Direct Merchants Bank

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by RichGuy, May 9, 2000.

  1. RichGuy

    RichGuy Guest

    My Fellow Netlanders:
    I am suddenly curious about Direct Merchants Bank. I couldn't have cared less about them until this afternoon, when I received their "preapproved" offer for up to $5000, which probably means $1000.
    I have a couple of questions about them. First, previous complaints seem to revolve around an application fee that is not refunded to declined applicants. Is there anything else wrong with them, in their daily business practices once you're approved? The fee is not an issue for me since my their offer to me doesn't ask for an appplication fee. Second, do they have a toll-free number, or are they impossible to contact? The only card issuer I know of without a toll-free number is Cross Country Bank. That is not very good company to be in.
    Any facts would be appreciated. I'm serious about this whole credit history business, and I continue to be amazed at some of the fascinating information you people have acquired over the years.
  2. Alex - Cre

    Alex - Cre Guest

    Hi Richguy:

    Yes they do have a toll free #, last time I checked it was 800-379-7999.
    You can click on the "Search" option of this board and type in "Direct Merchants Bank" and it will give you a lot of info on this company, most of it seems to be negative so be careful with this company.


    Free Credit Repair Information.
  3. Harry

    Harry Guest

  4. RichGuy

    RichGuy Guest

    Well, friends, I went to the web site and looked up Direct Merchants Bank. It made for pretty discouraging reading. However, that site also contains horror stories about Capital One, and their service to me has always been fine.
    The one issue that scares me witless is that of crediting payments two or three weeks late. The cardholder has virtually no recourse in such a case. I suspect many banks
    will pull this on a customer who looks vulnerable due to a spotty payment record. I suspect that even Citibank was doing that to me a couple of years ago, when I was paying late about half the time. The average time to process and credit my payments went from 3 or 4 days to 8 or 10 days. Once you become a source of extra fees for them, they find it hard to give up. They probably have some excuse such as,"we review all accounts that have been late before we credit the payment."
    Anyway, the problem went away as soon as I allowed 10 days instead of 3, and then built up such a good record that they didn't dare try such a stunt.
    This was with Citibank, which I consider a very honest bank. Imagine what could happen with a predatory bank that charges bogus fees and then waits for you to dispute them. I give up.
  5. Tom Moore

    Tom Moore Guest

    DMB bought 500,000 accounts from PNC bank last year. Although I had a perfect credit record with PNC, my card immediately went from 11.99% to 23%. I called the New York Times about this scam and they ran a cover story on Tues. March 2, 1999. Be careful!
  6. Darrell

    Darrell Guest

    Direct Merchants does NOT report to the bureaus unless you ask them to in writing. In at least one case, they reported incorrect info to the bureaus -- a wrong high balance -- and did not respond to a dispute that was filed with TransUnion.

    This caused TransUnion to delete a trade line with a perfect payment history.

    I'd stay away from this bank unless you don't care if the trade line is reported and plan to pay your balance in full each month. This is not a card that is kind to people who carry balances. Last I knew the interest rate was about 27 percent.
  7. lori

    lori Guest

    I have Direct Merchants Bank card and have no problem yet. I have about $1000 on it and my interest rate is 17.99%. Average. So far no problems and I have had it for at least 5 years.
  8. Mo

    Mo Guest

    I too have a DMB card, with $5K limit, average interest rate, etc (they also have a web site at For me, they credit payments in a timely fashion, and I have no problem with them at all. However......

    As Richguy talks about, there seems to be a wide variation in experiences of folks with the same card companies. Whether it's DMB, Providian, or whoever, there seems to be a group of people who get the bad treatment and a group who gets the good stuff. I honestly believe that there is different treatment for different cusotmers, based upon their probable (or predictive) response to predatory practices. Take a lender such as Providian who is known for its sub-prime portfolio, but also runs a prime operation also. IT does NOT stretch my imagination to think that perhaps a company doesn't handle payments on a sub-prime borrower in a manner as expeditiously as they would for a prime borrower.

    A profile of a sub-prime borrower probably predicts that s/he can't just "pay-off and close" an account when they get slapped with late fees, rate increases, etc. In other words they probably (predictively) don't have the resources to just bail out. In all probability, the prime borrower has a greater predictive chance of moving somewhere else immediately if s/he feels taken advantage of. I have no proof of any of this, but I'll bet it goes on.
  9. Direct Mer

    Direct Mer Guest

    I have had a Direct Merchants card for six months, and have some info for you.

    They have a web site at

    I use this site regularly to keep up with my account, and have used the customer inquiry site which I have found very satisfactory.

    I pay early, and check on the site to see if the check has been credited. They will credit the check, and THEN they will put an outstanding authorization charge against your account for about 10-12 days....withholding that amount of credit until the check clears.

    Then the outstanding authorization will drop off, and your unused credit line will go up by that amount.

    They credit your check on the day that it is received.

    I have used the customer service numbers and found the service people to be very courteous.

    I have not yet asked for an increase in my credit limit, and they have not applied one.
  10. RichGuy

    RichGuy Guest

    Thank you, Mo. This is the kind of thing we all need to think about. Strategy is of the utmost importance, especially for those with damaged credit.
  11. Steven Z

    Steven Z Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment


    While I do agree with your assessment your choice of Providian (while true having two categories of customers the majority being prime) is not a good one.

    For if you'll recall at the time (over a period of 2 years) there was a tremendous stream of complaints against Providian mainly on late fees caused by mail received after the due date but also payments not received where it was proven conclusively afterwards that these cheques/money orders had been cashed well before the due date. Now these complaints were being posted on every credit site by many individuals across the board. Basically Providian was ripping off everybody they could.

    In fact I can honestly say during this period Providian was considered a bigger ripoff than Cross Country (actually no surprise considering how much bigger and how many more customers it has). I can still remember an old poster named Warran weekly preaching his sermon on the wickedness of Providians ways.

    I have my suspicions that the Post Office was on the verge of suing Providian because they were sick and tired of taking the rap for Providians fraud. This would surely scare Providian more than any class action suit or potential investigation. Whereupon the mysterious software bug was invented and a paltry amount was set aside for those who could demonstrate they were ripped off.

    I suppose this in major part brought about the Aria division and its categorizing of cards. I wouldn't be surprised to find a different set policy for each level. Though they'll have to come up with more 'creative' way's of defrauding clients now that their "its the post office's fault" excuse is gone.

    Now lets take the case of First USA. Probably the best example of the ineffectiveness of sub-prime ripoff tactics on prime customers. Mass defections, huge loss of profits, major drop in its stock price. A vast number of class action suits by persons who have the money and the firm belief that they've been wronged and seek to garner justice to take it all the way.
  12. RichGuy

    RichGuy Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment

    Gee Steve,

    Just when I was starting to feel warm and fuzzy about my $1000 upgrade offer from Providian, you have to spoil it with the truth.

    Actually, I should have known better. I worked at Providian in California as a file clerk about 10 years ago. At the time, their scam was telemarketing those cash advances, sometimes sending them out even without approval since they got paid commissions for this. They would go out for margaritas as a reward, too. All this time, interest was accruing at 21.9% with no grace period.

    I got to hear their collectors in action over the phone, too. There couldn't be a nastier bunch of people this side of Janet Reno.

    Anyway, this month I started getting my checks returned to me by my checking bank.
    It will prove interesting to compare the dates of deposit with the dates my payments were posted. It always takes at least a week, longer than any other card. That's why I always mail the payment two weeks ahead of time. I'm sure they predict that I'll let down my guard one of these months and only get it in two days early. Then, POW! Late fees, overlimit fees, who knows what else? Thanks again Steve, you brought me back to earth and ruined my evening.
  13. Mo

    Mo Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment

    Steve -everything you say about Providian is, of course, true. But even here, there is a strange gap in what happens. I first got Providian almost 5 years ago as a secured card. I still have it, and over the years it's changed into a gold with an $11K credit line (the first couple of increases I had to "buy"). But I've gotten the interest rate reduced, and havn't bought an increase in a long time. I've never had even a semblance of a payment posting problem (payments have gone to New HAmpshire, San Francisco, Los Angles), and customer service has always been excellent to me. The question is: Am I just a plain old aberration (very possible of course)? Or with the track record I've built with them, have I been transmogrified into a prime customer in their eyes, whom they now treat differently than the person I was when I got the secured card back then? Don't know.

    Rich Guy also makes another excellent point about getting his checks back from the bank. It is something that everyone who has credit issues should do. It costs you an extra buck or so per month? When it comes to proving dates of cashing, etc, nothing beats the original with all its endorsements, codes, date stamps, etc. As anyone who has ever gotten a copy from their micro-fiched (digitized these days I guess) files at the bank, the copy is quite often so horrible as to be absolutely useless. On top of that, you have to wait 4 weeks for it to arrive, and in the meantime you have to call 8 times to make them do it. AND they charge you a stupid rate of like $5 to get it. For the extra one or two bucks per month, it is a very wise move.
  14. rc

    rc Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment

    I don't think Providian has changed. I had there card since Dec99 and when I mail a payment I check my account for the posting date. My May payment was due on May 8( payment mailed on Apr 27. So i called on Momday morning to see if the check had posted
    and it had not. I spoke with a customer rep and he said the late payemnt fee would be waived. Providian blamed it on the post office or bad weather. I called on Tuesday and somehow they found my payment and it posted on May 8, on time. But the weird thing is it cleared my bank on May 9.
    Direct Merchant's bank is even worse payment posted and cleared my bank on the same day.

    But unlike everyone else on this board my Cross Country bank payments are posted within 4 days. i don't understand that and I've had that account the longest,15 months.
  15. Joan

    Joan Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment

    I never has a probelm with Providian posting my payments but I have always sent them money orders, but this month I sent them a check on 5/9/00 payment due on 5/19 I will see if sending them a check with affect them of posting my payment on time. I decline CCB application after I gave the rep some information I hope that is the end of that I do not want a CCB credit card, I'm trying to rebuild my credit not destroy it.
  16. Steven Z

    Steven Z Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment


    While I wouldn't go so far as to say you are an aberration rather consider the size of the Providian customer base and remember even Crooks Country Bank with a much smaller base doesn't screw everybody.

    Of course the big difference between the two and I can throw in banks such as Direct Merchants, First Premiere, First Bank of Marin etc. etc. is that Providian has a prime base, in fact that is 90% of their customers and they screwed them too.

    It is my opinion that they learned their lesson (the same lesson First USA is learning the hard way right now) and are laying off the prime customers and sticking it to the sub-primers who neither have the money or will to fight back.

    Now if I were stuck with a sub-prime card and I couldn't make online payments I would make sure that every last payment was sent certified, return receipt requested, naturally makeing certain that my cheques were returned from the bank. Thus when ripoff bank attempts their fraudulent tricks and lies about the cheque not having been received with a written script response "take it up with the post office" I'll respond both voice to the CR and in a certified letter to their legal department something along the lines of

    "Yes I'll take my return receipt that confirms you received and signed for my letter XX days before the due date and have the post office confirm it with their copy and then bring my returned cashed cheque which conclusively demonstrates that you cashed it XX days before the due date to my bank which will confirm this with their copy and then all three of us (myself, post office and bank) will sue you for willful fraud and making false statements"

    if CCB I would add

    "Then we'll see how much your company likes to have another 1 or 3 more default judgements added to its credit file but then considering you work for a criminal organisation that has lost every single last case in court all of which were for fraudulent practises you must be used to it."
  17. bg

    bg Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment

    Glad you blew CCB off, as for rc,CCB just hasn't got to you yet, They didn't get me
    for the first 2 years, then bam, bam, thank you mam all in one month. I did a pay by phone and the wonderful CS crook entered
    1 no. wrong so I got hit with a returned check charge, and a late payment charge
    because the check came back as no such account. On top of that my rate went up.
    I disputed it. To my surprise they admitted it was their error. But it took 4 months for them to clear it up, They took the 2 fees offs, but said they couldn't do anything about the rate increase because their computer wouldn't let them change it. What a crock. anyway they took the late fee and the return fee off, but the computer accidently
    added 1 back on. So know we have to dispute another fee. They admit it was their error again. But are having trouble getting the computer to delete it. and again the rate
    goes up due the the fee that is their error.
    It just gets worse from their. This is to long as is. But my rate went up almost 10%,
    and cost me almost $200 in bogus fees. I just
    recently closed the account and am in the process of sending the del banking comm. all
    information on these crooks. Mind you through this all I was never late and always paid twice the min. and still got shafted.
    If only I knew about this board b-4 I opened
    that account. So rc beware.
  18. J. Edgar

    J. Edgar Well-Known Member

    RE: Differing Treatment

    The Fair Credit Billing Act requires payments to be posted to an account within 24 hours of it being 'received' by a creditor. If you compare the date the your check was deposited and the posting date on you statement and it's more than 1 day, they have violated the law.

    Both Providian and First USA got caught with their pants down on this one as people were getting pissed off and sending their payments certified mail, return receipt, showing the date of delivery and comparing it to the posting date shown on their statement. In many cases it was taking more than a week from when they physically received the payment to having it posted to the account.

    Incidentally, most big creditors use a 'lock box' service and the payments are processed by a third-party contractor using automated equipment. That's why they make the big fuss about using the specific envelope that comes in your bill and enclosing the stub off of your statement.
  19. Len

    Len Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment

    Same here, bg. It took a couple of years, but Cross Country screwed me big time and it took seven months in hell to get rid of them. To those who think they're immune, lots of luck. With Cross Country, you'll need it.
  20. Jimbo

    Jimbo Guest

    RE: Differing Treatment

    Very true about outside vendors. In addition, some of the creditors I've worked for seem to have ongoing problems with the payment centers creditng payments within a resonable period. I was told than it was reasonable to expect five to seven day delays for in-state payments and seven to ten for out-of-state payments to be processed. During heavy mailing periods (holidays, tax time, etc.) it was even longer.

    After being treated like a piece of dirt myself by sub-prime lenders, I have little doubt they engage in the practices outlined herein.

    The day where I can mail these crappy companies their crummy cards back can't come soon enough. For now, I am using them as much as they use me.

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