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Capital Zero?

Dear Editor,

I have been reading the many stories about the purchase of North Fork Bank by Capital One and how things are not going to change as a result of the buyout.

I have been a customer of NFB for 15 years and have nothing but praise for the personal attention I get from the branch staff. If I have a problem, they will sit with me and make every effort to help me. They are always willing to listen and do what is necessary to make things right.

My experience with Capital One is totally opposite and I fear that the present NFB community minded service standards will go out the window when the takeover occurs.

My interaction with Capital One has proven to me that they don't care about the customer and that it's all about making as much money as possible. This is my experience: After my company downsized last June, I have been out of work. I have a credit card from Capital One and was able to make my payments until September using my savings but then that ran out. So, I have been unable to make the credit card payments for about six months.

Last week I got an interview for a really good job out of town. I needed to make plane, car, and hotel reservations to take advantage of the interview opportunity. In today's business world, you need a credit card to make these reservations. So, I called Capital One and told them that I could borrow money from friends and family to bring my card current if that would get my charging privileges reinstated. The Capital One representative said that that was acceptable and that I needed to send certified funds to expedite the process. The next day I sent a bank check for $3000.

Two days ago I tried to use my card to make the necessary reservations and the card was declined. I called Capital One and they advised me that the card was cancelled last month and would not be reinstated. I explained what their representative had said and they told me that the computer records of the conversation showed that I would be sending the payment but it did not indicate that the representative told me that my card would be reinstated. I told them exactly what the situation was and after telling my story to three different "supervisors," there was no movement my card was cancelled, would not be reinstated, and the money I sent would be applied to the balance.

It is obvious now that the Capital One representative I originally spoke with lied to me and tricked me into sending the money. She had to know that the card had been cancelled the month before and that there was no way it was going to be reinstated.

So now I have no way of getting to my interview and I'm in debt another $3000 to my friends and family.

There was no sympathy for my situation, no customer minded empathy, no flexibility, and no recognition for my 10 years as a Capital One customer. If this is the way Capital One does business, then all North Fork Bank customers are in trouble.

The Chairman of NFB, John Kanas, got $400 million in the buyout and a seven-figure job with Capital One. Meanwhile the customers of NFB are going to have to deal with a deceptive, lying, manipulative, money-hungry corporation instead of a community minded local bank. My advice to NFB customers is to close your accounts and run as fast as you can away from North Fork Bank before they screw you too.

Editor's Note: It should be pointed out these are allegations, not facts. A spokesperson for the bank didn't respond by press time.

April 12, 2006

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