Citigroup and Chase both offered as a deal recently where we could transfer balances to our cards issued by them and get a low interest rate until the transferred balance was paid off. Due to either sloppiness or bank error, I managed to miss a monthly payment to both cards. How the two banks handled the missed payment is a lesson in good customer service vs. predatory lending.
(Concerning how I managed to miss the payments, GnuCash said I made them, but Citizens Bank online banking said I didn’t. I didn’t save the confirmation number from Citizens, something which I’ve sinced started doing, so I can’t prove that Citizens lost the payments, as opposed to me forgetting to click the “Confirm payment” button or something equally silly.)
Chase didn’t notify me about the missed payment. When I got my next statement, there was a late payment fee on it, which is reasonable, and they had jacked up my interest rate from the promotional rate to something like 25%. I called them on the phone and explained that I thought I’d made the missed payment and didn’t know how it could have been lost. I pointed out that I had never missed a payment before and had an excellent credit rating. I told them I felt it was perfectly reasonable for them to charge me a late fee, but given my excellent payment record, I didn’t think it was appropriate for them to jack up my interest rate, and I asked them to put it back where it had been before. They said no. I explained to them that if they didn’t, I was simply going to pay off the entire outstanding balance, and then instead of making 25% or even 4.99% (the promotional rate) on my balance, they’d be making nothing. They once again declined, and said that they could not even consider lowering the rate until I had made four consecutive months of on-time payments. I told them there was no way I was going to pay 25% on a large transferred balance for four months. They said there was nothing they could do. So, as promised, I paid off the balance.
Now contrast that with Citigroup…
Four days after the due date of the payment on the Citigroup card, someone from Citigroup called me out of the blue to ask when they’d been receiving the payment. He said that he was calling because given my excellent on-time payment record, it was surprising that I had missed a payment. I told him that according to my records I’d already made it, but that I would double-check. While still on the phone, I logged into Citizens Bank and confirmed that the payment wasn’t there. I told him I didn’t know what had happened, but I was going to go ahead and immediately send a payment for the total due on my new statement (i.e., the missed month plus the current month), which he gave me over the phone. I logged into the Citigroup site and sent the payment through there because that would take only a day, as opposed to a week for Citizens Bank.
When my statement arrived, there was a late payment fee on it, which I expected, but my interest rate remained at 1.99%, the promotional rate. Citigroup was smart enough to realize that if they were willing to give me that rate in the first place, it would be stupid for them to jack up the rate merely because I accidentally, and atypically, missed a single payment.
Which bank do you think I’m more likely to give business to in the future?