7 On Your Side helps restore woman's airline miles

June 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Have you ever had one of your bills go to the wrong place? It happened to a woman from Orinda who says it cost her a credit card, plus thousands of airline miles.

In these days of automation you have to watch out. Our viewer did things the old fashioned way. She wrote a letter to a bank with important instructions. Little did she know, hand written letters don't mean much anymore. When her ex-husband died suddenly, Alison MacKenzie of Orinda took over his affairs.

"That's just a difficult thing to deal with," said MacKenzie.

That included paying off this Capital One credit card, which the couple had once shared. When she sent in the payment, MacKenzie also tucked a handwritten note in the envelope.

"I said, 'I don't have the bill, here's the payment and please change the address from my ex-husband's address to my address,'" said MacKenzie.

She didn't expect any bills since no one was using the card any more. However, she was surprised seven months later when she picked up the mail at her ex-husband's apartment.

"What do I see but this letter from Capital One. It says you owe $50.78 and it's six months past due," said MacKenzie.

Somehow the account had racked up more charges apparently due to automatic bills that kept going after her ex-husband's death. She called Capital One to ask why didn't the bank send her the bill?

"I wrote you a letter changing my address. They said, 'No. We never read any letters,'" said MacKenzie.

She paid off the $55 balance right away, but it was too late. The bank revoked the card, which wiped out more than 55,000 airline miles on that account.

"I said, 'Ah, ah, ah? that's unfair. First of all, it wasn't a bill I even knew about, you didn't change my address and as soon as I found out about it I gave you the $50,'" said MacKenzie.

She at least wanted to transfer those airline miles to her other Capitol One card. The bank said no.

"'It went six months unpaid and you're out of luck,'" said MacKenzie.

The canceled car was now in her name, so she also worried about her credit rating. MacKenzie contacted 7 On Your Side. We contacted Capital One. Sure enough, the bank does have MacKenzie's handwritten letter, but said that's not enough to change an address.

Capital One said: "We must verify a customer's identity when an address change is requested. It is always a good idea to follow up by phone if you don't use the established company process or forms. We regret the frustration we caused Ms. MacKenzie and are pleased to have resolved this to her satisfaction."

And it did. Capital One restored those airline miles -- all 55,978 of them. The bank also agreed the unintended default should not go on MacKenzie's credit report.

"I'm really, really grateful for the help I got," said MacKenzie.

If you need to change a billing address, Capital One says use the form you find online or in your billing statement. You should also confirm the change by phone. As for MacKenzie, she says she might use those miles for a nice cruise.


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