I previously blogged about my horrid experience with Chase shutting down my Best Buy credit card on a seeming whim, leaving me with the awesome experience of going to a check-out and having my card declined. If you have not read that, READ IT FIRST.
After dealing with the normal level one tier customer service reps, I contacted Chase’s Executive Office, as they suggested. I was told this office was where the decision to close my account, as opposed to placing it on hold, originated from. I spoke with a representative of that office and explained the situation, and asked what the hell had happened.
I was then told that Chase legally could not tell me why my account was closed. As in, illegal to say it. No choice. Nada. I was absolutely baffled by this. I was also told that level one had advised me incorrectly, and that my account was not closed due to missing information about my ID. In fact, it was a mystery something else that was not my credit score, but was ‘information that was incorrectly collected at the time’. I asked her outright if it was my employment status (part-time) or anything of the like, and she refused to confirm or deny anything. She said she would send a letter on it. She also said she had listened to the call and was sorry that the level one reps had told me incorrect information.
For the record, I have yet to receive: a) the letter that level one advised was mailed before the in-store incident; or b) a letter from the Executive Office, clarifying the discussion we’d had. I did, however, receive my Best Buy statement, dated May 26th, that indicated I had available credit! Hilarious.
At this point, per my mother-in-law, who worked in banking for twenty years and was appalled by all of this, I contacted the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada for further contacts and advice. I learned that credit card providers and other lenders have the right to cancel your credit account at any time, with no rhyme or reason to it, which I find really disgusting, but that’s politics for you. However, there is no law that prevents them from giving you the reason; it’s just their choice to withhold it, if they so desire. More lies from Chase!
The rep did agree that the changing reasons and the closure versus hold seemed odd, and provided me with a number for the JP Morgan Chase Ombudsman for Canada, Jennifer Hare. I left a voicemail. Due to phone tag and personal obligations, I was unable to answer her right away, so she sent me a letter via courier. This letter, dated June 7th, only served to further irritate me. It begins by summarizing the facts I had already relayed or were known. My account was closed May 17th, apparently; funny how my May 26th statement days I have available credit, huh? I’m also still waiting for the letter sent supposedly prior to the store debacle.
But this is the hilarious part, which I will take the time to type out for posterity and dissection:
As a Canadian financial institution, Chase is responsible for complying with The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), which sets out prescribed identification methods for credit card accounts. For accounts opened at a retail location, Chase and Best Buy must review government-issued identification and record the unique identification number. When you opened the account in November 2010, you presented your passport to the Best Buy sales agent, who collected the identification number. Chase later performed a verification of the passport number as entered by the agent. We found it did not match the format we use to validate passport unique identifier numbers, and accordingly had no alternative but to close the account. We sincerely regret the inconvenience that the closure of your account occasioned. (emphasis mine)
So, now we’re back to my ID being the problem! Back and forth, back and forth…. Chase, customer service isn’t ping pong. I’m also baffled, being as the rep barcode scanned my passport, how the unique identifier wasn’t recorded. I’m thoroughly impressed that an agent error, by Chase’s own words, led to my account being closed. I’m still not given a reason why some accounts were only held and I was not contacted to get that identifier for them to verify me. I’m also curious why it took six months for them to notice.
But let me draw your attention to the bolded part: they had no alternative but to close my account. That’s funny; your own employees told me some accounts were just frozen. Further, I called the FCAC again today, who confirmed that there is nothing in the Act they cited that forces them to close an account, and further, that the government agency that enforces compliance cannot make Chase close an account at the snap of their fingers alone; Chase has the ultimate authority to choose to close it.
I have now left a further voicemail with Ms. Hare, detailing the laws as I have had them explained to me, and have also contacted FINTRAC, who ensure bank compliance with the Act. I’ll continue to update on this nonsense, not only for those interested, but to make it publicly clear that Chase is hiding behind a dance of multiple laws to close accounts on a whim. While that may be their legal right, it IS piss-poor customer service. I’ve had a few others come forward and tell me of recent closures that are just as illogical, so I cannot stress this enough: avoid Chase. Boycott stores that use their financing services. If your account was closed without warning, complain and ESCALATE. I do not know the process in the States, but in Canada, the process can be found via the FCAC website, including all contact numbers (search Chase).
Keep failing, Chase. You ticked off the wrong person. I’m not passive, nor am I unintelligent, uninformed or too scared to question authority. I’m legally well-versed and articulate, and will continue to spread word of your poor treatment of consumers.