Alyssa had a perfect credit score. Once. Not too long ago. Before Capital One. She has a card for her small business, and made a small charge around the time that her baby was born. She didn’t receive a statement from Capital One, didn’t remember that there was a charge in the fog of new-mom hormones and things to do, and didn’t pay the nonexistent bill. Months of unpaid bills caused a 200-point drop in her credit score, just as she happened to be applying for a mortgage. Now that one unpaid bill she never got will cost her thousands of dollars.
She wrote this open letter to Capital One, and sent it to us.
To Whom It May Concern (Hopefully, it isn’t Peggy at the north pole),
For over five years I was a loyal customer to your business credit card. I paid off my balances on-time, I never had a late payment. I’ve also had stellar credit, over 800.
Well, that is until a few months ago when ironically, I decided to apply for a mortgage. This is when all the on-time payments I made through the years should culminate in rewarding the responsibility I have shown that indicates I am worthy of an excellent credit score. This of course really matters when making a large purchase, you know….like a house. It matters. It matters a lot.
My mortgage officer informed me that my score just dropped 200 points because of a certain charge on my Capital One credit card that hadn’t been paid since February and generated over $130 in late fees. I was aghast. There had to be some kind of error!? I had no idea what caused these fees. So, I called customer service to see what the deal was.
Turns out right around February, I made a $17 charge on the credit card. Coincidentally, that was just about the time I was giving birth to my second child. I don’t even remember what the charge was for. Capital One never sent me single bill or email notice that I had a payment due. And since I was a little busy, and thought my credit card balance was zero I didn’t get around to checking my account balance. Oops. Turns out, that little charge multiplied when I didn’t pay it off, and each month it increased until it was over $130. Still—never received even a single bill or email notice with this vital information that has downgraded my credit score. Guess you were too busy creating ads and I was wondering what was in my wallet!
I contacted your company and explained I would be happy to pay and wondered if you could cut me some slack since I had never been late before and hadn’t been notified with a single bill, statement, email, notification—-nothing!! The customer service representative told me in a chipper voice that she could close my account and credit it back to me. I was a little confused as to why you wouldn’t try to retain my business at all, but said sure, close the account. Because this whole issue is new to me, I thought that meant things would be fine.
Think again. All it meant was you, Capital One issued me a letter saying my account was now zero and it was closed. It was still reported to the Credit Bureaus as late and that did nothing to help my credit score (aka get me a better rate on my 30 year mortgage). I again tried calling to see if I could the incident removed from the credit bureau. They then issued me another letter saying they investigated the incident and that yes indeed I was behind on my payment and it was reported to the credit bureau accurately. Gee thanks, Capital One that helped so much.
The mortgage officer I was working with used a credit rapid recovery service to try and temporarily get my score raised. In order for that to work I needed some proof that the late fees were made in error. In other words prove I wasn’t a dead beat. So again, third time is hopefully a charm to Capitol One’s customer service department. I was almost in tears as I pleaded with the poor customer service employee who did seem to empathize.
“It’s $17 and could mean thousands of dollars difference, help me, please,” I begged.
I asked if I could see a copy of the letter you (Capital One) would send to the credit bureau to see if that would help with my rapid rescore. Unfortunately, it would take at least 30 days for you to issue a letter and even then, the letter probably wouldn’t help because it wouldn’t state anything about making an error, just that you waived my fees and closed the account. The service rep said I could send a request to Capitol One’s Credit Dispute Bureau (which of course has no phone number). Essentially, Capitol One washed their hands of that business.As far as you were concerned, I was still at fault. I was an online statement customer so, in your eyes I should have known to login and check my bill.
Fact: The original charge was seventeen dollars. Yes I made a mistake, but should I pay thousands of dollars for it and a higher interest rate because of one stupid mistake. Would you? Think about it. Where is the common sense? All the credit bureau will see is someone who didn’t pay off her credit dard for several months and then racked up late fees. For all they know, it could have been thousands of dollars. Do they care about my history? The fact that I’m on time every other month? The fact that I didn’t get a bill until after I called? The fact that I had a newborn, put our house on the market for sale and was in the process of buying a new one? The fact that my husband and I pay our taxes, have good careers, bank accounts and supposedly contribute to American vitality?
Do you even care?
Now I get it. Why there is so much anger and confusion behind our financial system. I have never associated myself with the Occupy Movement and I still bank with the biggies but suddenly it all seems more relevant. I don’t know what the answer is. I’m not out to be a martyr. All I know is that because of SEVENTEEN DOLLARS and a glitch on my part, I will be paying thousands of more dollars on my mortgage. And it doesn’t just impact my mortgage. If I want to apply for another credit card my interest rate will be higher. Same as a car loan. For as much as seven years. And that just makes me mad.
I will no longer be banking with you Capital One.
It’s horrible and frustrating, but that’s the way that credit works. One slip-up paying your bill means thousands of dollars in additional mortgage interest.