In September my husband and I transferred all of our remaining credit card debt to the Citi Home Rebate card. The card had no annual fee, no balance transfer fee, and a 0% intro APR for 12 months…enough time for us to pay off our card.
I faithfully made payments above and beyond the minimum due. September…October…and in November I switched over to paperless billing. Toward the end of the month I noticed that I hadn’t received a statement in my email box. Normally I would have had the paper statement by then, so I checked the due date online and made a payment. That was November 21.
I received the email statement in my inbox a few days later. I double checked online to make sure everything was hunky dory, and I went on my way. At the end of December I received notice of another statement. I let it sit in my inbox for a couple of days, because I was busy with the holidays. Two days later I received a notice that my balance had gone UP by around $100. THAT got my attention!
I logged into my Citi account and saw that I had been hit with a late fee, AND my interest rate had gone up! I looked all over the site for a customer service number and couldn’t find one. So I went into the depths of my freezer to unfreeze my credit card. Credit card in hand, I dialed the customer service number.
The man who answered the phone seemed nice enough. I sweetly explained that I had made a payment every month, and I didn’t understand why I was hit with a late fee. He explained that I had paid my bill too early in November. I (getting less sweet by the moment) explained that things got messed up when I went to paperless billing, and that I had made November’s payment specifically to avoid a late fee.
The man replied that he would do me a “courtesy” of dropping the late fee. I think my jaw dropped.
He was doing me the courtesy of dropping the late fee, even though my payment wasn’t late? I couldn’t wait to hear his answer to my next question.
Are you going to set my interest rate back to 0%?
His reply: “I’m not sure if that’s possible, ma’am.”
Me: “So, let me get this straight…I switch to paperless billing on YOUR site. I don’t receive my statement on time, so I take the preemptive measure of paying my bill to avoid a late fee. It ends up being a couple of days early, so it doesn’t count, and now I lose my interest rate, because I’m a good customer?”
The guy (stutters a bit) “Let me see what I can do.”
After much more haggling back and forth, and a lot more of the guy trying to convince me that I was wrong, he agreed to lower the interest rate. End of conversation….so I thought.
Two days later, I was blissfully taking a Sunday afternoon nap, when my husband received a phone call. You’ll never guess who it was. You guessed Citibank’s automated calling system? You’d be right.
The automated system informed my husband that we were late in making a payment and asked if he’d like to pay now, or whether he’d like to talk to a customer service representative. He pressed the number 3 for customer service. You’ll never guess what the automated machine told him next. Are you ready for this?
We’re sorry, but there are no customer service representatives available today. Please call back during regular business hours.
I woke up from my nap to the sound of my husband yelling at the phone. That’s not a pleasant way to wake up.
Monday I called Citibank again, just to make sure things were OK. This time I got a very nice woman. I explained (again) the whole story and asked her to please make sure that our account was listed as current, that our late fee was waived, and that our interest rate was set back to zero.
She pulled up our record and said she could see the account was set back to zero percent, but she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to waive the late fee.
What? Didn’t the guy I talked to a few nights before say that the late fee wouldn’t be a problem, but the interest rate might be? At this point I’m really beginning to doubt whether these people know what they are talking about.
The conversation ended with the woman assuring me that my account was current, my interest rate was 0%, and the late fee was waived. But she told me to double check my next statement just to be sure. Very reassuring. So now I’m waiting until the middle of the month to make sure everything is taken care of. Pray for me. I may need it.
- I faithfully make payments to my credit card every month….payments that are larger than the minimum due.
- I switch to paperless billing.
- My statement is running late.
- I make my usual payment to avoid a late fee.
- The payment ends up being 5 days early, because my due date apparently moved.
- I get hit with a late fee and an increased interest rate.
- The first guy I talk to sets my account current, says waiving the late fee will be no problem, but that resetting the interest rate to zero might be a problem.
- He eventually says the interest rate is reset.
- Two days later we get an automated call, telling us our account is past due.
- I talk to a live operator the next day, who tells me that setting the interest rate back to zero isn’t a problem, but waiving the late fee might be a problem. She eventually tells me it’s all taken care of.
- But she’s not completely sure, so I need to make sure to double check my next statement.
Does this sound ridiculous to anyone besides me?
Make no mistake. Credit card companies want to suck you dry. Check your statements, check them often, and follow up quickly when you notice something is wrong. And get out of debt!
USAA is just plain awesome! My husband was in the service and I think that’s one of the best things we got out of his service. To anyone who is eligible I highly suggest you switch anything and everything to them. We have our insurance through them and we get money back every year. I couldn’t believe it the first year it happened.
This happened to me in December. I only get paid once a month and I work at a University. It was closed from December 20th to January 2, so I got paid on December 20th, so instead of waiting for my statement like a good girl, I though I’d just pay all my bills on December 20th so that I wouldn’t be tempted to overspend on the holiday.
Come the end of January I had late fees up the wazoo.
You live, you learn, I guess.
I’ve come to the conclusion, based on many similar experiences with credit card companies, that the people who _don’t_ call to get their situations rectified, are the very people these companies count on to make their profits. More power to you for telling them who is boss!
That’s pretty darn outrageous. I can’t believe you were hit with a late fee for paying early!!! I always pay my Bank of America credit cards off early online…if they gave me fees or raised my APR for that, I’d be livid. Hopefully this new credit card legislation in the works will help prevent these types of situations.
found this on google when I was worrying about my accidental late payment on my discover card, and I had to wait another day to call and ask to remove the fee and rate hike and finance charges.
I just called today: I told the woman my concern and that I had intended to pay the full $650 balance on time (which I did the day before, late, after receiving a collection call). And to quote: “let me look into that and see if we can do anything… Okay sir, based on your account history with us that’s no problem at all. We’ll clear that right up. I see you’ve made all your payments on time in the past, and you’ve been a very good customer.”
I’ve never made a late payment for a credit card before. I once made the minimum payment instead of the balance by accident with Citi. I did the same thing and the finance charges were cleared up right away.
Honestly, I think any credit card company will do this, if you have the right credit score and history with them. Negative past items just may be haunting the people who didn’t have such luck here.
Now student loans on the other hand… I made one payment about 20 days late because i had moved and forgot about it. They of course decided not to post it until EXACTLY 30 days late, so they could wreck my credit scores. I fought with them for 3 months, I had my bank advocating for me. I eventually gave up, the loan company had the supreme power in the end and I found out ‘that department does not accept incoming calls’ (the one that makes these decisions final).
I had a similar problem with Citi and I don’t trust their paperless billing anymore. Basically I paid one of the bills before the due date online and they didn’t take the money from the bank! Then they charged me a late fee and started calling me at work from their collections department about 2 days after the bill was due. I was really pissed off and called them about six times and also called my bank to confirm that there was no charge from citi and in the end they gave be back the late fee. I no longer use their online billpayment. I am paying them from Bank of America’s free billpay now, and I haven’t had a problem. Citi always delivers their e-bills really really late though, so be careful and check your online accounts all the time.
Chase is no better. I had ordered a new card because my card got damaged. They then changed my due date at the same time, charged me a late fee and ratched up my interest to default rate. I have had the card for like 6-7 years and have never been late. Of course, they refused to lower the fee. I then tried to transfer the balance to another NEW CHASE CARD OFFER I got in the mail for a much better rate. They gave me the card but refused to transfer the balance stating that they do not transfer among Chase cards. I then tried to move it to another card I had with another company, but Chase refused the electronic transfer and it has taken 2 months with no transfer yet because Chase is holding it up on purpose so they can suck me dry. UGHHHHH
I’ve been using citibank cards for a while now. I always make my payments online without issues.
Basically, if it shows a payment due, one is due. If it says $0 then your statement cycle hasn’t cycled yet and any payment will be applied to the previous cycle. This is the same for all cards afaik. If you go to your unbilled activity view, it will show you the date of the next statement cycle. No idea why this is on that page!
One other issue to be mindful of – CitiBank only allows a few payments using their site per month.
Lynnae – Citibank is almost as bad as Bank of America in my experience.
I actually had an experience similar to you with my USAA card. I switched to paperless and accidentally overlooked the email notice. I actually was late.
A rep called me. When I explained what had happened, she said no problem. Removed the late fee, took my payment right over the phone (no extra charge for this, unlike Citibank), and never changed my interest rate.
That’s the USAA difference. Best financial company on earth, if you ask me. If you have a way to get service with USAA (through an immediate family member who has served in the military), by all means, do so.
@Ryan – My dad served in the army many eons ago before I was born. That’s about the only connection I have to the military. I’ll have to look into that. It might be a stretch though.
JD had a post about the exact same thing only Citibank went back 5 years to try and find miss late payments etc. They then assessed large late payemnt, of course they never bothered telling anyone.
The best thing to do is to cancel the card and go somewhere else, even if it means paying a bit more interst. You rest assured they will try in again and again, someonehas to pay for the 150 million dollar severence package. Enough people do that and they amy rethink it
Credit card companies are just evil. Yes, evil. They don’t just want to make money. They want to make a fair share and then steal as much as they can after that.
These stories serve to strengthen my resolve to get my cards paid off and closed for good.
Sorry for your troubles, but at least it sounds like you might have things solved.
I’ve had similar problems with my Chase Southwest card. Apparently, many others had problems with this credit card in particular, and I failed to do any digging on them before I got hit with a decline when I was completely sure that I was nowhere near my credit limit. But regardless of whic credit card company you’re dealing with, you’re right: they’re ALL vultures.
I hear this happening a lot to people. Weirdly, in the 8 years I’ve had credit cards (and I’ve had a LOT of them), I’ve never had a problem. I always do paperless billing (setting up my account as soon as the card arrives), linking to my checking account, etc. I’ve gone over my limit, missed payments, etc, and never been charged anything. I’ve never had the due dates changed, and have in fact been given multiple opportunities to change them myself. Very weird.
In recent times, I’ve gotten more responsible, and will never go over the limit again. At most, I’m a day late with payments, but I think that happened maybe twice this year. Lately, I have been religiously checking my accounts when the statement is supposed to be created (usually over a 3-4 day period), and then I schedule the payment immediately.
@Katie – You’ll be happy to know that while I was very firm with the reps, I never yelled at them or anything. I know they were just doing their jobs, but you’d think Citi would at least have each C.S. agent give the same answers. I think what got me was that the first agent said one thing, and then the second said the exact opposite.
My beef is definitely with Citibank as a corporation, rather than with the individual agents. I used to work at Target in customer service, and I know trying to deal with unhappy customers can be a real hassle.
Isn’t great that we now have blogs to voice our misgivings and rally others who have been similarly given the short end of the stick.
I think, Lynnae, you are starting a revolution here. Something that should have happened long ago. Long live the Vigilante Consumer…..as quoted by Faith Popcorn.
Whether the supplier is a big giant like Citi or HSBC, they now have to contend with people like you.
I suggest that you try our Mrs. M’s suggestions and take this @#$%% attitude of the Bank all the way.
(PS: Just ten minutes ago, I cut up my Citibank Card. Just a coincidence. Another bank gave me a lifetime no fees card and I think I don’t need Citi’s anymore.)
On top of this, those customer service agents you spoke to were probably in India. More great service from the big American corporations.
Yeah, that’s old news. That’s how the big banks make their money- off the backs of us consumers. Got robbed like this myself. Lesson- stay away from those 0% offers.
@Patrick – I don’t think the customer service agents were in India. I was pretty surprised.
What a terrible experience. Dealing with big corporations is becoming a real nightmare anymore. However, in defense of the customer service reps, they may have been well-intentioned but lacking the resources to do their job correctly.
I once worked for a financial services company whose internal systems were so terrible that I couldn’t tell customers with any certainty how much money they owed, when their payment was due, when (or if) we had received their last payment, etc. If a customer complained about not receiving a statement, I was instructed to tell him or her that a statement is a courtesy, and as such there is no guarantee one will be mailed every month, but payment is due even if no bill is actually received. It was awful.
As a result of my experiences, I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for phone reps to this day!
@InTheHole – I’m looking forward to the day more than you know! :)
Credit card companies suck!!! Won’t it be nice to say goodbye to them forever once you pay them off??!!
That same thing happened to us with First USA Visa over 10 years ago. It was the BEST thing to ever happen to us because it made us MAD. It was what started us on the path to being free from credit cards.
I had a similar thing happen to me last month. I have 2 Bank of America credit cards and my mortgage is with them as well. I always pay my mortgage at the branch, in person. I made my mortgage payment (due Dec. 1) on November 15 at the branch, wrote the account number on the check, included a mortgage payment coupon. I did NOT, unfortunately, scrutinize the receipt which only displays the last 4 digits of the account number. A week later, I received one of my BofA credit card statements. It’s a new card which I got for one reason only – no interest for 1 year with balance transfers. I had paid off a high interest card by transfering the balance to this card. And on that statement, saw that my mortgage payment had been applied to the card. Drove to the branch immediately and they could not reverse the payment since it had been a week. (The last 3 digits of these 2 account numbers are the same, incidentally). The bank manager called the credit card for me and they agreed to refund my payment to me. I received it a week later (I was told that for them to directly pay it to my bank account would cost me $25) and was able to make the mortgage payment on time. When I got my credit card statement the next month, B of A charged me the “purchases” interest rate on the “refund” amount! I called, was placed on hold, spoke with various idiots over a 45 minute period, and was finally put in touch with a nice woman who assured me the interest would be refunded and that no more would be charged, but I should monitor my statements to make sure that really happened. All because of a teller error! Yes, I should have carefully scrutinized the receipt from the bank, but seriously! You have to stay on these people!
That sounds so frustrating!
I think everyone can relate though, it’s not just credit card companies, it’s the electric and phone companies, the mortgage company, they all want your money! We have to be disciplined in verifying our statements or we can lose major money!
I hope you get it all straightened out and your next statement is correct!