Democracy Soup

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Ben Pavone takes on credit card customer abuse to earn Wings of Justice

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Originally published on on January 6, 2010

Ben Pavone

For those who have been upset over reduction in credit card limits or increases in interest rates, meet Ben Pavone.

Ben Pavone is a lawyer in San Diego who got hit with both by Bank of America, a bank that has been under a significant cloud for some time now.

Pavone’s interest rate went up to 27.99%, and his credit limit went down just above his balance.

So what is Pavone doing about it? He’s not paying Bank of America any money on the card, and has threatened to sue Bank of America if they damage his credit rating as a result.

You can hear the applause from miles away.

“For the record, I have a perfect payment history and I have a nearly perfect payment record on my credit… I have no doubt that you will mark my credit in light of this default, but if you do, I will sue you. I am eager to argue to a court that your interest rates are unfair within the meaning of various state and federal statutes, and anxious to point out that you ‘had’ to cut my credit limit from $32,000 down to $30,000 at the same time you were borrowing billions from the federal government and paid your executive bonuses in full.”

The bank’s explanation for doing what it did? “Economic trends.”

Given the power of the banks and the feeling of desperation, most end up caving in rather than fighting. Pavone, to borrow inspiration from a long ago cigarette ad, would rather fight than switch.

Pavone gives B of A a chance to see it would be easier to grant his request rather than fight it in court, noting that his request to reduce his rate to 10.99% would probably cost less than fighting any potential lawsuit.

Because for the banks that received tons of taxpayer money and still refuse to grant loans and screw with loyal customers over their credit cards, this is about money, not customer loyalty or support, pure greed. And Pavone tries to speak B of A’s language: money.

Ann Minch deserves an assist on this week’s Wings winner. Minch fought Bank of America via YouTube and was successful, and Minch inspired Pavone. Now by telling his story, Pavone might inspire more people.

One person after another gets fed up and speaks out: This is after all how a revolution starts, a credit card revolt, a spark is all you need.

And this isn’t like these people were horrible customers. There used to be an unwritten code: if you were a good customer and made your payments on time, nothing bad would happen to you. Banks used to want those kinds of customers.

Minch and Pavone were good customers. Bank of America was making money off of them, since each one was carrying thousands of dollars on a credit card. Even at 10.99% on over $30,000 worth of debt, B of A was making a nice chunk of change off Pavone. And yet, it wasn’t enough.

Pavone shows that you can fight back over the aggressively obnoxious treatment by the major banks against their customers, people with whom they theoretically want to keep doing business and want to tell others to do business with them.

Though the Credit Card Act of 2009 kicks into action in February, banks and others that issue credit cards are looking to increase revenue, no matter the long-term damage with customer relationships. In the worst financial year in generations, credit card issuers collected $22.9 billion in penalty fees (including late payments) in 2009, up from $19 billion in 2008.

Ben Pavone is doing his part, not only in standing up to Bank of America, but also in getting as much publicity about his scenario to inspire others to fight back against credit card customer abuse. For that, we give Ben Pavone this week’s Wings of Justice award.


Written by democracysoup

January 6, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in economy

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