Call Bank Of America About Account, Get Credit Limit Cut By 65%

Sean has a warning for Consumerist readers with Bank of America credit cards. At the beginning of December, he tells us that he called the bank about a billing issue, which earned him an account review and a drastic reduction in his credit limit.

This evening I contacted Bank of America about a minor billing issue and without warning, request, or recourse, had my available credit reduced by over 65%.  Now there is only $300 of available credit on my account just before the Christmas shopping season.  Further, I will now have to go through the stress of moving all reoccurring charges to my debit account or suffer default consequences.

The first thing I find strange in hindsight is that I never made a request to have my account modified in any way (interest rate, credit limit, etc…) I was immediately transferred to an analyst after calling the number on the back of my card.  After explaining my unrelated problem (which is still unresolved!), the analyst (who still has not introduced himself as such) explains he needs to update some information on my account.  I find it strange, but I am happy to comply.  After asking me about my current employment and salary status, I am placed on a lengthy hold.  When the analyst comes back he seems happy to inform me that he has already taken the liberty of drastically reducing my available credit and left me with barely enough money for two weeks’ worth of groceries.

I am immediately shocked to hear this, almost speechless.  I am even more stunned to learn that the changes are irreversible and that it would be impossible to talk to a manager.  If reading Consumerist all these years has taught me anything, it is to remain calm, polite, and respectful on the phone.  And although I feel like I might explode, I kept my calm and remained persistent in trying to talk to someone else.  After being told several times that “my manager is on vacation” I am left with no other option than to expose the analysts’ lie by explaining to him that Bank of America is a major corporation and I know that he has a supervisor somewhere around there that I can talk to.  After another lengthy hold I am connected to a “senior credit analyst.”

[The analyst, B.] insisted that although the actions they took led to a very angry customer (who has done business with BoA for over 9 years!) it was the “right decision.”  Another thing that B. couldn’t stop repeating was that he “understood my frustration” (but really he didn’t).  B. told me that he would not be able to reinstate my original credit line or even increase it at all.  But what I find most disturbing is when I asked B. how else he could help me, he was happy, eager almost, to tell me that if I had problems making payments he could immediately enroll me in debt relief program, canceling my cards and starting a payment plan!  Awesome!

So after thinking about this for a minute I realize that I now have no available credit, and will have to allocate more cash to other resources…  So maybe I do need some debt relief?  After all, I went from 30% credit utilization to 95% in a single 90 minute phone call! 

The way I was treated today by BoA is reprehensible, irresponsible, and unacceptable.  I know that there is no chance I will ever be a customer of theirs ever again.  And most of all, I just don’t get it.  If you are a good customer, for a very long time, maintain a manageable balance, and pay your bills on time, you obviously deserve to have Bank of America punch you in the face, kick you in the groin, and… I digress.  After all, it’s the RIGHT DECISION!

A few days later, Sean followed up with the results of his call to executive customer care. They were not helpful.

I did take the time to contact executive customer care.  They advised me that there is nothing that can be done and It must be the economy’s fault that I am no longer credit worthy.  They also said that customers used to be subject to review every three months and now they review every month and next year they will review every two weeks.  I have a feeling this may become an epidemic.

Since it is clear now that there is no recourse for me, I have informed my friends and family I will not be able to travel or exchange gifts this year due to lack of funds.  I have also told Bank of America that I have no desire to continue business with them.  I will be aggressively paying off and ending my relationship with them for good.

We’re not sure what the lesson here is: “Don’t call your credit card company, ever?”

Comments

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  1. Coles_Law says:

    By my numbers, if he has $300 in available credit and 95% utilization on his card, he was cut to a $6,000 limit from a $19,000 limit. Yow.

    • Scoobatz says:

      I don’t quite understand your math or the facts in the original post. Here’s why.

      The OP indicated his avaiable credit was reduced by 65% to $300. That means, he’s left with 35% of the original, $857.14. ($300 = $857.14 x 0.35). His original credit utilization was 30%.

      Credit Limit = Debt + Avail Credit
      Credit Limit = 0.3(Total Credit) + $857.14

      Or,

      Credit Limit = $1224
      Debt = $367.40

      After he contacted his bank, the OP indicated his available credit was reduced to $300. His debt didn’t change, and it would still be at $367.40. However, his available credit was reduced by 65% or $557. While the OP indicated his credit utilization went to 95%, I don’t see how this would be correct. It should be 55%.

      Credit Limit = Debt + Avail Credit
      Credit Limit = $367.4 + $300 = $667.40

      Credit Utilization = $367.4 / $667.40 * 100 = 55%

      Am I missing something here? By my math, his credit limit was reduced from $1224 to $667, not $19,000 to $6,000.

      • Garbanzo says:

        If you assume that he meant “had my credit limit reduced by over 65%”, the $6000/$19000 numbers work.

  2. dvdchris says:

    “…Bank of America…”
    There’s your problem right there.

  3. Winter White says:

    It’s called “balance chasing” and American Express is fairly famous for starting the trend.

    That said, if having only $300 of available credit means you can’t “travel or exchange gifts” you were living beyond your means and relying on credit, so maybe BoA was right to cut you back.

    If you check in on the credit boards, you’ll see that several members have been told that ALL BoA accounts are undergoing review within the next month.

    • Dondegroovily says:

      Hmm, maybe I misread – I thought he said $300 was his new credit limit.

    • MyTQuinn says:

      By the numbers, as Coles_Law said, $300 represents 5% of his credit limit – meaning he has a running balance of $5,700. I agree that they were right to cut him off. The OP claims that this reduction in his credit limit leaves him unable to travel or exchange gifts this year. I have news for him… with a running balance of $5,700, he was in no position to be traveling or exchanging gifts even before he talked with BoA.

      • mythago says:

        Merely by looking at his credit-card balance in one month, you’re able to determine his entire financial picture?

        “Travel” could simply mean “buy a round-trip ticket to visit the parents on the opposite coast”. He might also not want to max out his credit card. If, as the OP says, he has always made his payments on time and has good credit, then there’s not a reason BofA should be cutting his credit without notice.

        • friday3 says:

          Credit is not extended for your ability to pay int he PAST. Credit is extended on your ability to pay in the future. Something in the OPs account (they asked about employment and salary) detected a problem. Deal with it.

      • Difdi says:

        If he’s got a running balance of $5,700 and makes every payment, then he is earning BoA considerable money in interest payments. If he had a $19,000 credit limit, and only used $5,700 of it, and is not missing payments, then he is living exactly at his means, not beyond them (if he were beyond them, he’d be missing payments, after all).

        I don’t understand why BoA considers him poverty-stricken…

        • Winter White says:

          If you are carrying $5700 worth of credit card debt and just now are getting around to “agrressively paying it off” then I would argue at some point in recent memory you WERE living beyond your means, for whatever reason.

          He specifically says he can’t travel or exchange gifts due to “lack of funds.” Credit /= cash. The lack of funds existed before this CLD.

      • Scoobatz says:

        There’s a huge difference between credit limit and available credit. Somehow, I don’t think the OP had a debt of $5700 — it was more like $400. See my response to Coles_Law.

      • Tiaris says:

        “I have news for him… with a running balance of $5,700, he was in no position to be traveling or exchanging gifts even before he talked with BoA.”

        What on Earth qualifies you to make this judgment? Are you meaning to say that anyone who has debt is not allowed to enjoy life and see their families? Who are you to make this decision for other folks and pass judgment on them through that lens?

    • sonneillon says:

      That may not be true. He may make a brick of money but gets paid monthly. I know contractors who lean on their credit cards at the end of the month and then pay them off with their pay day. This does not seam to be as a result of a reduction in credit worthiness as it seams punitive, but in any case we do not have enough information to make a good judgment.

      • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

        I agree BofA’s actions seem punitive and believe me, I’m no fan of BofA. But when someone says they can’t buy groceries or a few gifts because one credit card lowered the limit – - indicating that they have absolutely no savings, no other available credit, and no money set aside for gifts/travel for a holiday that’s 5 days away – - it’s not unreasonable to call this out as being a bad financial strategy (even without seeing additional information).

        And even if you make a “brick of money,” if you are still leaning on credit cards to make ends meet until your next check comes, it’s bad financial practice. What happens when a client doesn’t pay? Or the bank lowers your limit like they did here? If that completely hoses you, then you need a new financial plan.

    • Nick says:

      It’s amazing how small-minded some people are when it comes to applying their own existence to the lives of others. I won’t even bother listing the things this guy could be going through because those la-z-boys you’re piloting through the exurbs couldn’t possibly handle a few years of sickness or a spouse assigned to one of our ten year wars. I’m glad you’re all great at your maintaining your finances because you most certainly suck at having lives.

  4. Yentaleh says:

    Wow, I too would follow up on that threat. I hate banks. Greedy,self-serving, mean, disgusting excuse for human beings. Taking your business elswhere does work btw. I did it when I closed out my bank account and went with a credit union. My old bank contacted me asking what they could do to have me bring my business back, I told them to start treating their customers like we matter and to show it by lowering fees, and penalties. They scoffed and hung up on me. Haven’t heard back since.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Since Banks got into this mess by lending people more than they could pay back, I thinkk they are being smart. If he can’t afford to buy Christmas gifts without using a charge cards, then his business probably isn’t that valuable. When you get yourself in that bad of a situation, default or bankruptcy are usually close behind. I don’t blame them for cutting their risk.

  5. [MG]LooseCannon says:

    This probably isn’t going to be a popular comment, but….

    Since when is credit a *right*? I see this attitude a lot (here and among my friends) that Americans are entitled to large amounts of credit. In general, it hasn’t gotten us to a very good place as a country.

    That said, there is no reason this person is required to keep using Bank of America if they aren’t happy with the limit being offered. They should take their business elsewhere if they aren’t satisfied.

    • Hogan1 says:

      I agree, It’s a privilege not a right. They’re not obligated to give you anything. I’ve had a few friends that have had similar instances such as this occur and it was because they were “high risk” users (Large ongoing balances, missed payments, etc). While it would have been nice for BOA to be straightforward (and more customer friendly) and give a reason, it’s legally not required.

      Far too many people feel they are ENTITLED to credit, jobs, pay, social class, etc and quite frankly it’s sickening.

    • morganlh85 says:

      I don’t think it’s so much entitlement in this case. They person had a credit limit and relied on BOA as part of their financial plan, and was ENTITLED to that amount of credit according to BOA’s little formula, and apparently hasn’t abused their system in any way.

      The point is that BOA is now saying they don’t care about their customers, even the ones who haven’t done a thing wrong are losing their privileges. The point of remaining a customer of a company for a long time is that you generally will earn ADDITIONAL perks for your loyalty, not LOSE them. What other type of company can continue to say “We don’t give a crap about our customers or whether you’ve followed the rules, screw you” and remain in business?

      • Hogan1 says:

        If you are relying on credit cards as part of your core financial plan that’s unfortunate and ill advised.

        Again; a person isn’t “entitled” to ANY credit, It’s a PRIVILEGE extended to consumers by financial institutions.

        Inevitably there’s always more to a story then what’s posted; With that in mind we don’t know the OP’s prior history with BOA nor the specifics of his credit worthiness which affect credit lines. This isn’t an area one should be making assumptions about in order to assert the righteousness of one side of the story.

        • bitsnbytes says:

          It’s not a privilege, in the sense of a gift. It’s a business service offered to a customer on mutually-agreed terms. The credit card company has no right to my business.

          Incidentally, does this case lead us to the conclusion that there’s nothing to be gained by cooperating with an unsolicited “account review”? Maybe the best course of action is simply to end the call.

      • [MG]LooseCannon says:

        See, this is my point. They PLANNED to have something that was always beyond their control, that was granted to them but could be taken away at any time, for any (or no) reason.

        In other words, this customer felt they were entitled to be given this service.

        Sound financial planning does not include *counting on* a line of credit for all of your Christmas expenses.

        • mythago says:

          The customer probably had the idea that he was “entitled to” rely on BofA’s representations that given his financial situation and payment history, they were willing to extend him X credit. He was probably also under the impression that they would not change his credit level without a) advance notice and b) a reason for doing so, like missing a payment. I’m not sure why you feel that’s some kind of selfish level of entitlement.

          • marsneedsrabbits says:

            He was probably also under the impression that they would not change his credit level without a) advance notice and b) a reason for doing so, like missing a payment. I’m not sure why you feel that’s some kind of selfish level of entitlement.

            I don’t think it was a “selfish” level of entitlement, but it was ill-advised and unrealistic to rely on the credit card as part of his financial plan.

            First, not missing a payment isn’t the only criteria the credit card companies and banks use to determine credit worthiness. They look at the sorts of purchases made, where they’re made, and how often they’re made. Banks & CCCs are notorious for canceling the cards of people who rarely use them, for example.

            And second, if the customer has trouble paying off the entire balance every month or carries a balance month to month, or is cutting it close to the limit (“I will not be able to travel or exchange gifts this year due to lack of funds”), the bank or CCC has a right to limit their potential liability. They don’t have to give advanced notice of reducing the limit, since the unused credit line isn’t a right in any sense of the word.

            Honestly, this is what the banks & credit card companies should have been doing all along. Limiting credit to people who have a hard time paying it off makes perfect sense. Banks are tired of writing off debt and the rest of us are getting tired of paying for it. It’s how things used to be done, and if they’re going back to it, it’s a good thing.

            I do feel bad for the submitter, because I have no doubt that this is difficult. But he can take this as a lesson, get himself out of debt, and never be in this sort of vulnerable position again. I’d encourage him to re-think what he’s been doing financially and make some lastly positive changes.

            Good luck, submitter guy.

    • Megalomania says:

      It’s in no way a right, but his limit was cut by almost two thirds immediately and unilaterally. Yes, the bank should be able to manage risk by reducing limit or increasing rates, but people need to be able to prepare for changes. You sign a contract to get a card, and yet the bank has practically no restrictions placed on them.

      Maybe they were right to cut the limit, but that doesn’t mean that it’s reasonable for them to be alowed to change the terms of an agreement in their favor without any warning.

      • Firethorn says:

        I have to agree. This is sorta like a supplier suddenly telling a business that we don’t want to talk to you anymore. The business might be able to get the supplies elsewhere, but there’s still a relatively large amount of costs with moving.

        For example, because I do have good credit, pay my CC bills in full every month, etc… I don’t keep as much in liquid cash as I would if I didn’t. It’d take about a month to shake out my finances, rebuild my cash reserves, if all my credit cards just cut me off. That’s unlikely, I’m with 3 different companies.

        If the guy in question tends to pay that $5k balance off every month, I could see it really hurting so close to christmas. If nothing else, he may not be paid until the first or second of January.

        I think he’s right to shed his relations with BOA. In the end, having too many people refusing to do business with them, costing them profits, is the only way to get them to reform.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I agree, it’s their business and they have a right to assess their risk and cut it if they need to do that to stay afloat. In his case, with him relying on it to pay for Christmas, sounds like credit is a “right” he doesn’t need to have. Good for them for being responsible and not continuing their bad habits of overextending credit to people.

      It’s amazing how angry people get that credit card companies got us into this by over extending credit, but when they correct it, they are put down.

    • Sumtron5000 says:

      He very well could take his business elsewhere, but at the risk of damaging his credit score. Opening too many accounts in a short period of time (which can mean 3 days or 3 years) negatively affects your score. I learned that the hard way… stupid store credit cards. Also, if this is his longest running credit card, you better believe that closing it will screw him.

  6. Dutchess says:

    Sounds like you’re living off credit cards. Perhaps you need to rethink your spending habits.

    I know this isn’t the point of the article but people rely to heavily on credit cards.

    • LoadStar says:

      I agree, Dutchess.

      It is my opinion that if you aren’t able at ANY time to immediately pay off every one of your credit cards, cut them up, and never use a credit card ever again, you aren’t using credit cards wisely. I understand that occasionally circumstances might force one to operate outside this guideline, but if that were to happen, it’s an indication that you are living beyond your means and you need to immediately cut expenses until you not only can pay off the cards, but also can put enough money away to serve as a safety cushion.

      (In short: always use a credit card as if it were a debit card. Never charge something unless you have the money in the bank to pay it off. If you have to go “into the red” at any point in the month, you are spending too much and not saving enough. Plain and simple.)

      If Sean’s story happened to me, I’d thank the person on the phone for letting me use their card, and that I would be immediately closing that account with a payment in full from my savings account. I wouldn’t even bother arguing with the phone person or asking for a supervisor, because there wouldn’t be much (if anything) that they could do to change my mind.

    • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

      I “rely” heavily on credit cards. Granted, I could choose to pay through my bank account if I wanted to, or pay cash, but my day-to-day expenses are all handled through a credit card which is paid off in full at the end of the month. My reason for this? Points and protection. If I buy something that turns out to be broken and the business is giving me the runaround, I can file a chargeback. Every so often, I’m able to use my accumulated points to send myself an extra $250 that goes into my savings.

      There is nothing wrong with wisely using credit cards, and I’m living well within my means and then some. Yes, too many people live off their credit cards, which was part of your first statement, but you shouldn’t confuse that with reliance.

  7. wcnghj says:

    Hurry up and apply for another card before this one reports its new limit.

    A lesson learnt the hard way- don’t rely on one credit card only.

  8. raven268 says:

    Lesson: don’t do business with the Bank of America.

    • Hogan1 says:

      As with any Bank and/or Financial Institution YMMV. I’ve been with BOA for over a decade and have had neither a fee or any problems at all the entire time. Wells Fargo on the other hand was hideous.

      Also keep in mind that these are BUSINESSES and they are out to make money like any other. If you represent a risk to them don’t expect too much. Go somewhere else if you have a problem with it.

  9. chris_d says:

    Putting any recurring expense on credit cards is a recipe for disaster. Putting things like cell phone, cable TV, etc, on a credit card allows you to delude yourself into keeping services you quite possibly can’t afford.

    The more I think about this, the more I think BoA did the OP a favor by keeping him from going further into debt. Isn’t irresponsible lending a big part of what got America into this economic situation in the first place? Sean obviously is planning to spend $300 or more this season, putting himself further into debt and he’s already got almost $6,000 on the card. He’d be doing himself a big favor right now if he started figuring out how to pay down this debt.

    • Monoplex says:

      Using a credit card for ongoing expenses to take advantage of rewards programs is a no-brainer.

      The only problem is if you can’t pay it off each month. If you’re carrying a balance from month to month to month, you can’t budget. If you’re not skilled at handling money, it’s reasonable you should have you credit line reduced.

      • NightSteel says:

        Not only is it great in terms of rewards points (got a microwave, vacuum, kitchen stuff and a DS game from my rewards card while I still had it), it acts as a buffer against billing issues. I have all my bills on my credit card, and it hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’ve read enough horror stories about people’s debit cards being overcharged or multiple-charged, leaving them with no money and ridiculous overdraft charges, that I don’t use mine unless I have to. As far as I’m concerned, recurring bills should never go on a debit card for that reason. It just takes one screwup for your bank account to be emptied, and then you’re stuck. Credit cards (non-store cards anyway) have a much more useful dispute resolution process.

        • chris_d says:

          Why would you pay bills with debit cards? Just use online bill pay. You could even set up a separate account for paying bills.

          • steveliv says:

            but a debit card, and online bill pay are practically the same thing. they both draw from a checking account. if there was an error, in both instances it is your actual money that is being tied up, as opposed to a credit card companies money.

      • chris_d says:

        If you read Consumerist regularly, I assume you know that it costs companies more money when you use a credit card. So why would they accept them for payment? Simple — numerous psychological studies show people spend more when they use credit. That more than makes up for the credit card fees. Rewards? Piddly. I have rewards cards. Maybe I don’t spend “enough”, but the rewards don’t add up to crap. When I get them, I always put them back to pay off my purchases. I’m always amazed that some spend more to get rewards — “look, if I spend $500 on this crap I don’t need, I get 500 points [$5] in rewards!!!” It’s exactly why Amway gets recruits. “If I buy all my stuff from Amway [which costs 50-100% more], then I get a bonus check! [Amounting to some much smaller amount] The more I buy, the more I make! [LOL!]“

        • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

          You’re missing some of the point. Those of us who know what we’re doing are putting recurring expenses that we’d have to pay anyway on cards for the benefit of collecting points. I don’t go out and spend $500 on needless garbage just to collect points. I’m getting points from my monthly bills! I monitor my budget and know that I only have so much that I can spend, with or without credit.

    • [MG]LooseCannon says:

      What Mono said. I have pretty much all of my bills on recurring charge on one Mastercard. Then I pay that with one electronic payment from my checking account once a month.

      It’s worth noting that the limit on said card is a lowly $700 – I do it that way purely for the ease of making a single payment once a month rather than paying my cell phone, DSL, netflix and electric individually.

    • mythago says:

      What? Putting a recurring expense on a credit card allows you to track it and gives you the right to chargeback if there’s a problem. It doesn’t come directly out of your account like a debit card.

    • MauriceCallidice says:

      I have about $140 in monthy charges (DSL, landline, two cell phones) which bill to my credit card automatically each month. My credit card is paid in full automatically each month. I get 1% back of the monthly charges which I wouldn’t otherwise get. Not a lot each month from just that, but with other purchases it all adds up.

      I don’t buy stuff to get the cash back, but if I’m going to make the purchase anyway and the cash back is available, I’m not going to pass it up. It’s free money.

      My accounts are paid in full each month (including the CC account), and I get a discount for using the credit card. It’s a winner for me.

      Your mileage may vary.

  10. Caveat says:

    The guy should count his blessings. B of A did him a favor. It sounds as is he was already drowning in debt, particularly if he has to buy even food on credit. Therefore he should not be running around creating more debt Christmas shopping for stuff he can’t afford. BofA won’t lose him as a customer, he is addicted to his card. Even if they were to lose him, they have already figured out that he is a bad investment…
    Mind you, I do use my credit card to buy food, but only as a convenience, not because I need the credit extended. I pay off my balance at the end of each month.

  11. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Wow… holier-than-thou much, people? It’s possible he used the card as a cash management tool. Perhaps he has to charge business expenses for his employer and then be reimbursed. Or perhaps he is paid on an odd schedule.

  12. odLott says:

    I get BofA’s point of view, and I think they took the right decision, but there are better ways of handling this. Seems pretty obvious to me why the limit was cut, so why not just say it?

  13. Hobbes says:

    I’ve had BofA reduce my credit from 3000 to 500 without telling me this past September. It was my fault, though. I had paid late a few times over the year – but only by a couple of days. Still, its the rules to pay on time and I didn’t (although I did pay their hefty late fees). I’ve switched to paying the entire balance automatically off at the end of each cycle with their online banking features to help repair the damage I’ve done. But if they reduce my credit again, I’ll go to some other bank – checking & savings included. Thankfully, I only use an AMEX card for my purchases so this card was only for home utilities that didn’t take the charge card.

    Its not all a bad thing that BofA is doing this, though. By reducing the amount of credit, people will alter their spending habits and end the over consumption that’s been hurting us. They’ll switch to debit cards or keep lower balances on the exiting credit they have. Well, I hope they do that, at least.

  14. CTAUGUST says:

    I am sorry, I am more struck by the fact that this reduction will cause the OP to “not have enough credit for groceries” and that this caused them to have to tell friends and family they have a lack of funds? HELLO. If you are so short of income you are living off your credit cards, BofA must have spotted a major red flag and did something about it.

    • huadpe says:

      I think that he is using that to identify how low his limit is now; not that he intends to use it in that way. As in saying I only have enough money to buy a meal at McDonalds in my bank account doesn’t necessarily imply that’s what I’m going to do with the $6 in my bank account.

    • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

      I’m wondering if the OP isn’t just being overly dramatic for effect.

  15. mythago says:

    I’m amazed at all the psychics who are able to determine the OP’s entire financial picture from his comment that BofA’s suddenly eliminating his credit hurt him financially.

    Lots of people put big chunks of their spending on credit cards, then pay them off every month, so they can track spending, get reward points/rebates, and protect themselves against problem transactions. (See, e.g., every single snotty comment on Consumerist scolding an OP for using a debit card, or using cash, instead of using a credit card with its magical chargeback functions.)

    • chris_d says:

      It’s obvious if you read the post that the OP is NOT paying it off every month. Most comments, including mine, are not throw-him-under-the-bus comments, but instead saying to him, “Reconsider your spending habits — it’s in your best interest”. Is lying to him and saying, “Your financial picture looks great dude — I can’t understand why those b*stards @ BoA wouldn’t let you run up 19K in debt” really gonna help him?

      • mythago says:

        No, it’s really NOT obvious from the post that the OP is in horrible financial trouble that BofA kindly saved him from. And there really is a range of possible responses other than the two you suggest.

        The OP says flat-out that he has a “manageable balance”, was at 30% credit utilization before the cut, and pays his bills on time.

        • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

          He also says that the reduction in credit “left me with barely enough money for two weeks’ worth of groceries” and “I have informed my friends and family I will not be able to travel or exchange gifts this year due to lack of funds.”

          If these are accurate statements, then it does not take a “psychic,” as you put it, to say that he doesn’t have a great handle on his finances.

          He’s basically saying he was living off that credit card and has no other way to get money (although I suspect he’s just being a bit melodramatic to help make his case that BoA is evil.) That’s not an indication of good financial health.

    • CTAUGUST says:

      “Lots of people put big chunks of their spending on credit cards, then pay them off every month, so they can track spending, get reward points/rebates, and protect themselves against problem transactions.”

      True. That is how I do it. However, the OP made a number of comments about not having enough credit left for groceries and how they had to tell relatives they would now not be able to affors gifts. THAT is not a consumer who uses their cards for rewards and pays them off in full every month.

      The OP made it clear this credit limit cut was causing him financial hardship. That is causing the comments about his finances.

  16. LESSTHANKIND says:

    BoA has been doing this for nearly a year now, which is why anyone who reads credit forums knows to stay off the phone unless it’s an emergency. Chase has been doing it as well. Anyone who calls in for any reason finds their limit suddenly chopped to bits, no matter what the situation. It’s an incorrect assumption that this is only happening to “high-risk” customers, it’s happening to people with high scores, low or zero balances and perfect payment records.

    I was lucky they only cut my $10,500 limit to $5,500. They explained that since I always paid my bill in full and rarely used more than $100 of my credit limit, I clearly didn’t need it… so by taking $5k from me, they could give it to someone else. And my Transunion score (the one BoA uses to monitor me) was 810 at the time.

    Oh, and “just take your business elsewhere” is outdated advice too quickly dispensed by people who haven’t been keeping an eye on the situation. It may have applied a couple of years ago, but not now. Credit isn’t as readily available as it once was, and to assume that other banks are clamoring for your business is to be behind the times. Banks are closing credit card accounts all over the place, no matter how good the customers’ history. They’re not going to beg and plead if you threaten to “take your business elsewhere,” nor will you find your pick of open arms out there anymore. Those days are long gone.

  17. phonic says:

    That’s nothing. They screwed over my fiance much worse, but in a similar fashion. She had two BoA cards, and both were pretty high to the limit when we first met. I got involved with helping her clean up her finances, and the first thing I did was pay off one card that had a $3000 limit (95% used). Paid in full in one payment. About a week later I needed to purchase something for work that I was going to be reimbursed for a few days later, so I used this card. Purchase price was about $1800. Two days later I went to check her account online and see the credit limit dropped to $2000. I call up and get the run-around about how my large payment tripped a flag and they decided to lower the credit limit. I say that I am about to pay it off again, and ask if anything will happen. They assure me no. So I pay off the card and bring the balance down to about $50. About a week later I went to purchase something online for like $2 and figured I would use this card. It gets declined. I goto the website and it says I have a $2000 limit and a balance of like $50. So I call up the 800 number and enter my information. I get greeted by the automatic recording of “Hello, your current balance is (whatever) your available balance is $0. Your account is closed”
    W…T….F…?!?!?!?!?
    I immediately speak to a representative. They tell me that the account was closed on some ‘automatic’ review. I explain the previous incident and promise and they tell me there is nothing they can do. I can apply to the credit department for reinstatement tomorrow (as it is about 7pm). As the whole purpose of paying off this card was to keep it’s balance at or near $0, since I was trying to help my fiance’s score, I am pissed.
    This is her oldest account, about 7 years old. Not a single missed payment, EVER, on this card or the other one. Always paid on time and at least the minimum if not more.
    So the next day I talk to the credit department to complain. They refuse to budge because she had two medical collection accounts on her credit report. They said if I get those fixed they would do it. So after about a month of negotiating, I have the accounts paid AND REMOVED from her report. I call back up, and they verified that they were gone. But said, nope we changed our mind, we’re keeping the account closed. Regardless of her perfect history. They said if I paid off about half of her other card (which we were in the process of doing) they would maybe reconsider it. Whatever.

    The next day, the other card’s credit limit was cut by about $1000 to right above the balance.

    Bank of America sucks. We are set to have the other card paid off by the end of next year and I will never do any business with them again. They don’t care about anyone, you are nothing but a number and a statistic. Fuck em.

  18. RevancheRM says:

    *cough*USAA*cough*

    Seriously…since they opened their banking services to everyone, they have got to be the best thing for consumers around and a bad dream come real for assclowns like BoA.

    • phonic says:

      I have, and love, USAA for auto insurance. Sadly they won’t cover homeowners in FL. While I do have a USAA Checking Account, my balance in it hasn’t changed from about $2 in 3 years. While I normally handle all my bank business online or via ATM machines, I just haven’t made the move to an all-remote banking relationship.
      I have been a BB&T customer for about 9 years and while they have their faults, am a happy customer. We just got a mortgage through them, and it went quite smoothly as well.

    • Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

      Open to everyone? I went to the the website the other day, after someone (you?) said they were open to everyone, but the legibility shows only people in the service, veterans, etc.

      • SecretAgentWoman says:

        Do you have a relative in or previously in the service? You can ride their coattails… I have them for my auto and homeowners insurance and do plan on expanding to their other services.

        • phonic says:

          Not entirely correct. Just having a relative who is or was in the service does not make you eligible for USAA. While they recently extended their requirements to include anyone who ever was in the service (there used to be a time limit after leaving), the ‘relative’ factor is much more strict. You can only gain membership via a relative if they are themselves a USAA member, and you need to either be the spouse or children of that member. If your dad was in the service but never joined USAA, then you can’t join. If your Uncle was, and is a USAA member, you still can’t join. Etc. The good news is that if your dad was a member, and you became a member, your children and/or spouse can also be a member, even if you nor they ever served.

  19. morganlh85 says:

    Wait a minute…

    Usually we hear stories about automatic bill payments taking money from debit cards without authorization, after the service has been cancelled, etc. So people respond to put these recurring payments on a credit card so the companies aren’t stealing your ACTUAL money.

    Now we have people saying to never put your recurring charges on a credit card EITHER?

    What, should I just go back to using my checkbook?

    • dg says:

      Don’t put autopay on anything – debit or credit or checking account. Rather, have them send you a paper bill, and when you get it – log on to the site, and PUSH the money to them in a one-time transaction.

      Yeah, you have to spend all of 10 minutes handling this, but it prevents all manner of problems. Moreover, you retain the upper-hand in any issues that come up because they DON’T have the money you owe them yet.

      The only exception to this rule are new car loans through your bank, from your bank account. You have the loan with the bank, and the checking account with the bank. Let them auto-debit because you’ll often get a percentage rate reduction on the loan – which means the car ends up costing you less.

  20. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    I agree with many on here, that we can’t possibly know how or why the OP used his credit card so much. He might like the rewards, or has an odd pay schedule… we just don’t know, and I refuse to speculate. He might not even have a debit card for all we know, and relied on his BofA card for large and small purchases, using a classic checkbook or online banking for bill pay.

    I also want to throw in, that many people use their credit cards (especially during the holiday season) to have their purchases backed by their card companies. That’s not such a bad idea.

    Credit isn’t a right, obviously. Stop stating that. These companies are in business only because of us consumers. They should be hitting the people with late payments/over the limits/etc. with higher interest and lower credit limits. Not the customers who pay their bills on time. They should be trying to retain their decent customers, not shying them away with such practices.

    I will be opening a Visa card with my local credit union at 7.99% interest. Whatever limit they give me, they give me. They’ve always treated me good.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      If someone were the type to be money savvy enough to use it to get rewards and track expenses, I am guessing that they would also be they type to have a savings account, an emergency fund, etc… I can’t imagine a person being financially savvy enough to use a card take advantage of rewards and to keep up with his expenses yet have zero in savings and be depending on the card for Christmas and food. It doesn’t go together.

  21. t0ph says:

    my gf made a $5k payment to Amex last year and they turned around and lowered her limit to just over $200 of her balance. Shitty.

  22. Extractor says:

    Just got USAA a week ago in order to wind down all BoA accounts except the Credit Card which I expect them to cut. Luckily with over 120,000 in available credit on all my cards and a 1% utilization, I couldnt care less if they decrease the limit however much. I play the rewards game and charge everything. Capital One really sucks as far as utilization goes. Limit is not reported so the credit limit is figured as the highest balance Ive ever had, which was 150. I had 80 on it in November showing over 50% utilization. The actual credit limit, 30,000. I zero out all 8 credit card balances online every 2 weeks. BoA started charging for downloading into money or quicken and then both of my checking accounts with them fell below 750 for a total of 2 days, resulting in 2 $12 monthly “maintainance” fees. Chase has been great with their amazon.com card and freedom card and checking and savings.
    Not only do we have to play the rewards game but we need the protection, warranty extension, zero deductible car rental insurance, travel insurance that the Visa Signature and the Mastercard World provide. Just check visa.com and mastercard.com to see just what those cards provide. Gotta be crazy not to use these Credit Cards and i my case, do same bank transfers to pay them off every 2 weeks. The only credit cut I recieved was from the GM card for non utilization. Cut from 10,000 to 300. Dont need a new car till 2015. Bought a Chevy in August 08.

  23. bishophicks says:

    I have 2 cards, one with Citi, the other with Amex. Recently, Citi jacked my rate up to 20% – not a huge deal since I don’t carry a balance. But it made me angry so I moved as much spending as possible over to the other card. Now the Citi card bill is about $200 per month rather than 1,000 or so. That’s been the situation for a few months. I was going to call Citibank and tell them what I did and that I would start using their card again if they lower my rate. Now I wonder if it would be a good idea to call them at all.

  24. AstroPig7 says:

    Yet my wife, who has been unemployed for several months this year, still has a limit of over $20000 on her Bank of America credit card.

  25. stuckinms says:

    Bank of America did this to us, also, without warning.

  26. stuckinms says:

    Bank of America did this to us, also, without warning, in addition to raising our interest rate. My husband has A+ credit, good income, and we were perfect customers. They told us there was nothing they could or would do. We switched to a credit union which gave us a great low rate and a great credit limit. Credit unions are going to start thriving when banks start f-ing their customers.

  27. User says:

    I had a similar issue. I called to ask to have my interest rate lowered (it was jacked to 30% after I was two days late on a payment) and was told “if you want your interest rate lowered, you either have to pay off the card or cancel it and hope we lower it.” What kind of nonsense is that? If I cancel my account how do I have any kind of bargaining ability to lower my credit card rate. BOA has gotten consistently worse over the years.

  28. BytheSea says:

    It doesn’t say WHY he has his credit slashed. That’s a pretty enormous omission, and makes the whole letter suspicious. They don’t do that for no reason. I don’t think this is something that can happen to just anyone, cc companies want customers to have as much credit as possible. Sounds like the billing issue wasn’t the only one he’s ever had, and it wasn’t so “minor.”

    • wcnghj says:

      Yes, they most certainly do.

      (no sarcasm here)

      • Hogan1 says:

        Uhh….There’s always a business justification for it. Whether or not you agree with it or not is irrelevant. They’re not simply doing it for fun; unless you pissed off of a CSR and they have enough clout to get away with it.

  29. HadleyKnulla says:

    While it’s justified that he’s pissed now, I think he’ll realize later on that this is a blessing in disguise.

  30. Pencreus says:

    Yeah… same here. We went from 30k to 10k, but only after we noticed it on the bill.

  31. jojobreckinridge says:

    Why anyone perpetuates BofA’s existence by doing business with them is beyond my realm of understanding. Seriously.

  32. haoshufu says:

    All the banks are re-evaluating customers’ credit risk. If you don’t use the limit, they figure you don’t need it and they reduce it to lower their risk. If you have a high limit but don’t have enough income, they reduce your limit and force you to pay down the balance in order to use the card again. This is all about the correct way to manage credit risk with customers. Remember, leaving the customers with unjustifiable high limit is a hugh risk with the bank. Before all these, I have actually called my cc company to lower my credit limit and when they automatically raised my limit, I called them and had them reversed it, saying I did not need it. If you have an enough of an income level, you can always get credit. I guess banks are now going back to the basic rules of extending credits. How much you make, how much you owe and thus how much you can afford to borrow.

    Paying off a long standing high balance with a one time payment triggers the red flag because they suspect that you are borrowing money from somewhere to pay them off, thus transferring your loan somewhere else, then you can borrow more from them. If true, this increases your total outstanding debt and reduces your ability to pay them in the future.

  33. JollyJumjuck says:

    Really, the US government should have looked at BoA’s financial situation awhile ago and said, “Hmm, you’re on shaky ground. Sorry, no bailout money for you.”

  34. daveinthe805 says:

    Someone can correct me if I am wrong but I think you need to write back to B of A and inquire if they pulled up your credit report when they analyzed your account. If they did, I think you have a right to have a copy of your credit report. I can’t remember the name of the law but it’s the same law when you are denied credit, you have a right to the report. You may want to check to make sure that there isn’t a possible error reported on another account that is tripping your B of A account. You only had a ~28.5% utilization rate on your B of A account which leads me to believe they had to have looked at your total credit utilization in order to make their decision. If your cumulative credit card/debt utilization is over a certain percentage, that raises red flags to the lending companies. I read that the credit card industry expects more write-offs (losses on their credit portfolio) in 2010 so they are frantically trying to reduce credit lines and forcing people to pay off their balances to minimize their write-offs. Hence their review of customers from every 3 months to every 2 weeks.

  35. Aisley says:

    Boy, you just don’t get, do you? If you have a daily subscription to the Wherever Post, should you expect the delivery guy to deliver it every day? Of course because that’s the deal, the business deal you have with the newspaper. So, it is exactly the same thing in this case. The only difference is that the good being purchased is a “non-tangible” one, i.e. a “line of credit”. For just a moment, close your eyes and imagine that the First Bank of Somewhere City has a many years long business relationship with Wal-Get Stores, where they hold Wal-Get line of credit. Now imagine that FBS closes the line of credit just because Wal-Get call to find out if they could fax some documents instead of emailing them. Do you think this is a good reason to reduce Wal-Get’s line of credit by 65%? Of course not. It is not a good business decision if Wal-Get has payed back the line of credit every time it was due. Well, it is the same thing in Sean’s case. He has the right to not have his line of credit revoked due to no failure of his own. What’s even worse, this is going to his credit report and will affect him in a very negative way.

    And one last thing, please get down from your righteousness horse. What in heave do you mean with “…if they aren’t happy with the limit being offered”? That limit was not offered! IT WAS IMPOSED!!! And I dare to bet that you, oh great pompous righteous one, would not accept an imposition of anybody else. Right?

    • Winter White says:

      He didn’t, and hasn’t been, paying the line in full. As of this posting, he was carrying a $5700 balance, and by stating he plans to “aggressively pay off” that balance, it is obvious that he was not intending to pay it in full.

      Your example is true, IF SOMEONE PAYS. He didn’t pay in full, and they chopped his limit. It is common, especially now, for CC companies to chop limits if you carry a long term balance…they want to start forcing you to PAY UP.

  36. lesbiansayswhat says:

    I also recently got the line ‘in this economy’ from Chase when asking for a fee to be cancelled after years of perfect banking and giving them interest. The rep told me absolutely no one existed that could authorize a waived fee because of the state of the economy (they were told not to lower rates or waive any fees). Using the whole ‘in today’s economy’ is really insulting. Seeing it used in commercials to get you to buy shit is bad enough, now we have to hear it being co-opted by banks..BANKS.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Banks are no longer the banks we think of them as. They are phishing schemes designed to draw you into opening an account so they can systematically asses you with fees. This is today’s “bank”.

      • lesbiansayswhat says:

        Oh yes, but the horrible irony of this is that the banks caused ‘today’s economy’ and were the ones primarily saved from it.

  37. Flyers Fan says:

    I called BofA last week and canceled my credit card with them (I have ZERO cc debt, finally!). The rep asked why I was closing the account and my response was “because I hate your company”. 2 mins later the deal was done and I had successfully severed my ties with BofA.

    BofA didnt screw me over or anything (maybe it was coming?) but I am just sick of how these companies treat their customers and I am refusing to do business with them.

  38. Don't_rip_me_off_bro says:

    Two words: Credit Union.

  39. calchip says:

    Bank of America is simply evil. Listen to any of the analysts and they are all pretty much saying the same thing: The bank is insolvent, has been for a long time. The only thing keeping it afloat is all of the fraudulent fees they have instituted, and the new business model of borrowing money from the FEd at 0.25% and loaning it to customers at 29.9%.

    This problem will go away when enough BofA customers, en masse, STOP paying their credit card bills entirely. According to one analyst I heard, if only 2% of BofA credit card customers paid their bills 15 days late, the resulting cash flow reduction would be enough to send the bank into insolvency and it would fail. THIS IS WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN.

    The Fed, as well as state regulatory authorities are looking the other way at all the illegal shit BofA is doing because they KNOW that stealing from customers is the only way for the bank to stay solvent. This is simply wrong on so many levels I don’t get why someone, somewhere hasn’t gotten up in arms and stopped it.

    This bank sucks. It was once a wonderful bank, but no more. I pray that Ken Lewis will have something drastic happen and end up poor and broke in the last years of his life so he can understand what it’s like for so many americans who are subject to the policies of an evil piece of shit like himself.

  40. Jeff Akston says:

    This happened to me. My girlfriend and I called BofA to reduce her criminally high 27% interest rate (she hadn’t been a very responsible credit card holder in terms of paying bills on time), and when I did that, they not only said “no”, but her next bill she found that her credit limit had been cut so if she used it, she’d get hit with a $40 over limit fee.

    I can understand cutting people’s credit limit without warning if they have shown that they are a credit risk (by carrying too much of a balance, etc) but when that’s combined with BofA’s (and really all other credit card banks’) penchant for levying inordinately high $40 fees for going over your limit, it’s pretty much all sorts of BS. Why the hell should she get charged a $40 fee in the next billing cycle for going over a limit she didn’t even know existed

  41. DJSeanMac says:

    This happened to me when I called about a rate reduction because of my employment moving to contract status. They eliminated ALL my available credit, leaving just enough room for the interest that month. They also would not allow a rate reduction or allow me to enter their hardship program to pay down the card, because my employment isn’t considered stable enough to be under hardship. It’s like they literally WANT you to default because it’s the ONLY way they’ll listen.

  42. skofarrell says:

    Lesson: don’t carry a balance on a credit card.

  43. vastrightwing says:

    I blame the OP for ding business with BoA. They are not a bank. They are a phishing scheme where they spoof you into giving them all your financial information, you open and account and then they systematically start assessing your account with fees until you owe them thousands of dollars. The CSRs are not there for you to resolve problems. They compound problems and generate fees for BoA. When ever you present a CSR with a problem, they turn it around and it is now your problem, not the banks. They will justify why the fee you just incurred is correct and you must pay it. The next CSR will simply continue with the charade until you finally give up. Your only real recourse is to STOP being a “customer” of BoA! I hope I am very clear.

  44. Sunflower1970 says:

    I have a BoA credit card and am scared to ever call them if I ever have a problem because this scenario is what I’ve been afraid of happening to me…

    So I’ll suffer in silence TYVM…

  45. iFightBanks says:

    I had an almost identical experience with BoA a few months ago, and was able to have them reverse their decision. Here’s what I did, and I hope it works for anyone who may find themselves in a similar position:

    1) Ask them to send you something in writing about the decision they made and why. From what I was told, they’re supposed to send something in writing any time there’s an adverse decision made anyway, but I had to request one.
    2) Get a copy of your credit report. Since this is what they’re looking at in making their decision, you should review it for possible mistakes. You’re entitled to a free copy as a result of their decision. In my case, I found that one key error was what caused them to reduce my credit.
    3) Fix any errors. It’s not a fun process, but plenty of websites offer advice on how to do this.
    4) Write to BoA (certified, return receipt requested) and dispute their decision. I sent a copy of my credit report with notes on why I felt they made an error. It took about three months, but they increased my limit back to where it was before.

    In my situation, I had several student loans that were in deferment because I had just graduated from my program and they had misread my credit report and thus improperly calculated my debt/income ratio. Banks seem to take letters much more seriously than phone calls; the call I got in response to my letter was markedly diffferent in tone than the initial calls I made to customer service.

    Good luck!

  46. pot_roast says:

    This happened to me with a store credit card. My limit was whacked to be $5 over my current balance. Never had a late payment, balance wasn’t that high, and it was a store card that I didn’t used maybe once a month.
    Naturally, FICO score time came around and saw “Oh no, a card is now maxed out!” *FICO score tanks 50 points*
    I was able to get my previous limit reinstated, but my FICO score has not recovered fully yet.

    This kind of crap is happening to a LOT of people.

  47. Sugarless says:

    Hello Wells Fargo!
    They closed my account with no notice and when I called said I wasn’t using it enough.
    I was doing to well paying it down it seems.
    And when I asked for a letter stating that they were closing the account and the reason I got nothing. It’s been a year.

  48. Dave on bass says:

    In this past year, this kind of thing has happened to me twice. I’ve been working very hard at paying my way out of credit card debt, you see…

    - Chase, my oldest credit card account, was offering a great balance transfer rate of 3.99% for the life of the balance. I had a very low balance and a high limit, so I thought it’d be a great time to take advantage of that. I put in the forms online for a couple transfers, a few thousand dollars from higher-rate cards. Nobody told me anything at the time because it was an online process, but when i called the company a few days later to see if they’d gone through okay, I was informed they’d been denied as my limit was reduced from $21,000 to $4,000 without my knowledge in the time frame between my initiating the transfer requests and my making the call.

    - M&T thought it was so fantastic when I paid their card off (a $9k payment, no less) that they went ahead and closed the account without telling me! Upon my asking on the phone, they said they had “determined I had sufficient credit elsewhere.”

    I say screw them; I was trying to get rid of the damn cards anyway. In the next couple weeks I’ll officially be down to 1 card with a balance of about 7k, (maybe not perfect, but a year ago or so I was at $30k+ over 5 cards) and I can now make all but huge purchases – stuff like appliances or TVs or furniture, which only get replaced every several years – without them.

  49. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    If you have to have a credit card to buy Christmas gifts (which you indicated) then maybe you needed your credit limit cut. If you can’t afford to buy presents with cash, then you shouldn’t be buying them at all.

  50. trujunglist says:

    Whenever I call these companies and they give me a line like “Well, the economy is doing terribly right now…” I remind them that if it wasn’t for THEIR OWN BULLSHIT MISTAKES, then maybe the economy wouldn’t be doing so terribly all of a sudden in such a severe fashion. Why should I pay for their mistakes? If I am late on a bill, they make sure that I pay for my mistake. If you destroy the entire economy, I pay for your mistake via raised interest, slashed credit, or annual fees? How about go fuck yourself you dumb fucks? I love how they shift the blame to make people forget that this whole economy fiasco is pretty much 100% the fault of the same people lamenting the economy’s collapse. They sure don’t want to pay the consequences though…

  51. RandomJane says:

    It apparently doesn’t matter how good your credit is or how long you have been a customer. They are treating everyone the same way. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will eventually happen to you if you are a B of A account holder.

    I’ve been a depositor and credit card holder with B of A for 18 years. I have a credit score of 772, have never made a late payment, and do not carry large balances. I either pay off my balance monthly or carry over a small balance of $200 to $300 for a month or two then pay it off. I recently had $20,000 in credit limits slashed down to one $2,000 B of A credit limit. I am not a deadbeat, do not use credit cards to live beyond my means, and do not abuse credit cards. I don’t really need a high credit limit and would have understood a reduction to something reasonable like $6,000. I was told that due to my current income level a $2,000 limit was sufficient with B of A (had a temporary salary reduction about a year ago and have not changed my credit purchasing/payment habits at all). I am livid at being treated in such a demeaning manner. As soon as I can arrange it B of A will become a very small player in my financial life. I could understand being treated this way if I was using B of A solely as a creditor, but I have also been a depositor with them for 18 years and they can clearly see my long, loyal, responsible history with them. To treat good, long-term customers like this is a big mistake and they will pay for it in the long-term.

  52. Ultragraphic says:

    Similar thing happened with my business account. But without any warning. I just found out today that my credit line (from the last four years mind you) has been cut from $16,300 to $5,800! Never had a late payment over the 4 year life of the card. Have paid off thousands of dollars with interest over the years, even during this recession. Executive offices were unable to help and really didn’t seem to care. I will promptly be switching banks. They say they are trying to make better business decisions, but they are penelizing the good customers like me for the actions of all the delinquent customers. Word of mouth is the best advertising. I feel another youtube video coming on