This is a true and personal story written by my friend and colleague Jim Malmberg, executive director of ACCESS (American Consumer Credit Education Support Services) whose wife recently learned she was being charged hefty fees, she didn't owe. No, nothing new or surprising...just a warning for consumer;
Look Closely at your Chevron and Texaco Credit Card Bills This Month
If you have a gas credit card from either Texaco or Chevron, you need to look closely at your bill this month. There is a chance that you were charged a late fee due to their screw-up. The charge was apparently caused by a change of ownership of their credit cards. But the company isn't volunteering to make refunds.
This is actually a personal story that appears to affect a large portion of Chevron's customers. My wife has had a Chevron card for many years now, and she has never been late on a payment. But that didn't stop GE Money Bank, the new owner of Chevron and Texaco cards from issuing a late notice even though her payment was processed on the day it was due!
It all started with a rather nasty letter that my wife received last week. The letter said that she had sent her payment to the wrong processing address. This is very interesting since the address that she sent her payment to was the address printed on her payment coupon - a coupon which was printed by Chevron. Still, according to the letter, "You were previously notified of a change in ownership of your Chevron / Texaco Credit Card account." Well, no she wasn't. But we'll let that go for a minute.
The letter went on to provide the "correct" processing address and to inform her that if she didn't change the place that she was sending her payments, she might be hit with late fees due to a delay in processing.
The day after she received the aforementioned letter, she received her latest Chevron bill. There were two items of significant interest on the bill. First was that her last payment had been processed on 4/1/08, which was the actual due date for her bill. The second item was a late fee... for what, we are not sure. Apparently, one day notice was enough for Chevron and they wanted to get a jump start on the next quarter revenues. Maybe they can squeeze out an extra billion or two in late fees; as if oil prices weren't high enough already.
But my wife doesn't intend to be a contributor to Chevron's effort. Such a Scrooge! So this morning, she sat down and called Chevron and found that the company had a prerecorded message on its line, stating that they sent out a letter in error to many customers about changes in their billing address. They then went on to apologize for any inconvenience. (As an aside, they could have said that "if you received such a letter, any late charges will be refunded and you don't have to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around here to speak with a customer service agent." But they didn't do that. So much for the apology.) She was then put on hold for a good twenty minutes.
When an operator finally did come on the line, she wasn't very pleasant. Even after explaining the situation to the operator, the best she could get was that they would make a "one-time courtesy adjustment" to her bill and waive the charge. How Chevron was doing her a courtesy by cleaning up its own mistake and making her waste her time was never really explained. Is that really any way to treat someone who has been a good customer for years? It must be some new secret strategy by the company's marketing geniuses! I'm simply too dumb to understand it.
By virtue of the fact that Chevron, or perhaps it is GE Money Services, has a prerecorded message on their customer service phone line noting that they made a mistake, they are fully aware that they were the cause of the problem. It also means that they know it is a large scale problem.
The company knows who they sent the letters to, and they should just automatically credit the charges and issue a letter of apology. But there is no indication that they are doing this. There is no mention of the issue on their credit card website either. That's not good because it doesn't give cardholders the feeling that the company wants to do "the right thing".
The only thing we can say to Chevron / Texaco customers is look closely at your bill this month. Just because you paid your bill on time doesn't mean that you won't be hit-up for a late fee. And even if your bill is late, it may be through no fault of your own. You may just have sent your payment to the wrong address - the address Chevron printed on your payment coupon. Now why in the world would you do a stupid thing like that?