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The Bank of America Experience

Sorry to stray so far from my usual topics and attitudes - but I'm really pissed off about this.

Years & years ago, in a sentimental moment, I accepted a University of Michigan Alumni credit card from MBNA, which was absorbed by Bank of America in 2005.

As credit card companies are wont to do, they constantly badgered me with promotional offers.

Early last January, I finally yielded to the temptation. They had sent me an offer which, in my circumstances at the time, I just couldn't refuse:

"Simply use one of these attached checks...by your statement Closing Date in January 2009 [i.e., January 23rd]" - and receive 0% interest until October 2009!!! - the offer fairly shouted...

...Well - dear reader, what can I say? - I used one of the attached checks, at the very beginning of January, to pay off a balance on my Discover card. The good folks at Discover duly credited this check to my account on January 9th - a full two weeks *before* the above-mentioned closing date. And, those good folks assure me, they processed the check within a couple of days, at most.

So here's where the plot thickens:

Bank of America didn't post the transaction for another TWENTY-FOUR DAYS - until February 2nd, to be precise - ten days *after* the closing date. At which point they started charging me in excess of 20% interest. Which has added up, so far, to several hundred dollars that I can ill afford.

When I point out to their "customer satisfaction agents" that I "used" the check well before their deadline, and that I can prove it (with my Discover card statement) - they reply, in essence, that the only thing that matters is the date when they chose to *post* the transaction. Which was, conveniently enough for them, several days *after* the deadline for the promotional rate.

Even though neither the word "post" nor any of its variants is anywhere to be found in their offer letter (which I have retained).

So what's my recourse? Where do I do I go to complain? And won't any attempt to complain just end up costing me more than acquiescence in the demands of the blood-sucking Bank of America?


Comments (26)

If you lived in Illinois, I would recommend you contact the State Attorney General:


Not because she is particularly competent, but her office deals with consumer fraud issues. My guess is your own State Attorney General has something similar to our "Consumer Protection Division". You also might want to call the Better Business Bureau and ask them for advice.

Capitalism, love it or leave it.

This may be a forlorn hope, but try it: when the “customer satisfaction agent" gives you a hard time, ask to speak to his/her supervisor. Lots of times the lower-level people are dumb as h___. I have received satisfaction once or twice that way. If the supervisor balks, ask to speak to the next highest level.

Ask them to send the full contractual arrangement - definitions, etc. I have found that sometimes they are right (insofar as the explicit terms state, not "right" morally), and sometimes they are violating their own terms. I forced a warranty company to pay up by insisting repeatedly that they pay attention to their own terms, and insisting on getting the person's name, and asking to speak to the manager. Of course, in that case I had a state insurance commissioner to appeal to (every state does), but insurance is not the same as the credit card business.

I doubt that a bank can have a "post" date that runs 3 weeks after the other bank receives its money. There are significant shady dealings with that kind of time lag. As in, bad books. And large banks like Bank of America have lots of state auditors to deal with. I would search out the state's bank regulators and start asking them about "posting date" rules. It just doesn't seem possible to rig the books that way without running afoul of proper accounting. If your bank sent the money out in mid-January to another bank, you can't carry the very same money on your books into Feb. Can anyone say "Madoff"?

To be honest, I had an MBNA (now BofA) card and received the exact same offers, and used one or two, and did NOT have anything like the problem you have. I am glad that I have paid them off, though.

That looks like outright fraud to me. If they were deliberately holding it to post until after the deadline, then the original offer was fraudulent, because there was no way you could abide by the requirements.

None of which is to say that I have any great suggestions as to recourse, but some sort of consumer fraud division such as Jeff mentions sounds like a good idea.

BofA is evil. Sorry, Evil. Seemingly from its inception.

You could offer to pay them what *you can afford to pay*, say 10.00/month... forever. As long as you make some offer in good faith they are limited in their ability to retaliate. But that doesn't really solve the problem or correct the injustice. I suggest you hound them and try to get hold of the "right person" who can remedy this. That person does exist. They count in people giving up.

Deliberate filching and deceptive practices are not a legitimate aspect of capitalism.

I used to work at a huge bank, I was one of those dumb as h___ representatives. Actually, I'm not too dumb, I am pretty quick off the mark. The person that answers the call first is the one on the front line, the one the company expects to stall the customer as much as possible. Acting stupid can help some situations, taking control of the call is sometimes best, and sometimes giving the caller whatever they ask for is best. A good representative (as defined by the company they work for) keeps the bosses off the phone without giving an inch. Depending on that company's culture of customer satisfaction requirements, you may or may not get satisfaction. If MBNA is still servicing your account, they don't care who, what or where you are, they are going to get their pound of flesh. BofA is not much better. You will have to ask for the supervisor each time, go up about 2 or 3 levels (sometimes a rep will pass you over to one of their co-workers, not a supervisor). Me, I know a bank cannot be trusted, they are only out to make money off their customers, as much as they can, with little to no regard to ethics. That's why I no longer work for a bank! Try to avoid credit cards as much as possible, period.

Thanks, all, for the many excellent suggestions, which I am arranging into a flow chart, so that I can check them off as I go.

But first prize for best advice goes to Tracy: "avoid credit cards as much as possible, period."

To which I'd just like to add: !!!


It's not necessarily fraud, though it is assuredly fraudulent. Several weeks ago, upon experiencing a bit of a snafu with a Discover card, I contacted one of their customer "service" representatives to seek satisfaction, and in the course of that exchange it was mentioned that I not only had the option of changing the date on which my statements would be issued, but the posting dates. From this I think one may infer that issuers, at a minimum, vary in their posting policies, and it would not be surprising if, buried somewhere in the dozens of pages of barely-penetrable legalistic gibberish in a credit card contract, some banks reserved to themselves the right to alter posting dates at whim, or establish as a default posting policies permitting precisely the sort of swindle at issue here. Just remember one thing: there is a surfeit of terms and conditions in those contracts, and none of them are to the benefit of the customer; in fact, they are often structured with a variety of triggers, such that different patterns of use, payment, and so forth - including the use of those checks, which Discover sends me twice monthly - will trigger different sets of conditions, penalties, etc. The bottom line is that this sort of thing may be legitimate, as BoA is bound solely by the regulations in the state in which it is legally domiciled, probably Delaware.

My experience with BoA was different, yet strangely reminiscent. Some years ago, after running up a bit of credit card debt in some now-forgotten, humdrum domestic undertaking, and not wanting to pay the regular interest rate in the couple months remaining before my tax refund arrived, I broke down and applied for a BoA line of credit with a low interest rate, supposedly valid for 18 months or so, provided one made timely payments. I paid the balances on the credit cards, and made two payments on the BoA account, and upon receiving my tax refund, retired the BoA loan, saving myself several hundred dollars in interest charges by means of this little expedient. One might think that BoA would then consider the matter concluded, but no - they sent at least half a dozen reminders that I had this open line of credit with them, with a $1000 cushion (no doubt with its own set of conditions and interest rates), encouraging me to access it yet again for a litany of purposes. They were just miffed, in part, that they hadn't collected much at all in interest from the account, and were desperately trying to persuade me to give them another chance to extract some rents.

So, yes, they're greedheads.

Maximos - heh! good story.

I must say that this whole experience is beginning to make me think that maybe there was something to the old-timey reservations about usury, after all!

Seems like a pretty easy one for your state attorney general and consumer protection division. Every state has them and most take online complaints. I would call back though and keep requesting someone higher up.

You can probably also get an attorney to write a letter threatening a class action suit. Most attorneys will write a letter of that nature for not very much.

You could offer to pay them what *you can afford to pay*, say 10.00/month... forever. As long as you make some offer in good faith they are limited in their ability to retaliate.

This is a myth, repeated often.

As to the question, I would just go with a certified letter giving notice of claim. Twenty four days to post is not reasonable. Once Discover or whoever had their money, any delay in reconciling was an internal issue on BoA's part.

A few years ago I was swindled by BoA in a much more complicated way than any of the stories here, involving a "trial offer" for a "service" which didn't exist and never existed (as I learned later), run by an associate or subsidiary company of BoA. When BoA offered me the "service" this other company was never mentioned; the whole thing was presented as an additional benefit to services I already received from the bank. I didn't agree to the "trial offer"--I agreed to let them send me information about the service in the mail, nothing more. Without sending me a single piece of paper or doing a single thing for me they began billing me monthly. The subsidiary company promptly went defunct (continuing to bill me) and its computer system supposedly crashed, leaving them "unable" to address my concerns. Of course while I was trying to figure out who these people were and what happened they kept billing me, even as they protested that the company and its network and records no longer existed. BoA of course denied any responsibility, blaming everything on the other company--which had received all of my personal information from BoA and been authorized by them to use their name and make offers in their stead. To this day I don't know if the other company was a fiction all along or what.

I did what Bob G and Tracy suggest: I demanded to speak to the superior of everyone they foisted on me, I complained, objected, made demands and threats. I insisted that it was all their fault to everyone I reached. Their claim was that since BoA was not making the fraudulent charges I had to take it up with the other company, which had BoA's name, information about me, and access to all my accounts. My claim was that since they were using BoA's name and information, whoever they were, the real BoA was responsible for all their actions. I told about a dozen suits on the phone that I didn't care what internal trickery they had to use to give me my money back, even if it was from their personal wallets, I was not going to stop bothering them until somebody fixed my problem. Eventually I did get all of my money back, though it took scores and scores of phone-hours over the course of six months or so. Once everything was finally settled I promptly and loudly cancelled my savings, checking, and credit card accounts and vowed never to do business with them again. I suggest everyone else do the same.

I doubt that this is fraud. It's deceptive, to be sure, but I doubt that it's illegal. Maybe this sort of case is just the sort of case that suggests that there just might be some reason for regulating the industry. The freedom to enter into these sorts of relationships with credit card companies isn't one that I think a certain right leaning party needs to protect. Maybe the Dems will do something about it and maybe some conservative folk can speak out to support them. Just saying. Sorry that you got taken in by these guys.


True. There is plenty of room for governmental involvement in demanding transparency and truthfulness in communications. Even if they did nothing else that would improve things.

On the other side of the fence, if all of the people here who have BofA accounts wrote to them saying "no thanks, I have heard about your shady practices and I no longer wish to be your client", that might send up a flag somewhere. While they are greedy, they aren't stupid ALL the time.

This is probably not fraud. It may be bad faith in the conclusion of a transaction prohibited either by the Uniform Commercial Code or the Illinois Consumer Protection Act (if there is one). Article 3 (Revised) of the Uniform Commercial Code governs negotiable instruments, including checks, and dictates how banks have process checks. The UCC also has a general requirement that parties to commercial transactions covered by the Code act in good faith. I honestly don't know if there is a window within which a payee bank has to post a transaction on a check presented to them, but there might be. You live in Illinois (right?) so the law you're looking for is 810 ILCS 5/3-101 et seq. But the UCC is a nightmarish maze of convoluted definitions, so your best bet is to bounce this off a commercial or transactional attorney, if you're friends with one. Don't ask a criminal or trial lawyer, they won't know what you're talking about.

Basger may be right, though, twenty-four days may not be unreasonable. His advice about a notice of claim would be appropriate in that situation.

My husband mentioned this story, and I want to pass on something that might bring about a quicker resolution than just calling over and over. I'm a huge fan of Consumerist.com, which loves to point out the absurdity of the corporate world, and how evil companies are. BOA is one of their favorites.

If you go to Consumerist.com and search for "Bank of America Executive," it will provide you with some high-level email addresses that you can then use to create an "Executive Email Carpet Bomb." These often get very quick resolutions according to user experiences. It would be great also if you would share the above story with Consumerist, which also has some clout and can often "shame" companies into doing the right thing, especially if you mention that you're publishing your story widely.

Hope that helps,


Something similar happened to my husband and me. Here's what we did. I googled the bank name + "vice president of customer service" - and got his name. I called the bank HQ and found out what office he was in (Chicago). I called Chicago and got his mailing address. We wrote a personal letter about the issue and I mailed it P.O. express Mail right to him, personally addressed.

Well, his secretary called within 48 hours and the charge (in our case >$900) was reversed. Hallelujah! Well worth the s-hours of work and the $14 in express envelope.

And, yeah, we'll NEVER use those checks again. In our case, we had a recurring charge we had forgotten about hit the card that the check was on, triggering nightmarish interest on the balance. We'll never let that happen again, either ;>) JessM

My hatred for BofA is unmatched.

When I was a very poor, young man, they offered a checking account that guaranteed to ccver an overdraft up to a $100.

My bill paying often took me close to the edge of my balance, but I figured I was covered if I went a dollar or two in the red. I tried not to get below zero, but it happened. I looked at my bank statement and they charged me twenty precious dollars for the overdraft (and bounced the check).

I never quite got a clear explanation of how my overdraft protection failed or didn't apply to my account. It was something about maintaining a minimum balance throughout the month (in which case I wouldn't need overdraft protection). It was Catch 22 all the way.

I've never done business with them since (or Wells Fargo). I hate them. I utterly hate them. But they bought Countrywide and now they hold my mortgage.

My experience with BoA was similar. Two months in a row they allowed a merchant to overcharge my credit card. I sent in a claim each time with a xerox of everything. They stalled by sending back forms asking for all the information I had already sent them. I called several times. Suddenly they announced the time period was up and they couldn't do anything about it. And besides, they told me, the person handling my claim had marked the case as resolved to everyones' satisfaction This of course was the same person who refused to look at the material I sent (it must be much easier just to send forms back rather than do any real work).

I cancelled my BoA credit card and looked around for another company to use, selecting MBNA. Six months later I started getting mail that MBNA was being bought out by BoA. Not sure one can escape anymore. Avoid using credit cards when you can, and pay them off in full each month if you can. It is not just the usury, but the attendant greed and incompetence of BoA you need to stay away from.

Well, misery loves company - so thanks all for sharing your tales of woe!

And special thanks to Michael Sullivan's Wife: Consumerist.com looks really interesting.


Darkness hates light. Why not write up your experience and attempt to publish it in a magazine or newspaper. I had a horrible time with American Airlines and could not penetrate their Customer Service bunker. So I chronicled my experience and contacted papers in Dallas asking to submit it as an op ed (AA is headquartered there). They took a big interest in the story and I got a call quickly from the Star-Telegram's business reporter who was salivating at the chance to cover the story. He, of course, called AA.

*Instantly*, AA called me wanted to talk.

You might have similar results if you make it clear that you aren't just going to talk about this on a blog, but will publish the tale of their fraud to as broad a base of consumers as possible.

On a side note, what ever happened to that "Credit Card bubble" that was supposed to follow the real estate bubble? If the credit card industry is in financial trouble, these deceptive practices will increase out of desperation.

Bank of America is a nationally chartered bank and therefore regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. From what I gather there are rules that limit how long a bank has to post a payment TO them on a credit card balance ( http://www.helpwithmybank.go/faqs/credit_late_payment.html#drop10 ), but I don't know what rules, if any, apply to posting cash-advance checks. In addition to asking for a supervisor on the phone, I would contact BofA in writing ASAP, providing the documentation. I'd also mention that if you don't receive satisfaction you will be filing formal complaints with the Comptroller, the Federal Reserve, the state attorney general, the BBB, etc. (apparently, BofA is a BBB-accredited business so I'd at least file a complaint with them).

I second Mark Shea's recommendation to write a complaint to a local or regional newspaper.

If you have any musical abilities, it seems that the method taken by Dave Carroll worked with United Airlines =)


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