my experiences with creditexpert.com's "free credit report" offer
Below is a summary of my experiences with the creditexpert.com "free credit report" offer. My main problems were that (a) their "30-day free trial" actually only lasted about 15 days since I burned two weeks waiting for a password to arrive by postal mail, (b) their phone technical support was really incompetent.
I went to Experian.com to look into their "free credit report" offer since I wanted a copy of my report. On December 19th, to qualify for the free report, I signed up for their "Credit Manager" service, which costs $80 a year but which they said I could cancel with a full refund if I cancel within 30 days. I answered a bunch of questions online about my identity and recently used addresses, and at the end they told me, "We were unable to verify your identity online. For security purposes, we cannot tell you precisely why we were unable to verify your identity online, so we'll mail you your username and password that you can use to access our site." 11 days later I still hadn't gotten anything in the mail, so I called them December 30th, and they said it was sent out on the 19th so I should just sit tight. I also asked them if I could have my free trial extended to 30 days after I get my password, rather than 30 days from the time that I signed up online, and they said no.
There's a red flag. Since there's no logical why they couldn't just let me have my free trial start from the date that I first enter my password, rather than on the date that they ostensibly mail it to me, perhaps they're trying to get people to stay until their "free trial" is over before they realize it.
Anyway, my password did arrive in the first week of January and I logged on to view my credit report. Under the list of recent credit inquiries that lowered my score each time an inquiry was made, they had two identical queries from "CREDCO", two days apart, dated from a time when I was first looking into getting a mortgage. Since identical queries from the same company within a certain period (one or two weeks, I think) are supposed to be counted as one query, I was able to call Experian and get one of the queries removed. But why did the duplicate entries even get put there in the first place? (That's not CreditExpert.com's fault though, since Experian had the duplicate listings.)
Then the fun began with CreditExpert.com. One of their tools is a credit score simulator where you can change variables about your own data (total debt, number of recent inquiries, etc.) and see how it affects your score. The simulator starts with the variables set to your *real* data, and you can adjust them to see the effect. The problem is that even though I had just removed the redundant inquiry from CREDCO, and my CreditExpert.com credit report showed only 10 recent inquiries, the simulator still had my "number of recent inquiries" set to 11 instead of 10. I could of course change the value in the simulator, but I wanted to make sure my *real* credit score was being computed with 10 and not 11 as the input.
So I called CreditExpert.com and started trying to get an answer. I kept saying, "The simulator shows 11 inquiries when it should be 10. I can change the simulated value to 10, but shouldn't the *real* value be 10?" The lady kept saying, "Sir, as I just explained to you, the simulator is just a simulator, if you change a value in the simulator it doesn't change the real underlying value." And I would say, "Yes but I want to get the 'underlying value' changed since the given 'underlying value' is wrong." And she would say, "Sir, it's the simulator, what you change in there doesn't really change anything." etc. I called again the next day, spoke to someone else, and had almost the exact same conversation.
Oh and the second lady pronounced it "sigh-mulator" and "sigh-mulation". I don't mind getting help from non-native-English speakers if they know what they're talking about, but if the person working phone support doesn't know what they're talking about AND doesn't speak English, it's a sign that the company is really trying to cut corners.
I cancelled during the free trial so in the end I didn't have to pay. But if I had paid for that service, which is advertised as including phone tech support for their online tools, and subsequently discovered the quality of their phone tech support, I would sue to get my money back on the grounds that the tech support was so poor.
In the long run, I did get my credit report, and since I cancelled during the trial period, it really was free. So if you want a way to get a copy of your report, you might want to take them up on their offer and just mark your calendar to cancel before you get billed. Just don't expect too much if you try to play with their other services :)
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