Friday, February 27, 2009

COMMENTARY: Beware of Bank of America

Editor's note: This is a commentary piece from the site's editor, Dave Thomas. If you would like to respond, feel free to send us a comment.

For those of us who had parents live through The Great Depression, we have often heard the difficult times they went through. In 2009, many of us are living through our own tough times.

After giving five solid years to an insurance magazine, Insurance Journal, I received a layoff via email one day a few years back. The company apparently wanted to cut costs and I was the one to go, yet they had to do it via an email and not to my face.

Having put in 17 years in the corporate world, I thought maybe it was time to venture out and try to start a business on my own. I guess like many people, I felt starting my own business at that time proved more risks than benefits, so I looked for another job while I did freelance writing on the side to pay bills.

To make a long story short, I took another job out of state, but decided it wasn't for me and moved back to my original locale. In need of work, I continued to send resumes out while I did as much freelance writing as I could get my hands on. Then one day I decided to go for it....yes, try and make a go of it on my own.

I started an insurance blog, then grew into two more blogs, with California ( and Atlanta ( being my focus. As in any business venture, you need money to sustain yourself.

I'm the first to admit I've made some bad financial choices over the years with my limited stocks, which jobs to take and so on. So the story goes, I had to put a number of items on my credit cards. While I wasn't happy with increased balances, I knew that I would pay them off as soon as possible.

Three of my cards are with one parent company, Bank of America. While the balances are high, I was not only meeting my minimum requirements, but oftentimes paying more to get the balances down. For example, one card last month had a minimum of just over $200. Instead of paying the minimum, I sent in $1,100.

I received a letter from Bank of America on Feb. 26 (written and authorized by them Feb. 19) that they were dropping the available credit line on one of my cards because of high revolving balances. So, I called and spoke to a customer service rep about this. Yes, I understand you were dropping my available credit, but nearly $5,000!

The woman then asked me my income and I provided a ballpark figure. With freelance writing, the pay scales are all over the place. Anyhow, she then informs me that I didn't make enough money to meet my balances (yet I sent in $1,100 just the other week for one of their cards) and they were closing down all three accounts until I paid them off in full.

As of this morning, I've spoken to five different customer service reps, analysts, supervisors, etc. at Bank of America.

All five of the people I've spoken with would not answer one question I had.

In the letter I received on Feb. 26, it said that as long as I at least met my minimums, my accounts would remain open. I asked the last person I spoke with if Bank of America honors their words in their letters. Apparently the answer is no. I asked the last person I spoke with if he wanted me to fax a copy of the letter the company sent to me about keeping my accounts open if I met the minimum....he said no. I guess he wasn't interested in what his company was putting on its letterhead and sending out to customers.

The last person to speak with me also said they (B of A) can changes the rules whenever and wherever they want. So one week (when you know what my balances are) you tell me that you will honor my account as long as I meet the minimums. Then the next week they close out the accounts. It doesn't exactly give me a warm and fuzzy feeling to do business with them in the future.

In all business deals, people should stand by their word. As I have learned with this incident, Bank of America does not stand by its word.

Needless to say, I have no plans to do business with Bank of America in the future. As far as I'm concerned, they have no desire to work with their customers, they do not stand by their word in their letters and they don't care if you end up on the streets.

When you think about it, kind of a sad commentary on our current times and the fact that many people no longer give a damn about their fellow man.

Do you have a bad credit card story you want to share? If so, drop us a line.

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