The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 September 2003

Thou shalt not be late

A little 4 x 6 card arrived in the mail today with dozens of lines of 6-point (maybe) type, and after going into Heavy Squint Mode, I finally got the gist of it.

A bank whose Visa card I use has offered to settle a class-action lawsuit which alleged that it failed to credit some cardholder payments on the day received (which, if true, is tacky) and failed to include in the Minimum Payment Due on some statements an amount sufficient for cardholders to avoid an overlimit fee (which, if true, suggests that some people can't figure this out on their own). The bank, of course, denies any wrongdoing, and is basically paying the lawyers to go away.

The following Serious Changes are being made in the bank's M.O.:

  • Cutoff time — the time of day after which payments will be credited the next day — will change from 1 pm to 3 pm.

  • The bank will exercise due diligence to insure that payments are credited, even if the due date falls on a weekend.

  • The bank will fork over $3.5 million to settle claims.

Now I don't know how heinous their crimes are — I've never been late with a payment to this bank, and as far as I'm concerned their service has been first-rate so far — but inasmuch as the lawyers are getting a third of the loot, I have to assume that this is essentially a shakedown.

And to further support this assumption, there's this sentence about what I, as a member of the class, can expect:

The average cash recovery is estimated to be less than $10.00.

Considering that the average late fee is about three times that, this isn't much of a settlement — unless, of course, you're counsel for the plaintiffs. I am seriously tempted to write a letter to the Court to opt out of the settlement, just because it will likely cause at least $10 worth of paperwork.

Posted at 9:10 PM to Common Cents

I had trouble in the past with First USA (now Bank One) intentionally posting payments late in order to collect late fees. It happened to be me twice years ago, but I was able to get the fees reversed both times.

They ended up getting slapped with a class-action suit as well. I haven't had any trouble with the account since, but I still don't trust them.

Posted by: Jeff at 11:05 PM on 15 September 2003

I read up on the First USA suit while I was working on that post. Apparently the one thing that saves my bacon month after month is the fact that I pay almost everything electronically on the Friday after receipt of the bill, which usually beats the due date handily.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:10 AM on 16 September 2003

Would work but I hate giving them the use of the money any sooner than I absolutely have to!

I had a flap with American Express because my due date one month fell on a Sunday. My payment was posted on Monday. They charged me a late fee! I griped and they said "it should have been in here by Friday"

Posted by: ms7168 at 12:59 PM on 16 September 2003

I won't comment on the irony of griping about giving the bank the use of your money a day or two early after having had the use of theirs all month...

That would be snarky.

Posted by: McGehee at 7:29 AM on 21 September 2003