Consumers Fight the Providian Credit Card Problem

Monday, September 13th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Consumers receive hundreds of credit card offers annually, and finding the best deal can be confusing. But two Green Country women say when they signed up for a new credit card, it turned into a costly problem. "After having a bit of damaged credit before, I thought about the cheap interest rate with only a $49 fee to open the account," said Kathy Portley. "It wouldn't be a problem."

But Portley says she's had nothing but problems since she signed up for a Providian credit card last February. "I am very frustrated, very, very upset," she said. Upset that the company charged her late fees although she says she was never late and Providian made an error. She also says she's only charged about $200, but the company's charged her more than $300 in fees. Portley says she complained but it hasn't helped. She pays every month, but she says she can't get ahead because they keep adding fees. "I needed a credit card to establish my credit," said Portley.

Heather Parker signed up for a Providian MasterCard to establish her credit. But she says Providian charged her fees before she even got the card. "They were charging me $119 for some Price-pro advantage fee which I didn't sign up for and didn't need," said Parker. "And a health advantage for $149 which I didn't need because I had that from work." She's been fighting with the company to clear it up, but paying extra each month to avoid credit problems.

There are others out there like Portley and Parker. Hundreds of people have filed individual lawsuits against the California-based company. Now two law firms have joined forces to file a class action lawsuit. The firms say Providian targets people with bad credit or no credit. The lawsuit accuses Providian of unfair business practices and fraud, including complaints about excessive late fees and add-on fees for such services as credit protection, a health advantage club for discounted health care, and price pro which promises discounts on products and services. Many customers say they were billed for those extra services even though they never ordered them.

Providian Financial didn't comment on the lawsuit, but faxed us a statement that says in part: "Our customer service has sometimes fallen short of our standards, but every day our employees are making an effort to change that." Providian also says it will "reverse any late fees a customer felt was wrongly assessed" and will "cancel any membership service and refund the fees for up to a full year."

But Portley says she hasn't gotten anywhere with Providian, so she plans to join the lawsuit. "I can see that it's wrong and I will be able to prove that it's wrong," said Portley. "But in the meantime, I'm having to pay the bills." In the end, she hopes Providian will have to pay for what it did to her.

If you have complaints about any credit card, call the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency at 1-800-613-6743.

Providian Lawsuit
Law Firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfield & Toll
Web site at

Credit Card Information Web Sites