Bank Of America Threatens $75 Fee For 4-Day-Late Credit Card Payment

It’s one thing for a bank to nag customers who are late with credit card payments, but quite another to be rude about it and insist they’ll have to cough up $75 late fees in addition to interest.

Lindsay says BofA treated her like a deadbeat when she was four days late with her payment:

I have been a Bank of America customer since 2004 when I signed up for a checking account and credit card as a freshman in college. I have always been responsible with my credit card, had a low limit and maintained a low balance. I was 60 days late on a payment once when I was studying abroad in India but otherwise have always paid my credit card bill on time, typically paying off the full balance and almost always more than the minimum due. The one time I had a problem with BofA, it was related to my checking account but it was minor and 4 years ago.

Today, I received my first ever “courtesy call” from a blocked phone number, from a woman identifying herself as a BofA agent. She had all my information so I can only assume it was real. She sounded like she was 10 years old and had the most condescending voice I think I’ve ever heard on the phone. She was calling to tell me that I was 4 days late on my credit card payment this month. I was aware of this (having a hard month financially) and had planned on paying the bill on Friday. I told her such. She pressed me for the exact date and time I would be paying it and also the exact amount I would be paying toward my balance. I told her that I simply didn’t know but she continued to ask me for this exact information 4 more times. I asked her if this was a new policy to check up on customers who were a few days late in their payments. She said “No” and continued to demand the exact time and amount I would be paying.

Finally, I told her that she was being extremely rude and treating me like I hadn’t been a responsible customer in the past. Four days late is hardly absconding without paying, especially since I have always been a reliable customer. She finally told me that I would have to pay a $75 late fee, to have a good day and hung up.

Is this some kind of new BofA policy? I had already strongly considered switching banks but being treated like a deadbeat and getting a $75 late fee for 4 days is ridiculous. Not even my 60-days-late payment received a fee like that. What should I do?

Whenever I’ve been in danger of missing a payment deadline, my banks have been cool about adjusting my payment date. What sorts of fees have you had to pay on late credit card payments?

Comments

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  1. balthisar says:

    Perhaps the reason they were bugging her was because she had always been an excellent customer. A change in payment habits could simply be a red flag.

    All the same, late is late.

    • PTB315 says:

      There are two issues here: The fee for being late, and how Lindsay was treated during the collections call.

      Issue 1: The fee.

      “Late is late” – 100% true and possibly the only pertinent fact relating to the fee. I’m basing this on 2 assumptions:

      1) That there was a legitimate contract that customers agree to be bound by by using the service, and in return they pay on time. The contract contained a clause addressing the fact that failure to pay on time would or could result in a late payment fee of $75.00.

      Lindsay states that this fee was not assessed on a previous late payment that got to 60 days overdue. That in and of itself doesn’t really affect this current fee, because they may have neglected (or chosen not to) charge the fee, despite having a contract that gives them the ability to do so. But maybe that wasn’t in the original contract, which leads to the second assumption.

      2) If the clause was not in the original contract, then it was a policy change that was issued to Lindsay via the agreed upon method of communication (US Mail, or email in the case of paperless billing, although I’m pretty sure I have all paperless billing and still get some notifications via snail mail.)

      As a BofA customer, I can attest to the fact you get a lot of mailings from them that do not always communicate the point of the mailing clearly. Sometimes you get mailings about topics that either seem to or actually have nothing to do with you. Maybe they sent her notification of the policy change and she missed it for some reason or another. Its really not that hard to do that.

      I would hope that everyone who considers themselves a consumerist regular knows that contracts written by major corporations for individual consumers, particularly banking and credit card agreements, are written in a manner that makes comprehending it a challenge to a person unfamiliar with contract law. And even then, understanding how contracts works won’t help when you have to review 5+ pages of tiny print. It is complete bullshit, but at this point there is no law that prohibits contracts from being overloaded with information or confusing. Even if there was a law, that would be very hard to enforce. There has to be a balance between formality and ease of reading. Sometimes the lay version of lawyer talk doesn’t carry over all pertinent information.

      Anyways, If both of these statements are false, then Lindsay has a legit beef on this matter.

      Issue 2: The agent who called Lindsay was clearly disrespectful in her language and tone.

      There is no excuse for treating a customer like garbage completely unprovoked. However, Lindsay’s history is basically irrelevant: There is no schedule for how rude a collections is allowed to be based on customer history or how late the payment was, or anything to that affect. They should be respectful regardless of the situation. That’s just poor supervision of the agents making the call: You’re not helping anything by being a jerk.

      Disclaimer: I always say the following when commenting on a story in which we are working with one person’s description of a confrontation. It’s not meant to be a shot at anyone specific, including the poster of this story, so please don’t take this personally.
      /Disclaimer

      Everyone takes a few liberties with their participation in a confrontation, sometimes intentionally, but mostly I believe it happens intentionally due to the frustration of the moment. We don’t have a recording or even a transcript of the conversation. I’m sure the caller spends most of their work day dealing with people who are already frustrated taking the opportunity to unload on a collections agent calling them.

      Maybe the agent came into the conversation already worked up and was rude from the very start of the conversation. Maybe they had a short fuse and Lindsay committed a minor offense that pushed them over the edge. And finally, maybe they were polite and cordial and Lindsay lost in on them because of the fee. I have to be honest, I don’t think its appropriate or at all relevant for Lindsay to describe the caller as sounding like they were 10 years old. Their rudeness is relevant. The fact that the mere sound of their voice is bothersome or frustrating doesn’t really make you look like a person of infinite patience and virtue.

      I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone take a collections call and not get at least a little angry over it, and that will come out over the phone. I had an anecdotal story involving a friend of mine, but I just noticed how long I made this reply, I’m sure no one needs a story to understand that some people act offended by collection calls, and do things like just continue to repeat “I know. I already know. I’ve already told you that I’ll pay when I have the money” like they’re talking to a moron.

      • PTB315 says:

        Proofread fail twice in one sentence:

        Everyone takes a few liberties *when recalling* their participation in a confrontation, sometimes intentionally, but mostly I believe it happens *un*intentionally due to the frustration of the moment.

  2. Dutchess says:

    Prhps f y pd yr CC bll n tm y wldn’t gt th nggng phn clls? Prhps y shld b thnkfl th clld y bfr th crd ws dys pst d nd ws rprtd n yr crdt br s dlnqnc. Prhps y shld grw p!

    • danmac says:

      Yay…let’s play fiscal responsibility tennis…my favorite Consumerist pastime:

      “If she managed her balance better, she wouldn’t have this problem to begin with.”

      *wack*

      “Sorry, Mr. Perfect, who never has unexpected bills/debts/tragedy.”

      *wack*

      “This isn’t about unexpected tragedy; she’s an irresponsible baby who should never have taken out credit card in the first place.”

      *wack*

      etc…

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      Her complaint wasn’t about the call, it was about the rudeness of the CSR.

      I once received a “courtesy call” from my credit card when I was 21 years old and three days late on my payment. I was waiting for my paycheck and told the woman such. She was very nice and adjusted my payment date and that was all there was to it. Ever since then, I have been proactive in calling when I know I’m going to be late and arrange for a different payment date.

      Humans make mistakes. But that’s no cause to be a jerk.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      Thank you for not reading the article or understanding why this is inappropriate behaviour for a corporation. Your time is valuable to us, and we are taking your comments seriously.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      I absolutely love it when someone here behaves like a total ass by chastising someone and telling them they should grow up.

      Let me return the favor – Perhaps you should stop being an ass!

    • Admiral_John says:

      Perhaps you should have read the entire article?

      Perhaps then you’d know that this was a one time in six year occurence?

      Perhaps then you’d understand it wasn’t necessarily the phone call, but the rudeness of the caller that was the issue here?

      Perhaps you should take your condescending attitude somewhere else?

    • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

      Wow, what a jerk. As others have pointed out, the complaint wasn’t about the phone call itself, it was about the rude and threatening person on the other end of the line.

      Oh wait.. Dutchess.. scratch jerk.. What a bitch.

      • njack says:

        Just playing devil’s advocate here, but perhaps the caller wasn’t as rude as the OP states? When a collector calls it is always a tense situation and perhaps the OP misinterpreted the tone of the call or even escalated the caller based on her original “perception” of “She sounded like she was 10 years old and had the most condescending voice I think I’ve ever heard on the phone”. I don’t see anywhere in the article that the caller threatened in anyway.

        In regard to the fee, the OP was late, thus the fee is justifiable. Of course she could ask them to waive the fee as a courtesy, which if the rest of the story is true, seems entirely reasonable.

    • Dalsnsetters says:

      Gosh, what wisdom! What great advice!!! Wassa matter, have you never, ever in your entire life had a rough month financially? Ever been unemployed, Dutchess? Ever had a major unexpected expense on an already tight budget?

      Or are you one of those perfect people who can walk on water? I’ve got a pond in front of my office. Come on down and impress me with you skills.

      What’s that? Can’t walk on water? Then STFU about people growing up…and grow up yourself. Douchebag.

  3. qwickone says:

    She hasn’t always been a good customer though. She was 60 days late one month and “almost always [paid] more than the minimum due”. That means she sometimes paid LESS than the min, meaning she’s not keeping up her end of the credit card agreement. Also, don’t all credit cards have a late fee in addition to interest? It doesn’t matter how late you are (that’s the interest part), late is late (that’s the fee part). No sympathy from me.

    • corrie06 says:

      Yeah, but I’ve never heard of a $75 late fee. That’s crazy!

    • Hoot says:

      Actually doesn’t that mean that she sometimes paid the minimum due but usually paid more?

    • kethryvis says:

      i, too, can say that i almost always pay over the minimum on my credit card. i have NEVER paid under the minimum. Don’t be so fast to play “Blame the OP,” it could be that she has always paid at least the minimum, which means she is upholding her end of the bargain.

    • bikerider008 says:

      So, is English a language you aren’t accustomed to? “Almost always paid more than the minimum due” can’t possibly be stretched to imply she ever paid LESS.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Her being late deserves a late fee – all lending institutions charge a late fee, but $75 is excessive.

      But that’s not the main problem – the problem is the rude, condesending CSR.

      There is NO excuse for that behavior from any CSR, ever.

    • mdoneil says:

      Almost always paid more than the minimum due is not binary. The other options are exactly the minimum due, or less than the minimum due. One must assume since she was not the recipient of previous calls that she made exactly the minimum payment.

      I do agree that being called after a few days late is nice, as opposed to a burden. I certainly don’t want to be 30 days late and dinged on my credit report. At less than 30 days late it is not reflected on one’s credit report.

    • BigBoat2 says:

      “Her end of the credit card agreement” means what exactly? Theoretically the agreement is if she pays by this date no charges, and if she pays by a date after, there are charges. She’s not in breach, she’s taking Option B. The complaint here is about a rude CSR, not contract terms.

  4. jaroth says:

    “I hadn’t been a responsible customer in the past.”

    “Not even my 60-days-late payment received a fee like that.”

    Yea….

  5. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    My advice is to see if you qualify to join a decent credit union and if so, join, and quit BofA.

    If there is no good CU to join, then look for a decent small, local bank.

    There is no excuse for the rudeness of the CSR.

    • bjcolby15 says:

      My thought exactly.

      One word of caution, though: if the OP did the same thing to a credit union or a local bank, something other than a $75 late fee (which is pretty darn excessive) would happen, like suspending account privliges, cleaning out whatever she had in her checking/savings accounts to pay off the balance immediately, or other things.

      I’ve been a BofA customer for four years. I’m very lucky not to have any problems with them; but I’m not going to run crying like a teenage girl with an unrequited crush on the football captain to a credit union when BofA does someone wrong. That’s the time I fight them until they resolve my dispute to my satisfaction – even if they say “there’s nothing they can do,” that means I don’t give up, I don’t let them intimidate me, and by all means I don’t try to appease them.

      All the OP has to do is escalate (a) the rudeness of the BofA agent and (b) the legitimacy of the late fee. Only after all avenues have been exhausted does she go elsewhere…but she also must do her homework on which new bank will accept her business. Weighing out the pros and cons of the local bank and credit unions (easy hours? more forgiving late fee terms? lower interest rates? minimum balances?) will be key to the OP’s future success.

  6. danmac says:

    She was 60 days late one month and “almost always [paid] more than the minimum due”. That means she sometimes paid LESS than the min, meaning she’s not keeping up her end of the credit card agreement.

    Um…no…that means that she sometimes paid exactly the minimum payment.

  7. vitajex says:

    Did they patent this new policy yet?

  8. MeowMaximus says:

    Lindsay, find a Friendly Local Credit Union, transfer all your accounts there, and then politely tell BofA to go to hell – and why they lost you as a customer. Its the only way these mega banks will get the message that poor customer service costs them money.

  9. SkokieGuy says:

    Gee, being an adult is hard, huh?

    You think the CSR was rude, maybe he / she was, but “rude” is a a subjective judgment. Late is pretty much black and white.

    BofA is not your parent. “Gee, I’ve been really good and only a little late” is irrelevant. Some of the behavior that you describe as rude, (asking multiple times when you’ll pay) is what the rep is trained to do. They want a commitment on payment, and if you don’t meet the commitment, you’ll receive another call.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      There is NO excuse for the CSR being rude. Once the customer said she didn’t know how much she would be paying, that shoud’ve been the end of it.

      • pinkbunnyslippers says:

        Really? She has no idea how much she should pay? She has no idea how much is due this month? She has a credit card and needs to know the balance of it at any time (roughly) and be able to budget around enough to know what payments will be made each month. That’s part of having a credit card.

        Rude is subjective. Repeatedly asking how much and when someone is going to pay when they’re already late has been pretty standard for BofA (if not many oher collection departments of other businesses) for years.

        Late is late, and if her T&Cs to which she agreed state a $75 late fee, then so be it.

        • George4478 says:

          “Really? She has no idea how much she should pay? She has no idea how much is due this month? She has a credit card and needs to know the balance of it at any time (roughly) and be able to budget around enough to know what payments will be made each month. “

          Where are you getting this from? The CSR kept asking her how much she would be paying, not how much she should pay or how much her balance is or how much is due this month.

          Maybe she would be paying the minimum or twice the minimum or 2.357 times the minimum — she didn’t know at the time the CSR was asking. This has nothing to do with how much she “should be” paying.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        We don’t know if the CSR was rude. We only know that Lindsay ‘feels’ the CSR was rude. Since Lindsay seems to be surprised to receive the call (which is SOP for most CC issuers) and can’t understand why the CSR keeps asking for a payment commitment (also SOP), perhaps there was no rudeness at all?

        Perhaps Lindsay’s lack of understanding of what happens when you are late on a payment and her lack of interest in taking responsibility for making a commitment to payment are causing her to bristle and perceive rudeness where none occurred?

  10. Joseph S Ragman says:

    Three words: “Close my account.”

  11. Silverhawk says:

    I’ve been late once or twice on my credit cards, and yes, I got a late fee. It was less than $75, though not by much. That’s what happens when you’re late on your payment. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 day or 4 days after the due date, it’s late.

    The last time it happened, I also had an agent call me when it was a couple days late. I had flat out forgotten to setup the payment, and I paid the price. I hated it, but I didn’t whine about it. I actually appreciated the heads up, it was a rather chaotic time in my life, and I probably would have lapsed well beyond 30 days had someone not called me.

    Too bad about the condescending CS agent, but shrug it off & move on.

  12. Scoobatz says:

    First of all, she’s not four days late on her credit card payment, because she hasn’t paid anything yet. She’s at least four days late. The agent called her four days after the bill was due to find out when she’ll be paying and how much.

    What should she do next? 1) Pay the minimum due and quickly, 2) Re-read the terms of the contract to ensure a $75 fee can be imposed (that seems high), and 3) Find a way to remember to pay the bill on time next month.

  13. Woofer says:

    Courtesy call from a blocked number claiming to be from the bank? Oh, HELL NO! That’s a big red flag for me. I always ask them for an extension from a known or verifiable phone number and call back. Doesn’t matter if it’s the bank, cc companies, or college asking for donations. Even if they don’t ask for acct numbers, I don’t like handing out my bill pay activity on an incoming call.

  14. Jasen says:

    4 days to start getting threatening calls? Wow, BofA must be hurting.

    • dolemite says:

      I don’t think any of these companies are hurting. Their profits just aren’t as astronomical as they would like them to be.

    • Griking says:

      How was the customer service agent threatening? She was simply asking when the customer planned on making a payment. It really doesn’t seem like such an unreasonable question since the payment was already late.

  15. htowninsomniac says:

    You don’t pay late. Make the minimum payment on time, or call them before the payment due date and ask for a short extension. If you can’t get one, tough luck, make the minimum payment.

  16. Destron says:

    I have a BofA Credit Card, and I have never been late so I was not even aware of this, but I was just looking over the terms and the late fee is a percentage of your balance up to a maximum of $95. The percentage varies by the type of card. So apparently, the OP must have a hefty balance.

  17. El_Fez says:

    Today, I received my first ever “courtesy call” from a blocked phone number, from a woman identifying herself as a BofA agent. She had all my information so I can only assume it was real.

    Woah, woah – hold the phone. Everyone here is focused on if you should or shouldn’t pay, if they were rude or what and missing the bigger problem: this very well may not be Spank of America calling.

    Blocked number, assumption that it’s indeed your bank? The *FIRST* words out of your mouth should have been “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I shall call the payment department straight away and arrange payment”.

    Then hang up, call the number on the back of your card and make sure someone wasn’t scamming you! Seriously, this should be a huge red flag for you!

    • Scoobatz says:

      No kidding. When I read this in the initial post, I was waiting to hear, “Fortunately, I gave the agent my bank routing and account numbers so I could make an instant payment. She even waived the late fee for me.”

    • Griking says:

      According to the post the person on the other end of the phone already knew all of the OPs personal information. The only thing that was being asked was when the OP would make their payment and for how much and I don’t think that the answers to either of these questions can be used to steal an identity.

  18. PLATTWORX says:

    I suspect we are missing some information here, like the OP has a low FICO score or credit issues somewhere other than BofA than the bank is aware of via a credit report.

    That said, I NEVER answer any calls from blocked, private or unknown numbers. Doing so invites calls from telemarketers or things like this.

    I would see the fee on my BofA statement, send a EECB and probably see a credit within days. Simple and easy.

  19. Rachacha says:

    The OP needs to take responsibility. The only thing that she should be complaining about is the alleged way that she was treated by the CSR (remember 2 sides to every story). There have been a couple times when I was late (or going to be late) in paying my CC bill, usually because “life happened” or the bill was mixed in with some junk mail, but as soon as we discovered the error, we called up the CC company, explained the situation, advised them when we would be making payment and they happily put a note in our account and removed any late payment penalties. Granted, I don’t carry a balance on my CC, and I have only been late (or almost late) on my payment about 5 times in 10 years, and in every case, I have called to advise them that I made a mistake and was rectifying it ASAP.

  20. Fight Back Against David Horowitz! says:

    I’m stunned by the late fee amount. All of my credit cards have a flat fee associated with late payment – it is $39, and that represents a significant increase in the past couple of years (when I got my first card, it was $22). Maybe it differs because of particular states’ laws?

  21. peebozi says:

    I had lawyers, collections, banks etc calling me because i have a common name and there is a ton of confusion on their part.

    Here’s what i like to do:

    “Hello, this is John”
    “Hi Mr. John”
    “Hi, how can I help you”
    “this is wells fargo and we’re calling about—-“
    then i break in and change my voice just a little and say
    “We’re not home right now. please leave a message after the beep….’Beeeeep'”
    “Mr. John, we were already talking and—“
    “beeeeeeeeep”
    “Mr. john, I know you’re ——“
    “Beeeeeeeeeep”
    click
    click

    fun times :)

  22. 99 1/2 Days says:

    I can’t see any comments…

  23. Hoot says:

    I would think Bank of America would have something better to do rather than hassle someone 4 days late on 1 bill from a customer that has been a good customer (relatively speaking) compared to other horror stories I’ve heard regarding credit card balances and lack of payment. Don’t they have another wrong house to foreclose on or something?

  24. lawnmowerdeth says:

    I remember 10-15 years ago, if you missed the due-date, you’d still have about 10 days of grace period before they’d call you delinquent and charge you the late fees.

    Then they all had to turn into greedy a-holes. Ooh, 1 minute past noon on the due date? $40, you scumbag non-payer!

  25. StrangeEmily says:

    I remember when my new prepaid cellphone’s new telephone number caused me to have lots of outsourced people calling me on behalf of Bank of America.
    I once called up Bank of America and said if we paid their persons debt in full, would the phone calls still keep comming in because we were not the people they were looking for… the agent replied with a simple…. “yes”.

  26. NydiaGeben says:

    Moral of story: don’t be late

  27. calchip says:

    Two thoughts:

    I’ve noticed a new trend with outsourcing customer service calls (inbound and outbound) to the Phillipines. I don’t know if it’s cultural, or the way the reps are trained (perhaps it’s one major call center company working for a half-dozen US companies), but I’ve noticed that the Phillipine call center reps are often extremely rude (more so than reps I’ve spoken to in India, Canada, and Mexico) and continually talk over me. A lot of the finance-related customer service calls I make seem to end up in the Phillipines recently. Perhaps the OP’s experience was similar to mine.

    Secondly, didn’t the CARD act limit maximum late payment fees to $25? Or was that some other fee?

    My guess is that the rep probably gets a small commission if s/he collects a payment or gets a firm commitment from the customer of a date and amount of a payment, and when she was unsuccessful, she just pulled the $75 figure out of her ass. I’ve not heard of a late fee for a card being that much.

  28. shadowboxer524 says:

    That’s the complete opposite of the experience I had with BoA when I was a few days late with a payment one time. I got a call, and I told the guy that I had initiated a transfer that day. He asked if I wanted to adjust my payment due date for the next month in order to avoid being late. I said that wasn’t necessary, and he told me to have a nice day.

  29. MountainCop says:

    My response would have been “Since you are calling from a blocked number, I cannot verify your call is legitimate, and I do not ever discuss personal or financial matters with unknown parties. This conversation ends now.” And then hang up immediately. Then dial whatever star number on your phone system does a call trace. If they call back within 15-20 minutes, do the same exact thing including the call trace. Then have the telephone company report it to your local law enforcement as harassment.

    THAT will get their attention.

    That being said – if you know you are going to be late on a payment, you really need to call them first and tell them. That demonstrates a level of responsibility on your end.

  30. StarVapor says:

    Banks…greed…crime…Really, what’s the difference?

  31. Chewy says:

    I agree and heartily endorse the posts that recommend never discussing personal information on an unsolicited or blocked origination call. If they ask you for personal information, hang up.

    No legitimate company will ask you for your SSN, DOB or other personal information when contacting you. If you think it MAY be legitimate, make them confirm they already have that info. When in doubt… hang up.

    That said, four days, forty days or one day late are all equally unacceptable. By asking BofA for credit, you agreed to specific terms and conditions. I don’t think “having a hard month financially” was mentioned. Nor does it mean they should treat you differently than anyone else who violated their promise to pay.

    The person you spoke to may have been rude, which is unacceptable, but collections agents are trained to be forceful in order to collect debts or at least get a binding promise to pay (all calls are recorded and your options may be reduced if you make a promise to pay and don’t follow through). They are not there to provide service. They are people trying to collect a debt that the debtor has not paid as agreed.

    Don’t expect hand outs after the fact. I don’t know about BofA, but most creditors will work with you IF you take the responsibility to call them ahead of time. Once you’re late, you are the one who has broken trust.