My interest rates on some of my credit cards are ridiculously high. So I periodically log on to myfico.com, search for the backdoor numbers and make the calls.
Now my Capital One credit card used to have a 12% APR. Which was great. Then December last year trying to take advantage of my benefits, I utilized my payment protector plan since I had moved that month. The payment protector plan paid my minimum payment for December. Then early January I called and attempted to cancel my payment protector plan (under the reasoning that if I was unemployed and broke, my credit card bills would be the least of my problems). I did not cancel since the representative convinced me I could use payment protector again that month to make my minimum payment since it was a new year then cancel with no repercussions. Ok, great. I utilized it.
So what happened? Obviously this story has a point and it is not to let you know I moved. Well the payment protector service made my payment but also charged me their monthly fee and then Capital One charged me an overlimit balance.
Voila! Goodbye 12% APR, hello high interest rate.
I didn't notice any of this because I was a fool who didn't look at any statements or charges (though I have always and remain great at moving).
So I called Capital One (via backdoor number where representatives are supposed to be nicer and able to make executive positive account decisions), explained the situation and asked for an APR reduction. After all, 23.99% is way over the WSJ prime rate and I have been making timely payments for over 3 years.
No luck. So I kept calling (I had 5 backdoor numbers for Capital One) and explaining each time that I would appreciate an APR reduction since I have been making regular payments steadily, the payment protector situation and how in these tough economic times they should appreciate the paying customers they have left since debt settlement companies are slowly but surely invading the deep in debt, minimum payment making population. Well it turns out that my new high APR increase was not due to the payment protector plan but because Capital One had changed the terms of my agreement (an agreement I did not receive), they would merely review my account later and to "keep doing what you're doing!"
When I'd say I've been doing what I'm doing for over 48 months and that nothing has ever happened, much less a positive account review, that I had not received this agreement at all and would appreciate some customer appreciation, I'd get "I'm sorry ma'am. That's all I could say. Keep doing what you're doing!" Awesome. That's great customer service Capital One. Keep it up. From my POV, doing what I'm doing has lead to nothing with them.
Then the last representative I spoke to was hysterical. Here's a rough transcript of the conversation:
Rep: I understand and I'm sorry. I have credit cards too.
Me: Please don't apologize. If I didn't receive the change in agreement terms, have been a 3 year customer in good standing, then why isn't an APR reduction possible?
Rep: Capital One reviews the accounts regularly. Keep doing what you're doing.
Me testy after an hour of basically begging for customer appreciation in some visible form: Well I've been doing what I'm doing for over 3 years and I don't think an APR reduction would hurt in keeping customer moral up. After all, there are many people who stop making their payments, settle their balance for half of what it originally was and the ones who get screwed are the people who actually continue doing the right thing by making monthly payments. What's the incentive here to continue paying each month?
Rep: Well that's not true ma'am. People do not settle for half ever.
Me: They do actually. All the time. One of my best friends did it. She owed $4,500 and only paid $2,000.
Rep: Well I don't know about that. It isn't the right thing to do. You have a moral obligation to do this.
Me thinking about how I signed up for this credit card for a free pita. I should have just paid the $6 for the stupid pita.
Me: I don't see where the moral obligation is exactly. How do these accounts get reviewed regularly if I've been a customer for a while and have yet to have my account reviewed?
Rep: Well ma'am your balance is high.
Me: Right and I'd be able to lower my balance quickly if I had a lower interest rate which you're telling me is not a possibility at the time or apparently within the last year. Let me ask you a question. If I stopped making my payments, what would happen? I don't own anything, my car is leased and I'm broke. There's no one you could even go after for the money. And each time a debt settlement company calls me, I'm seriously tempted. All I am asking for is a little understanding.
Rep: You don't have to be rude ma'am.
Me: How exactly am I being rude? I am making factual statements and you are telling me that I have a moral obligation to continue making these payments which I don't understand.
Rep: It's not right.
basically the end of the call.
Though I did not get an APR reduction this month I still recommend calling and asking anyway. You don't know until you try.
I was able to reduce my Citi Card APR by over 10% because their customer service is basically better than Capital One.
As for Capital One, well in a few months I may just go the debt settlement route and hope the last rep I spoke to gets to read my settlement amount.