So…we bought a house last September.
In the SF Bay Area, this is widely acknowledged to be a minor miracle and usually involves weeks of celebration. The story of how we found and bought the house is fairly amazing, but even more incredible is the fact that we were able to buy it at all, considering what happened with one of my Bank of America credit card accounts.
This is both a cautionary tale and a how-to guide for what to do if it happens to you.
The issue: a late payment.
Yikes, right? Normally I set up autopay on all of my accounts as soon as I open them. However, the BofA autopay system is FUN-KAY. Seriously. Fun. Kay.
For months, I had a autopay to this account set up from my bank. However, as payments were being made even though I did not have a balance, this frequently resulted in a credit balance on the account, so I discontinued that and instead set up automatic payments directly through Bank of America. The problem is that I THOUGHT I was successful, but instead due to a system error, the process did not fully complete.
On my end, the Bank of America website seemed to show that autopay had been established and I was good to go.
This was not the case.
By the time I realized the mistake, I was 6 days too late.
I mean 6 days past the 30-day mark.
BofA had immediately reported the late payment to the credit bureaus. Normally this would have been a bummer, but it was almost a life-ruiner, as we had literally just applied for a mortgage. My score had dropped by almost 100 points!!! Now we were no longer qualified for our loan.
I should mention here that I’ve never before made a late payment and have an excellent credit score. I should also mention that the total charge was less than $50, and the payment was significantly less than that.
After freaking out, I took action.
I started calling BofA’s Executive Customer Relations office (866-299-4010) on Monday morning. I called 3-4 times a day, every day, through Friday afternoon.
Each time I called to “check on on progress,” and each time I took detailed notes about who I spoke to and what he/she said. I told my story to all who would listen. My goal was to get them to remove the late payment remark, AND to get a fax or an email stating this so that I could show my mortgage broker.
The chain of events:
On Monday, they removed the late payment fees and interest from my account. I thought this was great, but it wasn’t. No one was able to remove the late payment remark after this action. Fee reimbursement seems to be an end-goal for most people, but for me, I needed a lot more. So I kept calling.
On Tuesday, they said they would remove the late payment fees and document it as an “encoding error.” This did not work.
I called and called and called. I got many people who said they could not help. Each time this happened, I thanked them politely, hung up, and called back. I made sure to write down the names of people who were helpful as well as those who were unhelpful. This saved time, as I could easily see at a glance who had been sympathetic (or not) on previous calls.
Finally, on Friday afternoon, I finally got someone who was about to remove the late payment remark and code it as “customer oversight.” However, when she went to do this, she was unable to complete the transaction in the system because someone (in the beginning of my odyssey) had refunded the interest charges on the late payments. The system would only let her choose ONE option (EITHER refund the late payment charge/interest OR take the late payment remark off and report it to the credit bureaus).
This stumped me for a few hours, until I had a great idea. Since the Executive Customer Relations office was unable to move forward with the issue, I started at the beginning again, and I called the number on the back of my credit card and asked them to put the late charge and interest back on my card.
Then I called the direct line to the Credit Analyst department (866-845-0871). They told me that once the interest went back onto my card, they would be able to take the late payment remark off my account.
I waited until Monday morning, then called first thing to ask if they could complete the transaction.
The answer was YES!!!! They sent me a fax stating that I no longer had any late payments recorded with them, then they sent a similar letter to all three credit bureaus.
As you can imagine, this was one of the most stressful experiences of my entire life. It was horrible. There were many moments where we thought that we might have to give up on our dream of buying this house, and I couldn’t believe it was all caused by an overdue balance of less than $50.
Have you ever had any crazy credit card experiences? What happened?