For those of you who are new to this blog, I've summarized my dysfunctional relationship with Chase below. For those who are already familiar, skip down to #7:
- A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Chase offered me a 5.99% APR balance transfer that was supposed to be good until I paid off the balance. *SCORE!!* I transferred over $13,000 to my Chase card and I paid the minimum balance (2% of balance) every month religiously and on time as part of my debt snowball plan.
- Chase purportedly advised me back in November '08 of the following change in terms of the credit card.
- Oblivious to the unilateral change in terms, I didn't discover the $10 service charge and the 250% increase in my minimum payment until January 2009. I transferred my balance to Bank of America's 0% offer.
- Because I knew Chase is a bloodsucking bank, I sent an additional $30 to cover any interest charges accrued.
- Again, completely oblivious to the other change in terms, I discovered on February 5 that Chase will continue to charge me $10/month, regardless of whether I carried a balance or not. Chase tried to blackmail me to do a balance transfer to 7.99% APR to avoid the $10/month service charge. I told them to go pound sand and closed my account.
- Chase closed my account and sent me a $20 refund and billed an additional $13.76, rather than issuing me a $6.24 refund. (Greedy and incompetent!)
- I sent Chase a $15.00 payment and demanded a refund after the February billing month closed. Chase refunded me $21.24 in March as a "Fin Chrg Refund".
Woo hoo! I thought I got my service charge back because I'm so special. But turns out that Chase only agreed to refund $4.4 million of these bogus "service charges" in response to NY AG Cuomo's investigation and several class action lawsuits.
Which begs the question: Should I opt out of the class action lawsuit?
I do believe that Chase breached the spirit of the original balance transfer agreement and engaged in the classic "bait-and-switch" tactic, which could be fraud in the inducement. I therefore believe Chase should be penalized for their actions.
But did I suffer any damages from Chase's actions? No matter how I look at it, the answer is decidedly, "No." As a matter of fact, Chase may have actually improved my situation.
Had Chase honored its original balance transfer offer, I would not have paid off my car loan until July 2009 and my credit card balance until July 2010. (See, my originial snowball plan.) But when Chase started charging me bogus fees, I vowed to speed up my debt repayment plan. Consequently, I paid off my car loan 5 months early and I'm on track to paying off my credit card balance in October 2009 (i.e., 9 months early).
So in summary, Chase's breach cost me:
$358.17 in balance transfer fee to BofA + unquantifiable damages for reduction in credit limit of $18,500.
But Chase's breach saved me:
$48.13 in car loan interest + $639.15 in credit card interest (assuming I'll pay off my credit card in October '09)
All in all, looks like I came out ahead in this whole Chase debacle and hurray for me. But what if I didn't have the ability to transfer out my balance and close my account? I would've been in a world of hurt, or at the very least, I would've ended up with a higher APR, which Chase would have probably increased steadily.
As a matter of principle, I've decided to opt out of the class action since I haven't been damaged by Chase's actions. Let the people who've actually suffered from Chase's fraud/breach of contract collect on any settlement money that Chase will likely pay.
On a related note, I received an offer from Chase to open a checking account this past weekend. If I made 5 ATM purchases with the Chase ATM card, they would give me $100. Bah! Keep your stinkin' money, Chase. I hate you and will no longer do business with you - - yes, even if YOU paid me!