First off, the term “scam” should be taken with a grain of salt, hopefully one of many stuck to a margarita glass. Secondly, what HSBC Best Buy has going can definitely be termed a racket.
The Pitch: Open a Best Buy Credit Card and pay no interest 24 months!!
The typically skeptical Consumer thought process: Hmmm, free financing; what’s the catch? OK, so this is actually an HSBC bank credit card, sure… nothing else jumps out as odd in the immediate fine print.
This seems ideal for a large purchase like that washer and dryer we so desperately need. I’ll read the minimum payment from my first statement and put this baby on auto-pay. Score.
- Month 1-6: minimum payment $10
- Month 7: minimum payment $23; auto-paid $10 minimum payment insignificant; $35 late fee assessed
- Month 8: minimum payment $36; oh shit, what’s all this now? LATE FEE? WTF!
According to a HSBC representative, “a new law was passed in January and you received a notice in the mail about your minimum payment.” To date, I have yet to find said notice. I did however, find the exact same claim from a blog post in The HSBC Monitor, “there was a new law that passed in January that requires them to charge a higher percentage of the balance” which, interestingly enough was posted in 2006.
Eventually, the representative passed me to a “manager” and the late-fees were waived. All was ok, I was alright even though I had spent hours on the phone talking to human script reading machines. I Had Won. So, I figure OK – boost the auto-pay amount to $30, well above that old minimum and I’ll be good. Then *two* months go by.
Minimum payment: $46. Auto pay shy of $16. Late fee bitch +$35.
Conundrum: call HSBC, waste hour(s) pitching how wrong they are to charge this fee. Or, pay it, stfu and take it.
Moral of the story: Signing up for a free financing offer means to mentally prepare to add that to your monthly checklist. Do not rely on auto pay to “beat the system”. Pay close attention to each and every message sent from the company providing that “free” credit. They Will Try To Screw You out of some money.