Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to Cancel a Credit Card

I just have to share this experience with you. Prior to our big Yellowstone trip a few years back, I applied for and got an extra credit card in case we needed it. I was afraid an identity theft would tie up an account (it had happened recently). I quit using the card after getting a charge for a late payment when it took them four days to process an electronic transfer. How come I can get money from them in seconds, but take days to get it back to them? Long story short, I had not used it in a while, and figured it was more of a liability as this point.

First, I go to their website. That is how I signed up, and how I paid. Easy and convenient (except for the time lag on payments). After several minutes of searching, I locate the "cancel card" link in the small printing at the bottom of the page. It takes me to a page with a list of reasons why the card is so beneficial and why I should keep it. Ah, there is a number to call with instructions on how to cancel. Maybe not so easy after all. I hate talking to real people on the phone.

Press option 4, then option 5. That should be simple. After entering my card number and area code, the instructions don't work, and listening through the available choices, "select other options" sounds like the best bet. Another set of menu choices. Again, "select other options" is the closest to what I want. "Press 5 to cancel your card." There it is, I might not have to talk to someone after all! A recorded voice asks for my home phone number, and the last five digits of my social security number. It takes long enough to recall that last tidbit of info that the voice on the phone takes me back a set of options. Then, a long pregnant pause, followed by the dreaded real voice, with a real name and even a provided employee number for credibility (like that is something I can type into my computer). A senior customer account representative even - strait to the big guns! I'm in trouble now.

For some reason, after all the buttons I've had to press, they still don't know my name or why I am on the phone. After providing that information again, I'm asked to wait while they check my account. "You don't have a balance. Why would you want to cancel?" The computer earlier told me I didn't have a balance, and it didn't have to ask me to wait. "I don't use the card," is my reply. "That is the lowest interest rate we offer. Why would you want to get rid of it?" "A low interest rate doesn't help me if I don't carry a balance," I explain. "I haven't made a charge since April. You should be trying to get rid of me!"

In fact, just for fun I had paid a nickel extra last time I made a payment. After two billing cycles of no activity, they had sent me a check for $0.05, spending more than that on postage, let alone paper and and printing. Of course I didn't cash it, hoping the outstanding balance on the books would cause some additional expense in accounting. "Please, I'd just like to cancel the account," I plead in voice nearing surrender. "Well, I can do that, but I still don't understand why you would want to," she replied in a disapproving motherly way that tapers off into a mutter. After reading me a required disclaimer, I tell them "you guys make it harder to close an account than open it!"

At the Stake financial workshop we attended a while back, the presenter told us that "debt is a product," and that it is "marketed heavily" to us. These guys love to loan money because it makes them money, and most people are hooked on it like caffeine!


Neil said...

Great consumer story! I love that you paid 0.05$ extra. I think they are heavily regulated, but not by people with brains.

Eldon and Janeil Olsen said...

I'm glad you were finally successful. So does that mean we don't need more than 1 credit card?

Imagitext said...

That is sooo cool. It must have taken hours!

Guess who past off the two longest scriptures in Seminary today?
I'll give you a hint. She was the only one listening.

brenda said...

Good job sticking with it! They tried to wear you down but you triumphed in the end.

Eldon and Janeil Olsen said...

I shared your story with David Williams (sent him the link) and he wrote back, thanks for the sharing that story. I'm laughing hard.

We're proud of your Seminary student.