Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Spoonful of Sugar

Let's start with the fact that it was all my fault.

I knew I had online payments to make on the 15th. It was a Monday, I got busy, and next thing ya know, I'd missed the cut-off time (3:00 p.m. ET, which is, unfortunately, noon for me on the west coast).

So I was looking at late payment fees on three credit cards that ranged from $22 to $39.

I lamented the loss to a co-worker who said "Call them up and ask them to rescind the charges. Be nice."

I was fine with the calling up piece, but I am not known for always being nice. However, it was worth a try.

I only called two places. The third was handled entirely by e-mail. I was so nice, and so apologetic, it's lucky I didn't go into a diabetic coma

Dang if it didn't work.

I told everyone who responded, including "Robert" with the suspiciously heavy Indian accent, that I knew I was in the wrong and that I had, in fact, made a late payment. Since I was only one day late, and it hadn't happened in the past, and I was a good customer (here, I had my fingers crossed that they looked only at my balances and payment history without noticing that I hadn't charged anything in almost a year), could they please just this once help me out.

When they did help me out, I thanked them profusely.

I saved myself $78.

Of course, I wouldn't have had those charges in the first place if I'd been a tad more prompt with my payments


Anonymous said...

The credit companies allow one mistake a year. Good advice from your friend!
However, the credit card companies love it when people make mistakes, miss payments, yada, yada, yada. That's how they make their money: late fees, over-the-limit fees, etc.
Good to hear you haven't used your cards in a year! Good work!
Here's wishing you much luck in paying off your debts!!!!!

Anonymous said...

hey thats, good, it goes to show that it is worth asking and seeing if they can do something about the charges. $78 is better in your pocket than thiers!

Anonymous said...

Boomie: I wasn't aware the credit card companies allow one mistake one year. I wonder if that is the reason why they didn't charge me late fees or put down on my account that I was late when I called them a while back to explain I had missed the five p.m. cut-off for calling in a payment.

I thought they were letting me off the hook because I had made a huge effort to count to ten before calling them, slow down, and act very very contrite and courteous.

I also tried this technique when I recently called to get my interest rate reduced. I ended up having a "meaningful" conversation with the customer service supervisor, who seemed to talk to me rather than at me (as some of them seem to do, when they are reading from a script or when they won't deviate from the script).

In the past so often I have sounded strident or petulent when they have been rude or unhelpful. I think i the futue I will politely thank them, tell them I have to hang up but will call back, and will call again and if the person sounds reasonable, I'll speak reasonably in kind.

Anonymous said...

what a delightful post! Thanks! It reminds me of someone whose motto is, "let THEM say no!" (in other words, for heaven's, sake, always at least ask. Don't be the one to say 'no' on their behalf to yourself!)