The Trouble with Black Cards (A Cautionary Tale &/and Review for Those with AAA/Perfect (Credit) Ratings) …. by Jan Johnson (*all rights reserved* 2010)
In late November 2009 I received an invitation only notification inviting me to consider the Barclays Bank Delaware new (and purportedly exclusive, concierge) Visa Black Card (distributed by Black Card, LLC of Barclays international) …
I pointedly explained that I was satisfied with my meagre, yet highly rated Bank of America Visa platinum Card with a moderate, but comfortable limit. But, the nice consultant informed me that perhaps the concierge services and benefits might be of interest to me (for professional purposes, at least, naturally, etc...). Anyway, I agreed to consider the card option.
In December I received a very nicely packaged BlackCard with accompanying informational materials. Very nice. I decided to think about it for a month or two before deciding to accept the card (at this point I was thinking I would accept it; however like any other discriminating consumer, I like to think carefully about my selection/s)…
And that is when the trouble began…
About two weeks later (on December 12 or so) I received an email notification that my billing statement for the annual black card fee (of $495 mind you) should be arriving shortly). Now considering that I still had not activated this card (as in I did not call and accept it, yet), I was a bit nonplussed that I received a bill for an account I had yet to authorize. Not to mention that Visa distinguishes itself from other vendors by offering cards with NO-Fee (i.e., my pre-existing B/A Platinum card)…
[color=white]So, like any other client I assume that this strange and unusual snafoo is something that they can fix with a phone call to the Barclays (customer support concierge line on the back of the card)… Imagine my surprise when, not only did it take 45 minutes to speak with a manager, they could not explain why a billing sequence appeared to have been generated for a card that I did not yet activate/accept…. As verified on their system. The nice man I talked to (no last names mind you---I was told they didn’t give their last names--- I found this very odd considering the VP at B-of-A gave me a personal card told me their nickname, the best time to reach them in the office and all kind of nice stuff)---but I digress… Now, he (the nice man with no last name from the merchant wanting my business--) informed me that possibly it was related to the blackcard service itself, (uhnn-huhhh, i.e., ---'what??!) however, he, (the nice man with no last name) also informed me that should I decide to decline the card I would obviously not be liable for any fees (including the $495 annual fee (still no clue as to how a crd not activated can appear to have generated a fee---thanks) ---but, to make a ridiculously long story somewhat shorter, a mere 30-DAYS later with still no information on my account to my satisfaction, or concierge support services s I was assured by the Barclays Wealth manager I managed to track down in Chicago (one of the few people I actually reached----(now, we won’t talk about what happened when I called Barclays U.S. Corporate offices in New York City/Manhattan) apparently there is no FIRE-SALE going on at Barclays (International) although he did seem vaguely confused that I actually reached a direct number (now, let's all pray and thank OUR LORD-AND-SAVIOR ; GOD (Almighty) for directory assistance---) however, apparently, there (possibly, maybe, kinda sorta, totally) is a scam in which what appears to be a concierge card is being marketed,
however, at this point, I wish to stress that apparently, in addition to all them nice No-FEE/Free cards they issue, Visa has issued cards with COMPLIMENTARY/FREE/24-7/AllThe Random Itinerant Info and Fluff-Related Services That folks who want concierge serves like…And for those who like free services/perks (even freaking better (feel free to insert other more appropriately colorful adjective…) ..And, OH Yes,
thank HIM/GOD-ALMIGHTY/John the Baptist/The Goode One, etc… for the Internet as well, -cause (yours truly found out this little tidbit by going to the official Visa site (a stroke of genius, I know--right..???) and looking under the link related to concierge serves cards information—and then on top of THAT )] …when I randomly decided to call the visa concierge line listed on the site, something funny happened, the concierge associate started trying to give me concierge related information
(all this before I said ‘my name is… J-O-H-N-S-O-N’, mind you) ...
...and then had the (very adorable) nerve to call the Barclays customer support line for me while I was on the phone to assist me (for free mind you)…. And at this point I’m thinking, now, Aren’t I lucky I opened that (Charles) Schwab account, instead…(also free c & s by the way, and isn’t that great!!???)?
Anyhoo, I decided to decline the Barclays card, not sure how I feel about them anymore either, but I also decided that I (still) really like Visa a lot and their concierge services even (freaking) better! So, on that note, I would say thumbs up to VISA concierge services, however if you want the real deal, go to the VISA (web) site (our recommendation (based on preliminary research ofcourse); maybe to try The Visa Signature (Concierge) Card or Visa Black (Concierge) Card, BOTH distributed by Merrill Lynch, by the way)…
Enclosures: OCF Editorial (JJ-R) *All Rights Reserved* Jan 05, 2010
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