Like everyone else that has filed a report, I've been screwed by Aria/Providian/Emerge as well, although not to the same extent as some others.
I opened my Aria account in 10/99, over time, and with a good payment record, I received increases in my credit limit and everything was fine.
When my Aria card was up for renewal I was surprised to receive, instead, a Smart Visa card. In spite of the same payment history, I did not receive anywhere near the same amount of credit increases, but this was okay.
After looking at all of my credit cards, I contacted Smart Visa to request a lower interest rate card since my payments had been good. At the time the interest rate on the card was 21.99%. I was told no, they had lower rate cards but they wouldn't approve me for one until I had my current account paid in full, and no, they would not transfer the balance owed from one card to another. So ... I waited.
In October of 2002 I received a very congratulatory letter advising me that my Smart Visa card was now being replaced by an Emerge Gold Mastercard. Oh, and in the fine print of my very perky letter was disclosure that my interest rate would now be 23.99%.
Last summer, as is known to happen from time to time, I fell into a bit of chaos after my mother had a stroke. I didn't get to the grocery store, I didn't get all my laundry done, I didn't get my house vacuumed, and I didn't get to bills on the day I normally would have. The result of that was that I got my Emerge bill paid 5 days late.
The next month I was going through a small stack of mail and separating the bills from the junk mail. To kill time during a particularly lengthy and boring phone call, I entertained myself by fiddling with the junk mail. I opened some and tossed it aside, confirming that it was the junk I thought it was to begin with. One particular envelope was blank as far as return address or sender's name or anything and I tossed it aside without even opening it.
Unfortunately when I finished messing with the junk mail the phone call still wasn't over. I thought about gathering up all the envelopes and flyers and tossing the pile, but then I saw that blank envelope again and out of mind numbing boredom opened it.
It was a notification letter from eMerge advising me that because I had submitted late payments to them my new interest rate was now going to be 29.99%.
Do you think the cheap, blank business envelope was a way for them to keep costs down? (Like they can't afford to have their return address or something printed at the interest rate they're charging??) Or do you think they were trying to sneak an interest rate increase past me? (Duh.)
I'm taking out a personal loan from my bank (at 14.9% interest thank you very much) for the sole purpose of paying these people off so I can cancel my account.