I had to think about where to put this one, and decided to post it here because I think this is the way many companies of this type are going to go. It’s finance related and credit card related, and that’s what this blog is all about. There’s also customer service issues, which will destroy many businesses as well.

Newport News is a women’s clothing company. I don’t know if they’re an actual store or just an online store, but for my purposes it doesn’t matter. Here’s the story.

My wife has been a client of theirs for more than 10 years. Recently she ordered a swimming suit because she was going on a cruise, and wanted to see if something they had would work for her. When it came she looked at it through the packaging, decided it wasn’t what she wanted, and two days later she sent it back. Three days after that she got an email from them saying they’d received her returned purchase; all seemed well.

That is, until she got the bill. They had charged her for the purchase. She figured maybe things just crossed in the mail, so she called to make sure that’s what it was. Instead, she was told that she would have to pay for the item since the bill went out before they had received the item, which wasn’t true at all. She said she should be getting a refund for the purchase, and the person told her she’d have to talk to the bank they work with because they handled all money issues.

What the heck is that? I don’t know, but she contacted the bank, who told her the other people were wrong, and that she needed to pay at least $10 to make sure she didn’t get hit with a bigger fee. What could she do but pay the $10. Then she left on her cruise, figuring that things would work out.

They didn’t. She gets back and another bill had come with an even higher balance. She calls again, saying she had returned the item and was told she should be getting some kind of refund. Not only that, but they had lowered the amount she could borrow on the card from $500 to $100. The person she talked to acknowledged that she’d sent the item back, but said she owed shipping and handling charges for returning the item; that had never happened before. She was incredulous, as you can imagine. This person told her she’d have to call the bank again.

My wife calls the bank and finally she gets a modicum of satisfaction. The person tells her that they did see the item had been returned and she would be refunded that. He also tells her that, unfortunately, she still has to pay the shipping fees for returning the item, which was around $26; are you kidding?

She asked about the new lower balance and he tells her that’s because she was late with a payment, which she wasn’t because she had followed what she’d previously been told. She told the man to cancel her card, then he spent 5 minutes trying to talk her out of it; come on!

So, the card is canceled, she’s sent the $26 and change, and she’s still mad. I’m mad also because this company disregarded her long term loyalty and, if they changed terms of return, not only didn’t inform her, but come on, $26 for shipping and handling charges on an item that probably cost the same, and weighed almost nothing? If that’s not somewhat fraudulent I don’t know what is.

Newport News; I hope they go out of business because of stuff like this. And, as I said earlier, I believe many other companies are going to be doing this kind of thing against consumers whose accounts are relatively small. It seems the new credit card rules must not apply to everyone; that’s not right.