Macy’s is pulling things in tighter to reduce their risk. With the economy being more unpredictable the thing that people will quit paying first are unsecured consumer debt. If he is carrying a large balance all the time they probably see that as a potential default risk the way things are right now rather than a cash cow to slap lots of fees on.

    If your a student and your carrying an $800 balance on a Macy’s card over time or for a month you have serious issues.

    As for the declined at the store nonsense. That would be really embarrassing and Macy’s needs to handle it better like sending people a letter telling them of the change.

  26. Adposs says:

    Credit card companies usualy aren’t in the habit of wanting customers to spend LESS money. This article below lists the most common reasons companies lower your credit limit. High on the list? Bad payment history, bad credit, frequently going over your limit.

    [www.creditcards.com]

    Macy’s should have explained to him why they were lowering his credit line. That said, there is no excuse for rudely screaming at an employee. The CSR didn’t personally lower your credit limit, why scream at some poor phone drone trying to do their job?

  27. cockeyed says:

    I totally understand the guy’s anger, but I resent that he says CSRs have no compassion. CSRs have to work with crappy, yelling people all day who are yelling at them about things that they can’t fix because of store policy or whatnot. I can understand his anger at a CSR being rude about a card. when I worked as one I never was rude to someone with a declined card, because I know how it feels and it’s really embarassing. But yellin at the phone person… It’s just her job to advise.

    Also, I am wondering about what this guy was doing spending this much money on a student “income.” I never had that much money to spend when I was in school.

  28. Twilly says:

    I liked my Macy’s card better when it was a Field’s card.

  29. jawacg says:

    If you keep getting hit in the head when you walk through a certain door, how long is it before you stop walking through the door? That was the fourth time in a year that they dropped the limit? Hate to be like this, but it sounds fishy to me and the attitude certainly doesn’t help. I agree with some of the others as well about a student’s budget.

  30. Asvetic says:

    What did companies do before they had call centers? Can we black list call centers, demand things go back to being personal, eye-to-eye contact?

  31. yourbffjill says:

    @COELACANTH: They did this to me too!!! I was making a rather large purchase there and the 20% I would save by opening their credit card account was not trivial. I checked the box that said I only wanted the store account and NOT the second VISA account, and mentioned it to the sales clerk. They opened up both accounts anyway AND did two separate hard credit pulls on me. It did not seem to have any real effect on my score but this is totally on principle. I complained about it to about three different people and all they could tell me to do was call the Visa division and have them close it. No one wanted to address this issue they have with opening up accounts people don’t want.

    Additionally, I opened this over Christmas, and was absolutely obsessive when it came to checking my statement online and on the phone, because it kept showing up as a 0 balance, and I was afraid of missing my due date. I called at the beginning of January and checked both the Visa account and the Macy’s account, and both said that I owed $0 by 1/17, so I figured they must be putting it on the next billing cycle. So about 1/20 I checked again and there it was, a balance and a finance charge for not paying in time. Additionally their CheckFree system would not accept my bank account number, so I couldn’t pay. I called customer service and they waived my finance charge after I complained about it, and then admitted that “a lot of people have trouble with our payment system, you’re better off going in to a store to pay your balance.”

    So I stopped in while I was shopping in a local mall, paid off my balance, got a receipt, and then called them to close my accounts. I later fired off an e-mail to customer service explaining why I closed my accounts and why I was upset. A week later (every e-mail I sent had a response time of at least 6 business days), I got a letter telling me that the reason I missed the payment is because I was looking at the Visa account and not the Macy’s account. This really burned me up because I must have called to check both accounts four or five different times, and both of the account balances are clearly listed on the login page to their website, so whatever they were using to determine this was totally incorrect. Not to mention the fact that I had long since closed my Visa account.

    I HATE Macy’s.

    /rant over. sorry about the length.

  32. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @DeeJayQueue: You’re absolutely right. But remember, Macy’s doesn’t have “compassion for people and their problems” according to him.

    Im not sure what problems he’s referring to, but the only problem I see here is he’s unable to control his spending and is trying to blame Macy’s on a bigger issue.

  33. Coelacanth says:

    @DeeJayQueue: Or, perhaps he’s near graduation and needs to buy an nice suit for interviewing…

  34. theblackdog says:

    Hmmmm, I just got a new Macys card, I think I’ll check to see what my limit is now.

  35. tekkierich says:

    I just canceled AMEX for the same reason.
    One year ago received Costco AMEX with 2k limit. I used it extensively for work related travel and eating out. Six months ago had my limit upped to 5k. This was good because work related travel was getting extensive and expensive.
    I carried a balance for about the last four months.
    A month-and-a-half ago I paid $2300 towards the $4250 balance. Three days later I try to get a $80 tank of gas for my truck at the Costco gas station. The card did not work.

    They lowered my limit back to $2000. !*^!&%(!!!

    The only thing that had changed in my credit profile is a car loan (for a used vehicle that cost 16% of my annual income). I had paid all of my bills on time in the past year, and had just paid them over half of my balance.
    I called to see what we could do. They said that they had discovered some delinquencies in my credit report, I found that strange as I monitor my report every two weeks. I asked them if they were referring to the 30 day late’s that I had over 18 months ago. They said that they might be but could not tell me for sure. They requested that I fax them a copy of my Experian credit score. As I check my three reports using another service I decided to pay $15 to get the report from Experian directly, so that it would be in the formating they expected.
    I faxed, waited a week, called and they said that they needed the FICO score included. Apparently Experian had included a “Score Plus” score and this was un acceptable.
    At this point, I stopped playing their games. I told them that you need to tell me why you have lowered my limit. So far you are telling me it is due to derogatory information on my credit file. I have had no new derogatory information in the last 18 months.
    I gave AMEX two choices to keep me as a customer, both of which I figured would be pretty easy.
    A: They could tell me that they were changing their standards for lending money and I was no longer in the group of people they wanted to lend 5k to. However, telling ME that my statistics where more derogatory that before was not acceptable.
    B: They could put my available credit back to 5k.
    They would not do either. I promptly paid my remaining balance of $1980 during the phone call and closed my account.

    It is their loss. If AMEX wants to jerk people around, for something as trivial at the 10 point credit hit I took when getting a VERY responsible (3 year at 4.75% for a car worth 16% of my income) car loan then I do not want to be their customer. They received one year with of transaction fees on about $15,000 in spending and a hundred or so in interest for the few months I carried a balance.

    I am a customer of Navy Federal and USAA. I have a Navy Federal card, and that will be the only one I will carry from now on. My wife has one chase we will have paid off in the next three months, and then we will cancel that and she will get a USAA Mastercard.

    I am done working with any other financial organization that is not NavyFCU or USAA.

  36. deleterious says:

    Bestbuy did this to me a million times! I went from a 2000 limit to a 200 limit in a matter of a year. I was never late, never held a significant balance for more than a few months, and my credit score was ascending to high heaven. The reason they kept lowering my limit, I eventually surmised, was because I was opening other cards (more inquiries on my credit report.) There were soft pulls of my credit report from HSBC (the bank that held the Bestbuy card) every 2 months, and each time, they lowered my limit. They were obviously jealous I was using my credit-worthiness at other stores. What a vengeful bank.

  37. timmclargehuge says:

    I used to work for FACS (Financial and Credit Services, the credit arm of Federated Dep’t Stores which includes Macy’s) and this is part of what they do. The first person you talk to will, in all likelihood, be unable to help you. Your credit, as far as the folks at FACS are concerned is based on an R-Score (an internal credit score), and the last five months of pay history on that account. If you meet certain criteria you can get more credit, if you don’t you can’t without talking to a supervisor. If you do talk to a supervisor they’ll ask if they can check your credit report, and your other federated accounts and can over rule the policies in place for their workers.

    Be aware though, if the credit report turns up negative information, like lots of non-pays or a bankruptcy it can end up lowering your credit or even closing the account. Also, if htis is the case they will search for other accounts in the Federated family of dep’t stores and lower/close your account.

    I haven’t worked there in quite some time, this info could be outdated.

  38. chiieddy says:

    Uh, I just checked my Macy’s card limit online. However, I have a Macy’s Visa which is linked to my store account. Never had this happen to me either. It’s been $1500 since I opened the account just about 10 years ago.

  39. Jordan Lund says:

    Obviously the problem is wanting to spend more than $800 at Macy’s…

    Macy’s bought a local chain here, Meier and Frank, and have been having nothing but trouble since then.

  40. Rando says:

    Macy’s only lowers credit limits if a) you’re late b) your quarterly soft pull score comes back much lower than before or c) you ask.

    Seriously, why are you pissed? With the current economy you’re lucky to even have a limit.

  41. Nenne says:

    I’m amused that a lot of people who skimmed the post automatically assumed the person was female.

    As for not knowing your balance, I don’t know if I am alone in this practice but I always like to know my balance before I used my credit or debit cards. You know, to make sure my identity hasn’t been stolen or I’ve been overcharged or something like that. Additionally, I feel like this person would have gone over their limit regardless of whether or not their limit had been decrease as they said they don’t ever know their balance.

  42. gingerCE says:

    I know someone who just had their Costco Amex card lowered. She hasn’t used it in about 6 months, each month paying off the balance. They lowered it by 5K to just right above her balance. This is someone who is trying to get out of debt and is doing the right thing (stopped using her credit cards, paying off her debt, never paying late etc . . .), has decreased her overall debt and not opened new lines of credit, and her salary has increased–it seems like a weird thing to do to good customers.

  43. fang27 says:

    My wife and I have a Macys card, with which we pay the balance in full at the end of every month. She is also obsessed with using their coupons and making sure we get every good deal.

    We have had an account with Macys for 4 years, and this has always been our pattern. We have never carried a balance. Over that time, our credit limit has only gone up.

    We were upgraded to the platinum card with a 4k limit 6 months ago.

    No problems. Our limit is perfectly viewable online. Never a problem with Macys.

    I know a lot of people in banking, and when I asked a few about why these things happen (generally speaking), and they say:

    1) If you get a bad mark on your credit score, some banks may want to reduce their risk – especially if your bad mark was with them.

    2) If you were borderline last year, but they felt like taking risk, they may not be as inclined this year with the financial markets the way they are.

    3) Platinum cards are meaningless. It’s just marketing.

    4) National banks are not required to notify you when they lower your credit limit (doesn’t sound right to me, but that could be their right).

  44. DeeJayQueue says:

    @COELACANTH: an $800 suit? Sorry, but wait till you’re driving the beemer and making the big bucks before shelling out on designer duds.

  45. jefuchs says:

    I may be wrong about this, but I believe that Macy’s only has stores in fairly large cities. In other words, Trey has many other options.

    Shop where you’re welcomed.

  46. TangDrinker says:

    @jefuchs: Yes, you are slightly wrong – Macy’s bought out all the regional department stores around the country – “Mall Anchors” – so this does impact not just Trey, but customers around the US.

    If Macy’s starts this, I’m certain the other chains won’t be far behind.

  47. chiieddy says:

    @jefuchs: You’re wrong. Macy’s bought Robinson May, which owned stores throughout the US including Filene’s and many others. These stores all became Macy’s. Therefore, pretty much every mall has a Macy’s.

  48. Rusted says:

    Strange, he spent all sorts of money there? Why? Student with a credit card? Something like stale fish here.

  49. MissAnnThrope says:

    I used to work for Macy’s. It was a great place… Until Federated bought it and it started going downhill fast. I won’t even shop there anymore, I no longer have a card.

    But when I was there, even under Federated, if someone’s card was rejected, we would get a transaction suspended receipt from the register and we at the register would have to call the credit department.

    Sometimes, it was someone was spending more than usual and they wanted to make sure it was the card holder. Other times, it would be someone over their limit. Depending on how close to their limit the purchase was, they’d raise the credit limit on the spot. Then again, those were more economically certain times and I always knew it wasn’t good when they asked to speak to the customer.

    Never did we send anyone to the courtesy phones for a suspended register transaction. Then again, Macy’s has gone downhill, from installing McDonald’s in their kid’s departments to be more like Wal*Mart to offering brands that get shoddier all the time. We could never understand why we sold that Caroline Taylor crap that falls apart after one washing.

  50. Hvnsent309 says:

    the rub on this is that if they are lowering your limit, and now you are close to maxing out the account it totally skews your balances to available credit ratio – which hurts you BIG time if you are looking to get an auto or home loan…

  51. EldwinBabalonian says:

    I agree with Trey. I have been a LOYAL Macy’s customer and today I called
    to find out my balance and come to find out it said I had no credit
    available. What?!? They too lowered my limit without notifiying me by mail
    or otherwise. Their reasoning was I failed to make a $5.00 (FIVE DOLLAR)
    payment on time in February. I had just forgotten about it and paid it the
    next day. This is ridiculous and very POOR business practice and I am
    heartbroken. I will be cancelling this card ASAP.