This is the MasterCard, you will recall, that is serviced by some other company, yet GM gets all the ill will. It is a terrible card, serviced by a terrible company.

Latest example:

I finally found out how to transfer the $1,500+ rebate I had accumulated to someone else. (The card gave me 5% on every charge against the purchase of a new GM car.) You add the name of the car purchaser to your account, which can be done by phone and takes only a couple of days. He or she need not be a relative. You can specify, as I did, that the additional cardholder not get a separate card, and you can always take the person OFF your account.

So I found a friend actually willing to consider buying a new GM card — not easy! — added him to the card, and prepared to redeem my dollars. (I couldn’t bring myself to waste that rebate and let it go unused.)

As it happened, once my friend started looking for real, he couldn’t find a GM car he liked. He wound up buying a Saturn. Yes, Saturn is a GM car, but it is specifically excluded from this rebate plan. So I didn’t manage to transfer the $1,500+ after all, and it remains to be redeemed.

But I got a letter from James Hogan in the GM Card Customer Center saying they had recently sent me a new card, yada-yada-yada, and if I hadn’t received it I should call the Lost/Stolen Department at 1-800-374-0001 immediately.

Well, I hadn’t received it.

Indeed, I hadn’t realized they were even sending me a one. (My card was not due to expire for a while.) But maybe when you add a name to the account they send a new card. In any case, you don’t want to ignore this kind of thing, so I called the number.

And was placed on hold for 20 minutes. Eventually, I just had to hang up.

What if someone were out charging merchandise even as I was on hold? Wouldn’t the stolen-card department want to answer the phone real quick? If I’m supposed to call them immediately, shouldn’t they be staffed to answer pretty fast?

I called back a few days later, was forced to reveal my entire life’s history for security purposes, to verify it was really me, and then was allowed to explain the reason for my call. I was surprised to get this notice, I said, because I hadn’t been expecting a new card. Had they really sent one?

The (nice) security specialist checked and said, no, I had not in fact been sent another card.

So why the letter saying that I had been, and instructing me to call immediately if it had not been received?

Just part of the GM MasterCard service.

I wrote about the GM Card a couple of years ago after being charged a $20 fee for being (they claimed) 3 days late on a $55 payment — a $20 fee they refused to waive — and got an outpouring of similar stories from readers.

One, dubbed Deep Plastic, wrote: “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. . . . 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)."

Perhaps this has changed in the last couple of years, but I doubt it. Someday GM will unhitch its trailer from Household Credit Services. That will be one small sign GM is beginning to get its act together. In the meantime, I have a feeling its market-share erosion is not over.


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