Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Saga of the Credit Card from My Credit Union

Or how to be disabused of the notion that a credit union treats customers better than a traditional bank.

The story starts back a few months. Interest rates were dropping and it occurred to me to try and refinance my house. The rates got low enough that it would be worth doing. Several people at work talked about hot credit unions usually had lower interest rater than traditional banks. So I looked into which if any credit unions I could join. As an alumni of GW, I could join the NIH Federal Credit Union which is what I did.

By the time I got around to joining the rates had gone back up.

Several months pass and I decide to take advantage of the low rates they have on a credit card.

And thus my saga begins.

I was told that you apply for a credit on-line. A it usually takes a couple of days to be approved. I figured great this will be easy. I finally got around to on October 6. I did it in the morning before work. It didn’t take very long. I only had one problem with the form. The problem was I couldn’t figure out where one line of text was attached to if it applied to the box above it or below it. But I soon figured it out. I finished it up and pressed send.

Later that day I got an automated e-mail thanking me for submitting my loan application. I was a little confused about this. I made a call to the credit union a couple day later to ask about this. I was told that the credit union looks at credit cards as a loan. The guy I talked to was a little surprised someone hadn’t been it touch with me. He said it should happen soon.

Move forward 16 days when I finally got around to calling the credit union again. Here's part of the letter that I sent to the Credit Union outlining the series of events:

On October 22, I called the credit union since no one had bothered to call me back. It was then and only then that I was told that in order to get the credit card I would have to supply additional financial information. In the course of my conversation with your representative (I unfortunately did not get her name) I confirmed what additional information would be needed. I asked this on three different occasion. The final time I asked I said so I need to provide these three things and that was all. I was told that was correct.

The three things were a pay stub, a photo copy of a picture ID and the NIH Federal Credit Union personal financial statement. I gathered this information and turned it in this morning in person at the GW branch of the Credit Union.

Imagine my surprise and shock when I was told I would have to supply my 2008 income tax return as well. I would really like to know why I was not told this when I called last Thursday. If I had, I would have been able to turn in everything at once. Instead I have to make another trip back to the GW branch. It also further delays an already far too delayed process for applying for the credit card.

The tax return is enclosed. Hopefully there are no other surprise documents that I need to provide to get this process going.

I have to say I am less than impressed with the way I have been treated so far. This gives me pause as to whether, or much more likely if, I will transfer my checking account and other financial services to the credit union.

When I told people about having to supply the tax return, most people's jaws dropped. Several said why are you still doing business with these people. I have to say I'm thinking the exact same thing.

The upshot of the letter was that I did receive a call from someone from the credit union. But it was not someone from the loan department. It was someone from the GW branch. I wasn't at my desk so she left a message. I called back and she wasn't in. She was off today but will be back in tomorrow. I'm going to give her the morning to call me. If she hasn't I'll call her in the afternoon. It should be interesting to see what she has to say.

Oh and as for the credit card, I have no idea if I have it or not. But after all this that's not too much of a surprise. Why would the loan department contact me? After all I'm only a customer.

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