I was shocked to learn my Providian credit card raised my APR from
23.99 to 29.99. I've never missed a payment or been late. I called
to find out why and the rep told me they mailed out a notice of
change in terms. I said I never received the notice. They basically
said too bad, but we can mail you out another one. I was so angry I
closed my account. I waited for the promised re-mail of the notice.
It never came. I called again, this time asking to speak with a
supervisor. I calmly explained the situation, reminding them I've
never missed a payment or been late, not even once. They said there
was nothing they could do, except mail me the new terms. Still,
another billing period and no terms. I called again, this time
demanding my rate be lowered to the original 23.99, because I never
received the terms. They said they would mail the terms again.
Now, I just received an insulting
letter from them informing me that my request to lower the interest was denied because
I closed the account too late. The letter went on to say this was
all outlined in the notice they mailed to me in February. I have yet to receive the notice!! I don't even think the notice
exists. Another family member has this card, with a closed account,
and Providian never changed his rate. I feel singled out. Is it
legal for them to change the terms without any notice?? What are my
options to fight this?? If they are in violation of a law, who can I
report this to (I live in Las Vegas)?? Please help!!
Thanks for writing!
What has happened to you is has
become very common. I have also been receiving more and more notices with
changes in terms.
The deal is that you can decline to
accept some of these term changes and it won't affect your account. For
example, I have received many term changes regarding arbitration. If
you don't decline the terms then you give up your right to bring
them to court under certain conditions. For more on that read my
article, Giving Up
Your Rights--Without Knowing It!
However, if you decline other
changes, for example rate changes, then the bank will close your
account and you'll have to repay under your original terms. Of course, you would
have had to reply by their arbitrary deadline. To see the legal
details you'll need to look at the original terms from your account
agreement with Providian.
I also have a Providian credit card
and in my 10/5/1998 Account Agreement it states: "CHANGES. After we provide you
any notice required by law, we may change any part of this Agreement
and add or remove requirements. If a change is made to the Finance
Charges section of this Agreement, the new finance charge
calculation will apply to your entire Account balance from the
effective date of the change. Changes will apply to balances that
include items posted to your Account before the date of the change
and will apply whether or not you continue to use the Account."
The way I'm reading that is that they
can basically do what they want. I guess the only argument you can
make is that they have not yet "provided you" with a
notice. If you want to bust chops you could try calling and asking
them for proof that they mailed it because you have yet to receive
the notice. Then make them send it to you by signature delivery like
FedEx or Express Mail. Tell them that they have not yet
"provided the notice required by law" and they cannot make
any changes until they do provide that notice.
If the rep or supervisor cannot help
then ask for "an officer of the bank."
You need to punish them! Teach them a
lesson! You already closed the account but that's not enough! You
must get a better rate, and let's face it, 23.99% is a crazy-high
Apply for a new credit card and
transfer the balance from that Providian card. Do it right away!
Check out my article, Getting
better, cheaper credit--right now! and apply for a new
credit card. Be sure to do a balance transfer from that high rate when you do the
application. This will get rid of that high rate as well as
increasing your chances of getting approved.
Lastly, you can make a complaint
Good luck and please let me know what