The Service Charge

So my Visa bill came in the mail yesterday and I was reconciling the charges from the past month. Everything seemed okay until I matched up my total due with the total due on the statement.

The previous month's statement included a late charge because I was about 48 hours late on a payment. Stupid mistake, but humans are prone to do so once in awhile.

But the statement for the month of July should not have included any such late fees, as the previous bill was paid on time, and in full. Down at the bottom of my current statement was an unexplained service charge of a few dollars. Not itemized, but sort of clandestinely tucked away within some tabular fine print at the foot of the page.

This prompted me to pick up the phone and surf an automated menu.

Press 1. Press 4. Enter the last 4 digits of your account number. Dial your zip code. Press 2. Press 1. Rip your hair out by the roots. On a whim, I hit zero once. I hear some places will let you talk to a person when you do that, and frankly nowhere in the labyrinthine menu structure was a selection that mentioned disputing a late fee.

Amazingly enough, at 11:30 CST, I got a human. Score one point for JP Morgan Chase.

She pulled up my account information after I raised my concern, and reminded me that I am a preferred customer.

Great. Apparently you folks express preference by charging late fees at random. I do it with expertly timed jabs at one's self-esteem, but hey, we're all different, right?

She goes into the fact that I made a late payment once upon a time, and then, after pretending to check again, she declares that she's not only crediting the most recent service charge, but the one from the previous statement, as well as the initial $39 penalty fee.

Um, wow. Thanks.

Lessons learned:

“Hi, I'm Representative Howard Lieber, and I just wanted to remind you that District Primaries are next Tuesday. Do your part and vote for me, Howard Lieb--*BEEP* Thank you for your time, and we'll see you at the polls next Tuesday!”

Okay, maybe not every time.

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