Credit Card companies in a desperate attempt to make ever more money have gotten ridiculous with late fees. A case in point:

I have been a Harvard World Master Card holder for many years. Their customer service used to be the best of any of the many credit cards I use and now it is the worst.

I’m not sure what has changed but sometime about a year ago I noticed a sharp decline in their service. That was I believe around the time when they began immediately off-shoring all of the calls to their phone service center.

On Aug. 20, 2011 I called to make a payment to my account. The payment was due at 7 p.m. that day. It was shortly before 7 p.m. when I called. I was immediately transferred to someone in Manila. As my past experience with your overseas agents has been extremely unsatisfactory I asked to be transferred to a U.S. agent. After being put on hold for more than 20 minutes, I hung up and called again. Again, I was transferred to Manila. I told the agent I wanted to make a payment to my account and that I wanted it to be credited for that day. I was told I would be charged a late fee for the pleasure of being put on hold for 20 minutes by you. I asked for a supervisor. After being put on hold again I was told there was nothing he could do – I would be charged a late fee. I asked for a U.S. operator. Hold again. When I was finally connected to a U.S. agent – it was now around 7:30 p.m. – I was told she had to charge me a late fee because it was after the 7 p.m. time to make a payment. I informed her that seemed ludicrous since I had been on hold for the last half hour. Too bad, she responded, that’s the way it is. I asked for a supervisor. After another 10 minute hold I was connected to a supervisor who told me there was nothing she could do – I would be charged a late fee for waiting on hold to make my payment. I had now invested 45 minutes of my life in trying to make a payment and because of your poor service I was going to be charged a late fee. In addition, when I told her that I intended to take the customer survey at the end of the call she made sure to disconnect me so that I could not. And she refused to give me her name or any identification.

After thinking about the experience I now suspect that they have a company policy that calls made around 7 p.m. to their service center are deliberately put on hold for long periods so that they can collect an additional late fee.

I have filed a complaint with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about this practice.

If they feel charging me a late fee for making my payment 45 minutes late because their service is so poor that I was on hold for almost all of that time is more important than keeping my business so be it. It certainly would be penny wise and pound foolish – but that’s why people hate credit card companies.