Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Over $50 Saved, Plus a Re-Adjusted APR in Under 10 Minutes

Wow. I've had some nasty experiences with Bank of ("we have a lot of fraud") America in the past (and yes, a financial rep actually said that quote to me once).

Now, I've just had one of the most painless and happy experiences with them. I believe I've mentioned I've not been working much recently (until this week, which has been off the charts crazy). As such, I've not kept up with my budgeting spreadsheet recently.

I'm accustomed to paying parts of all my debt nearly every week. Earlier this month, I paid about half of what was due on my Bank of America credit card. About 15 minutes ago, I checked their website because I thought the rest of my payment was due in a couple days, only to find out it was due yesterday. Aside from the nasty $39 late fee, I was also worried about the APR, as the bulk of that balance was a 1% balance transfer promo rate.

In something that restores my faith that there are nice, kind, reasonable bank employees, a rockstar of a customer service rep just did the following: 1. when I asked if the late fee would affect the APR, she said yes, and then she said she would reverse that so the promo APR would come back, and any fees accrued between yesterday and tomorrow will be refunded; 2. without me even getting to this question, she pre-empted me and said she'd also reverse the late fee; Finally, 3. she offered to post a payment for me, over the phone, using their expedited service (which is normally something like $15), again she waived the fee. I was only going to ask to have the late fee reversed...(and then I was going to balance transfer to my other credit card on the next phone call).

A little charm and kindness can go a very, very long way. I thanked her profusely, and very briefly explained how I'm self-employed and have only just started working again [after not for a while], and she totally understood because she'd just left the freelance world and went back to corporate work again. All this came about after she'd started the fee reversing and promo rate re-instatement, but I could tell it made a little difference in how she talked to me. She was very much "I totally understand what it's like" and very, very sympathetic.

As a side note, I believe in keeping at least one credit card long-term (I've had this one for around eight years, though I've only ever used it for balance transfers), because you do get certain benefits [if you use the card] -- such as them being so accommodating when you call up asking for a favor. I was fully prepared to use the "I've had this card for ages...can you work with me here?" tactic.

I have had nasty experiences with Bank of America in the past, and I've read far too many first-person horror stories for me to ever consider doing my regular banking with them. Yet, I'm still glowing from the customer service I just received and completely in awe that this whole thing just happened!

This just goes to show: you never know until you ask, and sometimes you get some pretty wonderful surprises from the unlikeliest of sources.

So, with what I can only describe as a massive (albeit, surely, temporary) change of heart: I heart Bank of America customer service reps!

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