Friday, August 10, 2012

Airline Master Card surprises me with annual fee, past due bill when I never activated card, never got bill; it's legal, not phishing; but it's deceptive!

I was not too pleased with how US Airways behaved.  Yes, I applied for their Master Card on a trip to Los Angeles in May, and I did get the card a few weeks ago.  I hadn’t activated it yet, just hadn’t bothered.

I got a bizarre automated cell phone call from US Air, twice, which seemed to die when I try to enter the prompts.  So I activated the card and called the 866 number which turned out to be Barclays.   (You should not pay a bill when called unless you can verify it is valid; you should call the 800 number on your card yourself.  Obviously, this sort of situation would lend itself to phishing, too.) Yes, I owed $89 for the annual fee and a $22 past due penalty (which is low by industry standards; $39 is typical now), for a card I hadn’t even activated yet.  I suppose my FICO score has already taken a hit, so I had no choice but to pay the $111 by phone. 

Now I’ll have to do my credit report in about a week, after there has been time for the payment to be reported to the three reporting companies (and to Fair Isaacs).  Will my score come back when the  payment shows up?

I did not even receive a bill my mail or email.  They just simply applied the charge.

And I’ve never heard of an annual fee until you’ve had the card for a while.  Maybe airline cards are different. 

This seems like a racket. 

But at least a phone call tipped me off to the fact that there could be a problem.  Otherwise, it might have gone unnoticed and wound up in collections.  

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