The MORAL of this story is twofold:  Be very careful with charges on YOUR credit card and monitor often.  Check with one of the Credit Bureaus (other businesses aside from the Auto Club offer free service) monthly.  The other fold is to push legislation that would stop this abuse. A simple letter in March of 2010 to me from the card company would have cleared up this entire matter.

It all began with a fire in our condominium building on 14 January 2010.  The entire building was shut down for repair for one year!  We relocated to Las Vegas to a condo owned by the family.  One of our major duties before leaving was notifying our Post Office and Mailman of our change of address.

In early March 2010 Anne and I visited an outlet mall in Las Vegas and found, on sale, two jackets for our two year old granddaughter.  We brought them to check out and were told that if we applied for a Gap credit card we would receive a discount.  That sounded good — and we did.  Daughter and granddaughter liked the jackets.

A month passed and neither a credit card nor a bill for the purchase arrived.  I got on the internet and e-mailed The Gap to see what happened. A month later I did the same.  I never received a reply.  Then as other crises developed, that issue fell into the back of my memory bank.

As a member of the Auto Club of Southern California I receive updates from Experian every month.  On the last update there was an amount of $ 118.00 listed as being owed to GE Money Bank for purchases made at The Gap.  I immediately called HQ for the Gap and was advised, after two transfers that they could do nothing.  The Gap contracts with GE Money Bank to handle all their credit business.  I would have to call that company as The Gap has no access to any of that information.  Despite finding that hard (if not impossible) to believe, I called GE Money Bank.  At the end of almost three hours of explanation to three levels of management the following was explained:  they would issue a $35 credit if payment was made via telephone using my checking account information. I could have used Master Card or Visa debit but had neither of those cards. I declined that offer of providing checking account information as quickly as possible.

I then wrote a letter to the Chairman of The Gap.  Three days later I received a phone call from a representative of GE Money Bank.  This lady, (Kathy by name) offered to correct this matter by:

a)     Sending me a copy of the original bill of $23.77;

b)    A statement showing that amount of $23.77;

c)     A letter explaining what happened and clearing the whole matter up.

Since the letter would not arrive for a few days she explained:

The credit card was mailed to the condo in the building that had the fire.  They do not authorize the forwarding of credit cards to new addresses.  When the credit card came back to GE Money Bank they cancelled the sending out of bills.  Obviously, it must be to their advantage to have these credit card payments accrue interest at the well over 22% rate.  I never received a letter informing me what was going on.  A letter would have been forwarded.

This adventure, not over yet, took hours of time with The Gap and GE and a letter to the Chairman of Gap.

While awaiting this promised letter from Kathy, I received a notice from GE Money Bank that my bill would be sent to Collection within 30 days if the bill was not challenged or not replied to.  Of course, this caused another phone call to Kathy who said forget the whole thing; wires were crossed.  Of course, I now have no faith in that statement.  Trust has been lost completely!

Now, go to the top of the page and read the MORAL again!

John Lustig, Senior Reporter