Having had a financial fellowship with Visa from way back when it went by the moniker Chargex, I sometimes think I understand all of their devious schemes. But not so grasshopper.
Only once or twice in the past have I taken advantage of their low 24% per annum interest rates and not paid off in full at the end of the month or billing cycle. Which reminds me that the statement always is sent out rather late after the billing date; thus forcing you to mail out your payment immediately before you miss the payment date and incur penalties. Not Visa’s fault of course, must be the post office hanging on to the outbound mail.
Anyways, for one of the monthly services I decided to get, the provider insisted on billing my Visa account by the month - with all the security guarantees that my number was safe with them - and I cheerily signed on board. After using the service for four years, I decided to go with a new company. Simple enough: give the old company a month’s notice (as per agreement), send them a letter, confirm the termination with an email and just to be super safe back it up with a personal phone call to the billing department.
Except! Two months later the payments are still being charged to my Visa account. So I give the company a quick call, however it is too early to discuss the matter so I leave a message requesting somebody attend to the oversight and refund my overpayments. To be on the safe side, I telephone Visa on their I-800 number figuring it will be an easy matter to have the recurring payments stopped while the misunderstanding is cleared up. Hmmm! Seems I am not allowed to summarily stop regular monthly payments under any circumstances, only the firm or service provider can terminate the agreement. If they choose for any reason not to do so, there is no other recourse for a Visa customer except to request a new card with a different account number. However, if the company keeps sending in the bill, Visa will happily accommodate them by transferring the bill to your new account number. You can of course close your account and shred your card.
Possibly two things at work here. One, Visa salivates over all the monthly, ongoing bills being routed through their system. They get to skim 2 or 3 or 4 or more % right off the top with a pretty good idea of the income from this source alone each month. Not their problem to get into a free enterprise battle between you and one of their more worthy customers. Second, if you choose to call Visa to whine about your problems, they would rather you rip up your card so they never have to deal with you again.
Later I managed to contact the firm and they apologized for the oversight, agreeing to reverse the billing error right away.
Photo by Flickr user borman818 used under Creative Commons