a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: How Credit Card Companies Mess With You

Thursday, April 03, 2008

How Credit Card Companies Mess With You

SUMMARY: Griping.

I almost never use my Sears charge card. I prefer to keep everything on one credit card so things don't get lost--take note. But when I bought a new dryer last month, I got a big discount if I used my Sears card. So I did.

The last couple of months have been nuts on my work project. I've been stacking my junk mail in a pile to deal with later. After paying my bills Tuesday, I realized that I have a lot more money left at the end of the month than I had expected, and last night I (fortunately) realized why: I hadn't seen my Sears bill. Yup, you guessed it, in with the junk mail, and it's due Monday the 7th. OK, it's Thursday the 3rd. I've got 4 days to get it there. It's just over the border, in Nevada, so that should be easy, right?

Post Office says that first-class mail *should* get there in 3 days. Yeah, right, we know how that goes. I really don't want it to be late--at 23.15% (!Yikes! How is that kind of rate legal? I mean really!), I'd have to pay $14.49 in finance charges.

So, OK, I'll phone in a payment, maybe using my other credit card. But--No! They charge $14.95 for this service!

So, OK, they allow you to sign up online to pay. So I go through the process, click the "pay now" button, and they say, whoa, Nelly, you've never paid using this account before, so you have to wait 6 days for us to approve this account.

So, OK, I'll drive to the Sears store, which is 5 minutes away, and pay there. But--No! I quote, "There may be a delay of up to 5 days in crediting a payment made in-store." Now that's what I call friendly service.

So, OK, how about overnight mail or something? The back of the bill says "...send payment by courier or express mail to..." AND *that* address is in Ohio! Glad I noticed that tiny gray fine print or I might have sent it to the REGULAR address! That could have really hosed me! Who's going to notice that, really, if all they're paying attention to is the due date? So the PO says I can pay $6.40 for Priority Mail and it will arrive in "2 days" (but no guarantee(!)), or $16.25 to send it Express Mail and it'll get there by noon on Saturday.

OK, so what if I want to send it Priority Mail but not express mail? Do I send it to the regular address or to the express mail address? What if I pick the wrong address--do I get dinged for being late anyway because then there may be a 5-day delay in them figuring out which butt their head is stuck up? (No insult intended.)

So, in other words, if I haven't paid the bill by 5 days BEFORE THE DUE DATE, I am going to pay SOMEONE something like $15 for the privilege of paying ON TIME.

Screw it, it's going into the regular mail.


  1. I bet it gets there no problem. And if it's late by a day - call and get them to waive it this one time. If you have good credit - that usually works - I've done it a few times when a payment was just 1 day late.

  2. Aaaaahhhhhhrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh!

  3. Oh, nightowl has a good point. I've done that before when I 'missed one'. If you have a great history with them, they will usually wave the first 'mistake'.

    But I most certainly understand your frustration! Been there...unfortunately.

  4. I agree with nightowl, it should get there in time, and if it doesn't call up and apologize and with any luck they'll just waive it. Though I wouldn't put it past Sears to say no. So when are you canceling the Sears card? :) Sometimes saving money just isn't worth it. :)

  5. I'm thinking that I'll try giving them a call on Monday. Since I hardly ever use the sears card, I don't know what they'll think about my credit history. But I agree, MOST companies would waive a fee once. Who knows about Sears. They've always been dumb. Many years ago when I got married and changed my name, they kept telling me that they couldn't change my name because their system used my last name as a key. (Duh.....) And I think they're the ones who also decided that maybe the phone number made a good account number, so you can't ever change your phone number because they also can't find you. Very weird stuff.