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Fleet Credit Card Ad Is Faulted

October 9, 2000

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A lawsuit has been filed against Fleet Bank claiming the company misled consumers and violated a pledge to fix interest rates on credit card balances transferred to Fleet accounts.

Fleet Credit Card Services advertised a 7.99 percent annual rate, then raised the rate, violating the state Deceptive Trade Practices Act, according to the lawsuit filed last week in state Superior Court.

Messages left at Fleet’s public relations office Monday were not immediately returned.

Attorney Peter Wasylyk of Providence filed the suit on behalf of Tyler Chavers of Eagle River, Alaska, asking for class-action status to include thousands of other cardholders.

Chavers transferred the balances of his three credit cards to obtain Fleet’s advertised annualized percentage rate in April. A month later, he received a letter from Fleet saying that the Federal Reserve had raised interest rates and the APR would be increased to 9.5 or 10.5 percent, depending on when the cardholder joined.

``Fleet believed it could increase the fixed rate at any time, and in fact, never intended to provide the fixed rate as advertised,″ Chavers said in the suit.

Fleet said the low rate was only subject to change if the cardholder made late payments, which Chavers never did, according to the suit.

Chavers is seeking restitution of all interest and fees as well as other damages. He also is demanding Fleet stop what he called improper advertising.

In a phone interview from his home, Chavers said that when he called a Fleet customer service representative to complain, he was told, ``the fine print will get you every time.″

Fleet Credit Card Services, based in Horsham, Pa., provides consumer credit cards and related services.

Fleet, now known as FleetBoston, is the nation’s eighth-largest bank with $181 billion in assets and 1,200 branches throughout New England.

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