Rarely does the chance come to avenge oneself on a large corporation’s incompetent customer service department. The power of vengeance is now in my hands. Too bad I’m a wimp.

You may remember that five weeks ago, I told my online bill pay service to send $11,000 to pay off my Capitol One credit card bill of $1,100. As soon I realized my mistake, I called and begged for a speedy refund.

The first Cap One person I talked to said it would take 15 days to begin the 10-day process of refunding the overpayment. After deducting for recent credit-card charges, it would be $9,112.07.

The second said they’d wire the money in 48 hours to my bank, Wells Fargo. That would have been great, if they’d actually done it.

The third person said they’d mailed the money; a Wells Fargo guy said Cap One had used the wrong address. That check was lost. The Cap One guy agreed, under pressure, to send a refund check by express mail to the correct Wells Fargo address and to knock off the $75 “balance transfer” fee charged me for . . . Well, for keeping my money.

Wells Fargo never got the check. The fourth person said it hadn’t been sent because the Wells address was a post office box and UPS wouldn’t deliver express mail to a post office box. Instead of sending the check by regular mail, Cap One had done nothing. Which was OK, because they still were using the wrong address. The woman said she couldn’t mail a check to me, but eventually put me on hold for a very long time, came back and said she could mail it to me. But she couldn’t waive the $75, which was still on the bill. I asked her what service they’d performed for $75. She said “balance transfer.” I pointed out nothing had been transferred. She didn’t get my point.

The fifth person was supposed to be her supervisor but had never heard of her. He spoke with such a heavy (unidentifiable) accent I couldn’t understand him most of the time. I did get the fax number and address of Capital One from him, which enabled me to send a complaint letter.

I never heard back from Cap One. But this morning, I got an express letter with my $9,112.07 refund; the check was dated July 20. Then the regular mail came with another check, dated July 15, for $9,112.07. I checked my account on the web and discovered both checks listed, plus a refund of the $75. Here was the perfect opportunity for revenge. I could deposit both checks, then make Capital One wait five weeks to get its money back. Or I could wait till they noticed the double payment, which, given their level of incompetence, might be never.

Every now and then you hear about someone who gets in trouble for withdrawing money erroneously deposited into a checking account. I don’t have the guts to deposit both checks. I’m holding the second check, just in case the first one doesn’t clear. Once it does, I’ll have to decide whether to inform Cap One that they’re even stupider than I thought or just let them wonder why the books never balance.

About Joanne


  1. Some of these people must be full-time employees of the IRS or Adelphia Cable. My guess is that they’re moonlighting as “customer service” telephone reps. There has to be some sort of explanation…

  2. Mike in Texas says:

    Reminds me of the health insurance company that sent me $380 out of the blue, saying I had been overcharged. Five years later they called and said it had been a mistake and they wanted their money back. I told them good luck with that.

    I say cash ’em both and dont’ spend the extra money, keep the interest you earn in the meantime for your trouble.

  3. Just curious whether during your conversations with Cap One, the people you talked to gave you their last names. I find that when talking to customer service people, they are loathe to do that and when you insist they say “I’m the only Bill here”.

    Glad you got your refund(s) back. I say mail back the second one, but send it certified/return receipt.

  4. Richard Nieporent says:

    I say cash ’em both and dont’ spend the extra money, keep the interest you earn in the meantime for your trouble.

    I know MiT disagrees with you a lot, but I didn’t think he would want you to go to jail! The simplest solution is to deposit one of the checks and destroy the other check. By not sending it back you don’t have to worry about it getting lost in the mail or incur the expense of a certified letter. When the first check clears tell the credit card company which check you destroyed. They can put a stop payment order on it if they desire, but that is their problem and not yours.

  5. Maybe Capital One is spending all their money on tv commercials instead of customer service.

    I’d deposit one check and just hang onto the other. When if they contact you, tell them it will be 5 weeks before you’re able to refund their money, but things might go *a little* more smoothly if they sent you a prepaid UPS envelope….

  6. I’d deposit the first check, then just hold onto the other check. It probably expires 90 days after its issue date or something like that. THEN, I’d cancel my account with these people. Screw them. Life is hard enough without having to deal with the morons you describe. Let them come to you for the second check. American business, especially the banking industry, need to relearn the value of quality, competent customer service.

  7. Capital One’s customer service people will provide a first name and an employee ID number. No last names. Most had American accents, so I assume they’re based in the U.S.

    I am planning to cancel my account as soon as I can get a new credit card up and running.

  8. ragnarok says:

    I don’t like any of the big credit-card mills such as MBNA and Capital One. Their purpose in life is to look for imaginative ways to charge you.

    Much better, I think, to deal with a non-nonsense place that will deal honestly with you. Consumers Checkbook usually has a good list if you read betwen the lines.

  9. By not sending it back you don’t have to worry about it getting lost in the mail or incur the expense of a certified letter. When the first check clears tell the credit card company which check you destroyed. They can put a stop payment order on it if they desire, but that is their problem and not yours.

  10. Ionfairy says:

    Keep one, burn one. @8-)

  11. honest and stupid says:

    ffuck you tooo

  12. honest and stupid says:

    Capital One Credit Company and Orchard Bank are the 2 most phony, lying, insidious scam artists on the planet. For those of you who have their cards don’t ever play fair and honest because you will get screwed. I had all of the above cards for close to 10 years, never late on payments, high limits on all cards and my life took a turn for the worse. I was injured in a work related accident [Wausau Insurance are crooks also] in 1997 and in 2003 Wausau decided to “selectively” pay medical bills – meaning they didn’t pay upwards of $150,000 while they would pay some and give no reason why for not paying the others. I have been fighting them since early 2004 and could not win and force them to pay the bills they had agreed to, so medical facilities were coming after me. I am a graduate student living on a stipend and that’s not a huge amount of money. When Wausau didn’t pay many of the medical providers, the medical facilities billed my horrible student mandatory insurance, Mega Life, another insidious lying group of jerks, so between the 2 I started getting my paltry stipend garnished, my checking account levied and I had to declare bankruptcy for medical bills only. There were absolutely no credit card debts discharged in the bankruptcy [which I haven’t even had the first meeting of creditors yet]; when there are zero balance on credit cards by law you do not have to list or notify the credit card companies. Knowing this was coming I very carefully managed my money and paid off Capital One for 3 cards and Orchard Bank for 1; all paid free and clear 8 months prior to having to file bankruptcy. ALL of my credit limits were raised when the cards were paid off to add insult to injury. Within DAYS of filing the bankruptcy, both Capital One and Orchard Bank cancelled all my cards; again I owed them nothing and was in excellent standing with outstanding high ratings from both companies. After I found out all my cards were cancelled I was told they found out I filed bankruptcy by random checks on my credit statement [which they had not checked for several years] which is a blatant lie – I’m positive because I paid them all off they decided I was no longer of any use to them because I was not incurring any interest. I was told I would not have any black marks on my credit record because I had paid them in full prior to bankruptcy even though they cancelled them – which is by FAR a much higher negative score than if I had ran up all my cards and discharged the entire limits. If you don’t believe me – check your scores after you pay off your cards and see how they have screwed you in the rating department. Those of you who might ever be in my situation do not do the right, honest and proper thing by paying any of these horrible groups off, run your cards up and max them out and discharge the debt. Because if you don’t get them, they will get you!!!!! Signed, honest and way too stupid.