More hassles with BankOne credit card payment
After successfully having them reverse a late charge for payment after a phone call, I realized I was still going to be late with the next payment so I opted to use the BankOne Pay By Phone service. But, surprise, paying your credit card bill via a telephone system that's supposed to hook into your checking account is rather fraught with peril.
The basic problem is that the system prompts for various bank and account routing numbers from the bottom of your checks - easy enough to figure out - then says "please wait, verifying transaction" and puts you on hold for 30-60 seconds.
But, as I found out, it isn't actually verifying the transaction. What the computer system is doing is simply verifying that the bank routing number is valid, though when it returns you get a "transaction confirmation code". But if the account number isn't entered correctly, it turns out that the transaction later fails without any way for you to know that's transpired.
And that's exactly what happened to me. I paid for my VISA credit card bill using the BankOne Pay by Phone service, entered in all the check and bank routing information, received the confirmation code and hung up, complacent in the knowledge that I'd done my bit to ensure a prompt payment. You can imagine my surprise when my next credit card bill from BankOne included a $35 returned check and $15 late payment penalty!
I've just about had it with BankOne and their aggressive and inflated penalties: $50 is clearly too much for a failure in their system. So I called and talked with a customer service rep, which was a basic waste of time. They couldn't care less and "the computer wouldn't let them reverse the late charge anyway".
So I escalated it to a supervisor by saying I wanted to cancel my card and close down my account. The supervisor asked what happened, I explained the situation, highlighted that they really need to change the confirmation message on their Pay By Phone system to say "bank routing confirmed: please call back in 24 hours to ensure that the transaction completed successfully" (he said "hmmm...") and said that I was ready to cancel my account.
Surprise! Instead he waived the entire $50 penalty and we're back to zero. And I've kept the account. For now.
This is another example of why escalating beyond the first-level customer service reps can be quite helpful, but it's also a good example of why having a clear and coherent story can be your best friend. Without my explanation, I'm sure that BankOne would have let me close down my VISA credit card account with them, even after years of use (indeed, we got it back when it was an "e-card", if you remember those).
But at the end of the day, what I really want is to have things make sense. It's a tall order, but if the BankOne Pay By Phone system would have told me an accurate message, I would have known to double-check the transaction the next day, caught the error, and taken care of it, without the expense and hassle of returned check fees, late penalties, and all that other nonsense.
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