At Hyde & Swigart, we work hard to defend consumers who are being abused by debt collectors, or sued for their credit card debt. Because of that, we find it annoying when credit card companies like Capital One use actors like Samuel L. Jackson to tout how they offer such great credit card offers to consumers. So let’s take a close up look at exactly what is in your wallet when you choose Capital One.

Start by looking at Capital One’s “Cardholder Agreement”

Capital One hides their “Cardholder Agreement” at http://www.capitalone.com/media/doc/credit-cards/Credit-Card-Agreement-for-Fifth-Third-Bank-in-Capital-One-N.A.pdf. Take a look at it and find out “What’s in your wallet.”

They state “If you want to write any special conditions on your payment, such as “paid in full”, “without recourse”, or similar language, you must mark this clearly on your payment. Send this payment to the special address on your statement. This address is called the “Billing Inquiries” address.” You see, they want to make it really hard for you to provide any special conditions to your payment – even to the point of saying “Unless you follow the above directions, we may accept a payment marked with special conditions and not agree to those conditions, and will not lose any of our rights” you must send it to a “special address.” This means they will take your money, but they won’t abide by your instructions. What’s in your wallet?

The Fees – Capital One makes a fortune charging you fees, let’s look at “what’s in your wallet.”

  • Interest (of course – and lots of interest.)
  • Balance Transfer Fees
  • Cash Advance Fees
  • Annual and Periodic Membership Fees
  • Late Payment Fees
  • Over The Credit Limit Fee
  • Return Payment Fee
  • Payment By Phone Fee
  • Copy Request Fee
  • Stop Payment Fee

And what else may they do because you are foolish enough to use Capital One?

Well, they claim they can:

  1. contact you by mail, telephone, email, fax, recorded message, text message or personal visit;
  2. contact you using an automated dialing or similar device (“Autodialer”);
  3. contact you at your home and at your place of employment;
  4. contact you on your mobile telephone;
  5. contact you at any time, including weekends and holidays;
  6. contact you with any frequency;
  7. leave prerecorded and other messages on your answering machine/service and with others; and
  8. identify themselves, your relationship with them and their purpose for contacting you even if others might hear or read it.

Now, most of that is illegal under the law, but they sure don’t seem to care about that.

Capital One also states that they may be secretly recording your conversations with them, and that their contacts with you are “are not unsolicited.” That is double talk for “solicited.” They also state that “When you give us or we obtain your mobile telephone number, we may contact you at this number using an Autodialer and can also leave prerecorded and other messages. We may do these things whether we contact you or you contact us.” That means they can use a machine to blow up your telephone with automated text messages and automated calls. And since they claim, they may “contact you with any frequency,” you can expect a lot of calls.

Now let’s start by looking at Capital One’s “Terms and Conditions. You can find those at http://www.capitalone.com/legal/terms-conditions/

This pages starts by saying “By accessing the Site and any of its pages, you indicate your acknowledgement and acceptance of the Terms and Conditions set forth below without limitation or qualification.” Thats right – Capital One claims that by even reading their stuff you “automatically acknowledge and agree to it.” But it gets much, much more oppressive than that this. Capital One also provides that “Capital One may revise these Terms and Conditions at any time by updating this posting, which revisions will be binding upon all visitors to the Site. You should therefore visit this posting to review these Terms and Conditions from time to time as you visit the Site. For purposes of these Terms and Conditions references to Capital One include its affiliates, directors and employees.” This means that what you are “agreeing to” when you visit the site can change without your knowledge. This is how Capital One treats it valued customers. These terms and conditions also provide that you are agreeing that “Virginia law … will govern the interpretation and enforcement of these Terms and Conditions.” Why Virginia law? Because the consumer protection laws in Virginia are very lax – Capital One wants you to waive the much stronger consumer protection laws in your state.

Limitation of Liabilities and Warranties – Capital One refuses to take any responsibility at all for what it says or does.

Although Capital One claims you are liable for nearly everything (more on that later), it is liable for nothing. Capital One states “IN NO EVENT WILL CAPITAL ONE BE LIABLE TO ANY PARTY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL OR OTHER CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES FOR ANY USE OF ANY HYPERLINKED WEB SITE, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY LOST PROFITS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, LOSS OF PROGRAMS OR OTHER DATA ON YOUR INFORMATION HANDLING SYSTEM OR OTHERWISE, EVEN IF WE ARE EXPRESSLY ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.” “In no event” – that means never. But what if Capital One knows they are damging you? Too bad. When Capital One states “EVEN IF WE ARE EXPRESSLY ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES,” they are saying they won’t accept responsibility for what they do.

Marketing – Capital One really sticking it to you.

Capital One says that “Regardless of whether you have chosen to opt out of certain marketing offers from Capital One, by using Capital One Online you agree that we may market our services and the services of other companies on the Site through the use of banner ads,”hyper-links,” and other similar marketing devices.” This means they can market to you no matter what you actually want. You have to accept their marketing.

Now let’s take a look at the real problem with Capital One – they want to make you responsible for everything they do.

In their “terms and agreements,” they state “YOU AGREE TO INDEMNIFY, DEFEND AND HOLD HARMLESS CAPITAL ONE FROM ANY LIABILITY, LOSS, CLAIM AND EXPENSE, INCLUDING ATTORNEY’S FEES, RELATED TO YOUR VIOLATION OF THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OR YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES AND INFORMATION PROVIDED AT THE SITE.” This is legalize for “by using our web site, you agree to defend us and hold us harmless if we ever get sued.” That’s right – you have to pay their attorneys’ fees if they get sued. Why? Because you read their web page.

Capital One. So what’s in your wallet? A whole lot of problems if you are dealing with Capital One.