Complaint Category: Failure to honor refund, exchange or credit policies
Complaint: Refusal to let me use my points to get overdarft fees waived like I have in the past.
I have banked with Affinity Plus for almost 10 years, and through out the years I have been able to have over draft fees reimbursed using participation points that i've earned. The last fees I was ble to have waived was on Jan 16. Last week on Friday, I made a request online to have two other fees waived using my participation points. I received an email from a representative of Affinity stating that I did not qualify for a reimbursement. I called the credit union,& the representative I spoke too told me that due to the fact I have a work out loan with affinity then I dont qualify to use my participation points to have fees waived. I told her that I have used my points in the past to have numerous fees waived incluiding just last month. She said Affinity Plus changed their policy over a year ago, & members with Work Out Loans don't qualify to get fees waived. I asked how come no communication was sent to me informing me of this change, & how come just two weeks ago I was able to use the points to get fees waived, and that prior representatives had never mentioned this new policy. She said previous representatives had ignored the new policy, but that is the policy and she won't waive the fees. I then asked to speak to a supervisor, and after almost 30 minutes of holding a supervisor came on the line, and stated the same. When I asked her why no letter was sent out a year ago to inform customers of the policy change, she said the information is on there website. I informed her that I log into my account regularly online, & that i've never seen anything about this new policy. I asked her to point out to me exactly where online this policy was, and after looking for a few minutes she said they must have take it down as she couldnt't find the information either. I proceeded to ask her why when I log into my account online the following message is on my main screen verbatim:
"We've recently made some enhancements to our Participation Rewads Program! As a member, you're automatically eligible to earn Participation Rewards points for your evertday banking activity. These points can be redeemed to waive fees or reduce a consumer loan rate, and you can even donate them to one of our five charities of choice."
She of course did not have an answer for that, and as of today, Feb 6th, this message is still displayed on my screen on online banking. What Affinity plus is doing is not only highly unethical, but should be illegal. A banking location is responsible for communicating with the members about any policy changes, but from what their site is saying,i'M VERY CONFUSED!
Initial Business Response
Affinity Plus acknowledges ******'s frustration because based on the notes in her account made by Affinity Plus member advisors, she has received different responses for her request to redeem her points to reverse a fee. However, Affinity Plus has explained to ****** that she is not eligible for the Participation Rewards Program when she has a workout loan.
On July 28, 2009, Affinity Plus funded a workout loan for ****** to consolidate her vehicle and signature loans. It is stated in our Participation Rewards Program agreement that if members have a workout loan, they're unable to earn or redeem points. This is a policy of Affinity Plus that has been in place since the program first became available to members.
On January 21, 2010, ****** was advised that she would not be able to use her points because of her workout loan: (notes from her account)
I also advised her that with a workout loan we are not able to use points to reduce interest rates, member is upset, feels as though we are not working with her even though she has been making payments on her loan, I attempted to explain to her that a work out loan is an exception that most instituions would not allow and we are working with her to rebuild her relationship with affinity plus,
Again on January 31, 2014, ****** was reminded that because of her workout loan, she is unable to use her points to reverse a fee based on the notes provided by the member advisors below:
1/31/2014 - ************
****** called in upset that she was denied use of her PRPs to refund fees. She isn't eligible to use the PRPs since she has a work out loan - she was very upset and demanded to speak with a leader - **** spoke with her
Affinity Plus recognizes why ****** is frustrated, however, according to the General Program Rules listed in the Participation Rewards User Agreement, she is not eligible to participate in the program which includes earning and redeeming points.
Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
First and foremost, I have to say that I'm not only very disappointed by Affinity Plus, but I'm disgusted by their response to my complaint. The response tried to make it seem like I had been told in 2010 that I cannot use my Rewards Points to have fees waived. In 2010, when I called about not being able to use my points, it was because of an offer they had to skip a loan payment by using points, not to waive fees.
Jan this year is the first time, I was ever told that I cannot use my points to waive fees. When I recently talked to an Affinity Plus rep, she said the policy was changed about a year ago, but now they are trying to say I was told this in 2010?
Secondly, Affinity keeps insisting that The Participation Rewards Program Agreement states that members with work out loans cannot use points, but how come I have never seen this agreement despite banking with them for almost 10 years. The supervisor I spoke with recently was not able to tell me where to find the information either.
On 2/10/2014, I submitted a request to have the fees waived online, and $ 70 was put back into my account, but after I submitted a complaint, the fees were reversed.
Below is a list of all the dates and times I have been able to use my points to waive fees in the past 2 years. I would like a clear explanation as to why I was able to have fees waived during these times, since they were all after I consolidated my debt with Affinity Plus.
7/28/2011, 12/5/2011, 01/03/2012 (twice), 12/18/2013, 01/16/2014 (twice).
I find it very upsetting that Affinity Plus is trying to twist this whole thng up, while it is their responsibility to inform customers of any changes they make to their policy. It's not fair that the only way members with Work Out Loans can redeem their points is by donating them to Affinity Plus Approved Charities. I shouldn't be forced to donate my points to Charities if I don't want to.
Lastly, I cannot emphasize enough how much I'm disappointed and disgusted by Affinity Plus, and I am being discriminated on, and lately retaliated on because of the BBB complaint I filed.
I have tried to resolve this in a civil manner, and if this doesn't work, I plan on sueing Affinity Plus for their disgraceful, unethical ways of doing business, and hopefully a judge will be able to see what they are doing. This is unacceptable, and I will not be silent, and let any institution victimize me. Thank you.
Final Business Response
Ms. ******, we regret that our first response did not satisfy your inquiry. It is our intent to provide you with the information necessary to understand the terms of our Participation Rewards Program and to resolve your concerns.
Ms. ******, you can locate a copy of our Participation Rewards User Agreement on our website or through the link provided.
The Participation Rewards Program is a benefit of membership through Affinity Plus. As a financial cooperative, it is one way we have given back to members who use, support, and advocate for us. As a general rule, the Participation Rewards Program guidelines apply to all eligible members at Affinity Plus and are subject to change at any time. Ms. ******, regarding your explicit situation, please review the agreement, specifically on page 1, under 'General Program Rules', item 4a which speaks to the right of Affinity Plus "to terminate your participation in the Program...If you have a workout loan or are a signer on a workout loan". This criterion was established because workout loans are specifically designed to provide members experiencing hardship with a very unique benefit of their membership. In your situation, your loan has provided a manageable payment along with 0% APR. That said, your eligibility to participate in this program has changed. Though this program is no longer available to you, it is our hope that your relationship with Affinity Plus will continue to be one you value.
Ms. ******, in your original inquiry your desired resolution was to have the two $35 fees refunded to your checking account. On 03/17/2014, Affinity Plus refunded the two fees and deposited $70 into your checking account. Affinity Plus refunded these fees as a courtesy to you, rather than leveraging participation rewards points to do so.
We would like to take this opportunity to welcome the opportunity to work with you regarding the many options available to help prevent a situation which results in an overdraft fee. Please contact us at (800) ******** to discuss these options in greater detail.
Complaint Resolution: BBB determined that despite the company's reasonable effort to address complaint issues, the consumer remained dissatisfied.