banks ARE problems today

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by CB, Aug 28, 2000.

  1. CB

    CB Guest

    Monday, 28 August 2000
    Ringing off the hook
    NW Side couple irate at telemarketer's tactics

    Chris Richards / Staff
    Roberta Mandell is fed up with telemarketers.

    By David Wichner

    Telemarketing calls can be annoying, especially when the same company calls twice after being told to buzz off.

    But 40 calls in less than four days from the same credit-card company in Las Vegas drove Northwest Side residents Roberta and Michael Mandell to seek help under a little-known federal law that penalizes abusive sales callers.

    "I really felt victimized," Roberta Mandell said of her experience with First National Bank of Marin, which was pitching a "partially secured" credit-card deal for people trying to rebuild their credit.

    Now, the couple is considering suing under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which allows any consumer to recover damages for harassment by telemarketers.

    The bank has denied any wrongdoing and has promised to investigate the phone calls.

    But Mandell said she was treated rudely by the company and wants to make sure its representatives don't harass anyone else.

    She said the problems started in June, when they responded to a mail solicitation for a credit card aimed at people trying to rebuild their credit.

    They sent a check for the $49 annual fee to the bank, and the check was cashed in July.

    But on Aug. 14, Mandell said, a woman from Bank of Marin called and said she needed permission to charge their account - for a card that never arrived - $200 as a security deposit, plus a membership fee of $50.

    The Mandells, who were both on the phone with the bank, said they had seen no notice of such charges on the credit-card application, and the bank's telemarketers hadn't mentioned other fees.

    But soon after the Mandells hung up after opting out of the deal, the calls began from Bank of Marin telemarketers.

    The couple got 15 calls that Monday, some as little as 10 minutes apart, from people who gave different first names. Over the next three days, the Mandells documented 25 more calls, and they had to take their phone off the hook to get some peace.

    After the sixth call, Roberta Mandell told the callers they were violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

    She had seen details of the law in a magazine a few weeks earlier. It allows consumers to invoke its provisions to stop harassing calls and sue for damages of up to $500 for each violation.

    Finally, Roberta called the company to demand the calls be stopped.

    She spoke with a man who identified himself as the company president. He laughed at the couple's plight and insulted her with a profanity, she said.

    Outraged, Roberta contacted the Nevada Attorney General's Office and was told that the agency had numerous complaints against the company.

    In a written response to a Star reporter's queries, the First National Bank of Marin denied any wrongdoing.

    "Though we make every effort to explain the terms and conditions via oral and written communications, sometimes people just don't fully understand all the fundamentals of the program," the statement said.

    The bank said it clearly and fully disclosed terms of the offer on the back of a letter the Mandells received and on their application.

    The bank said it is exploring technical problems that may have led to the repeated calls, including "problems with the automatic dialer," and suggested some of the calls may have been to resolve the problem.

    "We are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything we can to determine what course of action needs to be taken to resolve this matter as quickly as possible," the bank's statement said.

    The same day a reporter reached a Bank of Marin official and was promised a response, another bank representative called the Mandells and promised to refund their money.

    Roberta said she still is considering filing the lawsuit.

    Though the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission can investigate complaints under the law, it is a club mainly designed for use by consumers.

    The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was recently used successfully by a Californian plagued by calls from America Online Inc.

    Gerry Standefer of Mentone, Calif., was awarded $5,000 in small-claims court in July after suing under the law, The Washington Post reported. Standefer got 15 calls from AOL after invoking the law in conversations and a letter to the company.

    Meanwhile, the Bank of Marin's credit-card offer has prompted numerous consumer complaints.

    The Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada reported 250 complaints against the Bank of Marin and an unsatisfactory record. The Nevada Consumer Affairs Division also has received numerous inquiries and complaints against the bank.

    And in a federal class-action lawsuit filed against the Bank of Marin in Los Angeles last month, lawyers for an Alabama woman allege the company has failed to adequately disclose fees and terms of the cards.

    Like the Mandells, Patsy Mager of Killen, Ala., was offered a secured credit card with a $300 limit. But she was charged a deposit of $200 and fees totaling $95, leaving just $5 in available credit.

  2. Steven Z

    Steven Z Guest

    RE: You'll get no argument out

    So what else is new :)

    But seriously, I've commented on many occasions that they along with Merrick were the 2nd and 3rd worst sub sub-prime "banks" (still way waaaaaaaaay above Crooks Country Bank) out there and to not go near this scam operation.

    Hey Anthony care to defend this scum banks' "perceived" illegal, immoral conduct.

Share This Page