As so often happens in this space, the really good stuff comes from you. The comment I wrote about my frustrating credit card experience — being charged a $20 fee for being 3 days late on a $55 payment, and then being chastised by the customer service rep, to boot — elicited lots of feedback, a sampling of which I shared yesterday. But near the end of this stream of messages came one from a person I’ll call Deep Plastic who really seems to know. It seems GM isn’t the company that issues or services the GM Visa card. Deep Plastic works for the company that does:

I read with a great deal of interest your experience with the GM Gold Card. As an employee of Household Credit Services (the bank that underwrites your GM Gold Card), I can assure you that you are not alone in your “Credit Card Billing Rage.”

In 1996, telephone representatives waived more than $40 million dollars in late fees – income that flows directly to the bottom line. As a result, Household now insists that at least one of the following four criteria be met in order to waive late fees:

  1. You must indicate in your original conversation that you never received a statement the previous month, or;
  1. You must have at least $2,500 in purchases within the previous 3 billing cycles, or;
  1. You must have accrued at least $30.00 in finance charges within the previous 3 billing cycles, or;
  1. Your account must have been opened within the last 6 months.

If none of the criteria are met, the reps generally are not allowed to waive the late fee. Essentially, your account is considered unprofitable, and as such, Household isn’t too concerned if you threaten to close your account.

As a courtesy to you, I am going to credit your account for the late fee. You will see a credit on your next month’s statement. In exchange, I will ask that you please let your readers know that it isn’t GM who manages the credit card. They only handle the rebate points. All credit card functions are handled by Household. I own GM stock, and I’m tired of the bad rap GM gets for the stupid policies of Household. (I say stupid, because it takes Household approximately 4 days to post a payment to an account once the payment is received. Household does not back-date the payment, therefore a late fee is assessed even though 90% of the time they had the payment on time). In Household’s defense, they have added so many new portfolios in the last couple of years, their systems are just simply overwhelmed.

Also, in the event you use any of the information here, please do not use my name or E-mail address. I am attempting to put my husband through grad school, and I really need the job!

Other credit cards that Household manages very badly: the Ameritech Complete Card, the Ameritech Platinum Card, the Pacific Bell Savings Card, and the U.S. West Savings Card.

Tomorrow: Getting AOL to Pay YOU



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