May 23, 2004 · Lessig
I’ve been begging my wife to let me close down all but one or two of our credit card accounts. The hassle of dealing each month with many different accounts is more than these fingers can handle. My latest victory was to be Chase. She has had a Chase account for ever. But I finally convinced her there was no real benefit to keeping that account open.
So she called Chase and asked that they close the account. Chase was not happy. “What can we do to keep you as a customer,” they asked. I was standing next to her when they asked her, so she asked me. I pointed to an advertisement we had just received from AT&T Universal card, promising no fees, zero interest, no payment for a year for balance transfers. She told the Chase representative we’d keep the card open if they gave us the same terms. The representative said she’d have to check, and said she’d call back later. She did. Chase offered the same terms as AT&T, and based upon that offer, we transferred a substantial chunk of airplane ticket debt to Chase. (The worse thing about traveling to speak is carrying the costs of the airplane tickets till reimbursed. At one point last year, I was carrying more receivables in conference expenses than my wife earns in a year.)
I remember thinking when this all happened how amazing it was that such a significant transaction could happen based only upon the word of a voice at the other end of the phone promising she spoke for Chase. How advanced the world had become! I thought for a second to ask that they send the offer in writing, but it seemed so 19th century. And anyway, it was Chase! And they were being so cyber! Who was I to spoil the fun?
This month we received our statement. As promised, zero interest, and zero fees for the transfer. But contrary to the promise, Chase was demanding a minimum monthly payment. When we called to say that this was not what was agreed to, we were instantly shipped back to the 19th century: “Do you have the offer in writing” the agent at the other end asked?
No, we didn’t. And after our payment for the full balance transfer is cleared, neither will we have a Chase card anymore either.