US Bank Is A Liar

Sick of paying annual fees, Steve wanted to get out his NWA WorldPerks Visa Signature Card he had going on with US Bank.

In August, Steve did battle with the retention consultant, who ended up offering to waive the annual fee. Steve gladly accepted.

Imagine Steve’s surprise when he opened his bill this month and found… an annual fee charge!

When he called back, the new rep said there was “no way” that the first guy could have waived the fee and that Steve had “no proof” that US Bank ever said that. (This is one of the reasons we encourage people to record their customer service calls.)
The second rep went on to say that the only way for Steve to not have an annual fee was to cancel his account entirely. Unhappy with the bank’s duplicity and wanting nothing more to do with them, Steve canceled.

Wow, lying to keep from cancelling people’s accounts? Double-talking retention departments? Maybe all the downsized AOL retention consultants went to work for US Bank.

Steve’s letter, inside.


    I just wanted to share with you an issue I experienced a few minutes ago with US Bank and the NWA WorldPerks Visa Signature Visa.

    As you probably know, this particular credit card offers holders one NWA (Northwest Airlines) frequent flyer mile per dollar charged. The regular use of this card, and it’s general payment each month has lead to my earning quite a few frequent flyer miles at the cost of essentially only the $90/year annual fee.

    Not wishing to continue paying $90/year and with the annual renewal date coming up in November, I made a point of paying off the card at the end of July, 2006. Then, on August 2nd, 2006 after confirming that the account reflected a balance of $0, I called to cancel the account.

    Upon speaking with a customer service person and informing them of my request to close the account I was transfered to someone who I’ll call a customer retention specialist for the actual closing of the account. This person asked the standard questions about why I was closing the account in a generally friendly tone. When I informed them that I no longer wished to hold a credit card with an annual fee, I was first offered a lower fee card, and then the option to maintain the account but to have the annual fee waived. I accepted this offer, figuring that I could simply continue using the card as before to earn some frequent flyer miles, all while not paying the annual fee.

    Now, it’s the fifth of October and I’ve noticed a charge on the account of US$90. Figuring that there would possibly be a credit in a day or two for this $90 (as I was promised) I waited a few days to see what would happen. Seeing no credit I called customer service to inquire as to why.

    The first customer service person I spoke with informed me that it’s not possible to waive the annual fee, and he didn’t know why someone might promise me such a waiver. So, of course, I requested to speak to someone who could inform me of this. That’s when I was transfered to Josh, at extension 88114.

    Josh informed me that the annual fee is completely unwaivable and he has “no reason to believe” that any customer service person would have made me such a promise. He did confirm that I called on August 2nd, that the balance on the account was $0 around that time (August 4th was the date he could see), and that substantial payments were made a few days before I called. However, he continued to imply that I was lying, repeatedly telling me that he has “no reason to believe” me.

    During this conversation with Josh he informed me that the only way the annual fee would be waived is if I were to cancel the card within the next few days. I thanked him for the information and informed him that I’ll think about canceling the account and call back.

    After taking a few moments to think about this all I decided to cancel the account. Calling back I was successfully transfered directly to Josh (again, at extension 88114) who remembered me from the conversation a few minutes prior.

    He seemed to have no problem canceling the account and even promised to send a letter of confirmation which, I was told, should arrive within a week or so. I was also sure to obtain the address to which payments could be sent that I can close all business with US Bank as soon as possible.

    After the especially poor experience I’ve had with US Bank, from the customer retention person’s lack of follow-through on the promise which kept me with the company to Josh’s repeated insistences that I was lying to him, I’m rather thankful that I will soon be finished dealing with this company. Of course this will only be true so long as Josh has more follow-through on his promise to close the account than the customer retention person did at keeping a customer.

    -Steve V.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. timmus says:

    You guys have got to keep a static list of all the companies that are in trouble with Consumerist readers. This story is just going to scroll off the front page in a day or two. The tags are a great start, but it’s not really a selling point of the site.

  2. FLConsumer says:

    There’s no reason to pay an annual fee for a Visa Signature card. I know for a fact that I pay $0/year on my Wachovia Visa Sig. card. Call around and I’m sure you can find a bank which is far more interested in your business than USeless Bank was.

  3. tedonion says:

    Always always record your calls. Of course retention department people will lie to get you to stay, they will get fired if they don’t lie!

    Steve, take a couple of shots of bourbon, write down what happened with all the detail you can remember, and start complaining! FTC, Attorney General, BBB…

    It is doubtful it will get you anywhere, but it sure is fun to complain!

  4. misskaz says:

    I was a holder of a US Bank checking account and overdraft line of credit (tied to a credit card) until about 6 months ago. I had several relatively minor customer service issues with them (although never at the branch – the people at my local branch were always helpful). The final straw was when I was out of town and managed to find a US Bank branded ATM, and use it to withdraw some money. Said US Bank right on the receipt. Yet, it also said it would charge me a fee… I accepted since it was the only ATM around, assuming I could just call and get it reversed.

    When I called, receipt in hand, the rep very pleasantly told me that there was no way she could reverse the fee. She said that the ATM had been sold out of their network, and whomever they sold it to must not have changed out the receipts. I pleaded for some sanity – it’s just a couple bucks, I’m a long time customer in good standing – but she stood firm. To me, that said my business wasn’t worth $3 to them. So within a week I had cancelled my checking account and moved to USAA, who actually refunds my ATM fees, no matter what ATM I use!

  5. thrillhouse says:

    “Wow, lying to keep from cancelling people’s accounts? Double-talking retention departments?”

    All in a days work. These people are scum. Quit playing thier games.

    Even still, if you must deal with them, get everything in writing. “no proof” is right. He has nothing, and they are not obligated to honor it. The response from the second CSR is not uncommon. They pull this crap day in and day out. The name of the bank doesn’t matter, the song remains the same.

    If you think these companies are your friend, then you are severly kidding yourself.

  6. formergr says:

    [b]FLConsumer[/b], as stated in the letter, the reason he had a Visa Signature card with an annual fee was to get the mile/dollar spent FF miles on Northwest Airlines. I have a similar card with United Airlines, and because I put all my business travel expenses on it, I’ve received tens of thousands free miles for my personal use.

  7. c0nsumer says:

    Hey there, this is me / Steve V. As mentioned above, yes, I mostly had the card just to get Frequent Flyer miles. Also, my understanding of Michigan law prohibits my recording of phone conversations without permission from both parties. I’m checking into this further, though.

    With regards to everything else, this left such a bad taste in my mouth that I’m likely to move from my bank (whom I’m happy with) to a Credit Union for everything.

    Also, a version of that letter very similar to the one seen above (but better written) was sent to NWA’s customer relations, US Bank itself, and the State of Michigan Attorney General. A general complaint was filed with the FTC.

    Thus far the only response I’ve received was from US Bank which says:

    “Thank you for contacting U.S. Bancorp Service Center, Inc. via our website. This message is confirmation that your request has been received.

    We are sorry to hear of the service that was provided to you. We have valued your relationship per your request have closed your account.

    If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact us again.”

    And yes, that’s a complete quote.

  8. tjrchicago says:

    Here’s what I want to know about recording a call: I’m in Illinois which requires both parties to know the call is being recorded. If I call a CC company and hear the typical “This call may be recorded for training/QA purposes”, doesn’t this constitute both parties knowing the call is being recorded? I don’t think the law states that I have to tell them _I_ am recording the call as well, just that both parties must know the call is being recorded.

    Is this right?

  9. asai47 says:

    I had a US BAnk NWA visa card. I did sign up because of an offer of free companion ticket. Afer several months of calling to schedule a flight, I was told it was not available and if it was, a set amount of at least $586 from NYC to ONT. I argued with them several times and up to now to no avail. Buying a ticket for one passenger was $586 and the companion free, even though the online price ranges from $200 to $300 dollars. My deadline to use this ticket expires in three months, and have not been able to use it. Beware of accepting offers with free stuff!!

    Anna Sai

  10. Paul says:

    tjrchicago: You’re looking at it the wrong way.

    The word “may” has more than one definition. One implies a possiblity (the call might be recorded) and the other grants permission (you may record this call.)

    Just record that bit of the conversation, and you have them on tape using a phrase which any reasonable person could interpret to mean you had permission to do so. If they say “this call may be recorded for quality assurance,” then make sure you only record it to assure yourself quality service.

  11. critterlover723 says:

    I had a similar experience when trying to cancel my Discover Card. You see, I was offered by them Zero finance charges for 9 months if I transferred any balance to them from another card. I asked if this would be effective immediately, and the rep said “Yes.” So I did that. And, of course, in my first bill from them, I was charged a finance charge.

    I called Discover to complain, and THAT rep told me that the zero finance charge would only be effective after 12/19, and I had transferred the balance from another card on 12/18. How convenient for them!!

    I promptly paid off the card in full on their Web Site, and the next day I called them to cancel my account. When, of course, I was transferred to a retention rep, I told him what had transpired, accused them of deceipt, and told him to cancel my account. He promptly apologized for the first rep not telling me of the effective date, offerred me tons of benefits including $ back for my charges, all of which I declined.

    Rather than bore you with the details of this long conversation, which was scarily similar to that poor fellow who tried to cancel his AOL, suffice it to say I was unsuccessful in cancelling my card. If this happens to you, here is what you do (it finally worked for me):

    1. Cut up the card and mail it back to them with a signed letter canceling the account. Make note of their address (it’s important for Step 2 below).

    2. Mark all mail correspondence you receive from them “Return to Sender” and drop it in the mailbox, unopened.

    3. Add their email address to your “Blocked Senders” list.

    Ta-Da! It took about 6 months for me to stop receiving any mail or phone calls from them, so be patient. It was worth it!

  12. c0nsumer says:

    As a follow-up to this all, the account has been closed for a few days now, and the $90 annual fee has been credited back to my account. As soon as the final balance is paid on the account all of my business with US Bank should be concluded.

  13. njacoboski says:

    You would not believe all the problems I have had with US Bank! I am not surprised that I found someone else with a similar problem. US Bank promised me a line of credit for $500 that was considered “overdraft protection”, well…I overdrafted less than $20.00 and rceived $186.00 in overdraft fees. THAT IS CRAZY! I contacted the completely incompetent customer service reps at 1800USBANKS and they told me that the acccount that was set up was a direct deposit advance program and did not cover overdraft protection. Then they went on to ad that there is no reason to believe that anyone at US BANK would have misinformed me about this. They said that I was irresponsible and needed to keep track of my money more wisely. They refused to give me my money back, as well as, continued to take absolutely no responsibility for their mistake. Now I am out money and feel that I have been seriously scammed!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I got a US Bank NWA Visa card and used it to charge $500.00 worth of merchandise thus earning me 20,000 flyer points. This was in March 2009 it is not June and I am still trying to get them to credit my 20,000 points. Now they say 8 to 10 weeks this is not acceptable . I think they are trying their best to get out of it.