According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, during the year 2010 his office received 5,455 credit-related complaints, second only to the 7,024 internet complaints received (for problems like spyware, privacy, etc.).
While it’s true that not all of the 5,455 were credit card complaints (debt collection and identity theft were included as well) there is no denying that a great number of Americans aren’t happy with their credit cards, to put it nicely.
So if you’ve been wronged by a credit card company, what are your options? How can you make your voice heard – so hopefully – the problem can be resolved? From social media to filing credit card complaints with the government, here are 7 different techniques you may wish to consider:
Strategy #1: Go above the first tier of CSRs
If the CSR you dealt with on the phone was no help, that doesn’t necessarily mean you hit a dead end. The level one customer service reps are limited in what they can say and do for a customer. Escalate the case to a supervisor and when pleading your case, make sure you remind them how good of a customer you’ve been and that you have no problem taking your business elsewhere if they won’t resolve the complaint fairly.
If the card is issued by a bank, try going to a local branch for help. Although they aren’t involved with issuing or managing credit cards, a branch manager may have more pull on the phone than you do.
Strategy #2: Mail a written complaint
Not many people take the time to write letters these days. Be the exception by typing up your complaint and sending it to the bank. The key here is to mail it to the right person. To be honest, writing to the CEO at a big bank is a lost cause, but if you go for those lower down on the totem pole, you may very well have your credit card complaint heard.
So which person/job title should you be writing to? Well I think the answer will vary depending on the card issuer. Explain your situation on Credit Card Forum and some members may reply with recommendations.
Strategy #3: Make use of social media
On Credit Card Forum there has been a thread of complaints about the Paypower Visa prepaid card. Allegedly, a few new cardholders were having problems with their funds being frozen when their identity check had failed. Instead of ignoring the problem, Blackhawk Network jumped on the forum to try and help out these customers. One member even reported getting a call from the CEO! You have to commend Blackhawk for caring about these complaints.
Aside from Credit Card Forum, I would also recommend checking the credit card co’s Twitter and Facebook account. Sometimes all it takes is a tweet or two for them to pay attention to your case. After all, seeing credit card complaints on their Twitter feed doesn’t look so hot, so they like to clear these things up ASAP! You also may want to browse through the credit card co’s LinkedIn page, to see if you can find anyone that would be appropriate for handling your issue.
Strategy #4: File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
This may not be the most creative strategy, but it’s still worth considering nonetheless. For the reputable issuers like Chase, American Express, Discover, HSBC, Bank of America, Citi and Capital One, when you file credit card complaints through the BBB, they will probably be evaluated and responded to by the company. However with some of the shady sub-prime credit cards, don’t be surprised if your complaint is completely ignored.
Strategy #5: Contact your state attorney general’s office
During the latter part of last decade, the West Virginia Attorney General received 264 complaints about a questionable debt collection practice by Capital One, where debt repayment plans were allegedly disguised as new credit offers. The credit card complaints from hundreds of customers were enough for West Virginia’s AG to pursue this matter in court.
That particular case turned into a 5+ year ordeal, but sometimes the solution is much simpler. I have heard of people filing a complaint with their state’s attorney general office, who in turn, phoned the bank… and that was all it took for the problem to be resolved! Yes that’s right – if you can convince your state’s AG office to simply place a phone call to the credit card company, that might be all that’s needed for them to wake up and resolve your dispute.
Strategy #6: File a complaint with federal government regulators
If none of the above worked, you can file a credit card complaint with the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a government agency responsible for regulating credit cards issued by national banks in the United States. Not sure if your credit card issuer falls under OCC jurisdiction? Just use this simple search form to check: http://www.ffiec.gov/consumercenter/default.aspx
Another federal government regulatory body you can file credit card complaints with is the FTC’s Division of Credit Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection. However it’s important to realize this, which is stated on their website:
Your complaints can help us detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints.
So filing a complaint with the FTC may help consumers overall in the long run, but as the site says, they do not resolve individual complaints. This is a great government agency and I’m sure they would handle individual cases if they had the resources to, but unfortunately that’s not possible as of today, probably because they are underfunded (in my personal opinion).
Strategy #7: File a small claims suit
If your credit card agreement has a mandatory arbitration clause, then this won’t be possible to do. However if there’s no such clause, then there’s nothing to stop you from filing a lawsuit.
If you’ve never filed a small claims suit before, it’s extremely easy to do and the cost is minimal; under a hundred dollars and usually more like $30 or so. If your request is reasonable, then once the card issuer is served the papers, they might just cave in and resolve it, if for no other reason simply to avoid the hassle of sending a lawyer to represent them in court over a petty matter
When it comes to credit card complaints, you have plenty of options. I advise you start at the top of the list and work your way down, rather than the opposite order. No matter how angry you may be, there’s no point in making a mountain out of a molehill if your problem can be resolved amicably using less drastic measures.
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