My 17 year old just received a credit card in the mail. She was enticed to fill out an application for a free t-shirt. I'm just curious as to why any credit card co would send a card to a minor and whether parents of minors are responsible for the bills they incur on the card?
This is the text from a post on the bayhouse forum. I tried to link to it, but I could not find it any longer. Actually this post was one of the most intriguing I had ever seen, so I archived it for personal reference. It is written by a supposed former FirstUSA phone rep. I now share it with you all if you hadn't seen it.
WHEN YOU CALL FIRSTUSA, I ANSWER THE PHONE...
or atleast I used too. After being a customer service rep with FIRSTUSA for approx. 3 months, I couldn't live with their "loan-sharking" practices they DEMANDED of their customers. On average, I answered 200 calls a day and 80% of my calls were enraged customers being "screwed" by FirstUSA. One day, I just up and left with a letter of resignation. The point of my message is to offer any inquiries about FirstUSA's money-making games and maybe a few tips (I hope I don't state the obvious to you). HERE GOES: (I wish I still had my training manuals because I would just download some of FirstUSA's regulations onto this site)
I. LATE FEES
A) MAILING YOUR REMITTENCE: FirstUSA processes millions of payments each month through huge sorting machines (in training we saw a short video of this process). From the time we ACTUALLY receive your payment in our warehouse to the time the payment posts to your account takes 5-7 days. If you decide to send your payment via certifed or air-mail, checks stapled/paperclipped to remittence stub, or enclose a letter with your payment, then you just added a few more days to your payment being posted to your account. WHY? because the sorting machine's conveyer belt is only wide enough for an envelope, an enclosed check/money order and a remittence stub; so, anything else must be sorted manually (shipping carton of air-mail payment, a staple, a paper clip, etc.). HERE'S THE CATCH...knowing that it will take 7-10 days for your mailed payment to post (2-3 days postal & 5-6 days to process), FirstUSA will wait and mail your bill 10 days before it's due, knowing that the odds of you mailing in your payment immediately the day you receive it is slim to none. That way, they get their late fee (MONEY! MONEY! MONEY!). I was told on break-time one day by a senior co-worker that legally a credit card company (i believe for those card companies based in Delaware) can hold sending your bill up until the 5th DAY before your payment is due--and don't think that they don't do that!!!!! Now you've got a late fee and finance charges being assessed on that daily!!!! When customers complain of this causal type of late fee, we couldn't justify with our withholding of sending your bill at the last minute or our lengthy sorting process, so we would just say it was a post-office issue and not our fault because "we don't have control over the postal system". SOLUTION: MAIL YOUR PAYMENT IN IMMEDIATELY (OR PAY VIA ON-LINE/OVER THE PHONE) and DO NOT ENCLOSE ANY ADDITIONAL ITEMS EXCEPT FOR YOUR CHECK/MONEYORDER AND REMITTENCE STUB IN A REGULAR ENVELOPE!!!
B) PAYING-OFF YOUR ACCOUNT: call and ask for your pay-off balance because you must account for the 7-10 days of daily finance charges compounding on your acct while its in the mail and being processed--OR ELSE, you'll still have a balance on your account and have to deal with late fees on a following bill.
TO CALCULATE FINANCE CHARGES:
1) DAILY FINANCE CHARGES (FC):
FC=APR/365 * ADB/100 * # DAYS IN BILLING CYCLE (OR # DAYS WORKING WITH)
EX. AVG. DAILY BALANCE OF $2000; APR 14.99% AND WANT TO ACCOUNT FOR THE MAX. 10 DAYS TAKES FOR FIRSTUSA TO POST YOUR PAYMENT:
FC=14.99/365days * $2000/100 * 10 days
so, pay-off balance (on day you call) would be $2008.22
2) CALCULATE MONTHLY FINANCE CHARGES:
FC= APR/12 * ADB/100
***NOTE: IF YOU WANT YOUR BALANCE TO DECREASE BY, SAY, $100 EACH MONTH, AND YOU WANT TO BEAT THE DAILY COMPOUNDING FINANCE CHARGES, then take your most recent bill's balance and calculate the finance charges using the above formula "calculating monthly finance charges" and add that finance charge to your $100 payment.
Ex. on a $2000 balance @ 14.99%
FC= 14.99/12 * $2000/100
SO, make a payment of $124.99. and repeat this calculation on your next bill'S balance because, in essence, your paying next months finance charges this month!! And your principle amt. is decreasing at a fixed amount ($100) !!!
I HOPE this tip wasn't stating the obvious or too confusing :)!!
II. OVERLIMIT FEES
A) FirstUSA allows some cardholders to go over their credit limit without pre-authorization (none of the customer service reps knew what cardholders could go over or by what %). Cardholders would call with the assumption that the card would decline when it reached the credit limit, but we "explained" that you could go over and your card wouldn't be declined as a courtesy to avoid cardholder's embarressment at the cashier counter. But, actually it was just a way for FirsUSA to get more money because, I believe, FirstUSA thinks that most people don't keep track of their balance on a daily basis and just leave it up to their "friendly" card company to do their cardholder's accounting. SOLUTION: BE AWARE OF YOUR DAILY BALANCE AND DON'T GET TOO CLOSE TO YOUR CREDIT LIMIT!!!!
B) Also, if at any point in the monthly cycle you are ONE DAY LATE--even if it's one day right in the middle of the cycle--you are assessed the overlimit fee.
c) Watch out for the double-whammy: late fee creating an over-limit fee. When I worked there, this combination totaled $58!! Plus, finance charges on top of that!!!
III. RAISING YOUR APR
A) If at any point your account was late twice within a 6 mo or 12 mo (I can't remember which), then your APR goes up. Even if your late fees were waived because of our error. I especially
"loved" when our loyal customers got this slap in the face and because we couldn't lower their APR, they chose to close their account. I would transfer them to our account-closing dept., knowing that the customer would be bribed by that dept. with a lower rate, but by that point the customer is so upset that they don't want our card anymore.
B) Also, watch those introductory rates because in just a few months a 3.99% could "shoot-up" to 19.99%!!!!!!
C) Also, ONE late payment during your introductory rate equals removal of that intro rate.
IV. Unauthorized charges
A) True, legally a card company must give the cardholder the ability to dispute an unauthorized charge, but usually the unauthorized charge is from one of our in-house telemarketers/companies. Here's how the unauthorized charge transpires: as you may know, card companies rent, trade, and sell your name, number, and address to companies "affiliated" with them. These companies call you and if they are an in-house they have the ability to charge to your acct. Now these are telemarketers, so usually they make commission and have been known to "slam" you by charging their product/service to your acct. so they can make their commission and meet their quotas. Luckily, we could remove that charge and forego the dispute process, but how deceptive and ILLEGAL!!! and good-luck getting the finance charges removed on that "slam".
B) As for JUNKMAIL offers enclosed with your bill,
Don't throw them away without first reading them!!! Some offers have been legally known to state (this isn't an exact quote) "if you don't check the refusal box and return it, then we assume you want the product/service and we'll charge it to your acct., immediately" Also, don't cash-in those junkmail checks giving you a dollar-amount credit to your account because by cashing those checks, you've just signed up for some useless service. And an added note, the customer service reps make a commission on any in-house products that we can sell or retain.
SOLUTION TO ALL THIS MESS: DEMAND your card company to have your name removed from our list and state, "I do not want my name/address/phone rented, traded, or sold to any in-house or out-of-house companies" and request a confirmation letter to be sent to you so you have it on file.
V. FIRSTUSA CLOSES YOUR ACCOUNT
A) the obvious reason would be if you were delinquent in your payments or didn't pay all together, but the following reason just sickens me: I have seen customers who have used their card consistently each month, but they pay their balance off and on-time each month to avoid finance charges. FirstUSA decides to close their account--unknowingly to the customer--because FirstUSA is not making any money off this account!!!! So, it's a catch-22--you need good credit to get their card, but they dismiss those that are good-paying cardholders.
VI. When you have a dispute
A) When you have a disputed charge or any problems with your account, LOOK OUT!!!! The only number you get is customer service. You want to speak to a supervisor, we'll take your name and number (our supervisors WOULD NOT intercept the call, nor did they have the knowledge or FirstUSA training to actually get on the phones to help customers!!!!!!!) and, if the supervisor feels like it, he/she will call you back within 48 hours. I've seen supervisors look at customer complaint forms and then just throw them away!!!! If you want to speak to the main departments that could directly resolve your problem, there is NO NUMBER that you can call; the customer service reps aren't even given any phone numbers, just an endless list of addresses!
B) Another option FirstUSA reps could use was to e-mail the complaint to the relevent department (faster than the customer mailing complaints to some vague address), but time and time again I had customers saying they exhausted both of these routes--e-mail & mail--with no luck and their was no way that I could override the problem because I had neither the authorization nor knowledge of how to remedy the problem. Sometimes I just wanted to kick the "tar" (keeping it clean) out of these departments because the resolution was so simple, but, yet, nothing was done!! SOLUTION: BE DILIGENT ON THE STATUS OF YOUR DISPUTE, KEEP DOCUMENTAION OF ALL PARTIES (DATES/FULL NAMES/TIME CALLED/STATUS/ETC.). HAVE THE EXPECTATION THAT WHEN THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH MY FIRSUSA ACCOUNT, IT WILL NOT BE RESOLVED BY THE NEXT BILL (Just for your own personal serenity). However, diligence will allow for customer service reps to ensure your not getting late fees, over limit fees, and additional finance charges while any investigating is taking place.
VII. Secret to Getting fees waived
A) Late fees/Overlimit fees
1) Play dumb (especially if you have only had one or two fees waived over an extened period of time 6-9 mo): "I never received my bill. Do you have my current/new/correct address?"
2) Remeber FirstUSA's last-minute mailing of your FirstUSA bill: "I sent my payment in on (use a date 7-10 days before your due date), so why haven't you received it!!!" or play dumb: "I sent my payment in on (use a date 2-5 days before your due date, I know the mail doesn't take that long to get there!!" or "I sent my payment via air-mail/certified mail so I know it got there on time!" Using these ignorance ploys (though, now you are fully knowledgeable) will be followed with the reps blah-blah-blah that "we don't have control over the postal system and you should mail your payment in 7-10 days before the due date, but just this once I'll waive the fee & any overlimit fee this may have caused you."
*******NOTE: FirstUSA reps keeps concise net-worked documentation of when you call, what you and the rep talked about, and what action/resolutions were done. So, don't use the same tactic too soon after this waiver (wait 5-6 mo between the exact same ploy).
2) FirstUSA keeps a running total for the last 24 months of how many fees & finance charges we've made off your account. If we've made money (my supervisor had told me it costs FirstUSA something like $120 to maintain your account)off of you for atleast the amount it costs FirstUSA to "maintain"--then state, "If you look at my account history &/or my revolving credit with a high APR, you'll see you've made a lot of money off of me, would you be willing to waive this late/overlimit fee for me?"
3) If all else fails, RAISE HELL!!, FirstUSA reps are NOT ALLOWED to disconnect (we were diligently & secretly monitored and scored on our performance) a call unless the customer is being verbally abusive and using lots of profanity. So get mad and go on-and-on, the rep will just get sick of hearing you that they'll waive the fee just to shut you up!! Keep in mind that I got 200 calls a day with approx. 80% of them being IRRATE customers, I starved for satisfied customers that didn't yell or get aggressive.
4) Finally, though FirstUSA keeps documentation of all your calls, if refused by the first rep, then HANG-UP and call-back odds are 99.9% certain that you'll get a different rep and maybe you can sweet talk/give a sob story and get the rep to waive the fee.
B) RE-AGING Your account
1) as you may know, re-aging is when they remove a late month(s) status on your credit history, as if turning back the hands of time. If you're able to succeed at getting the fee waived--esp. using the ignorance ploys of when you mailed in your payment--then ensure that your account gets re-aged. WHY? to ensure that your credit history shows that your account was not late (atleast for the relevent month on-hand) and to avoid FirstUSA's stupid policy that "late twice within the last 6 months equals a huge jump in your APR (19.99% to 22%(?) to 26.99%)" Also to avoid the removal of any low introductory rates.
VIII. MOST IMPORTANTLY
A) READ YOUR DISCLOSURE STATEMENT AND ANY NOTIFICATION OF CHANGES TO THAT DISCLOSURE STATEMENT!!!!!!!!! this lists all of FirstUSA's bullshit charges, fees, and everything they will try to do to profit off of you! Reps particularly liked to use this as a cop-out to avoid having to remedy your situation, "blah-blah-blah is stated very clearly in your disclosure statement (in the fine, fine, fine, little print), we advise all customers to read this very carefully."
****NOTE: We had to keep our "call-time" down to an average of I believe it was 2.5 minutes with each customer (or we were fired), so get to point when you call and the rep will have a more efficient ablility to get all the mess FirstUSA created for you resolved (or atleast make you think it was resolved.)
BOY, I didn't mean for this to be so long!!!!!!
But, I have been searching for helpful info. on credit cards because I recently had to have MBNA finance my Gateway computer and cringed because I knew they were either affiliated or have the same business practices as FirstUSA. I keep seeing complaint after complaint on-line about FirstUSA and I just wanted to validate all the grief FirstUSA/FirstCard/Chevy Chase cardholders have had to go through. And I wanted to offer some tips so that you could possibly end your nightmare with them and move to an "ethical" card (try a credit union's). I hope I've helped............
This reprint was published without permission of the bayhouse managment. Oh well...
Actually Barry the reason you couldn't find it on Bayhouse is because it was never there in the first place.
Rather you'll find it highlighted on the first page of Credit Infocenter http://www.creditinfocenter.com/discus/ under Diary of a Mad Credit Card Customer Service Rep, and you find the thread this was orignally written in http://www.creditinfocenter.com/discus/ in the Scams section under First USA, you'll also find YOUR response directly following Mercedes' post.
The way I figure it you probably found a link for this site on Bayhouse or was given it by Kristy and once you dumped the former never bothered returning there either.
How is first usa when it comes to debt negotiation. See, when I was a freshman in college a rep called me, I wasn't interested so I just started blouting out numbers. Well in college I had a low paying part time job, but these fools sent me a 7500.00 credit limit on the card. Well many nights went by and before you know it I maxed it out. The bad part is they closed my account, ran it up to 9500.00 with late charge and overlimit fees. So now they dropped me to o% interest and $48.00 a month- You can see I need to negotiate.
They are good about bringing the interest rate to 0% but the run your credit report all the time. Don't apply for any new credit, any at all, until your credit card is paid off. They will drop you from credit counseling.