Central Coast

Dear Jon: Repeated calls by credit card company drives customer crazy

Stopping the computer generated calls may not be easy but not impossible

It's happened to many of us, you're credit company says you're past due on your credit card bill but you don't think so. Never the less, the threatening computer generated calls start coming saying ‘pay up' to avoid further late fees and collection proceedings. Mary in Pacific Grove wrote to me and asked, "Dear Jon, how do I complain about Citibank repeatedly calling me 3 to 4 times a day before my account is due?'

I called Citibank on this, and after going through all the legal back and forth with Citibank and Mary to allow them to share the details of her case with me, the answer to Mary's question is simple. It's all about communication and follow through, by both parties.

When Mary wrote to me, she said that she sometimes pays her bills exactly on the due date and in person. But one time she paid her bill by telephone and Mary says that Citibank copied her bank information wrong and she had to pay again. That was the incident that triggered the annoying past due phone calls.

So what can you do? Citibank says Mary's account was past due for several months. They say that Mary didn't make the minimum payment due. But was this because the one telephone payment was incorrect and didn't get credited to her account? It seems so. Even after she paid again, the next month's payment was apparently due. And until that gets cleared up, Citibank will consider the account past due.

Citibank says Mary used their automated phone payment system and claims that their system uses what the customers enter. So if the customer enters wrong information, the payment will not ‘clear' and then the payment will be considered late. If this situation is not rectified and months pass, which is what happened in Mary's case, then the account remains in past due status and the dreaded computer generated calls can intensify up to 4 times a day.

What happens many times, as customers, we dig our heels in the sand and claim we're right and we don't talk to the right people at our credit card company to fix the problem. It's a pain, I know, but that just makes the problem intensify and the late fees pile up as we claim we're not in the wrong.

Once we brought this situation to Citibank's attention they did an audit of Mary's account, they found the missed payment due to the error in the automated phone payment system and worked with Mary to bring the account current and stop the calls.

Where was the customer service from Citibank? Computer generated calls? That's the lay of the land these days so as customers we have to deal with it.

So take the time and call your creditor and clear up the situation. Precious time, that's what it will take. Unfortunately, you may have to call a few times to get to the right person who can make things happen for you as a customer.

An equitable settlement can usually be reached. But yes, it is a royal pain.

If you have a question for me, email me at DearJon@KionRightNow.com. I'm also on Facebook "Jon K Brent KION" and Twitter at "DearJonKBrent."

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