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FLEECED BY FLEET BANK
On April 21, 2000, I responded via telephone to a written "invitation" to apply for a Fleet Bank issued Master Card. According to the solicitation letter which I received, Fleet Bank stated that I could transfer my "high-rate credit card balances now to secure our [Fleet's] low rate - a 2.99% fixed introductory APR*."
Sounds like a good offer doesn't it? Since none of my other credit cards had a matching APR I decided to call the listed 800 number and apply simultaneously for the credit card and a balance transfer. During the application process I specifically asked the Fleet Bank representative if there would be any transaction fees or fees of any kind if I requested a balance transfer and she told me that there were none. The application process was recorded and the recording will bear these facts out. The tape is my proof IF Fleet chooses to listen to it.
On May 8th I received my initial statement from Fleet and was surprised to see "Finance Charges & Fees" of $48.29. I immediately called the customer service department and asked for an explanation of the fees. It was at that time that Mr. William Coffman explained that the balance transfer had a 2% transaction fee. I explained that I had been mislead and asked that the fee be waived but Mr. Coffman informed me that the fee could not be adjusted.
After asking to speak with a supervisor I then spoke with Mr. Sean Mobley who insisted that the information about the transaction was included in the solicitation letter. I assured him that I had read both sides of the letter and that transaction fees were not set forth in the letter and it was for that very reason that I specifically asked about fees before I requested the balance transfer. Mr. Mobley then surprised me by stating that I should have been aware of the terms and conditions of the card when I made the telephone application and that it did not matter what I was told. I was astonished that Mr. Mobley thought it was responsibility to be aware of information that was not included in the letter.
Now let's go back up to paragraph 2 and the asterisk (*) that's follows the offered 2.9% APR. If you look carefully the hook is buried in the last sentence of the footnote that states: "Please see the TERMS OF PRE-QUALIFIED OFFER and CONSUMER INFORMATION for detailed rate and other information." Where was that information? It's certainly not on the front or back of the letter and the letter was the only piece which I received that's why I asked the telephone representative about the fees.
I believe that Fleet Bank is engaging in false and misleading advertising that is aimed at generating transaction fees from unsuspecting consumers. I do not believe it was an error that the telephone representative who took my application told me that there would be no transaction fees when in fact there are. My guess is that the factual terms of the offer are not included in the solicitation so that consumers are unable to read the facts for themselves and therefore must rely on that which the telephone representative tells them. My mistake was in applying for the transfer based upon what I told and not what I had an opportunity to read for myself.
Think twice before doing business with Fleet Bank. There are so many competitive rates out here now with legitimate banks that there's no reason to be duped by Fleet Bank. Also, please note that even the very name is misleading. Fleet Bank is not a real bank but rather "is part of FleetBoston Financial."
If you do decide to accept one of the companys "invitations" to apply for a credit card make sure that you have received everything in writing so that the telephone representatives cannot mislead you.