Capital One recently tripled its credit-card interest rates across the board, no longer distinguishing consistently between impeccable and slipshod customers. Our friend, the playwright Ira Lewis, does not take such routine insults of postmodern life either lying down or with the usual inarticulate fury. Ira wrote the play and film "Chinese Coffee," and his newest play is just now being bought for a premium-cable special. He also penned the following acidulous example of the lost art of elegant complaint.
Rich D. Fairbank
Chief Executive Officer
Capital One Bank
PO Box 30285
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0289
Dear Chairman Fairbank,
Long experience has suggested to me that there is literally one chance in a million that this letter will arrive at your desk. Common sense tells me that you are, presently, receiving probably a million similar letters. However I will write as though you, indeed, were reading it and not one of your many interceptors.
And, of course, as so many others no doubt have already done, I'm writing about your opprobrious increase in the APR rate of my Capital One credit card. Frankly, Chairman Fairbank, I would understand and sympathize with it were I a poor customer or one with a spotty history with your organization. But the very opposite would seem to be the case. I have never missed a payment, been over my line, paid only the minimum, or even been late on a payment. As a matter fact I have always been what is called, "an early payer." Yet you have seen fit to more or less punish me for my excellent history as a card-holder. And it is, I'm afraid, thoroughly beyond my powers of comprehension.
When I have called your representatives about the matter I am directed, usually, to someone almost a world, geographically, away, who, pedantically reading from a script, repeats endlessly a ritornello about Capital One's needs in this regard.
Unfortunately, sir, I have my own needs; and will not accept the liability for yours. Therefore, Chairman Fairbank, unless the APR on my account is immediately returned to at least its former numbers, would you be good enough to have one of your staff inform me by return mail of the payoff balance on my card in order that I may reduce, in one payment, that balance to zero; and after which close my account with your organization.
I do appreciate, sir, your company's stated need in increasing across the board millions of these APRs. Perhaps you will use that income to instigate a training program aimed at inducing some of your representatives to, at least, memorize their scripts. But I do fear, sir, you will do so without my few dollars.
Very respectfully, I remain:
Yours very truly,
CC: New York Times (Financial)
Wall Street Journal
Consumer Reports Magazine
There used to be people who wrote love letters for their tongue-tied and illiterate compatriots. I would gladly hire Ira to articulate my voicemail-empurpled rage.