I visited my dad on his birthday and he asked me to take a look at a notice that was printed on his Chase credit card bill. The message said that my parents had been charged for insurance and it was being cancelled at the end of October 2013. But my dad was bewildered because he said he never signed up for credit card insurance and he didn’t realize that he was charged for it.
But when I examined the bill, it was clear. He was charged $20 for insurance. This made me furious. My parents are immigrants. They don’t always understand all the fine points of a hard-sell deal. I have no way of knowing how they were lured into paying for this service, but it also seemed unfair. And honestly, I was also annoyed with my dad for not realizing sooner that he was paying for a service that he couldn’t afford and didn’t need.
I called the insurance company listed on the bill and a customer service representative said, “Chase covered the bill for the last year.” Whatever that meant. So I called Chase. It turns out that my parents were charged an insurance fee that was based on their balance. The higher their balance, the higher the fee. The more I found out, the more frustrated I became.
On the plus side, a really nice Chase customer service person helped me. He investigated and found that the first charges for the unwanted add-on fee appeared in 2004. That meant that at $20 a month, my parents had paid thousands of dollars for this service they didn’t ask for. When I explained that my parents said that they hadn’t ordered the insurance, he put me in contact with the Chase security department.
I filed a claim on my parents’ behalf, but there is something else that I want to share with everyone. This is a really important reminder about the need to take a hard look at the details on every bill we receive.
It turns out that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently ordered Chase to pay $309 million in refunds to consumers for illegally adding on services that people didn’t want. My parents had never been contacted about this settlement and I’m trying to find out now whether they are among the 2.1 million who will get money back. I certainly hope they do.
A spokesman for Chase said they are looking into my parents’ story, and I’ll update the post as I get more information.