Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chase: Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

My household handles all of its finances every Sunday evening after dinner. At this point in the week all of the direct deposits and checks have usually been cashed and we've received all of the bills we're going to be paying that particular week. So we get together in front of the warm glow of the computer monitor and throw an Excel work book onto the fire.

The Sunday before last our lovely and elaborate budget informed us that we were supposed to be sending out one of our car payments that particular week, that of our 99' Mercury Sable. So we rifle through the mail and come up with nothing from Chase, the bank who handles that particular automobile. We have the money, we have the check, we have the stamp. But no bill. So, thinking that it simply went out late we vow that the instant we receive the bill we will pay it and send it on its merry way the very next morning.

At this point it is worth mentioning that this is the only way we can pay intelligently. There is a fee associated with every other payment option. We'd absolutely love to pay our statement online and save them the cost of paper. It'd get them the money faster and save everyone mail costs. But nooooo, they want to charge $15 for every online transaction. That's an extra $540 on a three year loan!

Suffice to say the statement does not arrive. Last Sunday afternoon the phone rings.

MSB: Hello?
Chase: Hello! May I speak with [pause] Mr. Gawdbwa?
MSB: I'm Mr. Godbois, yes.
Chase: Sorry about that, sir. This is Billy from Chase Auto Finance. My system is telling me that you're past due on your 99' Mercury Sable payment. I'm calling to rectify this issue for you.
MSB: We were aware we owed you our monthly payment, but we never received our statement.
Chase: Has this happened in the past, sir?
MSB: Our statement usually arrives later than we'd appreciate, but no. This is the first time that we've failed to receive it.
Chase: Oh! I'm so sorry. My terminal is saying we mailed it, but I'll mail out another invoice right away. You'll have it within 2 - 7 business days.
MSB: Thanks... I appreciate it.

Keep in mind this fine gentleman said 2 - 7 business days to receive another statement. This is all he mentions. He does not offer to waive the fees associated with other payment options so we can get the money to them at that instant, he does not mention incurring late fees on the account and he sure as heck does not mention our account being forwarded to collections.

Today, Wednesday afternoon our phone rings again.

Chase Recording: Good afternoon. Please wait while I connect you.
[2 minute pause]
Chase Recording: I'm sorry. I'm still trying to connect you.
[2 minute pause]
Chase Recording: -rying to connect you. Please hold, we know your time is val-...
[30 second pause]
Chase: Hello?
MSB: Hello.
Chase: Mr. Ghadbwo?
MSB: .... Mr. Godbois, yes.
Chase: Hello. My name is Rowanda. First I must assure you that this conversation will be recorded for quality assurance purposes and this is an attempt to collect a debt.
MSB: .... that's fine.
Chase: My terminal is showing that you are delinquent in your account, for your 99' Mercury Sable. I'm looking to secure a payment.
MSB: ..... (I'm a little taken back) I spoke with an associate Sunday in regards to my not receiving my statement.
Chase: Yes, sir.
MSB: He said we'd receive a new statement within 2 - 7 business days.
Chase: Yes, sir. We have not received your payment.
MSB: ... (a pause while I look at a wall calendar) It is Wednesday, February 20th. I spoke with this gentleman late Sunday afternoon.
Chase: (sounding a little annoyed) Yes. Sir.
MSB: Considering Sunday was not a business day and neither was Monday, due to it being President's day weekend, how is it physically possible for you to mail me a new invoice, for me to receive it, pay it, and then mail it back, and for you receive it, cash the check, and mark it in your system as paid, all within two business days. When you are located where?
Chase: Phoenix, Arizona.
MSB: Right. Do you see where I'm coming from?
Chase: Yes. Sir. Your account is still delinquent. You incurred a late fee today of $12.95. I'm looking to secure payment.
MSB: You're charging me $13 for not paying an invoice I never received, as well as for an invoice that in all likelihood is still in Phoenix, Arizona. Correct?
Chase: $12.95, yes sir. I'm looking to secure payment.
MSB: That's fine.
Chase: My records show me that on December 2nd you asked about setting up an online payment plan?
MSB: Yes, but I decided not to. Because it'll cost me $15 on top of the $12.95 I apparently owe Chase.
Chase: (a little laugh) I can secure payment over the phone, sir.
MSB: On December 2nd I asked about that as well. That also costs $15.
Chase: Sir, you will incur fines if your account remains delinquent. In 10 days your late fees will be $60. These cannot be waived.
MSB: I have every intention of paying. But isn't Chase putting me between a rock and a hard place? I have three payment options, all of which result in me paying more than my monthly due, all because you failed to send me my first invoice. And then, completely understandably, failed to send me my second invoice and receive it within a day and half.
Chase: I'm not twisting your arm, sir. I'm just doing my job. I understand.
MSB: I know, I'm sorry. But is seems that your employer is, no?
Chase: ....Yes, sir.
MSB: Can I just send my own check and reference my account number, instead of waiting for a replacement invoice that may never appear?
Chase: One moment.
[Puts me on hold for 5 minutes]
Chase: Sir? Yes. (she provides me with the address and my account number, but warns me not to do this sort of thing regularly, I should always mail my payment coupon in with my payment)

So what lesson does one learn? Well, besides the obvious "don't ever do business with Chase Auto Finance again" conclusion, one should be quite vigilant about paying invoices that do not exist.

And what did I find in the mail today, moments after it arrived? My original statement, fresh from the mailman. I'm sure I'll receive it's replacement sometime in April.


Kim said...

I'd refinance that loan at a local bank in a heartbeat. Their fees for online payments are ridiculous.

Ed said...

I'd very much like to refinance with a local bank. Those I do business with in the area are pretty great when it comes to customer service and fees.

But alas, due to my credit being in reconstruction mode I'm doubtful as to if I can get a better (or equivalent) deal.


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