For the past several months, I've been going through a hell
USA very much like the ones described on your website, which I just
discovered. Please feel free to add my story to your site.
I have had a First USA card since 1994; I was offered a low introductory
rate and then a fixed rate of about 15%. For years, I was very happy
Then, in May, I relocated, and all hell broke loose. The next thing I
knew, my rate had been jacked up to a MINIMUM of 19.99%. When I called
and asked about it, I was told it was probably due to a bad credit
report, since, according to the phone rep I talked to, my account with
First USA was "in good standing."
I assumed there was a mistake on my credit report and so got copies from
two different reporting companies, the one First USA said it used and a
second one. There was NOTHING on either report, not even one late
payment on a single card. When I called First USA, they said, well, they
didn't know why my rate had been raised.
I have written something like 15 letters and faxes from September
through December, 1997; the only response I have gotten was a form
letter saying they would be happy to close my account (and of course I
closed it immediately). When I call, phone reps either feign sympathy
and promise the matter will be quickly attended to (and then, of course,
I hear nothing) or treat me like a deadbeat.
I finally wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. They responded
saying they have no jurisdiction over banks but the FDIC does, and so
they forwarded my complaint to them. I have since sent several more
letters to various executives at First USA, all of which I CC'd to the
FDIC. So far, no response.
However, my most recent bill reported an interest rate of 15.9%, and
they refunded about $40 in interest charges. I do not know whether this
is "for real," however, since when I call, the phone reps know nothing,
and I have yet to get a single, legitimate written response from them.
They completely suck. Warn all your friends to stay the hell away from
Thank you for letting me vent! It's good to know I'm not alone, though
of course it really bites to know they do this regularly.
Thanks for your email. Contacted the lawyer yesterday but said he
couldn't help me because I was so far away (Virginia). Did email the BBB
this AM as you suggested.
I checked my card balance again this morning after being told yesterday
that they would take care of the balance transfer immediately, still
hasn't been charged to my account so I figure they were probably not
going to make the transfer for another month or so (eating away at the
5.9% introductory period). So this morning I faxed a letter to the
President of First USA in Wilmington DE, the bank that issued the card,
and told him as of 7:15AM this morning my card balance was zero,
according to their 800# computer and I would not be responsible for any
charges on that account after that time. Also cut the cards diagonally
and told him I was sending them back to him personally and they were cut
that way to ease rectal insertion!
Good job on your page and getting the word out. Am also contacting the
Comptroller of the Currency about this situation and asking if they are
not responsible for regulating this bank to please point me to the
government agency that is responsible so I may register a complaint with
them also. If and when I get a responds from them I'll let you know and
you can post that on your page also.
I too was scammed by First USA in the same manner as you
except that I was
able to quickly liquidate my account. When I inquired by phone why the
interest rate was increased from 12.99 supposedly fixed to 20.59% I couldn't get
an answer so I wrote the company in Wilmington Delaware and have not
yet received a response. It is my intent to forward this matter to the
North Carolina Attorney General for an answer.
A funny thing though, today I received a statement saying that due to my
excellent credit rating that my available credit line had been increased
substantialy. This really irritated me as I had directed that they terminate my account
Let me know how you make out.
Say, I like the slogan: Don't make the FIRST mistake!
That's a winner.
I have a tale of my own, but it's nothing to do with the bait-n-switch. Seems
I got stung early and got out before the real horrors hit.
Still, here's my tale, real short and sweet. This burns me up, and I'd love
this two-bit organization to be investigated by SEC, BBB, Consumers' and the
FBI. They just can't be legal.
I signed up for the card and was pleased to be accepted. I say "pleased"
because I felt it was a reflection on my immaculate credit record, of which I
was justifiably proud. I worked to create a clean credit report and guard it
jealously. Then I made the FIRST mistake.
I requested the balance transfer, and after acceptance, their liturature
assured me of the transfer and that it would be undertaken on the first
statement. Sure enough the invoice arrived reflecting a $5,000 balance.
Nice. Then I received the bill from my regular credit card. They also
reflected a $5,000 balance, along with the minimum payment due. Hm.
I wrote a little note (didn't keep a copy) notifying FIRST that there was no
balance transfer and that I wasn't about to pay twice for the same bill. That
is, I wasn't going to pay FIRST and my other credit card company for the same
dollar balance. I would pay them when the original card reflected the zero
balance, indicating the balance had indeed transferred.
Long story short: It never happened. The $5,000 continued to appear, month
after month, I'd call, their representatives would apologize profusely and
then continue to bill me!!
My patience snapped when their collectoins department got into the act. They
were kind. They were understanding. They were idiots. Initially they
started with threats of damage to my good credit, then a long explanation from
me. Then came the apologies, the understanding assurances and another number
given me to call. One of their automatons actually said, "Oh, gosh your're
right. Your credit card company didn't cash our check and sent it back to us."
That sounded like a closed case. I immediately told them I wish to close the
account and to forget the whole thing.
The problem, I surmised, was that I was pretty stupid to trust the phone and
the compassionate murmurings, instead of getting all this in writing. When
the invoices continued in my mailbox, I began writing: Immediately I wrote
them to close my account and returned them their useless card. Five times
during the year I wrote them and told them the history that should have been
clear to a blind man: Balance never transfered. I don't owe you a dime. No,
I'm not paying interest or penalties either. I'm not paying interest or
penalties on something that never happened.
The dunning continued until I had to tell the lady on the phone, "you need to
read my lips. I do not owe you any money. I am not paying you any money.
Understand? No money. You will get my money in neither this life or the
next. Your accounting practices are the sloppiest in the industry and I don't
want to hear from you anymore. Go away now; go very far away." etc.
So they closed the account and you know what happened next. Naturally, they
left stink bombs all over my credit record. I am the most pristine of all
credit cardholders and they crapped all over my record. Because they screwed
up, they attacked my record. That's my honor; that's my financial reputation;
that's something I worked years for and they just torpedoed it.
Naturally I'm mad as hell, but what can I do? I don't need any more credit.
Still, it's nice to take advantage of a lower credit card rate, if only for an
introductory period. I do it all the time, flipping cards and returning to my
original credit union card just when their rates go through the roof. It's
worked for me. But lately -- two cards so far -- have actually turned me down
for guess what. The FIRST crap on my credit report. That's when I want to
get back into the fray and rip their teeth out by the roots.
I think FIRST owes me: The dollar amounts they claim I owe are insignificant
by comparison. The damage I've suffered is not even monetary; I was denied
credit, and the purpose for which I use credit is more strategic than monetary
gain. But the very Idea that they can make an adjudication and tarnish your
record and you have no recourse.... Rip their teeth out.
Dear Better Business Bureau/FIRST USA BANK
At 0830 EDT on 6 July
1997, I had a phone conversation with an employee of First USA
Bank, Ms. Brie Ross. I was inquiring about doing a balance
transfer from another credit card company to First USA.
Having been down the path before of "low intro rate followed
by very high follow-on rate," I was very specific with Ms
Ross in that I did not want a new Visa Card with a short intro
rate. Ms. Ross offered me a rate of 8.9% fixed, INDEFINITE,
with no intro period. I was adamant about ensuring that
this offer was not the usual short term promo offer. She,
more than once, assured me that this was a permanent rate.
Well with my latest statement, my
rate has gone from 5.9 to 15.90%. I called and spoke with
several reps at First USA.
I even asked them if they had recorded my conversation with Ms. Ross to prove that they had made an error, but they were not helpful, and basically I was told I was stuck with the new surprise rate. I've seen this kind of behavior before, and thus keep EXTREMELY detailed records of such conversations, and I am CERTAIN that I was told the above information. I plan to pay off my balance in full, and never do business with such a dishonest company again, but I feel for others that get stuck paying these extremely high rates. It seems others have similar experiences....you may be interested in the following web site that is dedicated to informing consumers of the nightmares of dealing with First USA.
Thankyou for any assistance you can provide.
xxxxx x xxxxx
Back to First Scams Main Page