Canceling My Chase British Airways Card: A Weird Phone Call

I applied for, and received, the Chase British Airways (BA) credit card last year when the bonus was 100,000 Avios (BA’s term for miles) after spending $20,000. I thought I would try for the BA Travel Together ticket, but I found myself not being able to justify the $800-plus fuel surcharges that are charged when redeeming the ticket, so I stopped my spend several thousand dollars short of earning a Travel Together ticket. Additionally, over the past six months, I had barely put any spend on the card – only around $500 or so. In total, I had earned over 130,000 Avios from the signup bonus and card spend and only had to spend the annual fee cost, $95.
I like the look of the card, although BA does not fly to space.
May 2013 marked the one year anniversary of opening the card, which meant I’d have to pay the $95 fee again. Since I’d rather not give Chase another $95, I called the number on the back of the card and told the customer service rep (CSR) that I was thinking about cancelling the card due to the annual fee and she immediately attempted to close the card down and transfer my credit limit to another of my Chase credit cards. I asked her if there were any retention bonuses or special offers she could advise me on before I let her close the card. The CSR transferred me to the retention department, where I spoke with a self-titled “Senior Representative.” (The same exact script was read to me two months before, when I “attempted” to cancel the card and ended up with 10,000 Avios as a reward not to cancel. 10,000 Avios will get you a New York-Montreal/Toronto/DC trip. Here is the Avios trip calculator.)
At this point in the telephone call, I figured I was getting somewhere. Senior CSRs are Chase are empowered to make decisions on their own and frequently in the past have helped me with additional points to rectify any problems or wasted time on the phone. This particular senior rep, at first, did not mention any retention or spending bonus or statement credit. I then explained I had spent x$$ since opening the card, but she was insistent – no help with the fee. She mentioned that the $95 was tied to an agreement Chase had with British Airways and was unwaivable. I had no choice to but to agree – I don’t know what the Chase/BA relationship is like!
I acquiesced to closing the card and asked for my credit limit to be transferred to my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. She agreed and transferred all but $1,000, informing me that since I was carrying a balance, the full amount of credit could not be transferred. I was incredulous – the “balance” was the annual fee Chase was charging me! Obviously, she could have given me a statement credit for the $95 right then and there and we would have been even. She couldn’t do that. I didn’t want to throw away $1,000 in credit, so I was pretty insistent on how perversely illogical her position was. She agreed and then stated that if I paid the $95 – which Chase would refund me by sending a check within 1-2 statement cycles – then I could transfer the full amount over. This last part was irrational as well to me because there wouldn’t be any more statement cycles once the account was closed.
I was getting annoyed that she hadn’t mentioned this before and this is where the phone conversation got weird. We have been on the phone for over 20 minutes and I asked her if I could pay the $95 on this card and receive a $95 statement credit on another card, again making us even financially. She could not. I expressed my disappointment and asked her to explain to her higher-ups my position. The CSR then stated that she could offer me a $150 statement credit on my Chase United Explorer credit card, as I was a “valued customer.” The $150 would be credited within 4-6 weeks. Literally, she said no and then she said yes in the span of 45 seconds.
Of course, I accepted – it’s a free $55. I told her I had to accept, since Chase was giving me free money, but was miffed that it took so long for an acceptable outcome and was confused that Chase would give me a bigger statement credit than what I asked for and after I had to ask for it several times beforehand. Either way, I came out ahead against a big bank, so consider this a victory for the 99%.
Moral here is same always with this credit card game: the customer is always right, even if it takes two or three levels of bank bureaucracy to realize it!

Tweet me @WindowSuite or leave a comment below if you have had a bizarre CSR experience.

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