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Clever Wording from Fleet (And Shame on Me)

Contributed by mm | August 15, 2004 7:41 PM PST

In this web site, I often advocate careful fine-print reading. It appears that I still didn't spend sufficient time in fine prints and misread the terms in my recently discussed Fleet 0% APR balance transfer offer. Shame on me and kudos to Fleet's clever wording.

I became aware of my mistake when I checked out my online Fleet account last night. Instead of showing my total balance transfer amount of $12,000 as my balance, the site shows my balance as $12,009.11. As I drilled down further, Fleet closed my first statement on 8/12, and charged $9.11 as interest for my transferred balance.null

My initial reaction is Fleet must have messed up my promotion, but after 10 minutes digging into the paperworks, I concluded that I misread Fleet's offer.

In the original offer, Fleet wrote:

"Save with 0% Intro APR on purchases, if you transfer a balance now.* And as long as you make required payments on time, this 0% APR is good until November 2005. After that, or if you have no balances to transfer now, you can still save with a low rate on purchases, currently 8.9% APR,* which is also the rate on balance transfers.*" (Bolded text and asterisks as they are in original mailing.)

In hindsight, what Fleet wants to say is if I make a balance transfer, my purchase APR will be 0% APR for 15 months. However, for whatever reason, I thought it's 0% APR for balance transfer if I make such a request at the time of application. Clever wording on Fleet's part by putting balance transfer and 0% APR in the same paragraph, and carelessness on my side.

I immediately made a payment of $12,030 out of my VirtualBank account to the Fleet account (thanks god I still have enough cash in hand). I expect the mistake is going to cost me up to $30. Had Fleet closed the statement after 30 days, my loss is going to be north of $80. A good lesson, and luckily for me, it is not a too expensive one.

This Post Has Received 58 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.


Michael Commented on August 16, 2004

It's good that you caught it so quickly. I've almost fallen for similar wording in the past. Those guys are sneaky!


Jay Ward Commented on August 16, 2004

Don't feel bad, I was fooled by this too. Here's what I did.

After getting the card I read the terms and noticed this discrepancy. I called Fleet and told them that it was not what I expected and that I wished to cancel the balance transfer. They said they could stop payment on the balance transfer, with no charge to me, and that's what they did. Curiously, I was told that the 0% APR was still in effect for the duration.

I realize that you have already gone one month with that balance transfer, but the ease at which they helped me implies that others have complained about this too, and you might be able to get them to do something for you if you call.

Jay


Paul Commented on August 16, 2004

I have jokingly called Fleet Bank, Fleece Bank for many years as they are a pretty crappy local bank.

If they have that many people complainging, you'd think they would do something proactive to stop that. Of course then they wouldn't get people who didn't read the fine print...


Tim Commented on October 6, 2004

I did the same thing as your error, to the tune of $30k.. I paid $90 in interest for the first month, BUT I had the last laugh... When I logged into the Fleet rewards program I had 30,000 reward points coming to me. I paid the annual rewards fee so that I could redeem them. That was enough to get a $200 bestbuy certificate which arrived yesterday and a $25 or $50 (I forget) olive garden certificate still on order.

It seems that at least for new accounts in the promo period, balance transfers earn rewards points.


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