The JP Morgan Chase Saga – Part Two

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.

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6 thoughts on “The JP Morgan Chase Saga – Part Two

  1. […] EDIT:  THE SAGA CONTINUES!  MORE CHASE LIES ON THESE CLOSURES HERE! […]

  2. matticus says:

    While I am not Canadian (I am a resident of Arkansas now, having transplanted from Southern California), I have recently experienced a very similar closure. My credit score is over 750 and I had previously had a Best Buy card through Chase Bank, NA. I opened the account in January 2010. I had never made a late payment. I also had a checking and savings account through Washington Mutual Bank, NA, which was taken over by Chase before I opened the Best Buy credit account.

    Everything had been fine until 6/7/11, when I logged into my account to make a transfer from my checking account to pay part of the card balance, as I do every month. I had a notice that stated my account had been closed, but that I could still “conveniently make payments online”. Baffled, I called. I spoke with a customer service representative who told me that my account had been flagged as “high risk”, but couldn’t provide any other information. I relayed that I had never made a late payment and have held the account nearly 18 months. I also informed them that my credit history was flawless for the last 5 years. My debt to credit ratio is only 35%, so no red flags there.

    The representative I spoke with flat out told me that aside from it being flagged, they could not disclose why my account had been closed. They advised that a letter had been mailed to me on 6/7/11 explaining why the account had been closed. Furious, I closed both my checking and savings accounts and opened new accounts with another bank. I figure they shouldn’t be able to reap benefits of having my entire savings account (nearly $30,000 as I have been saving for a down payment on a home) with them, especially if this is how they want to do business. I have yet to receive their letter, and it has been 2 weeks since I was told it was mailed.

    I have made several other calls to no avail. It frustrates me, as there was no reason for my account to have been flagged “high risk”. I have since applied for another credit card through my bank and was immediately approved for a $10,000 limit Platinum Mastercard. I should note that this is twice the limit of my Chase Best Buy card. I have since transferred the balance to my new card. As far as I’m concerned, Chase Bank can kiss my lily white ass. If they want to mistreat and lie to a customer who did nothing but make timely payments and act responsibly with their credit, so be it. I would, however, like to know exactly what caused them to close the account. I don’t like being told that no one can answer the question. My last call resulted in being told that, until I receive the letter explaining why they closed it, no one could discuss the account further with me. It’s as if I’m some sort of criminal.

    I upheld my end of the credit agreement. Why didn’t Chase? I just don’t understand.

    Anyhow, I guess this isn’t just something affecting you folks up North.

    Regards,
    M

    • Amber Waves says:

      Thank you for sharing. I’m of the same mind – they can kiss my ass too at this point. It seems Chase is closing accounts at will, and considering how everyone I’ve spoken to has a great credit score and history with the bank, I’m wondering if those of us who don’t run up interest charges — thereby giving Chase a profit — are being dropped because of unprofitability, I’m not sure if the laws are the same there, but escalate to the internal ombudsman. No one would give me an answer on anything in detail until I involved the Canadian one. The regular reps were very tight-lipped.

  3. Sean says:

    From WA state, received letter dated 9/11/11 from Chase stating my Best Buy account is being closed with no option to convert to something else. It explicitly says the Best Buy/Chase relationship is ending on September 30th, 2011. and that access to chase.com/bestbuy webpage will revert to the regular chase logo landing page. Very vague, very fishy, and just downright dirty especially with just over 15 days warning?! WTH is going on with these clowns? And THEN, this story airs tonight on the 11pm news! http://www.king5.com/news/investigators/Chase-account-frozen-130142148.html

    • Amber Waves says:

      Whoa! Thanks for sharing that link and information. I’m hoping that others, like me, advised Best Buy that they would boycott the store until Chase was out of the picture. I haven’t received a statement from them in months, despite owing them for a laptop still that comes due November 1st. I wonder if they’re hoping I’ll default. Good luck in your own battle and please report them to your financial consumer agency. Make the paper trail grow, because on a Federal level, they do keep files on banks and investigate if repeated concerns come in.

      • Sean says:

        So tonight I filed a complaint with FTC (federal trade commission). They have a new sub agency called Consumer Financial Protection Bureau http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ dedicated to credit card complaints! Here is what I sent them. I hope that some of my arguments seem plausible enough. Getting at least 2 of 6 complaints heard would be just enough to stab Chase back in the eye the way they treat consumers!

        WHAT HAPPENED

        What Happened:
        Problem with Chase financed Best Buy revolving store card. Chase sent letter dated 9/11/11 indicating Best Buy relationship is ending 9/30/11 after just 2 short years after taking over Circuit City credit accounts. The letter indicates all Chase BestBuy cards will be closed on 9/30/11 but existing balances will remain until paid off.

        1. Chase is not acting in good-faith to transfer revolving lines of credit to other financial competitor. Chase is only providing 15 days advance notice to subscribers to find adequate financing elsewhere.
        2. CRA’s frown upon accounts with short length of credit history. Chase should have been committed to support this revolving credit relationship with Best Buy after automatically converting debtors to an additional, however premature, CRA tradeline history from defunct Circuit City accounts without debtors permission.
        3. Chase does not provide adequate explanation for short notice for ending their business relationship with Best Buy.
        4. Chase does not adequately explain how remaining balances will be reported to CRA’s specifically pertaining to debt-to-credit limit ratio if the limit is now frozen. Chase is treating the last transaction as a close-ended installment loan instead of honoring the revolving feature consumers preferred.
        5. Chase/Best Buy frequently promoted 3 year no-interest financing promotions up-to and prior to this announcement, but all of a sudden are closing accounts well short of the promotion expiration. This appears to be a prejudicial violation in bad faith effort to honor forward looking relationship with debtors who continue to make good on the mutual credit relationship with Chase. Closing the premature account with remaining long term promotion balances is detrimental to consumer credit reporting history.

        6. Chase does not provide a consumer bill-of-rights to assist with filing a grievance.
        Category: Closing / Cancelling account
        Do you believe the issue involves discrimination? Yes No
        On basis of:
        Please specify: purchasing habits, debt-to-credit limit ratio

        DESIRED RESOLUTION

        Desired Resolution:
        Honor all grandfathered account relationships between Best Buy, Chase (creditor), and the debtor. If Chases wishes to end their agreement with Best Buy, the consumer should not have to be disrupted as we still have a contractual agreement with creditor.

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