I had the funniest conversation this afternoon with a Customer Service Representative (defining the title broadly) of Chase concerning the newly increase interest rates on our Chase Mastercard.
I should back up a bit. A few years ago we opened an account at Washington Mutual. It was a nice little bank, conveniently located, and the employees were all very nice and helpful. We were quite sad when they were gobbled up by JP Morgan Chase, an opinion that is shared universally among people with whom we have spoken. In fact, I’ve not heard one nice thing about Chase, by anyone. But, the bank was still local.
The first clue that we needed to leave was when my son, who also has an account there, went into the bank to inquire about something. He was told, for some strange reason, not to come into the bank to ask questions again. So much for nice and helpful.
Then, I read that while banks like Bank of America had decided not to increase their interest rates on credit cards, Chase was going ahead with their interest rate hikes before a new consumer protection bill takes effect in a few months. Then, yesterday I read that JP Morgan Chase’s profits had exceeded expectations, almost six times its profits a year ago. Six times!
So, I checked my most recent statement and sure enough, the rate had indeed increased… to 29.99%! An increase to 19% I would not have been shocked at, but 30%? When we took the card out about 4 years ago, the rate was under 10% – which was why we used it rather than our BofA card, which is still under 12%. Fortunately, we keep our card paid down, so it’s not that big of a deal to us. But, I decided to call Chase to discuss this out of principle (actually, out of interest, but you know what I mean). I had already decided to bail on Chase, but I just wanted to hear what they had to say.
The phone call went something very similar to this (I actually wished I had recorded it, but it’s as verbatim as I can recall):
Me: I would like to confirm the interest rate on my Mastercard. Can it be true that it has been rased to 29.99%?
Chase (a male with an Indian-sounding accent): Thank you for calling about Chase’s interest rates. Let me check your account … Yes, that is the new rate.
Me: How can this be? Isn’t this kind of insane?
Chase: Thank you for calling about interest rates. Chase made the decision in May to increase credit rates, and this is now in effect.
Me: Don’t thank me – I haven’t raised the interest rates. How do you expect people to continue with Chase when it is almost three times other rates?
Chase: You are free to make whatever decisions you want concerning using the credit card. I cannot make any adjustments to rates.
Me: Do you realize that when I cancel this card, I am also closing out my other Chase accounts?
Chase: You are certainly free to make whatever decisions you think are appropriate.
Me: You no longer want me as a customer? Let me ask you this: Is there any reason you can think of for me to remain a Chase customer?
Chase: unintelligible mumbling
Me: You can’t think of a reason, can you?
Chase (female voice, obviously a recording): If you feel you have been disconnected by accident, please call again …
Amazing. I still can’t believe the twerp hung up on me. I wonder how many of these calls they get a day? I probably don’t have to tell you that I’m shutting down Chase tomorrow. But, I’m going down to the local branch to do it. Someone there needs to know why customers are leaving like rats from a sinking ship.
I am, however, honestly perplexed. In this delicate economic climate, and with Chase making money hand over fist, don’t you think they would be somewhat customer-focused? Do they think people are so trapped that they don’t have any other options? Perhaps some people are… and that’s scary.
It’s also wrong … very wrong. Chase will find out that stuff like this will come back to bite them.
The bigger they are…