Okay, so this is story has a lot of personal discontent to it, but it's also somewhat politically based.
To start, my story. Approximately 11 years ago, I declared bankruptcy for reasons outside of my control. In doing so, I knew that I would have to accept a lot of hardship along the way, but it was a last ditch attempt to dig my way out of bad circumstances. So declare bankruptcy, I did. While I don't recommend it to anyone, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Now, that doesn't mean it was easy. I spent many years paying 23.9% interest on an automobile loan, had issues with getting any credit, but I was prepared for that. During that time, Providian Bank took a chance on me and granted me a credit card with a $500 limit. Over the next 7 years, through hard work and sacrifice, I was able to increase that credit limit substantially, while lowering the interest rate down to 16%. During our financial relationship, Providian was bought out by WAMU, but they held to Providian's standards and due to them honoring the terms originally given to me by Providian, I grew very loyal to that credit card and the bank that held it. They were honest with me, gave me nothing for free, but treated me with respect and rewarded me with higher credit limits and lower interest rates for my good credit behavior.
In walks Chase bank. Using TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds granted to it by the US Government, Chase bought out WAMU. That's not what the TARP funds were intended for, but that's another conversation. So, using money granted to it by the US Government, Chase became owner of my credit card. Now, again, I was loyal to this card and it had a good balance on it. It was my primary credit card. By this time, I've owned the card for over 10 years, never missed a payment on it, always paid more than the minimum balance, and had paid the card off several times. Within 3 months of acquiring WAMU, I noticed that my interest rate on this card had skyrocketed from 16% to a detestable 32.9%!!! I called Chase and requested that they lower my rate back down, that I was a good customer and didn't deserve this rate. Their response was that they had sent me a letter informing me of the increase (which they did not!) and that it couldn't be lowered. They informed me that the rate had been increased to "maintain profitability on my account". Wow! Really, you raised the interest rate of 10yr, on time paying, never missed a payment, never going over limit client just so you could make more money?? After several months of fighting with them, getting nothing but rude responses such as "Feel free to close your account" and the like, I decided to pay off the card. Taking a loan, I paid the balance in full to be rid of the border line illegal interest rate charges but chose not to close the account because I didn't want to hurt my credit score.
Here comes the second jab. 3 months after paying off the balance in full, I DO receive a letter from them stating that "due to account inactivity they have decided to reduce my credit line". They reduced it by over 2/3rds!!!! To add insult to injury, the letter also informed me that "Had I made a purchase that went above this new limit, I had 45 days to bring the amount beneath the new limit else I would be subject to monthly over credit, increased interest rate for over credit, and other fees". So now I have a credit limit that is less than a 1/3rd of what I spent 10 years building simply because I wasn't using the account. In addition, had I made a good faith based purchase on this account subject to my known, earned previous credit limit, I would be subject to financial discipline for exceeding what I believed to be my appropriate limit. WOW!
Before this time, my credit score was in the 700's and I'm very proud that I was able to build this score after having declared bankruptcy. I take pride in my score actually, declaring it proof that a person can turn bad circumstances around. However, because of Chase's actions, my score is now below 700, actions that were not done thru any fault, or mis-action, on my part. WTH? Again, I call them and get a "there's nothing we can do, feel free to close the account". This time, they will get their wish. They can't hurt my credit score any worse than they already have, so I've shredded the credit card and sent them a letter with the shredded remains along with a very nice, polite detailing of exactly what they can do with that card and how they might best be able to perform my suggestion.
Now I find out that JP Morgan Chase has repaid all $25M given to it from the TARP program. While one would expect me to be happy that this evil bank repaid the government all the money given to it, I'm not! We, the taxpayers, fronted that money to them, which they used improperly, but do you think we will get a check back for their repayment? Of course not. 2nd, the reason that they were able to repay this money was off the backs and blood of it's customers thru devious, vile predatory practices. Do a quick Google search on Chase bank and you will find 100's of 1000's of stories just like mine. Sites have been set up specifically to complain about this bank. www.chase-sucks.com, www.chasebanksucks.com, and hundreds of other sites. This bank prayed upon it's customers. So essentially, this bank doubled dipped. It was bailed out by a failed, misappropriated, ill-handled government bail out program paid for by the taxpayers (it's clients), then used predatory, vile, despicable practices to raise it's profit margins to pay those funds back.
Where are our representatives in all of this mess? Credit companies use credit to enslave the population. They know, once you owe the money, you are theirs. They can do what they want because you can't escape their grasp. The credit reporting system allows this misuse. Free market can't work here, because if you take your credit from one company to one offering better terms, your credit rating can still be hurt by the original bank. If your credit rating gets hurt, then it makes the ability to move to a better bank harder, if not almost impossible. Worst of all, the Government condoned these actions by bailing out the banks in the first place. Chase should have been allowed to fail. It wouldn't have killed our economy. There are many credit unions out there that understand customer service and would have carried on. However, the Government, in their infinite knowledge, bailed them out and allowed them continue. They allowed the banks to use the funds improperly. They allowed this monster to continue. Chase made bad decisions, Chase over extended themselves, Chase should have reaped the consequences of those actions, but no. Big government stepped in and enabled them to not only continue, but to take even greater advantage of their customers.
Need we forget that we are in a horrible economic repression, bordering on full on depression? With almost 17% of our population out of work, how do they possibly think that devious practices like this will help? They won't. Chase will continue to make things harder on it's clients and when they force them to default, the Government will be there to fund them again. If this can happen to me, someone that was responsible and paid their bills on time, it can happen to anyone. Especially those that have fallen on hard times due to the actions of our government. Wake up DC!! You are killing this nation in every way and this is just one more example. I hope you are happy with the monster you created. And Chase, I know there is a special place in hell reserved for you. I long for the day that you find it. Until that day, I will never do business with you, or any affiliate of yours, and I will do everything in my power to ensure no one else does either. Should our government ever get out the way, capitalism and the free market will give your just dues, of this, I am certain. Bastards!