Lesson Learned: Don’t Mess With Chase!


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The annual fee on my Chase Ink Business Plus credit card posted earlier this month and over the weekend I decided to see if I could get Chase to waive the annual fee or, at the very least, to give me a spending bonus to help offset the fee. Things didn’t go according to plan.

The Chase Ink Business Plus credit card (formerly the Chase Ink Bold card) has been closed to new applicants for a number of years but it’s a card that has served me well. Its generous 5 points/dollar earnings at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone spending has frequently helped boost my Ultimate Rewards points balance significantly but, because I’m currently away from the US, its a card that hasn’t seen a lot of action this year.

With the $95 annual fee staring me in the face and with not much to show for it this year, I decided to call up Chase to see if there was anything that could be done to get the fee waived. This wasn’t my first rodeo – I’ve made this type of call more times than I can remember – but the key mistake I made was to deviate from how I’ve approached every other retention call I’ve ever made. I tried to be ‘clever’ and I failed dismally.

On all retention calls I’ve made in the past (whether I’m calling Chase, Citi or Amex) I’ve always either asked to speak to the retentions department straight away or asked the first person I’ve spoken to if there are any retention offers available (then they inevitably put me through to the department with the power to incentivize me to keep the card). This time my opening gambit was to say that I’d like to close the card.

This wasn’t as dumb a move as it may sound because there have been more than a few reports of Chase playing hardball with callers who simply hint at a possible card closure and who are obviously fishing for a retention bonus or a fee waiver. My thinking was that the Chase representative who answered my call would have to put me through to a department that deals with card closures and, when doing so, would tell the person in that department that I had asked to close my account and made no mention of wanting a retention offer – I’d look serious about closing the card and that would put me in with a better chance of getting my annual fee waived.

Nothing went as planned.

When the Chase representative answered my call and put me through a few verification checks he asked me how he could help and, just as planned, I said that I’d like to close my Ink Business Plus credit card. The representative then said “sure, I can help with that” which I took to mean that he’d put me through to another department. He didn’t. He simply said that he had to “go through a few things” with me before he could proceed.

I was a little caught out by this but I wasn’t particularly worried as, based on the retention calls I’ve made in the past, there is always ample time to back out (as the bank representative reads through paragraph after paragraph of statutory information) and there was always the possibility that this was a representative who had the authority to waive my annual fee when it looked like I was going to go ahead with the account closure.

The representative started to go through the “few things” he said he had to go through and he opened with a reminder for me to transfer out (or use) any Chase Ultimate Rewards Points I had in my account. I said that I’d be sure to do that and then waited for the next bit of information the representative had to provide. To my horror, the very next line out of the representative’s mouth was “great, we’re all done”. He confirmed that that was that and my account was closed.

That wasn’t supposed to happen.

I was stunned. For the sake of $95, I’d just closed down a great credit card that’s no longer open to new applicants and the only one to blame was the idiot whose reflection I could see in the screen ahead of me. I was so stunned I wasn’t sure what to say or do so I just thanked the representative for his time and ended the call. I checked my online account and, sure enough, there was a message there in orange writing confirming my account closure.

It didn’t take me more than a few moments to gather my thoughts and decide that I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing…so I called Chase again. A very helpful representative answered my call and, after I essentially admitted to being more than a little dumb (I made up a story about accidentally closing the wrong card), she said she’d see what she could do and she put me on hold.

The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi (booked courtesy of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points earned with my Ink credit card)

5 minutes later she came back on the line to say that the department she needed to speak to was closed on the weekend but she would see if there was anything else she could do and then call me back (memo to self: if you’re going to do something dumb, do it on a weekday). When I pointed out that I was a few thousand miles away from home and that she probably wouldn’t be able to call a foreign number, she said that I would have to call back on Monday (today) to see what can be done. I thanked her for her help but knew that by Monday it would be too late. Chase wasn’t going to reinstate an account it was all too happy to close that many hours after the fact. I’d had a great run with my Ink Business Plus card but that run had just come to a very abrupt end.

This was probably the most idiotic move I’ve ever pulled with a credit card and I don’t have the words (at least not any polite words) to express how annoyed I was with myself. Fortunately, I’m a very, very lucky person and redemption was at hand. Around 6 hours after my last call to Chase I logged back into my online account and, amazingly, the account closure notice had gone. I couldn’t believe that the last representative I had spoken to had found a way to reverse my account closure but, after now having made three sperate transactions on the card in the past 48 hours, that’s exactly what seems to have happened.

Lesson learned. No more toying around with my more prized credit cards and no more playing ‘who blinks first’ games with credit card representatives. I got away with it this time thanks to a very kind representative who somehow found a way to save me from myself…but I’m not taking that kind of risk again –  the only retention calls I’ll be making in the future will be for card accounts I really don’t mind closing.

23 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! what a story. I would be very careful calling recon the next time. You were extremely lucky the next rep knew how to open a closed card without your having to call monday!
    thank you for the story. I should be careful too the next time and maybe ask specifically for the retention department the next time.

  2. Glad you’re happy but even a $95 annual fee is a bad bargain for most people who aren’t in a position to get the bonus miles . . . not to mention that there are precious few ways to use those miles at the moment that make miles a bad value at any price.

  3. Serves you right … no one has any integrity anymore. I don’t go to the grocery store and say I’d like to start buying my milk from someone else unless you give a gallon for free. Why do people think every company owes them own them something. You realize you are not sharing good honest tips. You call companies and lie to them.

      • Yeah, you aren’t being honest at all. You tell them you will cancel when you have no intent to cancel. All of this spreads all over the internet and everyone wastes countless hours of companies’ time and money dealing with those phone calls. You have a company right? How would you feel if that is how your customers’ treated you. Chase is a big company and a bank so everyone excuses Themselves for NOT treating others how you want to be treated back. I have serval chase cards and without a doubt I get more value than what I pay for on my $95 annual fee Sapphire card and $95 Hyatt card. I’m not defending banks or large corporations, I am just saying calling companies and making up fake stories to get fees waived is not what I would say is integral behavior.

        • I don’t believe I ever mentioned that what I was doing was right nor did I suggest that anyone copy what I did. If anything this is a post warning people not to do this.

          So, as you avoided my question the first time, I’ll ask again: what tip am I sharing that isn’t honest?

  4. I don’t call for retention offers unless I’m ready to close. The card either is worth renewing or not. If they offer one, I recalculate on the spot.p

  5. I got 5k bonus points for my ink plus. Call Duff and asked nicely if they have anything to offer due to the reduced use of travel benefits. After a few awkward minutes they finally gave it to me.

  6. This was a great post, Ziggy! Thanks for sharing your lesson learned. To the negative posters, have you all forgotten what the banking industry did to all of us regular people to cause our economy to collapse 12 years ago? As a smart consumer, I enjoy small victories against the bank behemoths.

  7. Why did you just ask them to waive the fee?? This hints to a nature of cyclical lying within your own life. You might want to see somebody about that. Pathological lying is incredibly destructive and never ends well.

    • As much as I love a good amateur psychological assessment based on nothing but one anecdote from a person you have never met (very scientific of you), I have to point out that the answer to your question is in the post. Any chance you were so desperate to give your opinion on my psyche that you didn’t read it properly? You might want to see someone about that.

  8. I have noticed that same! I called to cancel my Chase Reserve, which I did want to do, but I was very surprised that there was so little resistance and that it happened so quickly. Glad that your situation worked out for you and that your lesson did not come with a cost beyond time & stress.

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