Meet Jackie Ramos, a former “customer advocate” from the collections department at Bank of America. “Former” as in fired…
For being honest. Hat Tip to Huffpo on this one.
While millions of credit card customers have been through the painful process of negotiating past-due or over-the-limit accounts, few have dealt with their credit company face-to-face. Usually, the conversation is with a customer-service representative in another city who cheerfully outlines the fees and penalties that the cardholder must pay, regardless of whether he or she can afford it.
Jackie Ramos, a former “customer advocate” from the collections department at Bank of America (BAC), posted a video on YouTube in which she offered an inside glimpse into what happens on the other end of the phone. While Ramos notes that her former employer encouraged her to “do the right thing for the customer,” she says she soon came to realize that her job was actually to squeeze as much money as possible from the company’s cardholders.
In her video, Ramos describes the strategies that Bank of America used to maximize its profitability. From charging a $15 “convenience fee” for payments over the phone to tacking on $39 late fees and $39 over limit fees, Ramos says her bosses encouraged her to nickel-and-dime customers, drawing out every penny possible.
For some debtors, Bank of America offered “Fix Pay,” a program that would effectively transform a credit card account into a loan; in the process, it would eliminate fees and close the account. According to Ramos, customers had to answer what she describes as a series of “irrelevant” questions and meet certain income requirements before they could qualify for the Fix Pay program. Ramos’ infraction, which ultimately cost her her job, was that she encouraged some cardholders to lie about their finances in order to get into the program. Her logic was simple: If their accounts were manageable, fewer customers would default on their obligations.
While Bank of America declined The Huffington Post’s request for a comment on the video, it did confirm Ramos’s account of the firing with the blog.
The fact that Bank of America disagreed with Ramos’s actions should hardly come as a surprise for anyone who has held a credit card over the past ten years or so. Late fees, convenience fees, interest rate increases, credit limit decreases, and other gimmicks have become common, effectively transforming credit cards into the economic equivalent of a game of Russian roulette.