Bank Of America, FAIL
My husband and I use Bank of America for our bank accounts, and we have a credit card through them. My husband got the credit card sometime during medical school (I don't know the exact year, and he's in surgery as I type this, so I can't ask him). He graduated from medical school in 2004, so he's had this credit card for more than 5 years. My husband opened the bank account when he was a freshman in college-1996 (originally it was Bank Boston, and then they were bought out by BOA).
When I moved to Boston in 1999 I opened an account at the same bank.
So, to recap, my husband has had a relationship with this bank for about 13 years, and I have had one for about 10 years.
This July, right before my husband started his new job, we reviewed our finances.
We had accrued a modest amount of debt since Willa was born. My husband had been training and getting paid very little. So we were charging a lot on the credit card.
Now, here are some facts:
With the exception of a couple of months period right around the time we got married in 2003, we had always paid our credit card bill IN FULL every month.
During the time when I was pregnant, and we started charging more, and we weren't able to pay the bill in full, we still paid AT LEAST double the minimum due every month.
When we reviewed our finances we realized that our interest rate on the BOA credit card was very high. We should have called them YEARS before to negotiate a lower rate- it was probably not the best time to ask for a reduced rate when the country was in a recession and we had a balance on the card, but we called them anyway. They told us the only way they would lower our interest rate was if we closed the account. We didn't want to do that because it would have screwed up our credit, and we had a bunch of automatic payments tied to the card. At least we gave it a shot, we said.
Right before we had called BOA to ask for a lower rate, we had started using Mint.com (which I highly recommend.) A few days after our phone call with BOA I did a double take when I signed on to Mint.com and noticed that our BOA credit card limit was $10,000 lower. I thought maybe I was wrong, but I checked with the husband and he confirmed that it was indeed $10,000 lower.
We called BOA (again) and asked what was going on, and basically we were told that because we asked for a lower interest rate they lowered our limit. I would like to point out that with the new limit, we were now only a few thousand dollars away from reaching the limit. So, if I had not checked Mint.com and noticed that our limit had been lowered, and I had tried to charge more than a couple of thousand dollars, to say, pay for my daughter's school tuition, my card would have been denied.
I said as much to BOA. I said "you can't just lower our limit by $10,000 without telling us". Their response "We sent you a letter." (which we hadn't received yet) to which I said "That's all well and good, but the limit decrease should not have gone into affect until we received the letter."
They had no sympathy for us. I could hear them shrugging their shoulders through the phone.
Last week, I tried to use my Bank Of America credit card and it was denied. I used my debit card to pay the bill, and that night the husband and I called them. Apparently withing the past few months, one of the companies we had purchased something from had a security breach and customers' credit card information was stolen. So, as a precaution Bank Of America sent a letter to their customers, and then issued them new cards. We never got the letter or the cards. The letter had stated that on a certain date our current cards would be shut down. That was the day I tried to use the card and it got denied.
We told them we never got the letter or the cards. They said they would issue new ones. We asked how long it would take for the new cards to get here- they said about 7 business days. We explained that we use the card almost every day. We asked if they could overnight or express mail the new cards to us- they said no. We said we couldn't go a week without a card. They said we could keep using the card until the new cards arrived and we activated them. We were relieved. Then, today I tried to use the card at the supermarket- it was denied.
I came home and called them. As usual, I had a hard time getting through to a human being. After explaining the whole story (again) for 15 minutes to a very confused customer service rep, I was disconnected while in the middle of a sentence. I collected myself, and once the steam stopped leaking out of my ears I called back. Explained the whole story (AGAIN) to another (very confused) person. Finally after being put on hold a bunch of times she gave me the bottom line- my current card has been completely shut down. The new cards were sent out over the weekend. We have no card to use until the new card gets here. We were, as usual, given the wrong information.
As I was on the phone with Bank Of America, I was on freecreditreport.com filling out a form for my credit report (part of the continuing saga of us trying to get our finances in order) and they asked for a credit card number (They don't charge it, it's just part of the verification process). So, I asked the woman who I was on the phone with what I was supposed to do and she told me I couldn't do anything until the new cards arrived. Even though she gave me the new number it won't work until we activate the new cards.
I find it so funny that if you owe them money the credit card companies have no problem calling you relentlessly (this hasn't happened to us, but I know plenty of people it has happened to), but when security has been breached, and they are shutting down your card and supposedly sending you new ones, they can't call you.
Another fun fact. We asked them why they couldn't email us. They told us they don't use email to communicate with customers. That is ridiculous. It is 2009. Everyone uses email. Our Bank of America bank accounts communicate with us through email. How is that different from the credit card.
If they had sent us an email none of this would have happened.
On another note- we signed up for an ING Direct savings account last night. Another thing we should have done years ago. Their interest rate is 10 times the interest Bank Of America is giving us. And they charge us A TON of random charges.
Like I said before- we have paid AT LEAST twice the minimum we have owed for the entire time we have had the card. In the 10 weeks since my husband started his new job, we have paid off 75% of the balance on the credit card. we should have the entire thing paid off in the next 6 weeks.
We are good customers. We are the type of customers a bank should want. Now that my husband is making decent money, we will eventually have a mortgage, and more money in our accounts, and possibly be opening up additional accounts. Bank Of America should be fighting to keep us. Instead they are constantly giving us the run around, and giving us poor customer service.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again-When are corporations going to learn that you need to spend money to make money? Also, if you have a good product with good customer service, you don't have to spend a ton on advertising. Word of mouth can go a long way. And the only word of mouth Bank Of America seems to be getting these days is negative.
They could learn a lesson from Apple.