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Consumer Alert

Credit card switch can be upsetting to customers

By Mitch Lipka
Globe Correspondent / May 2, 2010

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Q. I have had a Bank of America (previously Fleet) MasterCard since 1969. I enjoy using the MasterCard, I have always observed the rules, paid on time, and my card is in good standing.

A week or so ago, I received a new Bank of America credit card in the mail. I was quite surprised to receive a new credit card as my current card did not expire until August 2011. But, what floored me is that my new card was an American Express, not MasterCard.

I called Bank of America and after a good hour of being transferred between several customer service agents, my request to switch back to a MasterCard was honored, although it will take up to six weeks and my current card will expire in 30 days.

What sort of customer service is this?

Rose Russell, Peabody

A. I could see how having the same type of credit card for 35 years would engender some loyalty and how watching the card unexpectedly get transformed into something different could be jarring. The bank, which offers a range of different types of credit cards, has all sorts of deals with the credit card companies that can lead to this sort of wholesale switch.

“We recently converted some MasterCard customers to the Bank of America Accelerated Rewards American Express card with enhanced rewards,’’ Bank of America spokesman T.J. Crawford said. “Any points on the previous card transfer to the new card and the rate remains the same. . . This is not a new program. We may periodically review accounts and convert them to a card that offers additional rewards.’’

But he said that any customer who is unhappy with this transition will be granted a change back to their previous brand.

Crawford said the change should not affect a customers’ credit since it was initiated by the bank.

Still, any practice that leaves customers shaken and scratching their heads isn’t a great loyalty building tactic.

Secret shopping?
If you have ever scanned the job ads, chances are you’ve seen the call for people to be “secret shoppers.’’ As tempting as such a job might seem, it is often the lure to a scam.

Avoid at all costs cashing checks for the prospective employer even if it’s supposedly in the name of testing how easily money can be wired out of the country. The odds are it will be your money making the trip.

A week or so after depositing the check you were sent, you will probably find out it was phony. There are better career paths to pursue than victim.

Mitch Lipka is the Consumer Ally for AOL’s WalletPop.com and lives in Worcester. He can be reached at ConsumerNews@Aol.com.