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Chase raises minimum payment: “premeditated” coercion

How does one demonstrate that Chase raised its minimum payment as a premeditated act of coercion, designed to enable a blatant campaign to switch consumers to higher rates (or otherwise place the account holder at a severe disadvantage)?  Before addressing this subject, let’s briefly review the term, “premeditation,” which is “characterized by fully conscious willful intent and a measure of forethought and planning.”  In common usage, the term premeditation is often used as an adjective to explain murder (differentiating between plotting and scheming in advance as compared to acts committed in the heat of the moment, when a perpetrator was enraged, for instance).  As it relates to this discussion, I am going to produce evidence (right before our eyes, all along, I might add), that Chase’s plot to trap customers through deceptive marketing practices is easily discerned by looking at its own statements in publicly disclosed forums.  In particular, I will refer you to testimony and statements given to members of the media. 

Now, if one knows anything about how spokespersons operate, then it is easy to understand that they don’t just blurt out anything that comes to the tip of their tongue when they are questioned in the media.  If caught off guard by a reporter, just like smart lawyers, they always have a ready answer: “No comment.”  The same applies to those sly executives who deliver testimony before Congress.  They have a cadre of speech writers and lawyers writing and going over their scripted messages, beforehand.  You can bet your sweet bippy on that!  Otherwise, there are other phrases besides “No comment” (hard to use that one before Congressional representatives), which include, “I don’t know,” “I don’t recall,” or “I’ll have my people check and get back to your people, on that.”

Look at the options that were laid out for account holders (who are being coerced):

Pay a large balance, supposedly at a “fixed rate” for the “life of the balance” in a lump sum, on very short notice (this is known in technical terms as a “demand note“);

pay an increased monthly “finance charge,” whether or not the account carries a balance! (and I think Chase screwed up by calling the fee a “finance charge” — what it actually is — instead of dreaming up some other name for a fee, because the use of the term, “finance charge,” proves beyond all doubt that the “fixed rate” was not fixed after all, thereby demonstrating that no matter what, Chase did lie to consumers);

maintain their current minimum payments in exchange for giving up their promotional rates(as originally reported by two Wall Street Journal writers, quoting Chase spokesperson Stephanie Jacobson);

So where’s the proof (beyond the aforementioned screw-up on the part of Chase in drafting its new fine print)?

The statement, “customers cannot opt out of the new terms,” is the “smoking gun.”  Chase executives and spokespersons, who in stepping on one another’s stories before different audiences, gave themselves away.   You see, previously delivered testimony before Congress (presented to support the argument that regulation is not necessary), claimed that if a customer got into trouble, Chase would work with that customer.  The exact words in the transcript were:

“[Chase would] provide that customer with an ‘opt out’ option. This means that the customer may reject any change in terms, close their account, and pay off the balance under their existing terms” (Carter Franke, page 2). 

The reality of the limited options provided in the change in terms notice under discussion here, as compared to the testimony, reflects two completely different scenarios for account holders, clearly demonstrating both misrepresentation and premeditation.  Chase planned to promise one thing, and deliver another (this is otherwise known as a deceptive marketing practice, but you may call it digusting, enethical, unfair, loathesome, or something else nastier in venues designed for more raucus audiences, elsewhere than on this site).  Yes, Chase did premeditatively decide to set you up, and all the while it was promising Congress that it would “deal with them [customers] fairly and responsibly.