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Assurances given to account holders who are corresponding with Chase Executive Offices, even in writing, should not be trusted

This is an update to my ongoing discussions regarding the certified letter that I sent to Gordon Smith (Chase Card Services CEO) on December 3, 2008 — a day or so after I received the nasty little change in terms notice that was sent to me by Chase.  I received a letter from Chase Executive Offices in response  a few days ago.  Chase’s reply ignored a key point that I made in my December 3, 2008 letter, which was this: I hold in my possession even earlier correspondence from Chase Executive Offices (from October, 2006), which assured me that the 3.99% “fixed rate” would remain fixed unless I went over the limit or missed a payment (and I’ve done neither)*; however, I have been reading the news about sudden, “surprise” reductions in credit lines that make customers go over-limit, but thus far, I’m figuring that such an action would be the next trick that Chase might pull out of its tool kit, to make sure that it ensnares its customer (victim), one way or another (card issuers have also been playing games by changing due dates, when those dates had been on a regular schedule, previously).  

The gist of the current response from Chase was that it would be willing to work with me on the same basis that has been widely circulated on the Internet.  Mainly, Chase would keep my minimum payments where they are presently (at 2% of the balance), and waive the $10/month fee (that fee was identified as a “finance charge” in the change in terms notice), if I agreed to a new 7.99% interest rate.  If I were to buckle under and do so, this would double my present interest rate (something that Chase executives could really celebrate). 

Putting it all together:

Chase conveniently ignored its own assurances to me on its own Executive Offices letterhead (October 2006);

Chase ignored the other points I raised about “opt outs” (stated as a means for treating customers “fairly” in testimony before Congress);

“3.99% fixed” is still not the same as 3.99% plus an additional “finance charge” of $10/month;

Therefore, the documentation trail clearly establishes that I was (and am) well within my rights to assert that Chase lied before Congress, and lied to me.

Obviously, any statements or assurances given to account holders who are corresponding with Chase Executive Offices, even in writing, should not be trusted.  I’ll give Chase this much, its executives have got tremendous moxie, treating customers this way while accepting “bail out” money.  I also find myself wondering why Chase is still marketing the “Freedom Card” (with a $50 sign-up bonus at the time of this writing) while it is concurrently trashing that product’s established customer base, including many people, who like me, have paid responsibly and on time, honoring our end of the borrowing relationship.  

How I do I know that so many of these account holders have been honoring their obligations thus far?  Simple: if account holders had not been doing so, Chase would have already imposed an even more usurious 30-something percent rate on those customers.  No, this evil change in terms notice was only sent to people who were paying responsibly but at a low rate that Chase no longer felt like honoring (even though the FED funds rate is at an historic low, near zero).

Oops, I may have answered my own question: Chase needs to sign up more people whom it can entrap, with its “Freedom Card.”  This is because Chase is lacking when it comes to the capacity for truthfulness and honor.  Well, we’ve all got our work cut out for us, fighting back against an organization that plays such dirty tricks.

* NOTE:  This letter was a bit “off the mark” because the author composed it as though I was complaining about a change in terms that had impacted me at the time, and I was not.  Actually, I was warning Chase preemptively that it had better not screw with me — and it should recognize that account holders are watching and learning from one another about the way it was treating customers.  My letter was prompted because of an unprovoked action that Chase had just initiated with a university colleague of mine, down the hall from me.  Chase had raised her rate to around 29%; according to what she told me, the only thing she had done wrong was co-sign her son’s student loan, so it appeared to me that Chase was playing the “universal default” game, and since I did not like what it had done to her, I wrote to JP Morgan Chase’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, and expressed my extreme dismay.  Nevertheless, Chase’s reply stated that my 3.99% fixed rate would remain in effect as long as I did not miss a payment or go over limit (and again, I have done neither).