We recently got hit by a $363 late charge
on our CITGO Fleet account, on top of a $56 interest charge (at 21% per annum interest rate)
, when we missed a payment due date. The late charge, which we feel is outrageous, effectively works out to an additional per annum charge of 83% !
Here's what happened:
We sent CITGO a check for $3,214 to pay our July 2009 Bill, but for some reason that check was lost in the mail somewhere.
When we opened our August statement we saw that CITGO had placed a $56 interest charge AND a $363 late charge on our account -- because no payment was received by the due date of the previous billing cycle. (The late fee was calculated a 6.99% of the New Balance of $5,199.)
We paid the balance due with a check over the phone and attempted to get CITGO to remove the late charge from our account. They would not remove the late charge and instead offered us a rebate of 5 cents for every gallon purchased between now and December 2009.
FYI, Here's the fine print, from the back of our current CITGO Statement:
: You must pay the Total Balance Due by the Due Date shown on your statement.
(b) Late Fee: The total amount shown on each account statement is due and payable by the due date shown on the statement.
You agree to pay a late fee equal to the greater of $10.00 or 5.00% of the Total Balance Due for each billing period for which full payment was not received by the Due Date. However, if your risk profile (addressing such matters as your credit history or lack thereof) as reported to us by a third party reporting agency reflects that, in our determination, you lack sufficient credit history or that you have failed to comply with your obligations, or if you fail to make a payment to us, you exceed your spending limit, or you make payment that is not honored by your bank, the applicable late charge may be increased to the greater of $25 of 6.99% of the Total Balance Due for each billing period for which full payment was not received.
(c) Finance Charges:
Finance charges will accrue for all transactions for which payment is not received by the Due Date shown on your statement at an annual percentage of 21% (or the maximum charge permitted by law) and will continue to accrue as to all outstanding balances and new transactions until you pay all amounts due (including any past due balances) on or prior to the Due Date shown on your statement. Such interest charge does not reflect our agreement to allow you to not pay the Total Balance Due each month.
We also believe that the Late Fee that CITGO applied to our account is not in compliance with Section 149 of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, which states:
SEC. 149. REASONABLE PENALTY FEES ON OPEN END CONSUMER CREDIT PLANS.
In General- The amount of any penalty fee or charge that a card issuer
may impose with respect to a credit card account under an open end
consumer credit plan in connection with any omission with respect to,
or violation of, the cardholder agreement, including any late payment
fee, over-the-limit fee, or any other penalty fee or charge, shall be
reasonable and proportional to such omission or violation.
While our CITGO Fleet account is not a consumer credit plan, it seems to us that CITGO would be well advised to adapt and update the Terms & Conditions for their CITGO Fleet product so that they are in compliance with the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 - before Congress does it for them, with new legislation.
Any business that has CITGO Fleet cards, or is thinking of opening a CITGO Fleet account, should carefully consider the financial costs associated with missing a payment with CITGO.
A CITGO Fleet customer