One more way for credit card issuers to scam you?

Twice in the last three months the following has happened to me:

My bank says that it paid a credit card bill electronically on a certain date. In one case the date was the actual due date. In the other it was one day before the due date. However, the credit card company (in this case Citibank) says they got the payment one or two days later, after the due date, thus incurring late fees and interest charges.

The first time, I spoke to them about it and got full credit on both interest and late fee. The second time, they were resistant, but did eventually give me some credit (not sure how much yet, I think I was talking to India). Of course all this took a half hour or more on the phone each time.

Both of these credits were given as “a courtesy.” They said that in both cases their records were accurate. The money was not received until after the due date.

Of course I argued with them, and asked them how I could settle this dispute between my bank and theirs, and then one of them admitted that “it takes 36 to 48 hours before your account is credited.”

I do not think he knew what he was admitting. “So, I said, this means that you got the money when my bank said you did, but stuck it in a corner for one or two days — just long enoigh for me to be over the deadline — and then credited my account, adding interest and late fees, right.”

He did not answer me. Seems to me that if they can hold your money for up to 48 hours before crediting your account, then they ought to make that clear in all those flyspeck-sized typeface brochures they send.

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