Banana Republic Sends You A Mysterious Visa Credit Card After You Opted Out

Reader Tim says that Banana Republic sent him a Visa after he opted out of the program and that the card’s mailer was misleading (it looked like a replacement for his regular Banana Republic card, not a new “optional” Visa account) and didn’t disclose important details… like the card’s interest rate.

Tim writes on his blog:

Here is a bulleted summation of my rant:

  • I received a new BR Card in the mail I opted out of months ago
  • The new card works as a standard credit card, allowing me to make purchases outside of Banana Republic
  • The mailer contained no printed Terms of Service but rather a reference to a website.
  • The mailer contained no interest rate information
  • The mailer did not state that customers had an option in activating the new card
  • The mailer played on previous Banana Republic credit card practices, luring customers into a sense of familiarity.

    I would imagine Banana Republic has done nothing illegal; as their lawyers would not allow the company to open themselves up to liability but I personally consider this Unfair and Deceptive if not predatory credit practices. Again, questions of legality can be left to people more knowledgeable in this area.

Banana Republic must be taking notes from Macy’s. “Replacing” store cards with credit card accounts by any means necessary is obviously becoming more common these days.

Banana Republic’s predatory credit card offer [DC Grind]

Comments

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  1. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    I’m sure this is illegal. It’s deceptive. Just prove that the average and ‘reasonable’ person would believe this to be a replacement and not a new card, and you have the court case won. Also, aren’t card companies required to disclose at least some, if not all, of the terms and conditions before they can start charging you? Oh, and as was covered previously here on Consumerist…that “For security purposes you must CALL to activate your account” is bogus.

    Side note, I opened up a BR card about two years ago. 40% discount on stuff. Worth it. I paid off the card, or so I thought. Never used it after that first purchase. I must’ve had a brain fart since I sent them a check for $.01 less than the full amount.

    They sent a statement the next month for $1.01. $1.00 minumum finance charge… One phone call less than three minutes took care of it. They even waved off the original cent that I owed. :)

    But seriously, this is scummy. This is why marketers should be beaten up (by pillows) every day.

  2. acknight says:

    Aren’t the terms of the card _required_ to be in with the card by law?

  3. @acknight: Thats what I thought, maybe they think by putting a reference website up they can say that they gave you a place to go look it up. (which is bullshit)

  4. dweebster says:

    I guess nobody shops at the Gap stores anymore, and they have to find some way of bringing in money.

    I’ve heard that GM makes far more money off of their finance division than they do on vehicles. Having something to sell is only the method of hooking you into the “monthly payments forever” scheme.

  5. marcus784 says:

    Same thing happened with me about month ago. American Eagle Outfitters sent me a new AE card saying almost exactly the same thing as above. They said it was a replacement for my old card.

  6. nuttish says:

    If it’s not truly a replacement card, this practice is unlawful under the Truth in Lending Act, 15 USC 1642. [www.law.cornell.edu] Assuming recipients of such unsolicited credit cards have no actual damages, which is likely, they can contact a consumer class action attorney to explore a TILA class action for statutory damages. The reason Congress outlawed this practice back in the day was the ease with which a thieves were stealing unsolicited credit cards (that people obviously never expected in the first place). The National Association of Consumer Attorneys website has a listing of attorneys sorted by area of expertise and location. [members.naca.net]

  7. nuttish says:

    @nuttish: Sorry, that’s the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

  8. armydrummer says:

    I worked at Gap. The Visa-brand Gap Inc. cards were introduced a few months ago to try and increase brand loyalty. Current card holders WERE NOT to receive the Visas, but rather just updated (different designs) cards. You would have to physically CALL IN and REQUEST the Visa brand card in order to see if you could be approved for it.

    New customers applying for the Gap/BR/ON Card were FIRST submitted for the Visa Brand, then if they didn’t meet the extremely high standards for that card, they were then applied for the regular GE Money Bank card.

    In the 3 months we had this going when I worked there, I never had anyone approved for a Visa brand card, and I worked at an extremely upscale mall.

  9. graymulligan says:

    Hmm…Unless The Gap inc. (or whatever the official corporate name is) has lost its marbles, I think something was missed. The terms of credit must be displayed when entering into any lending arangement. I have seen a few of these offers where the “federal box” showing the apr/important info was on a seperate sheet within the envelope, printed on the reverse side of what looked like an advertisement. (shady, certainly…but, the disclosure was in the correspondence, albeit hidden somewhat)

    I can’t believe that there was nothing in the offer envelope/package that had the disclosure on it. The Feds don’t take lightly to companies doing that sort of thing, so for a mainstream company to engage in taht sort of activity would be suprising.

    Dweebster, GMAC was far more profitable than GM itself, and that’s why it was eventually sold off in portion. (or did they sell all of it…I can’t remember)

  10. JDAC says:

    I really don’t understand the need and frankly, abuse of the word “congratulations”.

    I don’t need to get the warm and fuzzies for selecting one TV over another. I’m not breaking out the champagne when I get a credit card. Congratulate me on one of my many achievements, not an every day occurrence!

    @dweebster: If my experience the last time I visited, and walked straight out of, an Old Navy store is any indication, I’m not surprised they’re in trouble.

  11. yourbffjill says:

    when I opened a Macy’s card, I was given the choice between just a Macy’s account, or a card that held two separate accounts — one for Macy’s, and one for Visa. I specifically checked the box for just Macy’s, no Visa, and got the Visa card anyway, along with two hard credit pulls. I don’t think it matters whether you opt in, opt out, or ignore it, they’re going to give you what they want you to have and hope you don’t notice.

  12. matto says:

    ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring banana card!

  13. TechnoDestructo says:

    @matto:

    Change the headline to this immediately.

  14. mythago says:

    I would not assume that their lawyers vetted this and therefore it’s perfectly legal.

  15. socritic says:

    I also got this, never answered, then got follow up mail about my new GE credit card from Banana. i don’t have any additional card according to my last credit check, and looking forward to pay the full balance of my Banana card ASAP. I never asked to switch or change cards, nor did i ask for a balance increase or ANYTHING else really. what gives?

  16. warf0x0r says:

    I was thinking about this after the last BR posting. I opted out of the offer to but their website claims I have a card in the mail. I went and got my free credit report, but I don’t see anything added to my list of lenders…

    Does anyone know who the card is offered by? What bank that is?

  17. ottawa_guy says:

    I had the same problem out here with HBC (Hudson’s Bay Company).

    I went in and bought some pants that were on sale, well, they said they would give me another 20% off of the purchase with the sale price if I applied for a HBC store card. I said ok no problem, I will apply for it.

    I didn’t think I would have a problem getting the card, since by then I had 3 credit card’s with major banks, so a store card would be fine.

    Well, when the cashier rang my order through, it told me to call a number for phone authorization. She rang my order through with the discount and I was on my way.

    I phoned HBC credit services, and explained to them that I wanted a store card, just to use in the store for purchases. They confirmed my information and told me they would get back to me in a week with the letter saying if I was permanently approved or denied.

    A week later, I get a HBC letter in the mail. It’s a card alright, but it’s a HBC MasterCard.

    Did I ask for a MasterCard? NO I DIDN’T

    It also came with the crappy 22.5% APR and low $500 credit limit. All I can say is that it’s a nice piece of plastic collecting dust in my wallet.

  18. geoffhazel says:

    We rent out our downstairs and I got one of these ‘replacement cards’ in the mail for a tenant that moved out 3 yrs ago. I don’t have his forwarding address. I cut it up and disposed of it but …wow…

    Same guy keeps getting those “use these checks for whatever you like” checks in the mail about every 4-6 months too.

  19. Rusted says:

    This is where one should be running a credit history report on one’s self.

  20. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @geoffhazel: Isn’t it a felony to open someone else’s mail? Unless they are a spouse, domestic partner, family, or you have power of attorney? That’s what I thought….

  21. dynamix10 says:

    I have called BR about the cash advance 7 times over the last few months. I did a cash advance, and noticed how much higher the interest rate is so they said I can notate on the check to indicate that I would like the 500.00 paid toward my cash advance balance. I did that, it showed up again the next month. I called and they said it would show up the following month, and it didn’t . I called again and said it would take 3 more days, I called to follow up again, they put me on hold and transferred me and I got disconnected. I called again today and they said they dont’ allow that, its in my terms. So I wasted 6 calls and they lied to me 6 times, and the manager today claimed during my 6 calls I was told this, which is a lie. I hung up and realized the calls are recorded. I called back to have them play the messages and they said I had to write to El Paso. So no matter when I did a cash advance, I have to pay the entire balance before the cash advance gets credited. I will be transferring the entire balance to a new card after dealing with El Paso

  22. bananavisa says:

    I also had an awful experience with the banana visa card. They had sent it to me through mail without my consent and charged me a separate phone fee even after I cancelled my transaction.

    When i spoke with the manager at GE money bank – named jack, he gave me a very bold reply demanding that I had to pay the phone fee. This is absurd and bad branding for banana