I'm one of those credit card customers who pays off my monthly bill in full and I don't carry a balance. In other words, I'm what's known in the credit card industry as a "deadbeat."
On rare occasions, though, I miss a payment, usually due to extreme disorganization on my part. That makes the company happy, because then it gets to charge me interest for two months, and it also gets to charge me a $39 late fee. On those occasions, though, I've always been able to call the company and get it to waive the late fee. At first, I would call and give some excuse, but after a while I'd just call and say "I don't want to pay that fee." I might get an argument, but if I threatened to cancel the card they'd pretty quickly agree to waive the late fee (and usually they'd waive the interest too).
Well, about three months or so ago I was late with my payment on my Chase credit card. So I called them up. The following is what transpired:
Me: I don't want to pay the late fee.
Chase Minion of Evil: Why not?
Me: I just don't want to. It's a ridiculous fee. It has no bearing on the amount of money that it costs Chase to carry my balance. That's what the interest charge is for. I have no problem paying the interest, I just object to the late fee.
Chase Minion: Do you have any reason why you were late with your payment?
Me: No, not really. Just stupidity on my part. I didn't mail my payment in time.
Chase Minion: Well I'm sorry, but we can't waive that late fee.
Me: OK, cancel my card.
(at this point there was a short pause, after which someone else got on the line, I assume the first person's supervisor)
Chase Minion's Supervisor: I understand you have some questions about your latest bill.
Me: No, I just don't want to pay the late fee.
Chase Minion's Supervisor: We can't waive that fee.
Me: Then cancel my account.
Chase Minion's Supervisor: I'm sorry you feel that way. Is there anything that we can do to change your mind?
Me: Yes. WAIVE THE LATE FEE!
Chase Minion's Supervisor: I'm sorry, we can't do that.
So, in the end, I cancelled my Chase card. I chalked up the entire episode to the economy -- Chase has clearly decided that it needs every single penny it can wring out of its credit card operation, so it's no longer accommodating its customers. Of course, by insisting on the late fee, it lost my account, which, in the long run, will cost it more than $39, but no one ever said that Chase Bank was terribly smart.